Measuring the success of marketing programs is nothing new, and there has always been a focus among B2B marketers to quantify the reach and engagement of their initiatives.
In the past, much of this measurement focused on metrics like the circulation of print publications, the growth of catalog mailing lists, business cards collected at trade shows, and completed magazine 'bingo cards'.
Today, online channels command the bulk of B2B marketing budgets, providing marketers access to more data, more metrics, and more insight than ever before.
So it’s not surprising that B2B marketers at all levels of an organisation are under unprecedented pressure to quantify the return on their marketing investment.
In fact, ROI is the number-one objective for B2B marketers in 2016.
According to The Content Formula’s Michael Brenner, 93% of CMOs state that their greatest challenge is showing measurable ROI.
And 81% of B2B marketers claim that measuring marketing effectiveness is their biggest riddle to solve.
Whether you are looking to quantify the performance of your current marketing initiatives, or want to have a plan in place for 2017 that will help you reach your ROI goals, these five keys will help you get started.
Target your desired outcome
Return on investment is the name of the game, but ROI is not a 'one size fits all' term.
According to the 2015 State of B2B Marketing Report from Salesforce, the top three digital marketing metrics for success are revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and retention rates.
And when IEEE GlobalSpec asked industrial marketers how they measure the success of their marketing initiatives as part of our annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, we found that marketers care most about sales attributed to marketing campaigns, acquisition, satisfaction, leads, and retention.
By having a strong understanding of the goals and objectives of your organisation, you have built the foundation for your marketing plan. From there, you can define objectives and tactics that will help you reach your goals.
Diversify your marketing mix
Your audience has more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently, and they are also exposed to many options when ready to buy.
And as companies continue to allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media, it will become increasingly important to fend off competition online.
That’s why diversifying your marketing mix is critical.
Our research shows that a majority of B2B industrial marketers are reaching their target audience via multiple channels and tactics, but many feel like they could be doing more.
Not sure how to get started? Consider working with a media partner to develop a multichannel marketing strategy that is measurable and can reach your marketing goals
Understand your customer’s buy cycle
In the B2B space, the buy cycle is often long and complicated, involving multiple stages – needs assessment, comparison, evaluation, and purchase.
As a result, it can be difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels.
Buyers will often interact with your content and brand many times before contacting you or making a purchasing decision.
For example, they may download a technical article they found in a marketing email ad, attend a webinar that you are hosting, watch a video, type your company name into a search engine, and visit your website – all before beginning a conversation.
Understanding your customer’s buy cycle – and having content that helps them meet their needs at each stage – will help you define and capitalise on the value that your marketing programs deliver.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
It sounds simple enough – reach your audience by understanding what they seek. But remember that a key desired outcome is to reach your target audience where they can be found.
Go beyond search engine marketing and consider the websites they rely on, the e-newsletters they read, and more.
Being found in the right place at the right time isn’t enough. Ask yourself: "Are we offering them content they want?"
Your ability to answer this question correctly is dependent upon the tools you use to understand your customer and the quality of your analysis.
In addition to the product data they are seeking, offer educational materials that position you as a thought leader and help them make a better, more informed decision.
Whitepapers, technical articles, datasheets, webinars, and videos are just some of the different content types used by today’s B2B buyers.
Implement a formal lead nurturing program
Now that marketing has brought in the leads, it’s time to convert them, right? Wrong - very few leads translate into an instant purchasing decision.
Adding a clear lead nurturing program to the marketing mix has several distinct benefits that directly tie into ROI. First, you deliver more qualified leads to sales – making them happier and more productive.
Next, you can successfully track contacts and inquiries along the sales process, resulting in easier and more accurate measurement.
And finally, leads are less likely to fall through the cracks, reducing the potential for lost sales and wasted resources.
Hitting ROI milestones can seem like a daunting challenge. By taking a strategic approach to defining, executing and reaching your measurement goals, you will be well prepared to illustrate the value of your marketing efforts to the C suite.