The Problems with DIY Marketing Reporting

The Problems with DIY Marketing Reporting

Being a data-driven marketer is tough. Time and time again, we’re asked to show how our marketing programs are providing value to our organizations and because many marketers don’t know that there are options out there for fast and easy reporting, they often end up relying on do-it-yourself methodology.

But that takes time, effort and simply isn’t always accurate.

We’ve all been there, right? Say your boss walks in and wants you to pull the current quarter’s top-performing channels and campaigns at the drop of a hat. What do you do? Scramble to Frankenstein your own Monster-of-Desperate-Data by hacking together Salesforce, Marketo and Google Analytics?

There’s no way your data monster isn’t scaring you and your CMO with its hacked together spreadsheets and graphs.

The tough reality for marketers is that DIY reporting solutions almost always end up costing marketing teams more time and money than purchasing a multi-touch attribution platform and often end up delivering you less than you wanted. Not only that, but these DIY methods require specialized configurations, manual calculations, and impeccable data hygiene.

In our new ebook, the 4 Big Reasons Not to DIY Your Marketing Reporting, we go over the reasons to say “no” to DIY, and instead, simplify your reporting-and your job-by switching to a multi-touch attribution reporting platform.  

Check out a few of the highlights of our ebook below.

Stop Struggling With Spreadsheets

“Working with spreadsheets is the best,” – said no marketer ever. Reporting in spreadsheets requires manual tracking of each marketing program’s impact, and after awhile, they can get big, messy, and hard to decipher. Not only that, but since spreadsheets are static entities, they reply on manual processes so they’re prone to human error, have version control problems, and the take so long to build that they often become irrelevant almost instantly.

The Pitfalls of Using BI Software

BI software often includes data mining, analytical processes, querying, and reporting. So, where does the marketer fit into that definition? While BI might be able to help a business with its more overarching questions and needs — it’s expensive, overly-complex, and is often configured and owned by a different team, which means marketing’s requests aren’t a high priority.

Why Multi-Touch Attribution is a Marketer’s Dream Come True

An independent multi-touch attribution solution that’s built for marketers is the way to go! From customizable dashboards, easy-to-read reports, and a full-funnel view of your customer, a marketing reporting platform can easily show how your marketing programs are delivering pipeline and revenue for the business.

To learn more, download our new ebook on the 4 Big Reasons Not to DIY Your Marketing Reporting.

What I Learned as a Marketing Intern at BrightFunnel

What I Learned as a Marketing Intern at BrightFunnel

Today marks my last day here at BrightFunnel. Throughout my tenure here, I’ve been able to be part of something big, taking in significant learnings—tactical and strategic, directly and indirectly—around B2B marketing, startups, and even life. Invaluable wisdom aside, I also got a chance to see really amazing things happen here. From seeing contracts pushed on the last day of a quarter, the raising of a $6M Series A led by Crosslink Capital and Salesforce Ventures, the launching of true solutions that B2B marketers involved in long and complex sales cycles need, and the initial establishment of our marketing and sales infrastructure of our go-to market engine for initial scale. As a farewell I decided to evaluate what has happened during my stay. These are fractions of my learnings from Suite 804.

B2B Marketing isn’t easy. Before BrightFunnel, I never knew what an MQL was. I had no idea of the many intricate gears and pulleys behind the scenes. And there are lots of processes involved when it comes to marketing a true solution to the enterprise. Compared to B2C, the B2B buyer’s journey can be weeks. Sometimes it may even go up to several months, a whole year or more, until someone decides to pull the trigger to buy your solution—after consistent and proper education through nurturing that is. In that allotted time frame, on top of marketing’s growing ownership in the sales cycle, B2B marketers need to be able to measure their efforts effectively. Even with the right pieces in place, it’s difficult for B2B marketers to get a real sense of ROI on their efforts. How are webinars performing this fiscal year in comparison to the last? Which campaign groups influenced closed-won deals this quarter? Which campaigns are having the most influence on prospects at the account level? And how can I track my marketing campaigns across all of my targeted accounts? Without clear definitive answers to these questions, B2B marketers are unable to prove their seat at the table, and therefore not getting the respect we deserve.

