By Aaron Mahimainathan
Measuring B2B marketing ROI has been an age-old challenge for marketers. And that challenge has only gotten both more complex and more important in today’s crazy, unpredictable world.
Consider what we’ve all been through the past few years and how these changes have affected how we live and work: A pandemic, supply chain disruptions, geopolitical instability, economic headwinds, rising interest rates, bank failures and the list goes on and on. These factors all add up to an increasingly challenging environment for B2B marketers.
Add to this the changing buyer behavior driven by shifting demographics and different expectations around the buying experience. B2B buyers increasingly expect a seamless, self-serve B2C-like experience and no longer follow a traditional sales-driven funnel. And at the same time, buyers are more discerning and critical of traditional marketing tactics, while also keeping an eye on their tightening budgets. This means that B2B marketers need to evolve how they market and gather data, how they test and iterate, and how they measure and decide on next best action. This is no easy feat.
More than ever, today’s marketers need to understand what channels, programs, campaigns, and tactics their buyers are responding to so they can improve their marketing effectiveness and identify opportunities to optimize both short- and long-term objectives. Today’s B2B marketers need to be more precise in their efforts and they can’t afford to waste budget on efforts that don’t contribute to pipeline and revenue. They need to clearly demonstrate marketing’s impact in the buying process. In short, marketers need to “defend their spend.”
What steps can B2B marketers take to streamline and future-proof their measurement capabilities so they can better reach their buyers, maximize their impact, and prove their value? Here are three considerations to improve your B2B marketing measurement:
1. Ensure clean, governed and compliant data
Good data is at the core of good marketing and in turn, good marketing measurement. If your data isn’t clean and compliant, you can’t reach your buyer, you can’t measure your efforts, and you’ve effectively wasted your budget. Not to mention the financial consequences imposed by current privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and others, which can be upwards of an eight-figure fine. Make sure you have governance engines in place to ensure data accuracy and privacy governance from the get-go.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that it’s about quality over quantity when it comes to leads. A governance engine will reject unusable leads, repair leads, and help you track your lead delivery in more detail so you can understand why certain leads were rejected.
2. Connect your systems and data
Along the same vein as ensuring clean, compliant data is the importance of connecting all your data. Insider Intelligence analyst, Kelsey Voss said in a recent report that “The problem many B2B marketers currently face is their stacks are unwieldy and don’t align with tech and other teams.”
Changing buyer preferences means that there is a shift in how marketing, sales, customer success, product and other departmentswork in concert, and alignment across teams and the technology your teams use is critical to the success of the business.
For instance, if the data from sales in your CRM doesn’t match with the data imported from a lead list from a publisher, which doesn’t match with the booth scans from a tradeshow event, how can you even begin to provide a seamless, personalized buying experience?
But just as with data, marketing technology is about quality over quantity. More is not always better and in fact, too many technologies can further muddy the waters. Especially with current economic conditions and budget cuts, focus your technology investments on what you really need and look for solutions that can connect your data together into a single platform and a single dashboard view.
3. Measure cross-channel impact
Today’s B2B buyers aren’t just reading emails or attending in-person events. Those days are long gone. B2B buyers are swiping left on unread emails, scrolling through social media, glancing quickly at ads, multi-tasking during webinars, and breezing by booths at in-person events. It’s not easy to reach today’s discerning buyers.
But we do know that they’re consuming content across multiple channels, sometimes all at the same time. This means we have an opportunity to better understand through cross-channel measurement how our buyers engage with our content, on which channels, in what context, with which messages, and across time.
Today, it’s important to have this cross-channel view of campaign performance, including social, content syndication, digital ads, in-person and virtual events. A comprehensive view across the entire buying committee can provide you with insights on what resonates with your buyer, help you determine what investments to make, and ultimately, connect your metrics to value.
It’s never been more important to take another look at your B2B marketing measurement efforts and identify ways to advance your capabilities. It’s a virtuous cycle: good measurement practices lead to a better understanding of your buyer, which leads to more personalized marketing campaigns and tactics, which leads to increased engagement, which leads to increased revenue, which allows you to scale your efforts and continue to grow.
The world will continue to change, and B2B marketers will need to constantly pivot. Building a good foundation for measurement, optimization, and iteration will serve as a solid basis for B2B marketers to move forward today and into the future.
Aaron Mahimainathan is the Chief Product Officer at Integrate, an enterprise marketing software and solutions provider. He has over 20 years of B2B product leadership experience and previously served as Chief Product Officer at mobile app insights and analytics provider, data.ai (formerly App Annie), mobile and web development platform and tools company, Telerik Inc., and enterprise application companies such as SAP Inc. and Siebel Systems. Mahimainathan holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and a MS in Engineering from the State University of New York, Syracuse.