Trendspotting: 2015 — The Year of Data-Driven Sales and Marketing

Trendspotting: 2015 — The Year of Data-Driven Sales and Marketing

(This post was originally published on the DiscoverOrg Blog.)

As we reach the end of the current year, our eyes turn to the New Year and contemplate what it might bring. DiscoverOrg recently pulled together a panel of three innovative CEOs to discuss data-driven marketing and its impacts on the sales process. Our own CEO, Henry Schuck, was joined by two others, Craig Harris of HG Data and Nadim Hossain of BrightFunnel. Below are some of the most important developments they anticipate in 2015.

The Rise of Predictive Analytics

Nadim Hossain of BrightFunnel anticipates that lead scoring—the science of “What are your best bets?”—will give way to models that can deliver even more intelligence to the sales process. Lead scoring currently tracks activity between a prospect and an organization and tries to predict—at the very first stage—what is going to turn into an opportunity. Hossain notes that in the future these analytics will go much further, “looking at the whole funnel to understand how things are going to move from stage to stage all the way to revenue—really predicting the pipeline and the revenue in a way that marketers can actually react.  “The future of predictive analytics in marketing is not just predictive, but really being prescriptive.

Many predictive analytics tools are currently being developed that will be available both as stand-alone and integrations into popular CRM platforms. Henry Schuck of DiscoverOrg points out, “Salesforce recently bought RelateIQ, which was basically a CRM that was built around analytics. I think that they’re realizing salespeople want to be able to see which prospects convert best and how that translates to other prospects who might follow the same pattern.” The tools are designed to help salespeople map out those high-likelihood prospects and use that template to identify more high-likelihood prospects. The process of identifying the best prospects will require less guesswork and sales efforts will be more effective as analytical tools become more widely available.

Craig Harris of HG Data anticipates “more and more toolsets that enable large and even small companies to build these predictive models themselves. This is a very exciting time for sales and predictive analytics.”

Shift in the Marketing Role

This year, we have seen an even more dramatic shift in the marketing department’s increased role in both sales and IT processes. The primary driver behind the change is the data-driven nature of sales and marketing today, pushing marketing to be more technical and analytical in nature.

To this point, Nadim Hossain said, “Business-to-business marketers are ultimately going to be much more data-driven than even business-to-consumer. What has happened in the last five years or so is that marketing automation platforms have matured. With this basic foundation of tools in place, B2B marketers can take it to the next level, integrating new advanced tools. The time for data-driven sales and marketing is here.”

What this shift brings us to is an evolution of what the marketing department even looks like, who is hired and what they do. Henry Schuck says, “Marketing is becoming more of a technical position than it is an artistic or creative position. I think a technical background is critically important and will continue to become even more important. Marketers are coming from math and engineering backgrounds now.”

Hossain adds, “What you’re seeing is the rise of Marketing Operations. A trend I am seeing is that some companies are even combining sales and marketing operations, with the marketing operations team responsible for forecasting and prediction. Some companies are calling this team a revenue operations team, or revenue marketing.”

The Importance of Integrated Toolsets

One issue that organizations have been facing (that is possibly going to get worse before it gets better) is being able to compile intelligent data and effectively apply analytics to produce usable intelligence about sales and prospects.

It is essential to choose tools that not only integrate between the systems used by sales and marketing teams, but also that fuel intelligent conversations with prospects. Henry Shuck points out, “Complete data in a well-integrated system will go beyond low-value commodity lead information (name, main business phone, email). Predictive analytics applied to your data will put you in front of your highest value prospects with the right solution at the right time. ” CRM systems populated with complete prospect data that includes sales triggers, events, insights and context (job functions, reporting structures, spending initiatives, online behavior) enables your sales people to be more effective in their prospecting efforts and more able to cut through the noise.

Harris points out, “Of course data-driven marketing is not a panacea. If not done right, it will create more problems than it solves. If you go down the data-driven marketing path, you need to make a long-term commitment to it: you need to hire the right talent; you need to populate the system with good data; and you need to understand how to measure efforts. Don’t get scared when you have your first couple of hiccups. We are at the forefront right now, and those that are really investing in data-driven marketing are the early adopters and you are helping to figure it out for the rest of them.”

Work Smarter, Not Harder in 2015

The amount of information available to sales and marketing teams this year (and even more so in 2015) is overwhelming. However, aligning the expertise of your marketing team to the technology available and integrating the information collected across platforms will set your organization up for success… and ahead of the curve in terms of adoption of such practices.

Hossain summed it up well: By implementing these systems to tame the data and get the most out of your efforts, “you’re getting the best leads, but also throughout the funnel you are shortening sales cycles, accelerating the velocity and increasing the deal size.”

To learn more about how predictive analytics can help your company connect marketing to revenue, prove ROI, and make more intelligent marketing decisions, watch a recording of the webinar, or schedule a BrightFunnel demo today. 

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?

