The B2B sales funnel is a long and increasingly entangled path. Prospects today require more touches, and prefer to research on their own terms prior to reaching out to a salesperson. At best, CMOs know something about the first touch (lead source) or last, but the majority are blind when it comes to 80% of their funnel.
For B2B, single-touch attribution is simply not enough. If a webinar generated 300 leads, and 10 of those leads ultimately closed, it’s irresponsible to assume that rate of success will repeat. The same is true for the bottom of the funnel. First/last touch attribution is the equivalent of enjoying a life-changing burger, and accrediting its deliciousness to only the top or bottom bun. What about the meat, cheese, vegetables, sauce, bacon, onion rings, etc.!? I hungrily digress, but there’s simply too much activity between first touch and last for marketers to ignore—yet most still do.
The opportunity for B2B marketers lies in the meaty middle of the funnel.
Understanding The Ingredients
So, what’s happening in this mid-funnel black hole? Lots. This post-generation period is so crucial because leads depreciate in value every minute that they go unattended. An astounding 79% of leads get stuck mid-funnel—never converting—creating a gap that costs marketers time and money.
B2B marketers address the problem of mid-funnel decay through complex, automated nurturing programs, designed to further educate and strengthen relationships with prospects. This is achieved through a series of high value touches—roughly 10, on average—comprised of a blend inbound and outbound marketing tactics. But how do you determine the right mix to cost-effectively move leads through the funnel? Which of your campaigns are most effective and which are actually impacting the bottom line?
To answer these questions, marketers need full visibility into the complete range of interactions across the funnel. Despite an ever-growing marketing stack, most tools’ attribution models are flawed. CRMs (Salesforce, SAP, Oracle), marketing automation (Marketo, Eloqua), and top-of-funnel advertising/web technologies (Bizo, Optimizely, etc.) still rely on out-of-the-box, single-touch attribution models.
Multi-touch Attribution Success: The Recipe
CMOs need to get the total picture of marketing’s impact on sales—understanding the influence of each and every touchpoint—not just first or last. By understanding the value of various interactions, you’ll be able to more intelligently craft nurturing campaigns that translate to revenue. A well-designed nurture track offers a range of benefits and, according to Forrester, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost. To understand the meaty middle and realize these benefits for yourself, the recipe is fairly straightforward:
- 1 part CRM (e.g. Salesforce)
- 1 part Marketing Automation (e.g. Marketo)
- 1 part BrightFunnel
- Add other marketing technologies to taste
- A dash of creativity
Stir to blend and earn the trust of your colleagues, increase your budget, and realize exceptional marketing ROI through more educated planning and forecasting.
Multi-touch attribution is difficult, but not impossible, and too many marketers take it upon themselves to try and untangle messy data and derive mid-funnel insights. Solutions like BrightFunnel streamline the attribution process—through machine-learning and intelligent modeling—and make it easy to demystify your data and get a grip on mid-funnel performance. Get in touch today to learn more about our B2B attribution and forecasting solutions, and never again find yourself asking, “Where’s the beef?”
Last week, BrightFunnel Founder and CEO, Nadim Hossain, participated in a roundtable discussion on the state of data-driven marketing and what the (exciting) future holds. The panel featured Henry Schuck of DiscoverOrg and Craig Harris of HG Data, and covered a broad range of topics, including:
Today, we’re making the webinar recording available for you to stream. So, without further ado, enjoy “Taming The Beast: Making Data-Driven Marketing Work For You.”
Attending Dreamforce this year?
BrightFunnel is throwing one helluva party and we want to see you there. Spots are limited so click here to reserve your spot today!
CMOs are a unique breed. Because Marketing is such a diverse function—encompassing creatives and quants under the same roof—as a CMO, it takes a distinct skill set to orchestrate this blend of talents in a way that translates to success. Beyond acting as a conductor, the B2B CMO’s responsibilities have expanded in recent years—taking on an even broader and more revenue-focused leadership role, in order to meet demanding organizational objectives. With accountability expectations on the rise, many marketers are finding themselves hard-pressed to bridge the gap between Marketing efforts and the bottom line.
The B2B CMO of tomorrow must be able to not only report on past activity, but act as the company “psychic”—able to accurately predict the future revenue impact of every dollar spent. Doing so requires an intimate understanding of performance across the demand waterfall—from first touch to close (and everything in between). In order to confidently invest in future activities, however, CMOs must first get a grip on the past.
