B2B Marketing Stack Basics: CRMs, Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) & The B2B Lead Lifecycle

B2B Marketing Stack Basics: CRMs, Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) & The B2B Lead Lifecycle

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) are among the most commonly used technologies by B2B marketing leaders. Without a CRM and marketing automation platform, tracking ROI is impossible. The two technologies exist at the core of proper revenue attribution and, when used effectively, both can be extremely powerful, with great impact on revenue. On the other hand, when not used exactly as prescribed by vendors—as is usually the case—CRM and MAS can also be very dangerous, leading to misguided marketing decisions that wreak havoc on your bottom line.

In our new “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, we’ll examine the technology building blocks of a winning marketing stack—the strengths and weaknesses of leading platforms, best practices for campaign tracking, and tips to achieve true multi-touch revenue attribution. In our first installment we’ll cover the fundamentals, offering an overview of CRM and MAS technologies and taking a look at how they work together along the B2B lead lifecycle.

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Overview

Many companies use their CRM as the system of record for nearly all business functions, but a CRM is primarily a sales and services tool, used to store data about existing customers and manage sales opportunities. It contains a database of all relevant information about clients and prospective clients and uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales pursuits.

Examples: Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle SiebelSAP, SugarCRM 

Benefits of CRMs

  • 74% of CRM users said their CRM system offered improved access to customer data. (source)
  • CRMs can increase sales productivity by up to 34% and forecast accuracy by up to 42%. (source)
  • Using a CRM has been proven to increase sales by up to 29%. (source)

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Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) Overview

The MAS is the marketing counterpart to the CRM platform—focused on moving inquiries from the top of the marketing funnel through to sales-ready leads at the bottom of the funnel. Marketing automation provides a single solution that marketers can use for all aspects of campaign design—including email and landing page development, lead management and scoring, and automation and reporting.

Today’s B2B marketers would be crippled without marketing automation. Essential functions such as communicating with and tracking prospects become impossible or at best extremely difficult without it. In order to track revenue, you must first track campaigns and leads. 

Examples: Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot, Pardot 

Benefits of CRMs

  • B2B marketers who implement marketing automation increase their sales-pipeline contribution by 10%. (source)
  • 63% of companies that are outgrowing their competitors use marketing automation. (source)
  • 8% of successful marketers say marketing automation systems are most responsible for improving revenue contribution. (source)

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The B2B Lead Lifecycle: How CRM and MAS Work Together

Marketing automation systems measure prospect engagement from the first time they interact with your company. Upon their first website visit, they’ll receive a cookie from your MAS, after which all interactions are tracked. A prospect is no longer anonymous once they provide their contact information (e.g. downloading an eBook, signing up for a webinar) and a lead is created within the MAS. From there, the lead is typically synced to the CRM. 

Salesforce and Marketo FlowOne of the core functions of marketing automation is the ability to score prospects based on engagement. A prospect’s lead score will accumulate over time based on their interactions with marketing activity. Many companies develop nurture programs or a series of automated communications designed to help prospects self-educate. As a prospect interacts with marketing activity—triggered by nurturing or done organically—they’ll continue to accumulate points until they reach an agreed-upon threshold that deems them sales-ready.

While lead cycle processes vary between organizations, there is usually some threshold that determines the lead has reached a gating stage and is passed to a sales rep. Sales can either accept a lead, and convert it (more on that in the following section), or reject a lead, in which case, they often re-enter a new nurture queue. Alternatively, a lead may be disqualified altogether, in order to prevent any future engagement (e.g. competitors or bad records).

Much has been written about lead management and the various stages leads can pass through. Much of that discussion is beyond the scope of this series, but we recommend familiarizing yourself with this process if you haven’t already.

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Have you been able to track multi-touch revenue attribution with your CRM and MAS alone? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “B2B Marketing Stack Basics” series, where we’ll go deeper on CRM best practices to make sure your leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities are properly set up for multi-touch revenue attribution.

To learn how to get started with multi-touch revenue attribution, download our free eBook today.

Revenue Attribution Basics: Common Multi-Touch Attribution Models (Part II)

Revenue Attribution Basics: Common Multi-Touch Attribution Models (Part II)

Getting started with multi-touch revenue attribution requires an understanding of the various approaches. There are several commonly accepted models, and your choice depends largely on your business needs and data set. At BrightFunnel, we recommend experimenting with a variety of models to determine which attribution model is the best fit for your organization.

In our last series installment, we looked at the most common single-touch approaches to attribution, the starting point for most marketers seeking get started with attribution. In this post, we’ll focus on a range of common multi-touch models—offering the pros, cons, and example scenarios for each of the various approaches.

Before we get started, consider the following scenario*, which will be referenced throughout the “Revenue Attribution Basics” series as we examine the pros and cons of each model:

Jane Smith from ABC Company visited your company’s booth at a conference and was scanned by your booth staff, which was then used to create a lead in your CRM. Wanting to learn more about your company, she watched a video on your website, signed up for a webinar, and ultimately downloaded an eBook before an opportunity was created for ABC Company with Jane as the Primary Contact. Eventually, after engaging with sales, ABC Company signed a deal for $20K. 

