B2B Magazine Survey

Recently, Genius.com published the results of a survey they did with B2B Magazine on B2B Marketing Skills. Here’s a link to their results pdf.

To quote from their purpose statement:

“How do today’s marketers see themselves and their evolving role in the enterprise? The purpose of the joint Genius and BtoB Magazine Marketer Skills Survey is to bring these answers into focus so we can gain a better understanding of how these drivers are shaping today’s Connected Marketer.”

I’ll likely tackle other parts of their survey but want to address their first question here.

Finding #1:

“Overwhelmingly marketers indicated that success is today’s environment is gauged by revenue.”

Ok. The surprise to me here is that it has taken until 2010 and a recession for many firms to tie marketing to revenue (or at least attempt to). A marketing budget is an INVESTMENT of organizational funds. As with any investment, there should be a return or you shouldn’t be doing it.

Digging into some of the details of this finding, here’s the question and responses:

Obviously, this was not a mutually exclusive question. However, the problem I have with this question is that each of these measures is important – just in different ways. For example, click-thru rates are very good at measuring the effectiveness of a banner ad or an email.  If the click-thru rate is low, so will the revenue. I’ve written about metrics before (http://wp.me/pwQCG-J and http://wp.me/pwQCG-v) but want to dive a little deeper here.

This is why I look at metrics on a tiered level. Let’s take an example. Typically, I’m running several campaigns simultaneously. I define a campaign as a set of activities designed to drive qualified leads to the sales team and result in revenue. Most often, a campaign is around a single product, bundle, service offering, etc.  Hence, if you have several offerings, you likely will have many campaigns going on simultaneously.

For this campaign, I will reach out to prospects via:

  • Email to a purchased list
  • Banner ad placed on 3 different web sites

Both of these activities will drive people to a landing page where I have several options:

  • Read a whitepaper on the technology
  • Watch a video introduction to the solution
  • Read a case study on a customer success story
  • Download a trial of the product

Working with the sales team, we define anyone who downloads the trial as a “sales qualified lead.” All other are “marketing leads” that stay with me for lead nurturing programs in an attempt to drive them further down the funnel. (For example, people who watch the video intro video get invited to a webinar that takes a deeper dive into the product.)

For me, here’s where tiered metrics come into play. Tier 3 is the micro level. The primary user of these metrics would be me and I’d be using them to measure individual activities and pieces of content. I look at these metrics on a daily or weekly basis. At this tier, I would measure:

  • Click-thru rates on the email to make sure the list vendor is providing a return
  • Click-thru rates on the banner ads to see which web site provides the best return
  • For the landing page, which items are people clicking on (helps me measure the effectiveness of the content on the landing page)

Tier 2 is the level of metrics I would also share with interested parties – product manager, sales team, my manager. At this level, I would measure overall sales funnel points including:

  • Landing page traffic
  • Marketing leads generated
  • Sales qualified leads passed along to the team

At this level, you can identify if you have any bottlenecks that may need to be addresses. For example, you may find out that you are generating lots of marketing leads but your conversion rate to sales qualified is very low. You may need to re-address what you consider a sales qualified lead or find out why people aren’t downloading the trial. This gives you the chance to identify potential problems early on and salvage your campaign. Since you need to build some traffic before these measures are statistically valid, you may wait some time before looking at these numbers. Also, I tend to look at these on a weekly or bi-weekly basis – often for reporting at team meetings with the interested parties.

For me, Tier 1 is where revenue is measured. And the target audience is my manager and up. The CEO probably could care less about the click-thru rate on a banner ad but would be very interested to know that the $250k invested in marketing for Product A has helped drive $4.6 million in revenue. The timing on this metric can vary based on the length of the sales cycle. Also, a campaign may end but you will still have latent leads in the funnel that the campaign generated and will result in revenue. So you need to go back and measure this metric weeks or months after the campaign is over.

Ideally, you can follow a lead from start to finish – not always easy to do! If you can, then you can tie revenue generated all the way back to the specific email list or web site that generated the lead. If you can, great! Sometimes, micro metrics can be misleading.  For example, a web site may generate a lot of click-thrus but most of them are junk.

For more on this survey, check out my additional post – http://wp.me/pwQCG-2M.

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3 comments so far

  1. Tom Pick on

    Interesting post Greg, thanks for sharing. I would caution against measuring marketing success by revenue, however, for a couple of reasons. First, there are areas that can affect revenue over which marketing has limited control at best, such as product features and pricing. Then there are areas over which it has no control, such as product quality and sales effort.

    It’s generally best to measure marketing on some agreed-to metric of qualified leads generated, and sales on their success in converting those leads to revenue.

    • gregdonahue on

      Hi Tom,

      Great comment. And yes, I agree – there are many areas outside the control of marketing that can sink revenue. That’s one of the reasons I like to use a range of metrics. If you use something like I outlined, then you can show that marketing IS delivering the number and quality of leads to sales that should get the revenue. If the revenue still isn’t getting in the door, then at least you know it’s not a problem with marketing but either sales not being able to convert or deficiencies in the product (pricing, features, competition) that kill sales success.

      But, by tying marketing all the way to revenue, you are showing the organization (especially the executives) the value of marketing. I’ve worked at too many firms where upper management didn’t understand marketing so showing the link to revenue was critical. Also, I’ve had sales people say, “Marketing didn’t bring in that revenue, I did.” They don’t understand that, yes, they closed the deal, but without marketing, they never would have had the lead. So I like to connect marketing to sales, measure several points along the marketing-to-sales funnel (like # of marketing leads, # of sales qualified leads and finally, revenue), and watch conversion rates (for both marketing and sales). This gives you a good picture of the healthiness (or lack thereof) of your funnel and can help identify when something is going wrong (like decreasing sales conversion rate).

      As an aside, it is very similar with bonus structures for marketers. Too many times, my bonus was tied only to revenue. And my argument was exactly what you said – someone else could be screwing up revenue and, no matter how good a job I do, I can’t fix that. So my bonus (like the measurement of marketing) should use several metrics that can be linked directly to marketing effectiveness.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allan Schoenberg, Tom Pick, dana marruffo, Jeff Ogden, jeff ogden and others. jeff ogden said: RT @TomPick: B2B Magazine publishes results of the "B2B Marketing Skills Survey" – some interesting stuff here. http://bit.ly/cCQJvl […]


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