Come Together, Right Now (Sales and Marketing)
With more and more buyers self-educating prior to ever speaking with a salesperson, CMOs own more of the B2B buyers’ journey than ever before. As a result, Sales and Marketing need be more closely aligned than they’ve traditionally have been. When Sales and Marketing unite around agreed upon goals and responsibilities, organizations stand the best chance of improving sales productivity, increasing marketing ROI, and driving growth.
Not surprisingly, Forrester reports that B2B CMOs noted head of Sales as their most important relationship in 2014. While bringing the two disciplines together may sound simple in theory, Sales and Marketing often have very different priorities and expectations. For example:
- Marketers generally focus on longer-term, strategic projects that span multiple quarters or even years; Salespeople are often most concerned with meeting monthly or quarterly quotas.
- Marketing generates lots of activities; Sales doesn’t always see the connection between the activities and revenue.
- Sales are relatively straightforward to measure; Marketing activities tend to be far more complicated with multiple touchpoints, stakeholders, and buyer scenarios. Which bring us to the next challenge…
More Data, More Problems
Most B2B organizations have access to expansive databases—spanning both Sales and Marketing—that record everything from historical campaign performance to the lifetime activity of customers and prospects. Whether marketers are making best use of this data is another discussion, and more than half of CMOs reported rarely or never using big data to make marketing decisions.
The reality is that most B2B CMOs are inundated with way too much data. Add to that a growing marketing stack—from CRMs, to automation platforms, to web analytics, and beyond—and you’ve got a recipe for disaster or, more likely, a tired and underutilized CMO. Unfortunately, most CMOs spend far too much time trying to make sense of the past—attributing historical campaign performance—when they should be doing the thing that they’re most uniquely positioned to do: planning for the future.
Look Into The Crystal Ball
“The best qualification of a prophet is to have a good memory.”
–Marquis of Halifax, CMO
In the age of big data, it shouldn’t take a savant-like memory to to get a grip on past marketing performance. On the other end of the spectrum, it shouldn’t take a magical crystal ball to predict how many deals will result from a given marketing activity or, at a higher level, how investments will translate to revenue. A wealth of data, and disparate technologies, have too many B2B CMOs scratching their heads. While the promise of big data and new marketing technologies was to simplify the CMO’s life, it has seemingly only made life more complicated. The hype surrounding big data has not yet translated to action… but it can.
The data exists to facilitate smarter marketing bets, and CMOs needn’t be spending much time, if any, to reach actionable revenue insights. In order to get to predictive marketing, CMOs must find a way to integrate data between a multitude of technologies, and have automated analysis in place to get the answers they need, quickly. Which customer profile is most likely to convert? Which campaign types yield the best ROI? If I put X dollars in today, what return will I see and and when?
The time for predictive marketing is now. Through a combination of automated data mining, statistical models (ever-evolving through machine learning), and benchmarking, CMOs are already making intelligent, agile decisions without the headache and time suck that they once knew. With predictive marketing, CMOs can finally step up to the table with their executive peers and put their “clairvoyant” powers to use—confidently commanding exactly which investments will work and why.
We’re pleased to share with you a new BrightFunnel eBook:
The New B2B Buyers’ Journey: A Guide for Data-Driven Marketers
The traditional B2B “sales funnel” has evolved from a predictable linear model to a diverse and entangled path. How do marketers find ways to engage prospects at each step along the way, when the journey can be complex and unpredictable, involving any number of stakeholders?
In this free eBook, you’ll learn:
- Three attributes of the new buyers’ journey
- How this provides opportunity the savvy B2B marketer
- Three tips to capitalize on an evolving path-to-purchase
This guide will serve as a primer for B2B marketers seeking to realize greater ROI from their marketing investments through a better understanding of the new B2B buyers’ journey. We’ll examine how the journey has evolved in recent years, highlight the opportunity for data-driven marketers, and provide tips to help you take off the blinders when it comes to understanding how your prospects progress through it.
Click here to download your free copy today!
“I don’t get no respect.”
