All Roads Lead to Measurement: How to Future-Proof B2B Marketing
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Here’s a riddle for you: If marketing grew the business but nobody was around to measure it, did it really happen? No matter what side of this philosophical query you stand on, let’s face it: No one is going to take marketing seriously if they can’t quantify it with data.
Put any two B2B metrics dashboards side by side, and you’ll soon find that there is no one-size-fits-all way to prove marketing’s value—but there is a lot to learn by observing what’s working for others.
In this episode of Renegade Marketers Unite, CMOs Chris Willis of Acrolinx, Tara Robertson of Teamwork, and Karl Van den Bergh of Gigamon each share how they evolved marketing metrics at their organizations. Tune in to learn all kinds of amazing takes on the world of measurement, including:
- Why a CMO should be a CPO (Chief Pipeline Officer), too
- How to use the innovative Sales Velocity formula
- Tips on how to measure the unmeasurable
- Why you need to ditch revenue as a leading indicator, and more!
What you’ll learn:
- How 3 B2B CMOs are measuring marketing
- The metrics you need to justify more marketing budget
- How to measure the things that can’t be measured
- CMO Huddles – Renegade Marketers by Drew Neisser
- *Stop The ROI Obsession: Why Marketers Should Measure Return On Objectives For Strategic Initiatives* by Karl Van Den Bergh
- Renegade Marketers Unite episodes mentioned:
- [02:36] Chris Willis on the “Chief Pipeline Officer” role
- [05:14] Chris on the Sales Velocity formula
- [10:54] Tara Robertson on establishing Teamwork’s revenue metrics
- [16:25] Tara shares her marketing metrics dashboard
- [18:38] Karl Van den Bergh on Gigamon’s metrics evolution
- [24:50] Karl shares how to measure awareness
- [26:10] About CMO Huddles
- [28:28] How to measure attribution
- [32:51] Which marketing metric is on your wish list?
- [35:10] 3 metrics to get more marketing budget
- [36:01] Measuring the unmeasurable
- [39:49] Tech tools to measure marketing
- [41:10] Finding the metrics that matter for your organization
Highlighted Quotes“As marketers, sometimes people get so stuck in trying to measure every single thing that we do that we're missing the big picture.” —@taraerobertson @teamwork Click To Tweet “Awareness and brand, when push comes to shove, often get shortchanged. I think that’s super important for the long-time value of the business.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet “Bringing (Sales) forensically through their pipeline on a monthly basis to help them to see where they have soft spots has been incredibly valuable to the business.” — @cpwillis @acrolinx Click To Tweet
Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 294 on YouTubeFull Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Karl Van den Bergh, Tara Robertson, and Chris Willis
Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to our recording of Renegade Marketers Live, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles in a community that’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to grow every day of the week. This time we’re covering marketing metrics with master marketeers Chris Willis of Acrolinx, Tara Robertson of Teamwork, and Karl Van den Bergh of Gigamon. Okay. Let’s get to it.
I’m your host, Drew Neisser, live from my home studio in New York City. Now I’ve got a confession. Of the 12 chapters in my new book, Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable Brands, the one that took the longest to write and the one that I’m most likely to rewrite first is Chapter 10, Measure What Matters. It’s not that any of my proposed metrics are wrong, per se. It’s just so hard to generalize.
Last week I was on a podcast recording session and I was actually forced to concede that in a few certain circumstances, MQL, as in marketing qualified lead, might be a metric that could be useful now I had written off for that for dead. I have said that many times. Anyway, this gentleman opened my eyes to the importance of it.
We also had Forrster’s Ross Graber on a CMO Huddles program. And he opened my eyes to this idea of share of opportunities, which is a critical metric for some companies that are selling replacement products or services into multi-year contracts.
I’ll explain more about that later but the point is, the more I investigate metrics, the more I realize you’re going to have to find the metrics that work for your organization. To help you do that, we have three amazing CMOs, with their own special takes on measurement.
And with that, let’s bring on Chris Willis, Chief Marketing and Pipeline Officer—that’s important in this conversation—of Acrolinx. Hello, Chris. You are the only CMO I know who has the title Chief Pipeline Officer. Can you talk about that?
Chris: I can talk about that. What we were setting out to do a year and a half, two years ago was balance the today with the tomorrow.
So effectively, CROs, Heads of Sales, are always pulled into the focus of this quarter. If we go back we’re in the middle of end of Q4, Sales is a hundred percent focused on closing the year. The thing is there’s another year coming. There’s a Q1. That’s going to follow a Q4 and somebody in the organization needs to live with that.