* While the average B2B buyers’ journey spans at least thirteen different touch points, for the sake of simplicity, we’re using four touches in this example. Similarly, most purchase decisions are made by a collective group of stakeholders, rather than an individual.

Evenly-Weighted Attribution

Evenly-Weighted AttributionRevenue is attributed equally for every marketing touch.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Linear Attribution

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Revenue credit for all of Jane’s interactions are split evenly among all campaigns (4 campaigns all receive credit for $5K, totaling $20K).

THE BOTTOM LINE: An improvement from single-touch, the simplicity of linear attribution makes it the most common starting point for most marketers seeking to employ multi-touch attribution. While this approach does apply credit to all touches along the buyers’ journey, it runs the risk of overvaluing lower-impact touches, which can lead to faulty assumptions about the effectiveness of a campaign. For instance, an email click-through may receive the same credit as a demo request.

Time Decay Attribution

Time Decay AttributionMore revenue credit is given for interactions that occur closer to conversion.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Jane’s interaction closest to the point of conversion—downloading your eBook—receives the most credit. All prior touches receive less and less, the farther back in history they are from the conversion event.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The core premise of the time decay model is that the closer a touch point is to conversion, the more it should receive. As respected author and Google Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, puts it: “If early touchpoints were so magnificent, why didn’t they convert?”

To learn more about the benefits of multi-touch revenue attribution, download our new eBook now.

Position-Based Attribution

Position-Based AttributionGreater revenue credit is given to specific touches in the cycle, typically the first and last touches.

ALSO KNOWN AS: U-Shaped Attribution, 40-20-40 Mode

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Jane’s first and last interactions receive the majority of credit ($16K total), while the remainder of credit ($4K) is divided among mid-funnel activity.

THE BOTTOM LINE: In this example, a position-based model generally attributes 40% of credit to the first and last touches, and distributes the remaining 20% evenly amongst mid-funnel interactions. These percentages, of course, can be adjusted in the process of finding the model that makes the most sense with your programming. Position-based attribution offers an interesting multi-touch option for marketers who want to emphasize lead generation and last touch events, without discounting mid-funnel nurture activity.

Interaction-Based Attribution

Interaction-Based AttributionMore emphasis is placed on touches that indicate deeper engagement.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Because you’ve historically seen that prospects who’ve engaged with webinars and eBooks are more likely to convert, more revenue ($8K and $6K, respectively) is attributed to these events than a conference or video ($4K and $2K). Credit is disbursed accordingly among all of Jane’s interactions. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: A custom interaction-based attribution model relies on historical analysis to apply different weights to varying interactions. The biggest danger with interaction-based models is that they can often be subjective, and marketers must put considerable thought into which types of user behaviors are most valuable. Ideally, these decisions are informed by historical behavioral patterns and, because of this, it’s strongly recommended that you first experiment with models that don’t require gut-based inputs—first, last, linear, and time decay—in order to identify behavioral trends, before layering in other factors that are important to your business.

Have you seen success with multi-touch attribution? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “Revenue Attribution Basics” series to learn more about how machine-learning algorithms use scientific and proprietary algorithms to statistically determine appropriate credit.

To learn how to get started with multi-touch revenue attribution, download our free eBook today.

Introducing Revenue Waterfall™: Full-Funnel Analytics for B2B Demand Generation

Introducing Revenue Waterfall™: Full-Funnel Analytics for B2B Demand Generation

Today marks another exciting milestone for BrightFunnel as we were pleased to announce the launch of Revenue Waterfall™ at The Marketo Marketing Nation Summit. The new offering automates the tracking of stage progression across demand generation efforts, extending the core BrightFunnel platform—multi-touch revenue attribution and campaign performance insights—and furthers the company’s mission to connect marketing spend to revenue results.

Revenue Waterfall is available immediately in North America, and is designed for B2B organizations who want to better align sales and marketing efforts, and who have implemented a multi-stage lead-to-revenue process, such as the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. Unlike alternative approaches to rigorous funnel analysis, such as using BI solutions, Revenue Waterfall is seamless to set up and configure, offering value in days, not months, and leverages existing investments in CRM (such as Salesforce.com) and Marketing Automation (such as Marketo, Eloqua, Hubspot and Pardot).

Features of the new product include:

  • Unified Sales and Marketing Funnel
  • Automated Cohort Analysis
  • Dynamic Filters
  • Real-time Alerts

If you’re attending the Marketo Summit, visit us at Booth #318 to see the new tool in action. Otherwise, to learn more about the Revenue Waterfall and all of its features, read the full announcement or request a demo today!

Revenue Attribution Basics: Common Single-Touch Models (Part I)

B2B marketing leaders talk a lot about the benefits of multi-touch revenue attribution; however, faced with time and technological constraints, nearly all marketers still default to single-touch attribution. Getting started with multi-touch attribution first requires an understanding of the various approaches—from the most basic, to more complex, multi-touch methods.

