Over the last few years, Data Analytics has become an increasingly popular buzzword. Since 2010, the online search volume for the term has grown by over 10x. Today, it’s hard to find any product or industry that isn’t blasting messages about Data Science, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Everyone wants to use Predictive Analytics to be able to take action on the future before it even arrives.
If you are like most marketers, you have heard so much about analytics. You are constantly being told that you NEED to have it. In a recent survey, 93% of marketing leaders cited that demonstrating the business impact of their marketing efforts was a major priority, making it the #1 operational initiative. It’s a big undertaking and it can be completely overwhelming to even know where to get started.
Marketers Need to Prove ROI
In order to better understand the value of analytics, it’s important to start with the end in mind. In a recent study, 77% of marketers confirmed that their primary mandate is to drive growth through ROI. That should come as no surprise, as B2B marketers focus their efforts on educating prospects about their products and services along the Buyer’s Journey. The ultimate objective of marketers is to increase sales, whether it is through generating high-quality leads or developing content to help accelerate deals.
With a clear end goal for marketers of generating ROI, it leads to a logical question. How can you prove the return on investment in marketing for your company? While analytics is the #1 initiative for marketers, it is not a simple task to conquer. In that same survey, analytics was also the #1 challenge for marketing leaders, as 82% identified the inability to attribute campaign or content activity to revenue as one of their major challenges. While it isn’t the easiest road, it is vital to enable a successful measurement strategy for your marketing organization.
Partner with Finance
The first step in any analytics initiative should be to agree on a consistent set of business objectives. It is so important to align on expectations for how marketing’s impact will be measured and to agree on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will be used to gauge the effectiveness on business outcomes.
When you are looking to build consensus within your organization on the measurement strategy, the first instinct for most marketers is to go straight to the head of sales. It makes sense why that would happen, as B2B marketers are focused on driving pipeline and revenue for the sales organization. While sales is your internal customer, that is NOT the best approach for defining shared goals.
Over years of working with marketing leaders, the most successful CMOs I’ve worked with go straight to the CFO and forge an immediate partnership with finance. The concept of building an Attribution Model that allocates credit to various marketing and sales activities needs to take a wide lens. Since finance will have the most influence on the marketing budget, they should also own the shared strategy for how to measure the return on their investment.
Consider the Length of Your Sales Cycle
Now that you’ve aligned all of the internal leaders on how to measure marketing’s impact, it’s time to start getting your arms around your numbers. So you have mountains of data for all of the interactions that customers and prospects have had with your brand, but where do you start? One of the first layers of complexity to consider is the length of the entire sales cycle for your company. In enterprise sales, that will often be in the range of 6-9 months, but sales that take more than a year to close are very common.
This is very important to understand because you need to be mindful of including all of the interactions that may have had an impact on your key business outcomes. You will want to ensure that the universe of data for consideration includes all touch points during the sales cycle, with additional buffer room. While your data may show that a lead was created on a specific date, that is not actually the ‘start’ of the sales cycle. That individual may have interacted with you over a period of months or years before taking behaviors to push them over the scoring threshold to become a lead. Our recommendation is that you should be looking at any interactions during the sales cycle, plus 3-6 months before that lead was created.
B2B Sells to Accounts
It may seem obvious that B2B companies sell to accounts, but marketing technology is often built around individuals. For that reason, you must be mindful to incorporate all of the interactions that occur across that entire account and not just for a single contact. This can be a significant pain points for marketers, as many leads are not attached to accounts until later in the sales process, obscuring the ability to effectively connect the right dots.
The theme of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has become popularized over the past few years and it should be pervasive throughout your marketing strategy. This is not a matter of saying that the only focus should be on the account, but it cannot be built completely around the individual either. We recommend taking a comprehensive approach to consider the signals at both the account and contact level. While this post is focused around how to best measure the impact of marketing, the ABM concepts should be incorporated into your execution as well.
For example, lead scoring should include both an account score and an individual lead score. If there are multiple people within an account performing low-value actions on your website, that may be an indication that the account is showing significant interest and that should be prioritized higher than the activities would have scored on their own. Additionally, most marketers deliver content and messaging to a prospect based on their stage in the Buyer’s Journey as an individual. While that is part of the equation, you can’t neglect where that account may collectively sit in their process.
The Best Time to Start is Today
While companies across every industry are looking to get more value out of their data, organizations have not been able to move as quickly as they’d like. In a recent study by Gartner, 66% of marketing leaders ranked the analytics maturity of their organizations as intermediate or below. The truth is that in order to stay competitive in your market, you must build a robust capability to visualize your most important metrics in real-time. You need to be nimble to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, and build for the future that is here today.
Wherever you are in your analytics journey, Arras is here to help. Click here to learn more and see how we can help you turn data into intelligence.