And it makes sense that it’s also the person that runs marketing because marketing impacts the future. Not so much the now, but largely the future from a demand gen standpoint. We tried something. I live two quarters ahead, Q+1, Q+2. I’m looking at creation and progression of opportunities to make sure that we’re going to be in great shape going into the next quarter so that our CRO, Shane Cumming, can be a hundred percent focused on the right now, getting deals progressed through this quarter to a point of closure this quarter, and it’s working really nicely.
You would think that this would be an opportunity for a lot of friction. I do have one-on-ones with salespeople, but it hasn’t been, and I don’t think it’s going to be. We’re aligned both through the end goal of the business and our compensation to make this seamless. And we’ve managed to do that. I also think that from a personality standpoint, I’m the right person for the future, he’s the right person for the now, and it just works.
Drew: You are the person for the future. Now, how long have you been doing that? How long have you had that title and how long did it take to put it in place?
Chris: We started this mid-year 2020, and I would say for the first six months, we weren’t really sure what we were doing yet and I did reach out, there is another person on LinkedIn with the title Chief Pipeline Officer. And I reached out to that person, works at PTC and got some ideas as to what he was working on… But a lot of this was just feeling it out and progressively getting more detail, more data to paint a number of different stories and to identify what we care about and how are we going to measure the success of not just the role, but the company.
Drew: That’s perfect. So let’s talk about the metrics that are particularly important on this.
I mean, I can sort of guess on a pipeline, obviously we’re talking about qualified leads that salespeople—or opportunities, whatever you want to call them—that salespeople can follow up on and close. Let’s talk about the metrics that go into your pipeline.
Chris: So the thing that I care about the most is Sales Velocity. Sales Velocity is a piece of fancy math.
It’s the number of opportunities entering the pipeline times the average deal size times the win rate over the average sales cycle length. So I’m trying to drive up our sales velocity. Velocity is measured in dollars per day. It doesn’t really matter what the number is. I mean, it does, if it was a thousand dollars a day, it would be amazing. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. It would be amazing.
But what I care about is. I’m looking for this number to go up quarter over quarter in the way that you do that in execution with the sales organization is by putting more opportunities in their pipeline. And I have some control over that because I also have the marketing organization, so they’re lever for this. What can we be doing to put more qualified leads into the sales organization’s hands and turn those into valued opportunities? Then from an average deal size standpoint, what are we doing with product marketing, with content marketing, to create greater awareness and premium and drive the ability to price higher?
Can we add more value? Can we help customers to understand ROI better? So again, I have a lever that I can use with that. From a win rate standpoint, I mean, again, we’ve got to progress deals, so are we moving deals at a responsible rate?
We’ve set some SLAs around how long deals should sit in different stages. We’re doing exceptional reporting on a monthly basis. That’s the meetings that I have with the sales organization where we go through their pipeline and look at those deals that aren’t progressing. And then all that comes down to obviously that progression helps to drive that sales cycle length. And so each piece of this, one at a time, can be chipped away to increase that velocity over time.
Drew: So I’ve got—and I want to make sure I repeat the formula. So it’s the number of opportunities. Times the average deal size. Times the win rate. Divided by…
Chris: Average sales cycle length.
Drew: Average sales cycle length. And so obviously once you start doing this, you have normative data on all of it. And so the variables… As number of opportunities go up, that’s better. As deal size goes up, that’s better. And as win rate goes up, that’s better. And then the sales cycle, if they get longer, that’s a problem.
Chris: Right. Exactly. So everything is great unless we’re not impacting, for instance, like you say, sales cycle length. So we’re putting more in the pipeline. Great. Fantastic. We’re winning more deals. Great. But it’s taking us a really long time to do it. That’s a thing that we need to understand and we need to impact change around. Now, one of the thing is that we’re looking at all this data on an annualized basis, so we do a rolling four-quarters model. So it’s not just a quarter at a time. We’re looking at a full 12 months’ worth of data on a repetitive basis to understand these trends, to uncover the trends that we want to try and impact.
So you picked a good one: Sales cycle length from a new logo standpoint. It’s not decreasing the way that we’d like it to everything else is I’m seeing more opportunities coming into the pipeline. I’m actually seeing a higher average deal size. Our conversion rate is increasing, but if it continues to take us a really long time, that’s a challenge that we need to overcome.
Drew: As I’m thinking about all this data, I’m wondering, who’s crunching this for you?
Chris: Okay, I’m going to tell you. My data analyst is my boss, is my CEO.
I have a CEO that loves to play with numbers. He is creating some amazing visualizations that I use to do my job. I’ve got an open rec inside our central operations organization to replace him. He knows this, but neither one of us look forward to the day that that happens.
