04 Nov B2B Marketing Performance Measurement
Measuring B2B marketing’s performance in 2016 – Moving from outputs to outcomes
I had the privilege of speaking at the annual South African B2B Marketing Conference earlier this week. My talk focused on measurement – and attempted to provide the audience with some insights and advice on how to navigate this sometimes controversial topic.
The crux of the talk was focused on how B2B marketers (and our B2C peers, for that matter) must make the shift from reporting marketing’s outputs (clicks, likes, attendance, impressions, reach etc.) to reporting its impact on business outcomes (revenue growth, sales, customer acquisition etc.).
Seemingly very straightforward, but it’s not happening. Most (if not all) of us are all guilty of clinging to our safety blankets – operational metrics that, for the most part, don’t really tell the story of how business outcomes have been impacted.
There is hope, but it requires a mindset shift – a different way of looking and (and implementing) B2B marketing performance measurement.
With most businesses knee deep in their 2016 planning cycles, consider the following thought starters on how you can start making the shift and in so doing, raise the profile of marketing – whether you’re an in-house marketer or part of an agency team.
- Reframe conversation
You can’t change your organisation’s culture, but you can change the conversations you’re having. Make them (more) intelligent and adopt a consultative approach with your business stakeholders.
- Identify the metrics and KPIs that matter
Very simply, focus on and measure the key performance indicators your senior management cares about. No more than five, else it becomes impossible to track. Slam on the brakes in your marketing organisation if needed and take the time to get this right – the results will pay off in the long run.
- Measure according to where your business is
The stage your business finds itself in will determine what you measure. Just as you won’t measure and assess a two year old’s writing skills, you won’t measure the impact marketing has on customer retention at the early stages of a start-up.
Look at what’s happening in your industry and use it as a guide to assess the performance of your own efforts.
- Asses your skills
I cannot overemphasise this point. From my research and conversations with marketers in the field it is clear that business acumen is lacking – in quite a big (and for me, alarming) way. Keep an eye out for another article on this topic soon.
Use technology to your advantage – there are great marketing automation tools available – but remember that whilst technology is an excellent enabler, it’s not the silver bullet. You need to address the people and process elements at the same time.
- Communicate, educate and manage expectations
I can sum this up in two words: never assume. It applies to anything in life, but never assume your business stakeholders understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Over-communicate, educate and manage expectations – all the time.
- B2B marketing needs PR
It’s time for some shameless self-promotion. Show the business how you’ve impact the bottom line – forget the vanity metrics, report on the results that matter!
- Report intelligently
Some of it’s intuitive – with certain aspects you “just know” whether or not something has worked. Find the right balance between what’s intuitive, what’s quantitative and what’s qualitative. It’s not just about numbers. Nor is it just about stories and pictures.
- Make measurement a mindset
Again, it’s about measuring what matters and not what’s easy or known. I need to add a caveat around this – whilst I’m urging you to adopt a measurement mindset, never become so obsessed with it that you lose sight of the bigger (strategic) picture. And never forsake the magic of marketing because you have become a “measurement addict”.
Bottom line is that we need to start speaking the language of the businesses we serve – and demonstrating the impact in the areas that matter. It’s not hard, but requires a shift in how we think and operate.
In conclusion, I’d like to share some words of wisdom from Albert Einstein who said: “Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.”