In our previous posts about demand generation, we explored some of the ways to drive an effective demand gen campaign. For our final blog in this series, let’s talk about KPIs—because the cold, hard truth is without metrics, no other aspects of your campaign matter.
Let us know when this scenario starts to sound uncomfortably familiar:
You tell your boss you think spending money in a new marketing channel will produce a strong return. She gives you the go-ahead, so you launch the campaign. But after it’s up and running, your boss asks, “So, what did that marketing program get us?”
How do you answer? Do you have the numbers to back up the investment, or are you left tongue-tied?
Sure, you can probably throw out some figures on impressions, clicks, and inquiries—but what about opportunities? Pipeline value? Revenue?
If you don’t have a solid understanding of how your campaign leads to real business impact, you don’t have anything at all. On top of that, you can’t make an educated decision about whether to continue investing in that channel or increasing the budget.
Marketing is rapidly transforming—from a cost center that supports sales and organizes activities to a revenue generator that sources and contributes to revenue. And what’s at the heart of this evolution? Digital marketing key performance indicators (KPIs).
Prioritizing the right digital marketing KPIs
Tracking KPIs for demand generation isn’t about obsessing over every piece of available data. Instead, marketers need to learn how to prioritize different KPIs—and critically, how to interpret the meaning behind them.
So, what should you track? Here are the metrics for marketing that likely matter most to your organization:
1. Status measures
How are we doing against our plan, and how is the performance of our current marketing programs? These metrics include marketing qualified leads (MQLs), clicks, impressions, opens, and downloads.
2. Impact measures
What has marketing sourced, and how is marketing influencing and accelerating pipeline? Look at things like sales qualified or accepted leads, opportunities, pipeline value, and revenue.
3. Predictability measures
How can marketing make growth more predictable? Predictability metrics include cost figures (cost per lead, cost per 1,000 impressions), and lead lifecycle time frame (i.e., how long does it take for someone to go from lead to qualified lead to pipeline?)
4. ROI measures
Which programs and channels perform best? ROI measures are derived by comparing your cost metrics to your performance and impact measures. Essentially, this means comparing your results from a given channel to what you paid to generate them.
By tracking the appropriate marketing metrics and connecting them to business measures, you’ll be able to report on both how your programs are performing and how they are impacting the business at large (which is what the C-suite really wants to know about).
Tips for strategic marketing measurement
Good marketing programs are measurable from the beginning—which means you need to have the right processes and technology in place to quantify them.
When you’re considering what data to track, ask yourself this: Will this measurement help me make my marketing program stronger and align it with company objectives?
Here’s how you can get your program off to a solid start:
1. Begin collecting data early
Pinpoint the attributes that will be important for your marketing programs (as outlined above) and start tracking them immediately.
Many companies make the mistake of waiting too long to start this process—and they regret it later. Start building your history as early as possible. It can take six months to a year or more to get an accurate picture of marketing performance.
2. Think (and look) ahead
Focus on data that helps you look forward and data you can act on in the future. Don’t get bogged down looking over your shoulder.
To deliver the best ROI, figure out what decisions need to be made up front to drive company profits, then use measurements to capture information that will facilitate those decisions.
3. Focus on effectiveness, not efficiency
Notice the difference between effectiveness metrics (doing the right things) and efficiency metrics (doing things well—but not necessarily the things that matter). Example: Having a packed event doesn’t do much good if the attendees aren’t the right fit.
Effectiveness shows how marketing delivers quantifiable value and helps position it as essential to the success of your organization.
4. Don’t get caught up in vanity metrics
It’s tempting to focus only on “feel-good” metrics, like social followers and impressions. But those numbers only tell a surface-level story.
The real power of digital marketing KPIs can only be harnessed when marketers measure things that actually matter to your organization: business outcomes, marketing performance, and profitability.
5. Use the right attribution models
Marketing attribution offers insight into the various touchpoints of your customers’ journeys from brand discovery to conversion, and each model gives credit for conversions in a different way.
The best models for B2B are multi-touch because they acknowledge that there isn’t one defining touchpoint that closes a sale. Unweighted multi-touch attribution measures nurturing touches as well as lead generation, and weighted multi-touch attribution models look at the performance of efforts no matter where they occur in the buyer journey. Both models work well in revenue cycles with many touches.
Marketing metrics help you claim a seat at the revenue table
Here’s the reality of running a successful demand generation campaign: tracking, analyzing, and reporting on all this data isn’t always easy. So, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves, put on a hard hat, and commit.
Trust us, though, when we tell you that it’s worth it. Proving that your campaigns are succeeding means that marketing gets to outgrow the kids’ table and snag that coveted seat at the revenue table with the adults (like the CEO and CFO), where it will finally command the respect it deserves.
After all, you already know marketing is the engine that drives so much of your organization’s growth. With the numbers to back that up, everyone else will know, too—and they’ll invest in your team’s success.
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