In this series, we’ll explore some of the most popular revenue attribution methods being used today. There are several commonly accepted models, and your choice depends on your business needs and data set. In fact, in most cases, it’s advantageous to use more than one. For our first installment, we’ll focus on common single-touch models, the starting point for most marketers seeking get started with attribution.

Before we get started, consider the following scenario*, which will be referenced throughout “Revenue Attribution Basics” as we examine the pros and cons of each model:

Jane Smith from ABC Company visited your company’s booth at a conference and was scanned by your booth staff, which was then used to create a lead in your CRM. Wanting to learn more about your company, she watched a video on your website, signed up for a webinar, and ultimately downloaded an eBook before an opportunity was created for ABC Company with Jane as the Primary Contact. Eventually, after engaging with sales, ABC Company signed a deal for $20K. 

* While the average B2B buyers’ journey spans at least thirteen different touch points, for the sake of simplicity, we’re using four touches in this example. Similarly, most purchase decisions are made by a collective group of stakeholders, rather than an individual.

First-Touch Attribution

First-Touch Attribution Revenue is attributed to the first marketing touch. All campaign touches after the initial interaction are ignored.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO: Jane’s first interaction—visiting your booth at a conference—receives 100% credit for the deal ($20K). 

Last-Touch Attribution

First-Touch AttributionRevenue is attributed to the last marketing touch before an opportunity is created. All campaign touches before the last interaction are ignored.

ABC COMPANY SCENARIO:
Jane’s last interaction prior to lead conversion—downloading your eBook—receives 100% credit for the opportunity ($20K).

The Bottom Line

Single-touch models are a common starting point for revenue attribution, used by nearly two-thirds of all marketers. While preferable to not attributing revenue at all, single-touch models place disproportionate emphasis on either lead generation (first touch) or conversion (last touch) activity.

The biggest problem with single-touch attribution models is that they overstate the value of a single activity, and undervalue everything else. For instance, if you have a campaign that consistently occurs midway through the buyers’ journey (e.g. webinar in ABC Company example), it won’t be given any credit with single-touch. In reality, your mid-funnel programming may be a critical step in progressing prospects through the funnel. As a result, marketers may be tricked into inappropriately allocating investments, cutting spend in mid-funnel programs because single-touch attribution doesn’t provide visibility into that portion of the buyers’ journey.

Which attribution models does your marketing team use? Stay tuned for the next installment of our “Revenue Attribution Basics” series to learn about the pros and cons of common multi-touch attribution models, and tips to help you more accurately measure Marketing effectiveness and ROI.

To learn more about all revenue attribution models, download our new eBook today.

The Year In Review: A Quick Start Guide to Data-Driven B2B Marketing in 2015

The Year In Review: A Quick Start Guide to Data-Driven B2B Marketing in 2015

2014 was an exciting year to be a marketer. The ever-increasing volume and availability of data gave way to substantial changes in the way B2B marketers analyze and optimize their marketing activity. Marketing leaders embraced the data at their fingertips, using it to understand what’s working, prove ROI, and get a grip on marketing-generated revenue.

We’ve tracked the pivotal advancements over the past year, adding our own commentary and tips along the way. To help you get a jumpstart on the coming year, we’re pleased to recap of the top B2B marketing trends (and related reading) from 2015. For a great starting point, check out the six strategic themes that B2B CMOs must address in 2015, and use the following guide for more comprehensive coverage of the leading trends in data-driven marketing. In 2015…

Marketers embraced a data-driven culture.

In 2014, marketers truly embraced big data, implementing new roles (Marketing Operations) and processes to help make smarter, data-backed decisions. Suggested reading:

This culture shift was largely supported by new technologies.

2014 saw the introduction of many new marketing analytics tools and the rise of the “marketing cloud.” Still, we quickly realized that not all marketing analytics and BI tools are created equal. Suggested reading: 

Free eBook: The Analytics Cloud Review: A Primer For B2B Marketers

Multi-touch attribution became a reality.

Supported by new technology, many marketers stopped relying on single-touch attribution—crediting a deal to only first or last touch—and adopted more thorough models, able to assign appropriate credit to every touch leading up to a sale. Suggested reading.

Proper attribution gave marketers complete visibility into their buyers’ journey and revenue waterfall.

Technology and attribution helped marketers track progress along the entire B2B buyers’ journey to prove marketing ROI, plan more intelligently, and tie marketing activity directly to revenue. Suggested reading:

Free eBook: The New B2B Buyers’ Journey: A Guide for Data-Driven Marketers

Marketing got predictive—allowing marketers to more intelligently plan, forecast, and take control of marketing.

With visibility into activity across the revenue waterfall, marketers can now accurately predict the future revenue outcomes of their activity. In doing so, CMOs can forecast exactly how much marketing-generated revenue will be generated in the coming quarter (or year), building respect and accountability throughout the entire organization. Suggested reading:

As B2B marketers ourselves, at BrightFunnel, we’re excited about the massive adoption of data-driven marketing tactics and have built our own predictive analytics platform exclusively with B2B marketers in mind. We hope that the above resources will both inform and inspire your plans for the coming year.

