Measuring the success of B2B campaigns and marketing has always been a hot topic, but as coronavirus has changed the marketing landscape, marketing budgets are being put under the microscope.
Whether it’s in-house or agency, the need for marketing leaders to be able to show quantitative value from marketing efforts and campaigns is more important than ever before.
However, for many businesses, their B2B buying cycles are getting longer and more complex, making it difficult to measure. For example, in 2017, 58% of buyers said their decision process was longer than in 2016, and only 10% of buyers said their purchase time decreased (Business 2 Business Community).
Additionally, 60% of B2B buyers will only talk to a salesperson once they’ve done their own research and are much further into the sales funnel, making this buying cycle even more complex.
This begs the question, how can marketers show quantitative value from marketing efforts to their C-Suite managers who are suffering from ‘ROI angst’? We spoke to some B2B marketing experts who gave us their advice, tips and tricks on how to measure ROI and for B2B campaigns.
Have accurate data for all touch-points
Reliable data is key to marketing and customer success, but for companies with several touchpoints, it’s easy to let a touchpoint or two fall under the radar.
“Knowing when to measure ROI is a common challenge, especially as the sales cycle tends to be longer with B2B campaigns compared to B2C campaigns. This typically means there are far more touchpoints to incorporate, knowing which ones to capture, and how, poses a huge ROI measurement hurdle in itself.
Meanwhile, data can wreak havoc with ROI monitoring if it’s incomplete or inaccurate, leading to unclear and generic results. What’s more, the right data needs to be measured using the right methods in order for it to provide any lead gen value.”
Focus on a north-star metric
One way to measure ROI for a B2B campaign is by establishing a north-star metric (NSM) and an invisible metric.
A north-star metric is a single metric that embodies the core value that a product or service delivers to its customers. For example, a SaaS (software as a service) company with a self-serve business model may have a metric along the lines of ‘trial accounts with >10 users active in week 1′.
Marketing Specialist at CrazyCall, Jakub Kliszczak, always chooses one north-star metric and at least one more so-called invisible metric when he’s embarking on his marketing campaigns.
“Measuring the success of B2B campaigns can be extremely hard and therefore daunting.
So I suggest choosing one north-star metric and at least one more so-called invisible metric.
We often see the NSM approach used in fitness and dieting. The main metric will be losing weight, but the human body is complex, and weight loss doesn’t always happen, even when we stick to the plan. But that isn’t to say it isn’t working – this is where invisible metrics such as body fat % or your BMI will see a broader picture.
When you apply this method, you may choose a pure conversion % like dollars spent to leads converted and, on top of that, choose some less obvious metric like leads in the pipeline or ratio of contacts made to leads acquired.”
Determine your brand value
Measuring ROI for branding campaigns can be incredibly challenging, and sometimes a bit counter-intuitive when you think about just how brand-driven the world is.
However, our Brand and Integrated Services Director, Simon Hall says that cost-based brand valuation and income approach brand valuation are great ways to establish brand value.
Cost-based brand valuation
“Cost-based brand valuation is a similar approach to saying that a home or car is worth the amount of money it took to renovate or improve it. Using the costs that have been incurred to build the brand since its beginning, it includes historical advertising, promotional cost, licensing and registration costs, trademarks and more.
However, while this method uses concrete costs to estimate your brand value, it doesn’t represent the current value of your brand.
This is all dependent on how the public perceives you and changes in your industry. ”
Income approach brand valuation
“Similar to cost-based, income approach brand valuation looks at the brand’s potential earnings and uses this to estimate the current value. This is calculated using future net earnings that can be attributed directly to the brand to determine its current value.”
Map your strategy against the sales funnel
The sales funnel is an excellent tool that helps marketers understand consumer behaviour, and build long-term relationships. When marketers map their strategies against their sales funnel, it will inform them of the type of activity and content they should be putting out there.
Connecting both marketing strategy and sales to determine both inputs and outputs is something Mike Essex, Owner and Lead Consultant of Devise Marketing finds invaluable.
“In our experience, we have found two key challenges that B2B companies face around ROI:
- Long sales cycles make it hard to determine which activity attributed to results and how they worked together.
- A smaller pool of customers than B2C, with multiple stakeholders involved in the buying process, making it hard to know which interactions led to sales.
“Whilst these two challenges make B2B considerably more challenging they also emphasise why a marketing strategy that’s aligned with the sales funnel is key, rather than just a set of adhoc tactics.
We work with our clients to create marketing strategies that are then mapped against their sales funnel. This is done by connecting marketing and sales together to best understand the activities that drive engagement throughout the funnel.
It takes longer, but for B2B where often thousands and even millions of pounds worth of contracts are at stake this enhanced customer insight is incredibly valuable.”
ROI: Net Income/Cost of Action x 100 = ROI
Samuel Adams, Social Media and Content Strategist at Seedspark says that using the Net Income/Cost of Action x 100 is a useful formula for measuring ROI, as it takes into account both sales and marketing data.
Measuring our ROI is a multi-step process that has multiple facets.
For social media campaigns, monitoring engagement and follower statistics provides insight into the health of each social media channel.
The equation we use to determine a “measurable” ROI is: Net Income/Cost of Action x 100 = ROI
With that, we are able to nail down a numerical value that measures the quality of each project to gauge if we should end future campaigns of the same nature, continue to pursue them or shift our approach.
Monitoring both sales and marketing department statistics regularly, it’s easy to identify direct correlations between various marketing strategies and a boost in leads for the sales team.”
Use goal and event segmentation to measure actions
It was predicted that. digital marketing would be the, “Top area of spending for 56% of B2B marketers in 2020.” However, this figure may, in fact, be higher, as coronavirus has been the trigger point for many B2B digital marketing strategies.
For many B2B companies, there will be key actions they want their customers to take on their website. This can range from clicking a ‘Get In Touch’ button, filling out a contact us form, or entering their details to download a whitepaper.
These can be tracked with Goals and Events within Google Analytics. Goals are great for tracking those lead generation or revenue actions, and events help track other behaviours.
Lee Savery, Content Specialist at Ricemedia echoes this sentiment and says that defining and measuring goals on key landing pages is crucial.
“It’s always important to measure your goal conversions on your key landing pages because you need to see if those pages are exactly what your users are looking for.
“If they’re landing on the page and clicking through to complete an action regularly then great because it’s serving its purpose.”
If the conversion rate is low, this is an indicator that the page needs optimising. Don’t forget to segment your goals as well! While you’ve got your sales or contact forms measured, what about your downloadable content? You need to know if all that hard work is actually of use to your audience.”
The need for designated key landing pages was also echoed by Adam Hempenstall, CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He said:
“Calculating ROI from a blog post is incredibly difficult. We sat down, thought about it and realized that the way we did it was completely wrong.
Instead of creating content around certain keywords, we created landing pages optimized for those keywords.
We then started building links to those landing pages, whose main purpose was conversion – not educating our readers. Our conversion rate picked up immediately and we were able to track the ROI of our content and SEO efforts much more easily.”
Use surveys to determine brand value
Jake Mellett Head of Brand & Product Marketing at IWOCA finds that conducting surveys and running regular checks helps to measure both brand perception and awareness. It’s also a great way to identify active and inactive activity.
“From a brand perspective, we measure the ROI of our campaigns by looking at how they impact brand awareness and brand perception using surveys. By tracking the changes we can see if there has been any improvement in brand awareness amongst small business owners. We usually run local tests to check if there are any uplifts in regions where we’re focusing on activity vs. those where we’re not.”