This blog was originally published by Kirsty Dawe, Agency Director, on LinkedIn Pulse.
We’ve all heard of the Greek mythological creatures such as the centaur, the cyclops, dragons and griffins. We’ve also been told about Medusa, whose gaze could turn you to stone. But, if you’re reading this post then you’re probably also aware of the myth that marketing departments are unaccountable brochure-manufacturers that don’t provide high-quality leads to the sales team. I say myth because in today’s modern world, these types of teams should simply be a figment of imagination. With the increase in tools, technology and specialisations, it’s more than possible for marketing teams to prove their worth and shirk these historical misconceptions.
Myth 1: Reporting and measuring
There was a time when measuring the ROI of B2B marketing activity was relatively simple - count the overall cost of a direct mail or email campaign, and then subtract that amount from the total revenue generated as a result. However, over recent years there have been some dramatic changes in B2B marketing. A myriad of new communications channels have arisen. There has been the rise of the inbound/content marketing movement. And, social media has become a major influence on marketing strategies and communication tactics. So does this mean that marketers are exempt from measuring their results? Of course not, but now there is an easier way.
Along with the industry developments mentioned above, technology also advanced. The outcome was a range of B2B marketing automation tools that are now almost a necessity for B2B marketers. Not only do these tools streamline processes and costs, they also provide countless different metrics and measurements which are continually (and automatically) analysed. The outcome then, is that modern B2B marketers have no excuse for failing to track their performance and prove their worth within an organisation.
Myth 2: Attribution
This is a relatively modern phrase that’s been created to describe an age-old issue – what piece of marketing generated a sale? The myth that marketers just create brochures and handouts for salespeople to distribute was quashed with the rise in multi-channel marketing. However, the issue now lies in trying to determine which of the marketing channels actually helped generate the sale. Some organisations have been known to report it as the first ‘touch point’ and some have been known to report it as the last. However, using the marketing automation technology mentioned previously it’s possible to see an in-depth overview of the lead’s journey through the sales cycle (and each individual touch point).
The question then is how to determine which of the channels generated the sale… and the answer is, all of them. Every piece of marketing that the lead engaged with helped guide them towards a sale in some way. It kept them interested enough to continue engaging with the brand and the marketing materials. Using the sales cycle overview it’s possible to see which of the multiple marketing channels they interacted with.
With analyses showing which channels feature most frequently in the sales cycles of leads, the channels which have the least impact and are rarely engaged with can be removed from the marketing strategy. It’s now possible to accurately measure which channels attributed to a sale and which didn’t – again giving the marketing department more ammunition to combat the ‘myths’ of their immeasurable approach.
Myth 3: Accountability
Marketing’s lack of accountability was always a bitter pill to swallow for other areas of the business. When sales people failed to convert a lead to a customer, it was their fault. However, the quality of the lead that was generated by marketing was never questioned. When marketing campaigns went well, the marketing team took the praises, but when the campaigns didn’t work so well, they blamed sales for not converting the leads. As there was no real way to measure marketing’s impact across the board, this almost became the norm.
However, not any more. Using the technology and process stated previously, marketing teams can now conduct comprehensive measuring and reporting of their activities, while also allocating attribution to individual channels. The outcome is that every touch, lifecycle change, engagement and webpage visit, among other things, are tracked on the record of each lead and customer. This means when a lead converts to a customer, marketing can be held accountable for their ROI. If they have the metrics to measure attribution, then they have the ability to determine whether their latest campaign generated high-quality leads and customers or not.
Unlike ever before, the C-suite are holding the marketing team accountable for high-quality leads and ROI on their activity and spending. To prompt an increase in next year’s budget, the marketing team should be using this accountability as an opportunity to prove their worth to the board and show their capabilities. Whether the activity is a success or a failure, thanks to marketing automation and technological advances, the modern marketing team have nowhere to hide – they are accountable either way.
Myth 4: Relationship with sales
The myth of marketing providing sales with unqualified, low-quality leads cannot be the case in today’s modern world of B2B marketing for two reasons. Firstly, if a lead fails to convert to a sale then it’s possible to revisit the information on the lead and determine whether they were sales-ready or not (based on their previous activity). Given this exposure to their work, it’s unlikely that marketing would be transferring sub-standard leads to sales.
The second reason is sales and marketing alignment. Over the past twelve to eighteen months, there has been a large industry shift caused by the alignment of sales and marketing teams. As content has replaced a lot of the salesperson’s role, sales and marketing need to work a lot closer to educate and inform the lead throughout the sales cycle. With marketing engaging the lead right up to the last moment, then passing the comprehensive data they’ve gathered over the sales, the relationship is much closer than before. In return, sales feedback direct responses from the leads which helps to inform the marketing going forward. If the salesperson notices a trend or pattern in prospects’ pain points or interest in content, they simply notify the marketing team, who amend the strategy accordingly.
One of the most valuable products of this new alignment is the improvement in lead quality. By ensuring that sales and marketing initially collaborate to define the criteria of a sales-ready lead; marketing are much more informed about what sales are looking for. By focusing the lead generation process on leads that meet all the criteria set by sales, there should never be an instance where sales are unhappy with the quality of the leads. And, these pre-agreed guidelines also help marketing to target their tactics towards particular types of prospects.
As most organisations are either in the process of aligning their sales and marketing teams or have already done so, the myth about marketing passing over any old lead to sales has been officially busted.
Myth 5: ROI
The biggest myth of all about B2B marketing was that marketers carried out their activity with little or no regard for the revenue or the ROI it generated. Well, if your current marketing team aren’t currently able to prove their ROI, then consider replacing them or outsourcing your marketing activity. A marketing team unable to calculate its ROI it today’s world is as good as useless. Technology, channels, skill-sets and techniques are growing at a rapid rate in this industry and only those who are actively adapting and improving will see any success.
With marketing automation software, attribution, and accountability all now possible for marketing teams, you can bet your last penny that measuring ROI is also possible. The industry-leading marketers can not only measure ROI, but can also do so by channel – again helping to identify the under-achieving activities.
With numerical data, in-depth reports and proven results, the B2B marketing team is no longer a mythical creature famous for its badly targeted practices and aimless performances. It’s now a laser-focused band of specialists using multiple channels to generate the best leads in a surgically efficient fashion.
How is your marketing team performing? Are they still the centaurs of the business realm or have they come into the real world and started generating measurable results? Understand more about producing B2B marketing ROI by downloading this free ebook 'B2B Marketing ROI: Measuring Success'.