We invite you to reach out, should you have any questions about how you should be thinking about data-driven marketing in 2015, or if you’d like to schedule a demo of our platform. Until then, Happy New Year from everyone at BrightFunnel. Wishing you a prosperous (and data-driven) 2015!

How To Answer The 5 W’s of B2B Marketing With Predictive Analytics

How To Answer The 5 W’s of B2B Marketing With Predictive Analytics

Marketers are drowning in data. Across any number of platforms (Salesforce, Marketo, Google Analytics, etc.) we track everything and, as a result, we amass more records than most can effectively manage and interpret. We know that if analyzed correctly, this data contains powerful insights, but too often analysis leaves CMOs and their teams with more questions than answers.

Today, smart marketers are replacing pivot tables and manual analysis with technology to automate the process and help them identify what’s working, intelligently plan and forecast, and draw a direct correlation between marketing activity and revenue. In doing so, they’re able to take control of marketing, transforming it into a true revenue function.

The ubiquity and availability of data has brought us into a new era of data-driven marketing—allowing us to finally answer the most challenging questions in marketing. The following are the five key questions that predictive B2B analytics can help address:

Who: Target Audience

As marketers, we must cater to any number of audiences throughout the sales cycle. B2B purchase decisions often require the input of many stakeholders and an intimate familiarity with the characteristics of these target influencers is critical. Using data-driven insights, it’s now possible to identify which profiles are most vital to a sale. Blending traditional demographics with behavioral patterns—how prospects interact with both native and external touchpoints—helps us develop precise profiles of those with the highest propensity to buy. With these insights, marketers can more effectively target marketing to ensure they’re mapping activity and messaging to the most receptive audience.

What: Campaigns and Themes

70% of B2B marketers are creating more content than they did just last year, but how much of this content is actually providing value to the prospect? How much of it is presenting a message that truly aligns to a target’s interests and pain points? Content and messaging are too often developed in silos, based chiefly on Marketing’s perception of which themes will resonate with an audience. Predictive analytics allows marketers to leave the guesswork behind and embrace data-driven messaging. By analyzing everyday activity captured in CRM and marketing automation systems we can gain strategic insights that can be applied to the more granular elements of messaging—ideal theme, audience, product, region, and which cohorts work most effectively together. Predictive analytics helps automate this process, tagging themes and associated cohorts to tie messaging directly to sales.

Where: Which Channels

B2B Marketers use an average of 15 different channels in demand generation activities. For many, this number can far, far higher. Prospects engage with your brand across so many touch points—online and off—and it’s imperative that B2B marketers understand the role that each of these channels play in the evaluation process. While a webinar found through LinkedIn may be the final push to move an opportunity to sale, it’s irresponsible to discount prior campaigns and channels that also helped move the needle.

Most marketers still rely on single-touch attribution models—crediting a sale to only the first or last touch—but multi-touch attribution is necessary for full visibility into channel efficacy. With proper crediting of all channels involved in the path to sale, marketers can accurately model and measure the buyers’ journey taken by prospects, and tailor investments accordingly.

When: Targeting and Velocity

The B2B buyer’s journey is complex, spanning numerous stakeholders across any range of touchpoints, and Marketing now owns 75% of the sales cycle. With predictive analytics, marketers gain visibility into where targets will be most receptive to various schools of messaging along the path to purchase. Do eBooks work well as a first touch asset? Where in my nurturing track should I introduce case studies? After how many touches should Sales contact a lead? Specific content offers are more relevant to specific stages of the buyers’ journey and identifying the “when” is key to providing value to prospects.

Furthermore, by tracking progress along the complete revenue waterfall, predictive analytics can help marketers get a grip on velocity. Where are leads falling off or slowing down? Which efforts produce the shortest velocity results? When can I expect an investment to translate to revenue? With visibility into velocity patterns, B2B marketers can accurately forecast future revenue impact and align their plans to company goals.

Why: Data-backed insights facilitate confident bets

Arguably the most important of the set, understanding why something is or isn’t working is critical to making the big decisions that can transform marketing. Being able to answer why an activity was successful (i.e. the specific intersection of who, what, where, and when), builds respect, accountability, and helps secure/protect budget. The same is true for planning and forecasting. By understanding why certain programming has worked in the past, marketers can now predict precisely when and how much revenue will be produced as a result of their efforts. Predictive analytics helps facilitate smarter bets and justify there investments with the ability to accurately predict why/when an investment will turn into revenue.

Bonus: The “How”

Of course, we’d be remiss in not mentioning the red-headed stepchild of the group, the “how.” The past year has seen the rise of “analytics cloud” solutions promising to be everything to everybody—one-stop shops for organization-wide analytics. The reality is: most of these technologies aren’t built with marketing in mind, and traditional BI tools fall short when it comes to the unique needs of marketers. Marketing needs its own analytics and thankfully, the tools exist to help gain complete visibility into marketing’s impact on sales.