The 6 Strategic Themes That B2B CMOs Must Address

The 6 Strategic Themes That B2B CMOs Must Address

Since starting BrightFunnel two years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to hundreds of B2B CMOs and marketing executives. From those discussions, I’ve noticed that the issues over which CMOs were losing sleep tended to cluster into six strategic themes. What’s interesting is that all six themes are related to marketing ROI and performance measurement. While this is by no means a scientific study, I think that by itself is a testament to the data-rich and insight-poor times we live in.

These findings are based on the 373 conversations with B2B marketers for which I took notes. The sample set is not representative of all B2B companies, and it’s heavily biased towards data-driven B2B marketers—particularly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) vendors and other high tech companies. But it’s more broadly relevant, as those are the folks that tend to be the early adopters and trendsetters in the marketing technology landscape.

My goals in sharing these findings broadly are simple: I hope that they may help other B2B marketers to anticipate strategic challenges before they arise, and that they foster discussion about these topics:

1. Campaign Effectiveness – Know what’s working

Which campaigns were most effective in sourcing MQLs?

Which campaigns were effective in influencing Opportunities?

Which efforts produce the fastest velocity results?

What types of campaigns perform best?

This first theme is the most basic building block of marketing performance measurement. At the most basic level—even for companies with long sales cycles where marketing plays a significant role in the middle and bottom of the funnel—marketing should be bringing potential new business into the top of the funnel. The top is often measured by metrics such as sourced Inquiries or MQLs. While stopping at such metrics leaves a lot to be desired, it is certainly a good place to start, and where smaller companies (< 50 people) typically remain. But surprisingly, many larger companies feel that they don’t have a handle on these basic questions.

2. Revenue Waterfall – Track progress across stages

How are MQLs generated last quarter performing today?

Where are my leads getting stuck?

What are the buyers’ journeys that work best?

It seems that every modern B2B marketer these days has adopted a multi-stage sales and marketing framework, such as the Sirius Decisions Demand Waterfall framework. That is a good thing. Yet paradoxically, when it comes to measurement, many of these same companies only track initial creation of Inquiries or MQLs. If you’re trying to measure demand generation performance, clearly, what matters is the eventual outcome of the leads created, and where they’re falling off or slowing down.

3. Multi-Touch Attribution – Accurately measure revenue impact

How much revenue and pipeline did past campaigns source?

How can I move to an advanced, multi-touch model that makes sense for our buyers’ journey?

How can I measure results at an account level?

The simplest way to think about multi-touch attribution in a B2B context is that it is an attempt to accurately model and measure the buyers’ journey taken by your customers. Often times, this translates to dozens or even hundreds of touches. Let’s say there are 10 people involved in a buying process, with 5 touches each, across several months. You have 50 distinct marketing interactions to keep track of. While that idea might give you a headache, consider the alternative: instead of making a full account of how you drove the prospect through the 75% of buying cycle that you own, you rely on your lazy busy sales team to do data entry, to attach Contacts to Opportunities, and arbitrarily pick a single touch to get all the glory. Smart CMOs understand this, and that is why it is a recurring theme (nightmare?) that keeps them up at night.

4. Plan & Predict – Plan against future goals

What investments should I make now to achieve my goals?

How much revenue will marketing generate next quarter?

Across all our efforts, what do we expect to mature into revenue in a given period?

CMOs increasingly understand that to be strategic to the Board of Directors, they must not just offer insights about the past, but also about how they can help achieve future goals. Conveniently, those future goals are also where sales and marketing are most aligned, because marketing can uniquely have an impact today, on the future several quarters out. We must sow the seeds today that our Sales brethren can reap tomorrow. But too often, we make those decisions in a vacuum, without an understanding of the likely future outcomes. That will no longer be acceptable in 2015. 

5. Strategy – Identify the messages that work

What marketing themes should we bet the company on?

What are the patterns in efficacy of themes/messages across audiences/products/regions?

High growth companies often face bet-the-company decisions, such as focusing on one customer segment over another. And CMOs care deeply about identifying signals from that sometimes-noisy data. The answers are often right there in your own data. Yet for a majority of B2B CMOs, this is a completely missed opportunity. Too often they aren’t even aware that rich strategic insights on segmentation and focus can be mined from everyday demand generation activity captured in CRM and marketing automation systems.

6. Data & Process – Ensure clean data and process

How can I identify potential gaps in my data?

What measures can I take to overcome bad historical data, without having to change all of it?

How can I handle ongoing process gaps, such a sales rep not entering the right info?

How can we find insights across a complex web of account and campaign hierarchies globally? 

It seems that every CMO thinks their data is bad. And there are legions of service providers who prey on that low data self-esteem, like so many diet book writers. But what’s often missed is that the solution isn’t relentless cleaning and scraping the data, but it is to intelligently analyze the data in a way that takes into account its limitations. CMOs are rightfully worried about bad data, but they often wrongly prescribe a solution that only focuses on cleanup, not intelligent analysis.

So those are the 6 strategic themes that I’ve heard over and over, though I’m sure there are some that I’m missing. I’d welcome your input: what questions are you trying to answer? Where have you struggled?

At BrightFunnel, we’re working to address these themes and help data-driven marketers connect marketing to revenue, prove ROI, and make more intelligent marketing decisions. To learn more about how we can help you take control of marketing in the coming year, schedule a demo today.

