The ever-evolving landscape of B2B marketing metrics presents both challenges and opportunities. A recent CMO Huddles taskforce, featuring B2B CMOs Heidi Bullock (Tealium), Peter Finter (KX), Jamie Gilpin (Sprout Social), Grant Johnson (Billtrust), Kathie Johnson (xTalkDesk), and Bryan Law (ZoomInfo) delved deep into the current challenges of metrics.
They identified tendencies to overvalue certain metrics, the non-linear nature of enterprise buying journeys, data overload, and the pitfalls of a one-size-fits-all approach.
However, challenges often pave the way for innovation. CMO Huddles is working on a detailed report that will help CMOs move from defense (as in “defend your spend”) to offense (as in “invest to win”). This newsletter will give you a sneak peek at the findings, offering six transformative ways to shift your metrics strategy from defense to offense:
1. Drive the Definitions
Heidi Bullock emphasizes the need for clear definitions, stating, “We need to make sure the definition of an opportunity is very black and white.” Kathie Johnson takes it further, crafting a yearly “pipeline playbook” that aligns with the CRO’s vision, ensuring that every metric is clearly defined and associated with each action. By setting clear definitions and expectations, CMOs can help streamline the measurement process and drive alignment with both Sales and customer success.
2. Isolate the (Leading) Indicators
While revenue remains a primary goal for every business, it’s often a lagging indicator. Offense-minded marketers must identify leading indicators predictive of future revenue.
Grant Johnson suggests, “Tracking metrics beyond just the pipeline funnel, like NPS, SOV, social and advocacy improve visibility into pipeline health and momentum.” Peter Finter looks at inbound traffic conversions as a predictive metric, while Bryan Law finds short-term new business metrics to be highly indicative of future revenue.
3. Pipe Up on Pipeline
Most B2B businesses carefully track “pipeline.” Pipeline typically represents highly qualified opportunities having met certain prescribed criteria (i.e. has a budget, has seen a demo, etc.) and has an assigned salesperson. As Heidi Bullock puts it, “Pipeline and pipeline health and scrutiny are the most important thing businesses can do.”
To turn pipeline tracking into an offensive opportunity, CMOs need to not only understand the big picture but also the critical details inside your opportunities data. Specifically, CMOs should understand win rate, speed to close, and deal size with an eye toward improving one or more of these via specific marketing activities.
4. Avoid Absolute Attribution
While it is tempting for CMOs to make promises like “We only spend money on things that drive measurable impact,” the reality is that purchase decisions are rarely linear or only affected by 1 or 2 touches. Add to the fact that attribution tools are famously inaccurate, striving for 100% attribution is a fool’s errand.
Bryan Law emphasizes the value of examining all touchpoints across channels. Jamie Gilpin adds, “When we have a webinar, for example, we have all these things that surround it so it makes it really hard to isolate the pipeline generated from the webinar alone.”
There’s another important nuance here. While it might feel good to say that “xx% of pipeline is marketing-sourced,” the business ultimately only cares about total pipeline and subsequent revenue. So one way to go on offense is to move away from emphasizing marketing-sourced metrics. Grant Johnson advises, “In complex B2B markets, let’s aim for ‘everyone’s pipeline,’ and avoid source battles between Marketing and Sales.”
5. Rate Your Reputation
Many B2B CMOs find that the word “brand” has baggage in their C-suites. To go on the offense, you may find it easier to avoid the word “brand” altogether while still tracking reputation-related metrics. These metrics include awareness, analyst ratings, review site ratings, share-of-voice, and more. Kathie Johnson suggests renaming brand activities to “ungated activities” and emphasizes the importance of forward-looking metrics, which she describes as marketing “headlights.”
6. Track Without Touting
There are a number of metrics that CMOs should track but are not worth touting to the executive committee or Board of Directors. These include things like website traffic, keyword performance, and social engagement. Heidi Bullock uses tools like SEO Moz for insights but wouldn’t necessarily present such data to the board. Kathie Johnson views website visits as a leading indicator but not a primary report-out metric.
As we continue to work on the final metrics report, we welcome your input on what metrics are working for you to help shift the prevailing mindset that marketing is an expense, not an investment that drives growth.