Predictive analytics solutions are facilitating data-driven marketing operations for companies of all sizes. Rather than adding headcount for manual analysis, smart B2B CMOs have embraced technology that’s helping them take control of marketing, tie efforts directly to revenue, and answer the big questions with the power to make or break a company. Data-driven marketing has arrived and the pioneers who are already using predictive technology are being met with significant competitive advantage. In the age of data-driven marketing, only one question remains: will your organization embrace predictive analytics… or risk being left in the dust?

Data-Driven Messaging: Closing the Content Marketing Feedback Loop

Data-Driven Messaging: Closing the Content Marketing Feedback Loop

The trend of B2B buyers preferring to independently research rather than engaging with sales is here to stay. In the era of buyer self-education, companies must provide value at every stage of the sales cycle—through blogs, eBooks, and other educational tools. Today’s B2B buyer values a superior purchase experience above all, and 53% of customer loyalty is now attributed to a great buying experience. With this shift in preference towards self-education, content marketing will be more important than ever in the coming year.

Content marketing success hinges heavily on marketing’s ability to deliver the right message, to the right buyer, at the right time. Yet, with so much on the line, too many marketers still gamble on hunches when it comes to developing messaging. Most don’t realize that they’ve got the content marketing playbook right under their noses—within their data. With data-driven messaging, B2B marketers can make more informed content marketing bets, adding more value to buyers along the purchase path and, in turn, more to the bottom line.

The Crappy Content Conundrum

There’s a lot of bad content out there. But why? There are a couple reasons. The first is that it’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of creating content for the sake of content—building it with the goal of satisfying demand gen goals instead of being thoughtful about how said content will ultimately benefit the end user. While an eBook developed around a hot button topic may initially spur some top-of-funnel activity, if it’s not a message that maps to your audience and accelerates funnel progression, it’s probably not worth your time.

More importantly, many organizations develop messaging in a silo. Conversations occur daily—with prospects and existing customers—that can provide valuable insight into the real-life problems that targets are looking to solve. When these insights are recorded, it’s product marketing’s job to use them to appropriately position offerings and guide the rest of sales and marketing. Sales, marketing ops, demand gen, and content creators all look to product marketing for guidance on the messaging and thought leadership themes that will connect with target buyers. After identifying these themes, a product marketer will prescribe topics, content is developed, and then promoted via the standard channels. Unfortunately, that’s generally where the story ends. Outside of the occasional qualitative observation, messaging is too often sent into the ether without further observation of how a distinct story is resonating in the market.

Closing The Loop: Data-Driven Messaging

While sales may occasionally be able to report on how a theme is going over based on head nods, marketers need a quantitative method of identifying which themes are resonating, with whom, at what point in the buyers’ journey. The insights gained can then be socialized throughout the organization in order to better understand the target customer, and make smarter decisions across functions. Most marketers lack the resources and/or ability to analyze performance at a precise enough level to identify these types of patterns and, as a result, the feedback loop isn’t closing.

Predictive analytics has empowered marketers to track progress across the buyers’ journey stages, identify which channels and campaigns are performing, prove ROI, and make smarter investments. But why stop there?  Everyday demand generation activity captured in CRM and marketing automation software contains rich, strategic insights that marketers can apply to the more granular elements of content marketing—ideal theme, audience, product, region, and which cohorts work most effectively together. Such insights can only come from drilling down into revenue outcomes, and connecting marketing—including themes and audiences—directly to revenue.

Data-driven messaging is introducing us to a new age of content marketing. An age where marketers can go beyond simply A/B testing subject lines and website UI, and start conducting controlled, measured experiments across all marketing activities. Today, supported by marketing analytics, marketers can run powerful, multivariate tests that span segments, then use the findings to continually improve messaging based on hard data—as opposed to just premonition. Which themes are most likely to appeal to a CEO prospect at the top of the funnel? What’s the best sequencing of themes to advance a CTO that needs nurturing? How do these patterns differ in EMEA? Which marketing themes should we bet the company on?

For the first time, marketers can leave the guesswork behind and automatically identify the key messages that resonate most with target buyers. Predictive analytics is making data-driven marketing a reality—helping B2B marketing leaders finally close the feedback loop, provide more value to prospects, and drive predictable revenue and growth. Everybody wins.

3 Ways To Align B2B Sales and Marketing With Predictive Analytics

3 Ways To Align B2B Sales and Marketing With Predictive Analytics

According to Forbes, 50% of B2B Sales teams miss their quotas.

The reason they can’t deliver, of course, is that your team (Marketing) isn’t bringing in the volume and quality leads that they need to hit their numbers. But those guys are lazy, right? Maybe they’d be closing if they’d stop complaining and actually follow up on the precious leads you’ve worked hard to attract and nurture. With this proverbial boxing match constantly at play, nobody wins.

It’s a longstanding rivalry that presents both a challenge and opportunity. If the above scenario doesn’t sound familiar to you, congratulations… you’re the minority. If you’re like most, as a B2B marketing leader, you feel this pressure on a daily basis. Salespeople resent you because you’re not giving them what they need to do their job. You feel you are and may throw even more budget and attention at demand gen, to both increase volume and cover your ass. Everybody needs to stop and take a breath.

