One of the obstacles some marketers run into is that they rush to execution. Picture a marketer who has spent a lot of time developing a strategy and creating a good message. They’ve done everything right and think they have everything in order to start generating business, so they move forward and launch their campaigns.
Once they get to market, maybe they start generating some leads and even close a few deals. Everything seems to be going well until they go to analyze their campaigns so they can make improvements and experiment with new channels. At that point, they realize that they didn’t set any goals or ways to measure their success. Now, they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s not a pretty picture, is it?
For someone in that situation, all they’ve got to work with are sales figures. They can meet with their salespeople to try to get an idea of what led to the sale, but that’s hardly an accurate science. The problem is, without established goals, key performance indicators (KPIs) and mechanisms to capture them, it’s nearly impossible to be able to connect the sales to a specific buyer’s journey. Those things need to be put in place before campaigns are launched.
It may sound simple enough, but setting goals and KPIs before the start of a campaign is a process in itself. Throw in the fact that you’ve got to identify and implement the correct measurement mechanics as well, and you’re looking at some serious work. But it’s work that will be well worth it because of the data it will yield. Because as management consultant Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
Goals are desired outcomes. When you set goals, you are asking “What does success look like?” or “How do we define success?” The struggle some companies face is differentiating between sales goals and marketing goals. Those departments are connected, but marketing leads to sales. A sales goal could be to increase revenue by 5 percent by the end of the next quarter. Part of achieving that goal may be getting more prospects to learn about the company’s products, so a corresponding marketing goal could be to increase product awareness by 25 percent by the end of the next quarter.
When setting marketing goals, get together with your team and have an in-depth conversation about your strategy and what you want your marketing to accomplish. You’ve probably heard the acronym S.M.A.R.T. in reference to goals. Here’s an overview:
Specific – Who, what, where, why, etc. Goals need to include as many details as possible.
Measurable – The way in which you know whether or not the goal has been accomplished. How will progress be tracked?
Attainable – Is the goal realistic? It’s great to dream big, but at the end of the day, a goal needs to be something that actually has a chance of being accomplished.
Relevant – The purpose of the goal. Will accomplishing the goal benefit the company and be worth the effort?
Time-bound – Goals need time limits. The sense of urgency is increased when there are deadlines to be met.
Goals provide a starting point and an ending point because you know where you stand and where you want to be. However, there’s a big gap in between. You’ll be able to tell whether or not the goal was achieved, but you won’t know why. In order to get those answers, you’ve got to identify KPIs.
Identifying & Measuring KPIs
A KPI is a metric used to evaluate the progress made as a company works toward its goals. When identifying KPIs, you are looking for small victories along the buyer’s journey that will culminate in achieving goals.
Let’s refer back to our goal example: increasing product awareness by 25 percent by the end of the next quarter. What can be done to increase awareness? Sending an email blast that includes a strong call to action that points prospects to a landing page is one way. In that instance, the KPIs would include email opens, link clicks and form submissions. Another way to increase awareness is through social media posts. Those KPIs would include reach and engagement.
Complex marketing campaigns have many moving parts, so it’s important to utilize multiple KPIs to obtain data. This data is needed to improve marketing effectiveness and increase ROI. But how exactly do you get that data? The next step in the process is to utilize or create mechanisms to collect and measure KPI data.
Technology has made KPI data collection much easier. Data sources like marketing automation platforms, Google Analytics or USPS mail tracking systems do much of the work for you. All you’ve got to do is access the reports, analyze the information, and utilize it accordingly.
Use Calls to Action
Some of the best KPIs are calls to action, and they’re easy to measure on digital campaigns. A call to action is an instruction that evokes an immediate response — “Click Here,” “Call Now,” “Email Us,” etc. With digital campaigns, your calls to action will likely be links or forms, and the KPI data will include link clicks and form submissions.
It’s a little more difficult to collect KPI data from non-digital calls to action. In those instances, it may require salespeople or customer service reps to manually get that information. For instance, if a prospect calls the company requesting information and you don’t have a unique phone number set up to track calls, the prospect should be asked what caused them to call. Was it a call to action from a postcard? An advertisement? Something else? That data should be collected and stored in a central location like a master spreadsheet.
KPI data can come from disconnected sources, especially if you’re utilizing a combination of website analytics, marketing automation analytics, Google Analytics, an accounting system, an ERP System, a CRM, or some other source. At the conclusion of your campaigns, you need to look at all of the potential data sources and decide if there is a way to easily combine the information. If not, it may be necessary to input information manually.
The process can get pretty complicated, especially if you utilize a variety of data sources. However, it’s best to be prepared and have a plan prior to launching campaigns. It can be overwhelming, if not impossible, to try to do it after the fact.
Cost vs. Response
At the end of the day, you want to make a sale. But typically with B2Bs, it’s a long sales cycle/buyer’s journey. In most cases, you’re not going to deploy a campaign and get immediate results. You’ll probably have multiple campaigns going at once. In order to identify what is working and what is not, it’s necessary to do an apples to apples comparison of channels. What is the cost vs. the response? By collecting and analyzing data, you can figure out the best ways to improve your marketing so that you’ll be able to set loftier goals and achieve them.
Accelerate the Sales Cycle
The marketing and sales teams already have a lot on their plates, and the pressure to make more sales at a faster rate makes things even tougher. That’s why more and more businesses have turned to marketing automation to accelerate the sales cycle and free up some time for employees to focus on what they do best: closing buy-ready prospects and strengthening existing customer relationships. We will be providing an extensive look at marketing automation in upcoming posts, so don’t miss out…