Drew: So as a marketer now, are you really just looking at what can I do to increase opportunities, increase average deal, size, increase win rate, and that’s where you’re spending a lot of your time? Because as the pipeline guy, I could see that you could spend all your time on these four variables. And yet marketing is hard to break down into those variables.
Chris: It’s definitely making me think differently about the things that I’m working on.
So we’re coming into a year where we’re going to be experiencing some aggressive growth. And I mean, we’ve talked in the huddles about spending on awareness and measuring awareness spend. And when I think about awareness spend now really the way that I’m going to measure it is in the ease of progression through early stage of the pipeline.
If we are better-known, if the category that we inhabit, which I’ll be marketing for, is better-known, Should we be able to get a meeting easier? So should I be filling the opportunity pipeline faster? Do we need to explain ourselves as much in the interest phase? We shouldn’t need to. People should have a better idea of who we are, so should move faster there.
All of these things that, that we do in marketing. I mean, there’s the obvious piece. That’s the content marketing content syndication, all the demand gen and the events that we do, all of that feeds directly into this model. But the things that I wasn’t thinking about actually feed into it as well, all of which has been created so that we sell more business faster.
Drew: I love all of this and we will come back to this, but let’s bring on Tara Robertson, the CMO of Teamwork. Hello, Tara.
Tara: Hi, thanks so much.
Drew: Thank you for being here now. I know that 2021 was your first year at Teamwork, and I’m wondering how you approach metrics and who’d you work with and what was in place and what’d you need to put in place?
Tara: First and foremost, I have to have to say, Chris is the future. That was great. I felt like I learned so much and was nodding along, had a couple laugh out loud moments. So that was a great session to start off. Definitely, you know, a good one to follow on.
So obviously when I first came in and I’ve been here for almost a year, a year in February, it’s really just coming in and getting to understand what exists, to learn, and to, you know, drink from the fire hose as quickly as I possibly can, and then start to figure out how we want to drive and make the impact.
Definitely for everything that Chris said, through and through revenue is the number one thing. And I’d say when I first came in, marketing was not responsible for revenue and was not looking at revenue. It was more the traditional trials and MQLs. And then there was a break and then sales took over at the SQL stage and reported on the revenue. So that was probably the first thing that we worked on is looking at understanding all of the different channels that we were doing, how those channels were driving revenue impact so that we could make decisions, not just based off of what looked like was driving quantity, but instead, what was driving better quality and then refining a lot of the dashboards that we had to better understand all of the different components of the marketing and.
Drew: Revenue drives me crazy as a metric. And I talk about this in the book and why I think it’s so problematic from a marketer. It represents something that happens a year after we got this first contact going. There are so many things that marketing can do along the way. And it’s a lagging indicator, right? It’s not something that you can use any time until a close and go “Oh” and then you have to go back and try to do some kind of attribution and who cares?
I mean in some senses, we just, yes, we need net new logos and I’m not saying that revenue doesn’t matter. I just struggle and I know lots of CMOs struggle with, if we make that the metric that we hold our team accountable for, what are they doing in the 12 months before that revenue comes in and how we’re looking at things.
And so tell me how you’ve sort of sorted that through and solve the problem that clearly you don’t have that I do.
Tara: I think we’re probably in a different unique scenario in where our entire business starts as product-led. We have a 30-day sales cycle for any net new trials and every single lead comes in as a trial.
And so, as it stands, when I first joined even right now, and we are diversifying this, we are starting to enter into having a more lead generation demand generation or even demo request engine. It really didn’t exist. And I do feel very lucky in that I entered into an already very robust marketing engine that was generating thousands of trials on a monthly basis. And so we can predict fairly quickly if those will turn into revenue within a 30-day sales cycle.
The other part is, I would say what’s unique about Teamwork is that since joining, marketing actually owns a component of revenue for the business. And so we’ve got essentially two funnels. One is our self-serve, and so anyone that is of a small enough size that comes in, goes through our product-led motion, but maybe doesn’t require human intervention… Marketing owns that end-to-end. And so we have a revenue number. We have to drive that. And as a result, look at all of the indicators. So instead of an MQL, a marketing-qualified lead, we look at PQL, so product-qualified leads, and work very, very closely with our product team on understanding what are the indicators that show us that this person will convert into a paid customer and then work on optimizing. So that’s part of the marketing revenue engine that we own end-to-end completely, that our team is responsible for.
Then we also have a sales assisted motion, but again, that sales assisted motion, 99% of the revenue comes from a marketing trial or marketing efforts. And so we can very quickly attribute to what campaigns are working, what essentially is driving the most impact or the higher contracts that we’re looking for as a whole, in a very short time period.