When Sales and Marketing unite around agreed upon goals and responsibilities, everybody can stop focusing on what the other department is doing wrong, and start focusing on killing it in their respective fields and work towards company goals. In this post, we’ll outline three ways that predictive Marketing analytics can bring Sales and Marketing together, and drive more revenue.

1. Create a common customer view.

Sales and Marketing need a shared understanding of what drives a prospect to buy. The B2B buyers’ journey is complex, but with visibility into which channels, campaigns, and activities are most likely to move prospects along the path to purchase, Sales and Marketing can develop a common understanding of prospect motivations. Unfortunately, this marketing performance data generally lives in automation systems (Marketo, Eloqua) and Sales interactions are tracked in CRMs (Salesforce). These siloed data sources make it difficult to craft a complete customer profile.

Predictive marketing analytics can help integrate data between disparate platforms to create a common customer view and track interactions all the way along the buyers’ journey.  As a result, Marketing can more intelligently craft their programs and understand which themes are resonating most with prospects. When a lead is ready to advance to Sales, Sales already has a complete prospect profile—by understanding the triggers that advanced that lead—and is able to target messaging to address a prospects’ unique needs.

2. Develop shared definitions/goals with revenue waterfall visibility.

Lead scoring technology has been pivotal in helping organizations track, score, and route leads between Marketing and Sales. The problem, however, is that traditionally Marketing defines when a lead is qualified (MQL) and ready to move to Sales. On the same note, Sales traditionally defines what characterizes an SAL (Sales Accepted Lead; a lead that Sales has accepted and is committed to) and SQL (Sales Qualified Lead; a prospect this is likely to buy). Because of this, Marketing may not always understand what exactly Sales considers great lead, and is stumped when they don’t see an SAL advancing as quickly as expected.

Predictive Marketing analytics gives marketers a complete view of the entire revenue waterfall—from first touch to conversion, and everything in between. With full visibility into lead progression along the purchase path, marketers can understand which activities are necessary to deem a lead Sales-ready and, based on historical performance, anticipate how quickly they can expect a lead to move from stage to stage. With this knowledge, you can build data-backed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to keep everyone in check and ensure everyone’s holding up their end of the bargain.

3. Predict pipeline and revenue.

B2B Marketing generates lots of activities, but Sales doesn’t always see the connection between the activities and revenue. This is generally because Marketing activities tend to be far more complicated with multiple touchpoints, stakeholders, and buyer scenarios. Without the ability to see which Marketing activities contribute to revenue, it becomes impossible to optimize campaigns, and effectively forecast how and when leads will translate to pipeline and Sales.

Predictive Marketing analytics can attribute campaign touch to leads at every step of the buyers’ journey—not just first or last interaction. Data science is then applied to predict which leads will translate to pipe/revenue, and when. With this knowledge, marketers can automatically identify revenue levers, and adjust programming as needed, to ensure that Sales will get the quantity and quality of leads that you’ve committed to. In turn, if Sales’ ability to convert doesn’t align with forecasted revenue, you can identify exactly where there’s tension in your funnel, and correct kinks in the system. For example, you may find that in fact you’re both “doing your jobs,” but you’re missing your targets because you weren’t aligned: you’re generating great mid-market leads, and your sales VP has built a great enterprise sales organization; or that the C-level message resonates in EMEA but the Director-level message works better in NA.

The Twelfth Round

While Sales-Marketing alignment may still seem like a pipedream to some, technology is helping both functions improve performance and efficiency by granting visibility into activity across the entire revenue waterfall. With these insights, Sales and Marketing can stop fighting against each other and instead, work together, to deliver the one-two punch that turns prospects into customers.

Mapping Budget To The B2B Buyers’ Journey: 5 Tips To Help Marketers Plan for 2015

Mapping Budget To The B2B Buyers’ Journey: 5 Tips To Help Marketers Plan for 2015

It’s that time of year. The leaves are changing and, for a limited time, seemingly everything can be pumpkin spiced. Most importantly, as a B2B CMO or marketing leader, it’s time for you to step up to the table and ask for next year’s budget.

Odds are, you want more money for 2015. In order to get it, you’ll need to convince your boss that you’ll be able to increase your customer base, reduce CPA, and meet company-wide growth objectives. A plan and a prayer is no longer viable and, faced with a complex buyer’s journey, B2B marketers must present data-backed strategies to gain the confidence of boards and executives—and secure enough money to excel in the coming year.

But marketing today is responsible for much more of the revenue cycle—interacting with number stakeholders across countless touchpoints—and most marketing leaders lack the insights they need to succeed. How can you get a grip on performance across the buyers’ journey, and make sure that investments are mapping to the activites that drive revenue?

5 Tips To Map Your Budget to The B2B Buyers’ Journey

  1. Attribute every meaningful touch.

    Be complete. Many marketers use first or last touch attribution, though, because the B2B buyers’ journey is so complex, these methods are becoming increasingly ineffective. Marketers today must implement multi-touch attribution to understand how every campaign touch is performing all the way along the buyers’ journey—not just at the top or bottom of the funnel. Accurate attribution allows marketers to not only evaluate previous efforts, but also predict pipeline and revenue changes throughout much longer revenue cycles.