One reason as to why I joined BrightFunnel? The team. Gratefully, I’ve had the honor to share the field with talented and driven folks that have also made their mark at prominent SaaS companies like Salesforce.com, Marketo, PowerReviews, LinkedIn, InsideView, and Netscape. From the CEO to engineering, each and every member shared equal passion and drive in BrightFunnel’s mission: connecting marketing to revenue. Being able to see this in action I took away how to build a great team. It’s that each and every person is a practitioner at heart. It’s that each and every member is data-driven. It’s that each and every sales hire has something in him or her that says one day they’ll be a VP of Sales. It’s that each and every member will cultivate our customers and advocates to success. It’s that each and every person is so bullish on execution. When you get an opportunity to be part of a team like this, seize it. They’ll rub off on you. So as Marc Andreessen once said, “Don’t worry about being a small fish in a big pond — you want to always be in the best pond possible.”

While my journey here at BrightFunnel has been a valuable experience as a growing B2B marketer I look forward to using my knowledge in the next step of my path.

Many thanks to Nadim, Nirav, Blake, Brett, Damon, Chris, and the rest of the BrightFunnel team.

BrightFunnel Raises $6 Million from Crosslink and Salesforce to Power Data-Driven Marketing

BrightFunnel Raises $6 Million from Crosslink and Salesforce to Power Data-Driven Marketing

I’m delighted to announce that BrightFunnel has raised a $6 Million Series A, led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from Salesforce Ventures. This is an important milestone for the company, and I’d like to share my thoughts on what this means for us, for our customers and the market.

But first, the facts:

  • This funding milestone comes on the heels of an incredible year, growing 14-15% month-over-month (500%+ CAGR), and more importantly, adding incredible validation from having the most demanding data-driven marketers, such as Cloudera, Invoca, New Relic and Five9, as our customers.
  • The round was oversubscribed, and all of our previous institutional seed investors also participated: Bloomberg Beta, Karlin Ventures, Resolute Ventures and Tekton Ventures. Thank you for your support!
  • David Silverman of Crosslink joins our Board of Directors. Besides the obvious benefits of David being an incredibly nice and intelligent person, he brings a lot of domain expertise to the table. In fact, there are very few people with David’s depth of marketing tech and ad tech experience. He was a pre-IPO investor in Omniture (Adobe), and more recently, Bizo (LinkedIn), two of the most significant companies in the history of data-driven marketing.
  • With this new capital, we will do one of two things. Either we will buy a superyacht, if today’s holiday party progresses as I expect, or we will use the new capital to accelerate our growth, and to continue aggressively investing in our platform. To do this, we will need to hire exceptionally talented people at an even faster pace. (We’re hiring for a variety of positions in  sales, engineering, and everything in between).

What this means for the BrightFunnel team

I have to admit, before I’d raised money myself, I was somewhat cynical about funding announcements. (“Come back when you’ve turned a profit!” I’d yell silently at Twitter feed, in my best get-off-my-lawn voice, while shaking my first). But I’ve come to realize early stage fundraising and company-building is incredibly hard. Yes, it’s true that what really matters is how much value we create from the $6 million. As perspective, Tableau went public on $15 million raised (compared to the $9 million we’ve raised to date), and is now worth $7 billion. No pressure. My point is that of course, we shouldn’t be gaudily celebrating the money itself. But I’ve also come to realize that it’s equally true that a funding event be understood as an important public milestone that reflects a cluster of almost-impossible-to-achieve private milestones before it. And those tangible outcomes — in terms of product and customer success — only result when you combine incredible talent, hard work and grit. So heck yes, let’s give ourselves a big pat on the back, BrightFunnel team! Aeron chairs and motorized standing desks for everyone!! (Just kidding. those are really expensive. The build-your-own IKEA standing desk program will continue until morale improves).

What this means for our Customers

What I’d like to say to our customers is: you should be incredibly proud of what you’ve accomplished. You’re at the forefront, with us, of an incredibly powerful shift towards data-driven marketing. Together, we’re still one of the crazy ones, thinking about marketing performance measurement in new terms like “account-based, multi-touch attribution” and “marketing forecasting.” You’ve had the courage to go to your CFO and have the awkward conversation, “uh, no, actually, CRM and marketing automation didn’t solve that problem.” But what’s at stake is very real — your company’s financial performance and your team’s success and satisfaction. To achieve those goals, you had to push your organization towards the cutting edge of data-driven marketing. We hope to reward that courage with continued rapid innovation on our platform (and definitely more free food and wine for customers). We have ambitions far broader than what you see and use today, and I ask that you continue pushing us to be the very best, to shape the future of marketing together.