So as we start to diversify that more, I think, to your point, we definitely need to start adding in a lot more of looking at longer sales cycles or more pipeline as a part of it. I love the idea of a Chief Pipeline Officer. That’s definitely something that we’ve added in is understanding the pipeline.
So we can start to see where the bigger deals are even coming from. But our window for revenue is it’s a lot smaller. So it’s easy for us to predict that.
Drew: And this is why I said at the top of the show that this metrics thing generalizing metrics for B2B is so hard. If you are product-led, first of all, you said you can point to 90-plus percent of revenue is coming through marketing. Yay. Okay. There’s a good number. So that’s part one of this.
Plus you have that free trial product, which sort of gets people, you know, try before you buy. It’s wonderful. So then it’s really a question of one how well the product itself converts, building in conversion things into the product, and then whatever else.
And then of course that’s the revenue part of it. And then there’s just the, how do you get more of those self-serve people in there? So that’s cool and very different than other companies that aren’t product led. But let’s talk about, then you mentioned dashboard before I challenged you on revenue.
What’s on your dashboard? And I try to get this down in my book. I get it down to eight metrics. I’m curious what metrics are on your dashboard?
Tara: So there’s two really that I’m looking at outside of what marketing handles. And so on the marketing side, we’re certainly measuring both the self-serve revenue dashboard and then the sales assisted because they have very different buyers motions.
If I’m talking about self-serve where really everything starts at traffic and this is for both sides. And so we’ll look at all of your indicators from traffic to trial. PQL, so product qualified leads, we actually look at for both product-led and sales assisted because on the sales assisted side, it’s a very strong indicator for us on propensity to buy.
And on the sales side, we then get into pipeline. MQL to SQL. But what I really care about is our sales-qualified opportunities, which is essentially the pipeline. How many of those are coming in and showing us that they’re not just hitting a box or checking off the MQL. MQL is important because it’s an indicator for us, but it is not the number that is the tried and true, “We know we were successful.” Once we see it move to that sales-qualified opportunity or that pipeline stage, then we’re feeling really great about it. And then of course, for us, there’s that revenue output as a whole. And so I’d say on the sales assisted dashboard, we look at that not just within marketing, but marketing, sales, and then also product on a weekly basis so that we’re all going in and looking at all of our conversions, the indicators, and the high level of are we achieving what we’re looking at week over week, but then also projecting what the quarter will look like together.
On the self-serve side is actually a lot easier because for us, it’s really getting into just traffic to trials to PQLs and then that indicates to us if they will end up turning into revenue in general. And so that will of course cascade into all of our individual teams and their responsibilities on conversion, but those are probably the things that I look at. On the executive team level, it’s understanding our ACV or average contract value, understanding our net new logos, and then our run rates for all of the different revenue components we’re looking to grow.
Drew: That’s a lot. Okay, we’re gonna bring on Karl Van den Bergh, CMO of Gigamon. Thank you for that Tara. And Karl is actually the star of episode 264 of Renegade Marketers Unite. Hello, Karl. Good to see you. Now, you’ve been a Gigamon three years? And I’m just curious, how has your approach to measurement and metrics evolved over the last three years?
Karl: I see this a primary role for the modern CMOs because our metrics—and it’s a great conversation—are continuing to evolve, and we need to take the organization and the investors and the executives along with that on that journey. So you’re one really. And for those that don’t have, Gigamon, you know, we’re kind of a B2B complex, fairly complex sales cycle, but a half billion dollars in size.
And the technology requires a 12 to 18-month sales cycle. So the company was really product and sales-led. And so when I came on board it was really the start up the marketing engine, growing the marketing contribution. So clearly contribution to pipeline was the primary metric we were driving towards in year one. We built a course, the traditional funnel, the inside sales engine, and all of the metrics that the audience will be familiar with from leads down to opportunities and pipeline being the primary metric sourced by marketing.
As we moved into the second year, we started evolving our ABM practice. And so ABM metrics became the focus for us. In addition to the Tara’s pipeline and ABM metrics. I’ll be interested when we have a discussion and the opportunity to discussed. We’ll be interested in what the audience feels is the right metrics for ABM because we’ve looked at the different ways to measure it, but we’ve measured it at sponsor engagement, pipelines, and bookings lift from the cohort versus the non-cohort. So that’s how we measure that.
And then as you moved into year three, we started to continue to push the accountability—And I know you’re not going to like this direction—accountability down to bookings. I didn’t want to take a bookings number, but to have a bookings ROI, which is more of a trailing fourth quarter because that’s easier to manage a treading four-quarter investment over the bookings or return from that investment.
