They’re common questions asked in executive team meetings, board meetings, and even in marketing staff meetings:
“How do we know our marketing is working?”
“Is the expense worth it?”
“Is the investment delivering the results we expected?”
Marketing is a way to scale a business and requires an investment to do so that rarely pays off instantly. Good B2B marketing is built on a strong foundation of brand, messaging, and positioning that is then driven into the market through various tactics, ultimately paying off in sales funnel activity and customer wins.
There are many steps to the process, especially in complex B2B sales environments where there are many decision makers, lots of reviews, and frequent gaps between requirements and what is offered.
While there are many metrics that highlight performance and investment return to choose from, the two key measures that will reveal if your B2B marketing is working are:
1. Customer Acquisition Cost
An area that has received much attention over the past several years is around lead management and attribution. There is still a huge amount of work to do here, but at least most companies know they need to connect the dots between the cost of generating a lead and the resulting revenue. Unfortunately, many companies don’t include this in a core set of reporting metrics, with only 25% of companies reporting cost per lead and an even more disappointing 22% reporting cost per customer according to a recent survey of more than 250 B2B marketing professionals by consulting firm Heinz Marketing.
These are the investments made to attract qualified leads and convert them into customers. Not knowing this information makes profitability reporting difficult and creates a blind spot around total customer lifetime value.
Knowing what it costs to acquire a customer is an essential data point to determining if “marketing is working.” If it costs too much to acquire a customer or there is no possibility of payback on the investment, then time to optimize programs, refine offerings, and think differently about distribution.
2. Content Effectiveness
Every B2B marketing organization should be aware they need content and a coherent content marketing plan. But to truly understand content effectiveness, a full funnel view is required. So think beyond just what content or collateral is being used to generate top of the funnel interest like whitepapers, webinars, or case studies and include a full inventory of all content used throughout the sales cycle. This includes both what marketing uses to identify, engage, and capture leads but also what the sales team uses to further qualify, differentiate, and win business.
Knowing what is available and used is just half the battle. To truly understand if “marketing is working,” the usage and effectiveness of this content must be tracked and analyzed with the best pieces being identified by both their original content and any derivative works. When marketing creates a 20 slide presentation and the EMEA sales team takes four slides from it to use in their market because they know they are effective, marketing needs to know this to demonstrate that the investment to build that presentation was worthwhile but not as great as it could have been, given the utilization.
Unlike lead management, which has benefited from years of technology enabled reporting and optimization, content effectiveness is still evolving as it relates to marketing teams understanding what to measure and how to measure it. An integrated sales engagement platform can go a long way in terms of consolidating, optimizing, and reporting on content use and performance with the ultimate goal of mapping specific content investments to closed business and measurable revenue.