What this means for the Market

Finally, I want to reflect on what this milestone means for the market. I believe that our success is just one more datapoint indicating a much larger trend. The way that people buy is changing dramatically. We’ve all seen this in e-commerce, over the last decade and a half, and we’re more recently seeing these changes in B2B, as buyers change the way they buy, and businesses reach them in new ways. The combination of an always-on, mobile buyer and the emergence of new channels, such as social, has meant that a lot more of the buying cycle happens through interactions with various marketing campaigns — many of which are automated — vs. humans. In other words, Marketing is eating Sales. (Just think of what will happen when your chat-happy Gen Z relative becomes an enterprise IT buyer).

So as marketers, we have to shoulder a much greater burden than our predecessors for generating revenue. And we have to measure and be held accountable for our activities in entirely new ways. Consider a few of the benchmarks we published today: it takes an average of 17.6 campaign touches from lead to close. Half of those touches occur during the sales cycle. And while those sales cycles are 108 days on average, the total revenue cycle is 512 days, which is 32% longer than it was last year. I don’t know if that pace of change will continue, but these trends are very real. As you reflect on your own year ahead, I believe it’s worth asking what this means for your organization (and what your own metrics are). As for BrightFunnel, I believe our mission has never been more important: to connect marketing to revenue.

Clarity in B2B Marketing: Why I Joined BrightFunnel

Clarity in B2B Marketing: Why I Joined BrightFunnel

Over the past several years I’ve been extremely lucky to get a front row seat for a rapidly evolving B2B marketing industry. At Leadspace I watched as we, as marketers, got very, very good at finding the right people and companies to target. This was always a huge challenge in the past, trying to find just the right people in that sea of email addresses, business cards and Salesforce lead records. We would accept that our target audience wasn’t truly knowable but hope that our marketing efforts would yield enough MQLs from the ether to hit our pipeline goals and everyone goes home happy. This shifted with companies harnessing the wealth of data that was now available and applying predictive analytics to make that amorphous target audience now concrete and accessible. As things got more predictable and repeatable you can see the success the predictive vendors have had.

I think as marketers we’ve accepted a similar “unknowability” in the measurement of our marketing efforts. If we’re lucky, we have relatively clean first touch data so we have a clue where that lead originated way back when so we can give that lead source credit. Maybe we look at the last touch to try to guess what finally pushed that prospect to buy. Unfortunately, unless you have a two week sales cycle, neither of these is an accurate picture of reality and certainly not the best way to place your bets. So why do we accept this? Well, it’s hard. Really hard. Between the operational challenges (so you’re telling me Sales is converting all relevant leads for an account to contacts and then associating them with an opportunity?) and the limits of the marketing automation and CRM tools in typical marketing/sales stacks, getting an accurate view of multi-touch attribution isn’t that accessible.

This is what excited me about BrightFunnel as a demand gen practitioner. This measurement and forecasting nirvana is accessible. It is easy. And it’s really robust. Oh… and it just takes a few weeks of set up and it’s off to the races vs. ripping up your Salesforce instance. I geeked out on the promise of the platform first and the opportunity to run demand gen here second. I saw cutting edge B2B marketers at companies like New Relic and Cloudera doing really cool things with the platform. I see a real democratization of advanced marketing analytics happening too. We’re past the days of waiting a week for the keeper of the company’s BI solution to come back with a handful of insights. Anyone on the marketing team can access this stuff in minutes. The content marketer can justify creating that new white paper (oh, and their job). The CMO can see marketing’s true impact on revenue. The Director of Demand Gen can map out her 2016 plan and ground it in reality.

It’s going to be an exciting time as BrightFunnel gets in more marketers’ hands. I wanted to be a part of this. From Nadim on down, the team is fantastic. Beyond being great people to work with, they’re really insightful and they just get marketers and their needs. I’m also looking forward to continuing the dialogue with smart B2B marketers out there as we continue to advance the art and take this concept of “accepted unknowability” (and everything that comes with it) out of the equation.

A Simple Framework for Unlocking Full-Funnel Marketing Attribution Intelligence

A Simple Framework for Unlocking Full-Funnel Marketing Attribution Intelligence

In my previous two posts in this series, I’ve talked about why marketers have historically struggled with multi-touch attribution and why the conditions are finally ripe for them to achieve full sales cycle visibility. In both of those posts, the singular theme was this: For marketers to succeed going forward, they need to roll up their sleeves and take the steps necessary to understand every campaign’s impact on revenue generation.