Whether you’re the late, great Rodney Dangerfield, or (far more likely) a B2B CMO, odds are you can empathize with those five little words. And for good reason: a CMO’s life is more complicated than ever before, and marketing too often does not command the respect it deserves. Regularly reduced to an “arts and crafts” function or—keeping with the comedy trope—the naïve open mic comic to Sales’ arena headliner status.
The reason for this misconception is simple: most marketers cannot justify expenditures because they lack insight into performance across the buyers’ journey. Because of this, increased pressure from boards and exec teams to more effectively prove marketing ROI has most marketers scrambling. If this is you, don’t fret—you’re not alone.
HubSpot’s recently released “State of Inbound 2014” report reveals that proving the ROI of marketing activities is still the #1 challenge faced by marketers. In this post, we’ll review the HubSpot report; highlighting new B2B marketing trends to help you win back the respect you deserve and, hopefully, prevent you from getting laughed out of your next board meeting.
Place Your Bets: Inbound vs. Outbound
Coined in 2006, HubSpot defined inbound marketing as “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company or product.” For B2B marketers, inbound has become an invaluable tool in the marketing arsenal, and an 85% of marketers state they are practicing inbound this year (vs. 60% in 2013).
BrightFunnel recommends a high velocity marketing approach—combining inbound with outbound demand gen—but the breakdown of inbound vs. outbound tactics requires careful analysis when deciding where to invest. In 2014, more than twice as many respondents cited inbound (45%) as their primary source of leads versus outbound demand gen (22%).
Inbound tactics like blogging, SEO, social media, and content distribution/amplification, were all cited as the most valuable marketing levers in the past year. Furthermore, while B2B and B2C companies tend to prioritize the same tactics, B2B companies generally place a higher value on educational formats (e.g. webinars):
Managing this groundswell of new inbound tactics—many which did not exist 10 years ago—and making sense of the copious amounts of data that support them is enough to make any CMO’s head spin. Thankfully, we can all agree that data can facilitate smarter measurement, planning, and prediction when supported by the right people, tools, and processes. But, as a CMO, how should you prioritize relative to other organizational needs?
Prioritizing Measurement: A Fatal Disconnect
Proving ROI is the biggest hurdle cited by marketers today, and strong alignment exists between both marketing leadership (director and above) and practitioners (manager and below) on this point-of-view:
Despite this shared perspective, it’s surprising to find that proving the ROI of marketing activities it’s incongruously ranked low relative to other priorities.
Regardless of team size or budget, no marketer can afford to be inefficient, and when marketers blindly spend time and money on flawed programs, they’re effectively stealing from their companies. Without the ability to interpret the efficacy of campaigns and make data-driven decisions, inefficiency is inevitable and you will waste money.
Establishing accurate measurement procedures (people + technology) must be priority #1 for CMOs. Those select few who’re able to understand the impact of campaigns and predict future outcomes, will have an instant leg up on the competition.
Prove Inbound ROI; Unlock Budget
According to HubSpot, marketers who effectively measure ROI are 12X more likely to be generating a greater year-over-year return. Understanding the revenue impact of each and every marketing decision helps marketing leaders attribute, plan, and predict future campaign outcomes.
On the same note, the ability to prove the success of your marketing campaigns directly correlates with a positive impact on marketing budget. In the HubSpot report, no single factor had a greater impact on budget—positive or negative—than did “past success with inbound.”
How can you defend your marketing budget? Which campaigns drive the most revenue? Where should you invest next? When will you finally get some respect!?
To be successful, marketers must prioritize ROI over all. As HubSpot puts it, “If inbound marketing were a sports team, data would be the coach.” In this scenario, a CMO must act as General Manager—understanding the bigger picture, interpreting the coach’s (data’s) performance, and serving as a visionary to guide future actions.
The complexity of measuring and analyzing performance data is by no means trivial. There is simply too much at stake to rely on a combination of Salesforce, Excel, and/or basic automation tools—that offer only basic, single-touch reporting—when deciding to invest for the future of your organization.
CMOs must evolve to be increasingly ROI-focused, with full insight into the buyers’ journey and the confidence to make big, data-backed decisions quickly. Those that succeed will be able to reestablish their role as a critical part of the organization, win the respect of their peers, and drive substantial, ongoing revenues. With the ability to prove ROI and predict future outcomes, even if they’re laughing on their way out of the boardroom—now you know they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
To download HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2014-2015” report, click here.