So that’s kind of year three as we go into this year, we’re expanding that to bookings assist, or assist marketing, ROI assis, which has not just sourced a new logos and new buying centers, but where are we assisting the deal? And then we have our definition of what that looks like. It’s not influenced because that’s a little bit too broad.
Drew: Okay. So I just want, for the record, revenue is awesome. Let’s face it that every CEO is looking to their CMO to drive revenue. And I didn’t want to say that isn’t important. It is. And any CMO who can’t translate what they’re doing into revenue in one way or another, that’s a problem. So I get it. It’s just as the metric, if we all are looking at that, then to me, it’s just such a problem because whatever we’ve landed in this quarter happened as a result of efforts that you did 18 months ago to get it in there.
And, and so it’s just, it’s very hard to build your team and adjust based on that. Right. It’s hard to make decisions based on that.
Karl: I actually wrote an article in Forbes called “Stop the ROI Obsession.” And so that speaks to that problem that we’ve got a little bit too fixated on that metric.
Drew: So we are in agreement there.
The other thing I did want to mention is that for CMO Huddles, we do have an ABM Bonus Huddle where we’re going to talk about that. And Jon Russo is leading it and Jon is still a fan, he says there’s still a place for MQL. And I can’t wait to get him on that one. Even though I have been corrected by at least one CMOs on why that, that matters.
Okay. There are a couple of things I wanted to dig in on. First of all, did you build the inside sales team and do they report to you?
Karl: They don’t. That was a separate, in fact, it’s unique at least to my knowledge in that that team reports directly up to the President.
Drew: Oh wow.
Karl: It’s in-between so sales reports to the president of marketing reports to the President and this team reports to the President. So it’s normally under sales or marketing, and this is kind of, it’s in Switzerland and actually works.
Drew: Let’s talk about… One of the things we talked a lot about in the podcast episode was your new product Hawk and how that played out. And I’m curious with that, I’m imagining there was a whole new set of metrics.
Karl: Yeah, so as a company that move into the cloud or more aggressive move into the cloud, there’s whole new metrics related to the product. And we’re measuring petabytes of process cloud traffic which is something we weren’t measuring before as company. Specific to marketing, we of course track the traditional funnel because we have a campaign specifically around that product offering. And so we track this sort of the campaign metrics, but because it is category creation, there’s more emphasis on the awareness side of things. So we do track awareness more broadly, but there’s a lot of attention on the leading indicators.
Are we creating the right engagement with the analysts?Aare we gaining that pick up in the press? Are we influencing the right cloud influencers, getting their mindshare, etc, so more emphasis on the awareness component, in addition to the demand component.
Drew: And let’s talk about that. So when we look at awareness metrics, which I am a big fan of and creating blended awareness metrics, because if we go back to Ross Graber and the session that we did in huddles on metrics, what he talked about were opportunities and share of opportunities, right?
And so if there are only five opportunities and you’re not in any of them, you have a problem, or let’s say there’s a hundred, but I’m wondering about that. So, you know, and that probably applies to Gigamon, right? There’s a certain number of companies that are in the market for what it is you’re serving any given year.
But I imagine for Hawk, and this is where I was curious, how do you look at when you’re in the category creation mode? How do you sort of get beyond this? There’s nobody out there buying—that’s what category creation is. Anyway, I just asked like five questions in one. Let’s just talk about what the difference is and how you’re measuring awareness. We’ll start there.
Karl: Yes, to your question on the sort of, how did you quantify the opportunity in the market? The way that we do that, both for our traditional offerings, as well as our newer offering is we’ve created this high propensity target mode. We talked a little bit about that when I was on here last, and that model is partly machine learning based on the data that we have because we have a number of cloud customers already. So extrapolating from that. And then part of it is top-down intel that we have data that we put into the model. So using that we know the number of accounts in the universe that are potential buyers. Right. So then it starts with what percentage of those accounts—it’s like the ABM metrics—what percentage of accounts are we engaging?
Drew: So it is an opportunities, its share of opportunities. And that makes a lot of sense. And to me, I can wrap my mind around it. If there are a hundred buyers out there and you only are in five of them, you have an awareness problem. If you’re in 80 of them and you’re not closing them, then you have a different problem. You have a pricing problem, a product problem or something else. All of this is amazing. Wow. What an action-packed 30 minutes.
We’re going to now I’m going to take a second and talk about CMO Huddles, which is sort of the source of all this goodness. We launched CMO Huddles in 2020. CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and therapy session. So since we have three huddlers here dressed here, how does this match? Chris, Tara, Karl, how does this match with your experience?