  2. Use 80/20 Modeling.

    Don’t stress too much over the exact attribution model (for now). If you’re new to multi-touch attribution, start with a Pareto distribution model (the 80/20 rule), which credits 80% of the conversion value to the first and last touches while the remaining 20% is distributed across all the nurturing touch points in the middle of the customer journey. Done is better than perfect and by understanding the value of various mid-funnel interactions, you’ll be able to more intelligently craft nurture campaigns that translate to revenue, and improve your attribution model over time.

  3. Consider activity alternatives.

    Good decisions come from good options. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but make sure you’re running at least a few scenarios to gauge how well different activities are performing across the buyers’ journey. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify revenue levers (gaps and opportunities) to guide investment decisions as your strategy evolves over the course of the year.

  4. Know where you stand.

    Have an idea of how budget will cascade into revenue over time (i.e. your revenue waterfall). Put measurement tools and processes in place to make sure you can identify lead progress through various stages such as MQL, SAL, SQL, and so on. This will allow you to follow along to ensure that you’re tracking to targets at each stage—and make necessary adjustments—all the way through to revenue.

  5. Communicate your plan to sales, execs, and the board.

    Today, CEOs, CFOs, and boards care about one thing: growing pipeline, revenue, and profits. How fast are we growing this quarter/year vs. last? How much revenue do you forecast for the next quarter/year? Why are you confident in these answers? With knowledge of historical campaign performance, and a demonstrated ability to measure, interpret, and act on real-time performance data, you’ll earn the respect of company decision-makers and the budget you need to succeed.

No marketer can afford to be inefficient. In today’s economy, an emphasis on smart spending and accountability demands that marketers prove their programs’ ROI with intimate understanding of prospect engagement throughout the entire buyers’ journey. CMOs and marketing leaders must evolve to be increasingly data-driven, armed with the confidence to make big, data-backed decisions quickly.

Supported by the right technology—namely, B2B marketing analytics solutions—this dream has already become a reality for many who’ve been able to transform marketing operations, and tie marketing activity directly to revenue. In doing so, leading data-driven marketers have been able to more effectively interpret, plan, and predict, and give company decision-makers the confidence that every dollar invested in marketing in 2015 will be a dollar well-spent.

Why BI is BS for Data-Driven CMOs: 3 Reasons B2B Marketing Needs Its Own Analytics

Why BI is BS for Data-Driven CMOs: 3 Reasons B2B Marketing Needs Its Own Analytics

When it comes to business intelligence and analytics, one size definitely does not fit all. In the same way you wouldn’t invest thousands of dollars in a one-size-fits-all suit, it probably wouldn’t be wise invest millions in an analytics solution that promises to be everything to everyone.

Many business intelligence (BI) tools claim to have the ability to deliver insights for everyone in the organization: Finance, IT, Sales, Operations and beyond. While nice in theory, CMOs are calling BS. BI tools often require heavy customization to reach any real insights, dedicated teams to oversee operations, and even still… CMOs find themselves coming up short.

Marketing needs its own analytics.

All About Business Intelligence: The Current Landscape

BI is a broad category of applications designed to transform raw data into meaningful information. BI technologies are capable of processing large amounts of unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic opportunities. BI can be used to support a wide range of business decisions, and is most often used cross-departmentally by enterprises to gauge general business health.

Due to the IT-heavy nature of most traditional BI platforms (SAP, IBM, SAS, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.), companies generally hire dedicated IT employees and data analysts to oversee BI operations, modeling, and reporting.

Today, a new school of BI tools (Domo, GoodData, Salesforce Wave Analytics Cloud, etc.) has emerged—characterized by ease of use and elegant UIs that are simple enough for most business users to operate. While it may be possible for marketers to derive function-specific insights with BI, many require heavy customization and still fall short when it comes to answering the questions that matter most to marketers.

3 Reasons Why B2B Marketing Needs Its Own Analytics

B2B marketing is a unique beast and, as a result, requires its own set of tools to fully understand marketing’s impact on revenue. The following are three things to lookout for when evaluating a B2B marketing analytics solution:

  1. Marketing produces more, complex data than any other function.

    Marketers are inundated with endless streams of information and are struggling to make sense of the incredible volume and velocity of data at their fingertips. Making matters worse, existing marketing tools are designed to produce more data, rather than to help make smarter, faster, and more confident decisions from existing data sources. Most business intelligence and analytics tools are simply not built to handle the sheer volume of marketing data being pumped into them. BI projects have multiple constituents—CEO, CFO, CIO, VP Sales, CMO—but guess who is generally the last priority? You guessed it, the CMO… the function with the most complex needs. B2B leaders should seek out analytics solutions that are marketing-focused from the start, built with marketer’s needs in mind, and able to elegantly handle the volume and velocity of marketing data produced.