Congratulations to InsightSquared on Raising a $13.5M Series C to Deliver BI for Sales Teams

For sales organizations, today’s announcement that InsightSquared has raised a $13.5 million Series C round is very exciting. With the Salesforce Analytics Cloud likely to focus on platform capabilities, and with the possibility of delays, it’s welcome news that InsightSquared is making a big commitment to easy-to-use sales analytics. This is especially true for their core audience of small businesses, which have never been served by BI (Business Intelligence) companies, such as Domo, Birst, Good Data, Tableau and others.

But the news from Cambridge is also reason for us to celebrate here at BrightFunnel headquarters in San Francisco. Just as InsightSquared is filling a very large niche in BI for sales organizations, BrightFunnel is helping modern, B2B marketing organizations become more data-driven and predictable. With the marketing technology landscape now settling, and the marketing ops function emerging, we believe it’s time for someone to focus on the analytical needs of B2B marketers. Their challenges are no less important than those of sales teams, and they are inadequately addressed by BI solutions.

So if you’re a rapidly growing business and you’re finding that most of your B2B buying cycle (and revenue generation) is happening before the sales team even gets involved, we’d encourage you to consider BrightFunnel. An easy test for fit is the 5-50-500 rule: you’ve built an initial marketing and market development team (5+ people), your company is no longer a small business (50+ employees), and you’re making sizable investments in marketing ($500k+ annual spend). Customers who fit that profile, such as ServiceMax, are seeing great success.

Here’s how BrightFunnel focuses on the unique needs of B2B marketers:

We cover the entire B2B buyers’ journey.

The B2B buyers’ journey involves multiple touchpoints, across many people in a customer organization. It can span months, even years. What you care about is not whether some arbitrary campaign or lead source was the first or last, but about the overall journey, and the appropriate, stage-specific marketing mix to take a prospect and turn them into a happy customer. We do this by taking an account-based, multi-touch attribution approach that looks at all touches across stages of your demand waterfall, even that surreptitious, late-night whitepaper-reading by your prospect’s CFO.

revenue waterfall

We help you forecast and plan marketing results.

It isn’t enough to measure the past. To be strategic, marketers must have a view of likely performance against Board-level priorities. But the key difference with Sales is that sales forecasting often involves gleefully pointing at fast-approaching iceberg, with little recourse. Our bag-carrying brethren can be awarded such latitude, given their proximity to the close. B2B marketers cannot afford such leeway. If today’s efforts are likely to result in insufficient pipeline and revenue over two quarters, we need to know that, and react to that information by adjusting our plans. BrightFunnel’s scenario analysis not only helps you plot the best course of action, but helps you do it in a way that brings along your CEO, CFO and VP Sales, by speaking to their future plans.

revenue prediction

We identify themes that resonate.

Revenue-centric marketing is a team sport. Marketing ops and demand gen professionals rely on product marketers and content-creators to appropriately position their offerings and create the right content for the right audience. But too often, the feedback loop isn’t closing. We have precise granularity on hundreds or thousands of campaigns tracked in Marketo, but often can’t tell the product team whether, say, CIOs prefer the security-oriented messaging, and Directors of IT like the innovation themes. And by the way, the pattern in EMEA is reversed (so those guys are complaining for a reason). Such insights can only come from drilling down into revenue outcomes, and connecting marketing — including themes and audiences — directly to revenue.

path to sale

We make it easy to collaborate.

Whether you’re prepping your Board slides, or making key decisions on your weekly team meeting, you need a way to simplify the process of uncovering insights from data. You can then make decisions from those insights. But that process invariably involves influencing multiple people, at various levels of seniority, expertise and attention span. While you think your pivot table is beautiful, no one else does; so you need ways to communicate insights in a way that’s shareable, easy to understand, and I daresay, beautiful.

Velocity vs Conversion Rate

We can “clean up” your messy data.

Finally, we know that you’re ashamed of your data. But you probably shouldn’t be. What you see as unattractive inconsistency in process and data, we see as rich testament to your rapid growth and evolution. And the data must often remain messy for another reason: Salesforce is primarily for the sales organization, and must be optimized as such; marketing automation systems (MAS), such as Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, HubSpot and Act-On, must serve the needs of front-line campaign managers who need a granular rules engine, reliable delivery and a path to speedy execution. Where does it leave the CMO or Director of Marketing Operations seeking decision insights? To make any sense of the data from CRM and MAS, they must first clean their data, right? Not quite. With BrightFunnel, we virtually “clean” your data by applying intelligent, policy-based rules and filters so that your data is accurate and manageable. This produces attribution, forecasts and plans that you can be proud of.

So as you see above, the next generation of intelligence companies will look and perform very differently from BI companies of old. We are delighted to join InsightSquared as one such emerging company upending traditional BI.

Find out how BrightFunnel can help you gain full visibility into your funnel →

Nadim Hossain is co-founder and CEO of BrightFunnel. You can follow him on Twitter @nadimhossain.

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.