Tara: Definitely my experience. I mean, I think one, the huddles themselves are fantastic. It’s a closed conversation where you can just get in and talk about all the things going on. And like you said, it’s sometimes a good therapy session for people that you just know, get it and are in the weeds and doing the same things that you’re doing day-to-day. But also to really get new ideas or new thinking into the way that you’re attacking your job. It can often be pretty lonely spot to be the CMO within your organization with a lot of what we carry, so it’s just great to have that place to connect with others. And then I think also Drew what’s been so great is some of the personal connections. And so spending time saying like, here’s the challenge that I need to dig into and then having other people connected with you to just pick your brains… It’s been invaluable in so many different ways to how we’re tackling the jobs day in and day out.
Chris: I agree with all of that. And I think for me, we’re all moving so quickly. I don’t necessarily know the things that I’m not thinking about all the time. Having topics brought to me, “This is something that we’re going to talk about” is helping to expand what I’m doing in my business. Things that are just someplace else out of my reach, out of my eyesight are popping into it on a monthly basis and having direct impact on my business.
Drew: Karl, anything to throw in there.
Karl: I love them, the few that I’ve been on. It allows me to take a pulse on what’s going on in the market. It’s also confirmation of the types of decisions that we’re making. And then I would say the last piece is, it’s a good benchmark data for the executive team, investors, and things that we’re deciding to do.
Drew: So if you’re listening and you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care and dare with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com or hit me up on LinkedIn to see if you qualify for a guest pass.
Or now we’re going to get back to marketing metrics. And a lot of huddlers have struggled to nail down attribution. And this is a really tough topic. I’m curious how you all are doing and what’s going on when you think of attribution. I know, Tara, it’s a little easier for you because you’re product-led. So I’m going to pick on Chris and Karl a little bit. How are you doing when it comes to attribution? And is that something that matters?
Chris: It does matter. It doesn’t matter for the sake of justifying what we do. We don’t do the whole sales and marketing divide of who created what and why. That’s not why I care about attribution. I’m not trying to prove the value of me and my team.
I’m trying to prove the value of the campaigns and tactics that we use. For the first several years that we were here, we were really just primarily first touch. And it worked to some extent because we did have a direct line between the lead, the BDR handoff, and the sales scrap. But as our process is getting more evolved, that first touch doesn’t tell the story that I need it to.
So trying to evolve that into a multi-touch model and then bringing in data from outside places like Demandbase for engagement to try and tell that full story is kind of right where we are right now.
And there are the two models. There’s the attribution for new logo, which is like, it’s a little more obvious on how to do that, and there’s the attribution for expansion. We don’t have a direct line from lead to BDR to seller from an expansion standpoint. And yet I’m running expansion campaigns. How do I prove that out? We’ve built a model to do that this year as well.
Drew: Interesting. Karl, how about you in terms of attribution?
Karl: As you said, it’s a very active question. And for us, it was important, especially as we were starting a few years ago, the marketing engine to show the return on investment in that engine and sourcing was a primary metric. And we talk about sourcing new logos as well as new buying centers, and those were pretty clean.
So it’s a new buying center. We had never done business with that unit or that individual or buying group. That’s a pretty clean metric. And I think the cleanliness, if you will, or the binary nature of metrics are important, it’s easy to measure.
The second one though is because it doesn’t really capture the full value of marketing as the assist I talked about. The assist is, is there meaningful engagement that shows the creation of opportunity or the acceleration of an opportunity or the expansion within an account? So those are the ways that we look at marketing assist. I think between those two, you’ve got a fairly good view on the value that’s provided by the investment in marketing.
Drew: I think that really is in the last five years. One of the big evolutions is this moving from, “Hey, Hey sales, here it is. Off you go” to this notion that marketing’s job doesn’t stop until you have a close. Tara, I’m sure attribution matters to you the more I thought about it. Tell me what you’re thinking on that.
Tara: Two fronts. So the first is your right as a product led motion on the new business side, it’s a fairly straight line, no matter which way you look at it. And so we still look at first touch attribution, we’ve dabbled into, do we start looking at multi-touch? Do we start weighing a lot of the different things that we’re adding in, but it’s a lot of work to stand that up, honestly.
And so, because it’s such a straight line, it’s easy for us to attribute and to see the return pretty quickly. I’d say where it gets a little bit messier and where multitouch becomes more important is actually on the other side of the close, because we’re responsible for the new business revenue, but also supporting expansion revenue as a software organization and SaaS in general.