  2. The B2B buyers’ journey requires attribution excellence.

    Sales reps deal primarily with a single buyer, but marketing owns all of the contacts along the buyers’ journey that contribute to a sale. A primary buyer has a team of influencers—superiors, finance, purchasing, etc.—that all carry the power to make or break a deal. These influencers interact with a wide range of touch points—website, social, advertising, events, etc.—and do so long before and after a deal is closed. All of these touch points are tracked and, as a result, marketers have a lot of data on their hands. Because marketing is dealing with so many people across countless touch points, traditional BI tools are simply not enough. Marketers need solutions that help them understand campaign influence in complex, multi-touch scenarios at every stage of the funnel to answer questions like: Which campaigns are sourcing the most opportunities? How many campaign touches does it take to win a deal? How do my marketing channels contribute to pipeline and revenue?

  3. Marketers must be able to predict.

    Unfortunately, most CMOs spend far too much time trying to make sense of the past, when they should be doing the thing that they’re most uniquely positioned to do: planning for the future. While salespeople are often most concerned with meeting monthly or quarterly quotas, marketers must focus on longer-term, strategic projects that span multiple quarters or even years. While a BI solution may be able to tell marketers something about the past, without extreme customization, you won’t find one that can help your accurately forecast marketing-generated revenue in the future. Based on historical performance, machine-learning, and intelligent forecasting, predictive analytics solutions can prescribe how investments will most likely translate to sales. With these insights, marketers can identify revenue levers (e.g. “What will happen if we change X and when?”), and focus on action, initiating the activities that drive towards organizational objectives and revenue.

BrightFunnel B2B Marketing Analytics Cloud eBook

The fact is, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all analytics solution for B2B marketers. How can you navigate this sea of new technology to determine which solution is the best fit for you? If you’re curious to learn more about the current “analytics cloud” landscape, and the best options for B2B marketers, check out our new guide and learn how to finally connect the dots between marketing and revenue.

Rise of The Analytics Cloud: Salesforce Wave, BrightFunnel, and More

Rise of The Analytics Cloud: Salesforce Wave, BrightFunnel, and More

Exciting times for data-driven business leaders! The past few weeks have seen their share of big analytics cloud news: a partnership between SAP and Birst, the unveiling of Salesforce’s Wave and IBM’s Watson Analytics and, of course, BrightFunnel’s own announcement of our Predictive Analytics Cloud for B2B Marketers.

As a marketer, we know your time is valuable, so we’ve compiled some of the “can’t miss” coverage to ensure you’re up to speed:

Many organizations have already harnessed the power of big data and—backed by a new breed of analytics technologies—used the insights gained to make smarter business decisions. Still, most CMOs find themselves coming up short when trying to use these technologies to get the total picture of marketing’s impact on sales.

The fact is, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all web analytics solution. What works for IT probably won’t provide the insights that HR needs. A solution may be great for helping sales identify hot prospects, but won’t be able to pinpoint the marketing levers that helped grow those leads to opportunities. As a marketer, how can you navigate this sea of new technology to determine which solutions are the best fit for you?

BrightFunnel B2B Marketing Analytics Cloud eBookIn our new eBook, we’ll explore the current analytics cloud landscape—outlining the critical components of a marketing analytics solution and laying out the options for B2B marketers. Download your copy today and learn how to finally connect the dots between marketing and revenue.

Infographic: The Predictive Analytics Cloud for B2B Marketers

Infographic: The Predictive Analytics Cloud for B2B Marketers

There’s no shortage of excitement here at BrightFunnel and today, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve secured a $2.5 million Series Seed investment to fuel product development of our industry-first predictive analytics cloud for B2B Marketers.

The news comes hot on the heels of an incredible year, where we’ve been able to help our customers—data-driven marketers like HootSuite, Nimble Storage, and ServiceMax—finally connect the dots between marketing and revenue.

Through multi-touch attribution and intelligent forecasting, B2B marketers can now understand the revenue impact of every decision, and align marketing plans with business priorities. To celebrate today’s big news, we’re pleased to share with you a brand infographic, demonstrating how our predictive analytics cloud helps marketers throughout the B2B buyers’ journey:

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Click to enlarge infographic.

Many thanks are due to our clients, investors, and all who’ve been along with us for the ride so far! Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news soon and, in the meantime, read more about what we’ve been up to at BrightFunnel (and what our clients have to say) in the official press release.

The B2B Marketing Burger: A Recipe For Multi-Touch Attribution Success

The B2B Marketing Burger: A Recipe For Multi-Touch Attribution Success

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?”

Webinar: Making Data-Driven Marketing Work For You

Webinar: Making Data-Driven Marketing Work For You

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!

The Psychic CMO: Why B2B Needs Predictive Marketing

The Psychic CMO: Why B2B Needs Predictive Marketing

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.

The New B2B Buyers’ Journey: A Guide for Data-Driven Marketers (Download)

The New B2B Buyers’ Journey: A Guide for Data-Driven Marketers (Download)

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!

Data-Driven CMOs: How To Win Respect And Influence Budget

Data-Driven CMOs: How To Win Respect And Influence Budget

“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%). 

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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):

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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:

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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.

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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.”

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In Conclusion

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.

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