Does it feel like every day you see a new article on marketing metrics? Lately, there has been a lot of buzz around the RIGHT metrics to focus on. Today it’s pipeline, yesterday it was MQLs, and last week it was customer acquisition cost (CAC).
In marketing, the one thing that is a constant is change, and it can feel overwhelming to finally agree on a set of metrics with your team, then go to a conference or see a tweet from an analyst and realize that you’re missing five more.
Today, I saw that pipeline is the #1 thing your business should be looking at if you’re in B2B. I can’t say I disagree with this, but I do really think it’s less about one metric like pipeline and more about what metric matters for when you’re measuring.
Here are a five things I’ve learned over the years about marketing metrics, and while they may not be the trendiest, they still hold true to this day:
1. It Starts With Understanding Your Business Objectives
Be clear on your business objectives first, then determine what metrics to measure. One way to do this is by mapping your business stages to the customer journey. In the example below, the customer journey is broken into stages, including: awareness, engage, convert, retain, and advocacy, but they may differ for your organization depending on your business model. These stages represent the different business outcomes your company is driving towards (e.g. retention or share of voice), and it’s critical to establish this first to determine the right set of metrics and timing that map to those objectives.
2. It’s Not About ONE Metric
The metrics you measure depend on the set questions you’re asking and the timing. When my team first runs a program–whether it’s for target accounts (ABM) or a PPC program–we understand that we won’t have a pipeline number on day one or even day 14. While we ultimately care about the pipeline/cost ratio and revenue won to show how our programs contribute to business growth, these numbers take time to mature so we track them at a later time. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just twiddle your thumbs as you wait for your programs to run their course. It’s important to track early stage metrics in the meantime because they help you understand whether you’re seeing early signs of success or need to make modifications.
The example below demonstrates the different types of metrics you might track for an ABM campaign. While your business objective is to generate more revenue within your target accounts–you need to look at other early- and mid-stage metrics along the way to understand whether you’re making the right progress.
Here’s another example for an event. While you ultimately want your event to bring in closed-won deals, that takes time. In the interim, it’s important to look at early stage engagement. While it’s not a perfect predictor, you can still see if you need to make any adjustments, such as sending out more invites or adding a registration discount, to ensure you’re getting closer to the end goal.
3. Agree on Definitions EARLY
If you haven’t heard it enough, here it is again: sales and marketing alignment is critical to closing more deals. This starts with agreeing on definitions early on so that both teams are on the same page as leads come in and progress down the funnel. Is your revenue team aligned on the definition of a lead, MQL, SQL, or opportunity? This definition may differ throughout different companies, so it’s critical to make sure your definitions are documented and communicated.
4. Get the Right Systems in Place to Track Your Progress
One of the reasons it’s so important to understand what metrics you’ll track before you run a campaign is because there’s nothing worse than not being able to answer a critical question because the right tracking and technology wasn’t in place. Think of the questions you’ll want to ask first, then work backwards to ensure you can track the different steps that answer them. Do you have the right technology to be able to track the number of blog subscribers on your site? Do you know which email program was the most successful for deal acceleration? Which case study was the most successful for your sales team?
The example below shows how a webinar program is tracked in Marketo (although you can use another marketing automation system to do this). You can dig into the data to understand how your leads interacted with your program. Did they register for the webinar? Did they actually attend? Did they engage with the follow-up email you sent? How did this webinar contribute to revenue growth? These are the types of questions you’ll want to ask before you even run your campaigns to make sure everything is set up on the back-end to answer them.
5. Focus on a Few Key Metrics That Help You IMPROVE Your Marketing
This means that you should measure things not just because they are measurable, but rather because they will guide you towards the decisions you need to make to improve company profitability. Think about the contrast of a 747 airplane dashboard and your car dashboard–there are so many different indicators on an airplane dashboard that it’s hard to quickly ascertain the most important ones. On the other hand, the different indicators on a car are pretty clear so that you can quickly decisions like when to bring your car in for maintenance or when to get gas. Likewise, you should have a key set of metrics for your business objectives that you monitor regularly to understand what are positive outcomes and where you need to focus more.
Marketing metrics can be a mouthful, and while it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest, all the buzz can get overwhelming when you don’t know what to look for. With the right measurement strategy in place, you can be well on your way to mastering metrics and measuring the right ones.
What other factors do you consider as you’re planning your measurement strategies? Share your tips in the comments below!