And so a lot of our marketing team needs to look at attribution differently on the way we look at our expansion funnel versus the way we look at new business. So new business is straight line first touch attribution. Expansion, we’re focused a lot more on really understanding all of the influence and the different things that our customers are doing across their entire journey to really understand what their propensity to grow will look like.
Drew: And that’s a perfect sort of segue into the, as we’re thinking about all these metrics, I’m curious if there’s a metrics, a metric that you wish you had or where the holes you think there are. And Chris, just curious for you, you built this pipeline. Is there a metric that you, “God, if I just had that…”
Chris: What day was it when you woke up and cared about buying our products?
That’s what I want to know, because if I knew that there’s so much, I could take away from that, that’s what campaigns were out in flight. What did you see? What did you hear? Who did you talk to? I think that would change everything, but that doesn’t exist. So it’s piecing all of that together as much as possible from anecdotal—sales person says that they gained traction—and then tying that back to the engagement. And that’s hard.
Drew: It is really hard. Karl, how about you.
Karl: My wishlist—a lot of our business goes through the channel, so we have good investment in MDF, and it’s hard to tie back the impact of an MDF program because you kind of lose sight of what happens with the partner until the deal registers. And so really tying the effectiveness of MDF campaigns and activities to that return is hard. I’d love to have better visibility.
Drew: Just in case my dad who’s 95 bless his heart is listening, MDF stands for…
Karl: Marketing development funds.
Drew: Okay, good marketing development funds. Great. One of the things that we do on this show, don’t ask really too much why is we always ask the question: What would Ben Franklin say?
And we’ve talked a lot about how there are a lot of metrics out there and one could get buried in the metrics. And it’s really, as Taratalked about how hard it was for multi-touch attribution, s one of the things that certainly I preach in the book is that you just try to narrow it down and get agreement on a few metrics.
So the quote that I want to share from Professor Franklin is: “Kill no more pigeons than you can eat.” It’s an homage to the idea that when it comes to food, life, or metrics, moderation is a wise option.
So here we go. We’re going to make a case. You get three metrics to increase marketing spend in 2022. What three will you pick? And we’ll start with Tara.
Tara: Three metrics to increase marketing spend?
Drew: To justify an increase in budget.
Tara: Traffic is one. Trials for sure. And pipeline.
Drew: Traffic trials, pipeline. That’s easy. Chris?
Chris: I’m starting with pipeline. And based on the year that we’re going to have this year, I’m going to say ARR is the second one because we are launching a new product, so I’m thinking of product-specific ARR. Third one, something to do with awareness. I think it’s unguided awareness.
Drew: Okay. And Karl.
Karl: I would say the awareness or the top of the funnel target engagement. So how many of those opportunities back to what we talked about earlier are we engaging? Then pipeline, the handoff point between marketing and sales. And the third would be new logo acquisition.
Drew: Net new logo. This is a phrase that I hear and have heard a lot. “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” How do you feel about that? And let’s start with Chris.
Chris: I dunno if I think that. I mean, everything ties back to something. And so we, I want my team to do crazy things. And what I care about is that what comes out of it turns into let’s take leads. I know that you don’t like the concept of MQLs, but a qualified lead cost me about $90. Go do whatever you want and make it as unmeasurable as you want, but it needs to come back to, did we get the number of leads that we would have expected at the price that we would have expected? And that’s allowed us to do some really interesting things, not just here, but in past companies that I wouldn’t have done.
Drew: Now, I also remember you were talking about it at one point some kind of an awareness model goal thing that you have for your team in terms of the way… beyond pipeline. Am I making that up?
Chris: No. So everything’s coming back to, this is the year that we’re hopefully going to pop into a category, and we’re going to spend money around that to create that awareness. And where we’re going to see that where I w my objective in doing that is making it easier to generate first meetings, so I’m going to see an increase in meetings. If I don’t see an increase in meetings, I’m going to wonder why our awareness isn’t working. I’m going to see less time spending in early stages of the funnel, relationship building stage of the funnel. If I don’t see that, I’m going to wonder why my awareness isn’t working. And if this whole model flows all the way through the deal, I’m doing things to lubricate the process. And if the process doesn’t get easier, we don’t get faster. And again, it comes back to that sales velocity. If I’m not seeing an increase in velocity, I’m wondering why my awareness isn’t working, because that should be the outcome.
Drew: Right. If your awareness is going up and your velocity is staying the same or going decline, something’s wrong.
Chris: Something’s wrong. I’m not going to, but for instance, if I was going to spend money on billboard advertising and how do you directly tie that back from a B2B standpoint, enterprise purchase, not transactional… How do I tie that to value? How do I get an ROI out of that? Who even knows? I’m sure that somebody could tell me something, they could tell me a story about it, but really it’s lubricating that sales process. And if velocity is not increasing, it’s probably not working
Drew: Interesting. Tara on that, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.” Where are you?
Tara: I hate that. I agree so much with what Chris is saying. I think Karl even said this earlier. As marketers, sometimes people get so stuck in trying to measure every single thing that we do that we’re missing the big picture and the more important component of are we doing the thing that we’re setting out to do for me?
That’s often looking at our cost of acquisition to our lifetime value of our customers. And as long as that is staying stable and moving in the right direction, we’re driving revenue, we’re driving pipeline. There are certain components that no matter how hard you try to slice and dice it, you just can’t draw a straight line to measure.
Billboards is a great example of that, but that’s so valuable in the sales process, it’s so valuable in the awareness process. So we do have awareness goals that we have in our brand dashboard. We have a separate budget for brand. I know we’ve talked about that in huddles as well, and that budget does go to sometimes knowing that there’s going to be some areas that you just can’t track to ROI, but as long as our cost of acquisition to lifetime value and what we’re driving from a pipeline perspective stays on trend with our goals, we’re in a solid situation.
Drew: It makes a lot of sense. So Karl, I’m curious if there are any technologies that you’ve implemented that have really helped you when it comes to tracking the metrics that matter?
Karl: We’re a centralized data warehouse in the cloud. And we use a Microsoft Stack built in-house.
Drew: Chris or Tara, any technologies that you’ve used that have been helpful from this metrics or anything new that you’re using to measure?
Chris: No over here. I am primarily pulling data into Power BI and building out custom visualizations. If there’s anything out there that works better than that, I’d love to know what it is.
Tara: Same over here. I mean, we build a lot of it in-house and working with our data team, we’ve got a cross-functional revenue operations team that’s visualizing a lot of the data that we’re trying to look at. One thing that we’re super excited right now, Chris, similar to you, our CEO loves to live in the data and look at it on an ongoing basis and is working with us and building a predictive model so that we can understand… Based on certain campaigns that we’re running from paid, can we predict out if there’ll be successful when we’re testing new things out? And that is awesome. There’s a lot of technologies out there that we’ve used, but in most companies I’ve worked for working within your own data and then maybe using a visualization tool in order to look at those dashboards has often been the better way to get there.
Drew: So we are wrapping this up. Amazing conversation, and I’m just going to give each of you sort of one minute for final words of wisdom to your fellow CMOs on finding the metrics that matter for their companies. And we’ll start with Chris.
Chris: I just think that digging into the pipeline, you would think that the sales organization would push back on this conversation coming from me and where I sit and it hasn’t been that way.
It’s really been very well accepted and the idea of bringing them through, forensically through their pipeline on a monthly basis, to help them to see where they have soft spots has been incredibly valuable to the business, and now we’re in a position where we’re essentially calling our shots. We’re hitting our numbers. We’re walking into next quarter ready to do business in a healthy position from a pipeline standpoint, that’s really what we need to do. We just need to be able to execute. We know how to do that moving forward and we know how to scale that. And it’s a great place to be.
Drew: There you go. Tara, final words of wisdom.
Tara: I agree. Pipeline through and through is critically important, especially in a sales motion.
I guess the other thing I would add is know what’s important to your fellow colleagues or your executive team, work with your CEO, work with your CFO, your CRO, whomever it is that your partner is, and understand what they really want to see and know from a marketing perspective because that helps when it comes to looking for the budget and where you’re driving in.
And so as long as your own dashboard measures up to whether it’s pipeline, whether it’s revenue, but something that drives incremental impact on the business, but that you’re also reporting on the things that are important to the people that are signing off on your budget. You’re in a solid shape.
Drew: Amazing. Karl, bring us home.
Karl: I agree with both Chris and Tara on theirs, I would add that, making sure we carve out some measure that, yes, gets alignment and understanding and appreciation around awareness and brand because that often, when push comes to shove can get changed. And so I think that’s super important for the long time value to the business.
And then the other piece is, I think it’s a journey because metrics will evolve as the business evolves and the market evolves, right, and the strategies evolve. And so part of our job is staying on top and staying ahead of that and educating our executives and our investors.
Drew: It is a perfect place cause we are just going to constantly be evolving these things.
All right. Well, thank you Chris, Tara, Karl, you’re all great sports and amazing guests. I thank you audience for staying with. To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live, join us on the next Renegade Marketers Live. We stream to my LinkedIn, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is by Sam back. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and the savvy is B2B marketing boutique in New York City.
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