Which brings me to this post. If we are indeed entering the era of multi-touch attribution (and I obviously believe we are), then this will also usher in the need for specialized, marketing-optimized analytics platforms — or, what I like to call multi-touch revenue attribution. The good news is that these platforms already exist and I have no doubt that many more will spring up as the market for the technology matures.

But what explicit purpose do these solutions serve?

Very simply, they’re designed to help CMOs and their teams gain better visibility into marketing’s impact on sales. Similar to BI tools, this technology can process large amounts of data. But unlike BI tools, MRI platforms specialize in the analysis of data between core marketing technologies (CRM, MAS, etc.), which allows them to use only data that is relevant to marketers — namely, the campaign and revenue data sources from CRM and MAS technologies.

4 Steps to Get Started with Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution

The level of knowledge you generate from this level of revenue attribution can be significant, but the biggest immediate benefit might be your ability to defend and increase marketing budget. After all, if you can show your board how, why, where, and when specific campaigns are contributing to revenue creation, then it becomes significantly easier to justify (and expand) investment. In turn, that enables you to do more of your most effective programs.

Seems like a no brainer, right?

Agreed. But before you jump into multi-touch attribution and invest in an MRI solution, there are a few steps you should take to ensure your business is ready to take the leap:

1) Get your lead and opportunity stages right

Be sure that your whole team (both sales and marketing) have agreed upon definitions of the differences between an SQL, SAL, and what makes an opportunity. Pick stages that match your sales process and test them out. If you find your process changes a lot, I’d recommend relying even more heavily on the data to help organize your funnel (e.g., identify process gaps or bottlenecks).

Note: Don’t get stuck trying to get this absolutely precise. Agree on a point where you’re close enough and move on to the next step. Done is better than perfect.

2) Use Salesforce Campaigns

It’s not enough to just run programs in Eloqua or Marketo and record them there. Sync your campaigns to Salesforce and be sure to use the Sent and Responded flags consistently (perfection across channels isn’t the goal, but consistency within a channel/campaign type is useful).

Your reps should not need to log into your marketing automation tool to follow the nurture path of any given lead. It should be spelled out in the Campaign History on the lead view. This step is critical to readying your company for multi-touch revenue attribution, which will enable you to go much further (i.e., aggregating optimal buyers’ journeys for your wins).

3) Record program spend in your Salesforce campaigns

It’s an easy thing to forget, but get in the habit of putting your spend in the “Actual Cost” field on every Salesforce campaign. For ongoing campaigns, you will need to update this monthly or quarterly. The number is cumulative, so be sure to add your recent spend to the number already there.

It’s not a perfect solution, but since cost is required to determine ROI, it’s a necessary one. Some companies create new campaigns every quarter for ongoing initiatives such as PPC or the website.

4) Select the technology that’s right for your company

For small businesses and early-stage start-ups, you may be able to get away with clever spreadsheets to calculate attributed campaign ROI. Once your database approaches 20,000 leads and contacts, spreadsheets become a nightmare and automating attribution becomes critical.

Similarly, as your marketing team expands, and as board and executive-level reporting becomes a priority, having a platform that you can use to clearly communicate, collaborate and make data-driven decisions becomes a must have.

Stop Guessing About How Marketing Investments Impact Revenue

Ultimately, the true data-driven CMO understands the impact of spend on revenue.

These types of executives are no longer making guesses on what’s working and what’s not. They can defend their budget — and, ideally, ask for more — and confidently report to their Board on the ROI of marketing programs. All of this is critically important because it allows data-driven CMOs to finally dispel the notion that marketing is a cost center and make informed decisions that direct and shorten buyers’ journeys.

While that all might sound complicated and resource-draining, the reality is that it’s not. As I wrote in my previous post, it just takes the right mix of data, technology, and process, and a commitment to the kind of transparency that will re-shape how, why, when, and where marketing dollars are spent.

Did you miss the first two posts in this series?

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* This post originally appeared on OpenView Labs.

ROI: 4 Reasons Now is (Finally) the Time for B2B Multi-Touch Attribution

ROI: 4 Reasons Now is (Finally) the Time for B2B Multi-Touch Attribution

For most B2B marketers, multi-touch attribution (the process of evaluating the value and influence of every marketing interaction throughout the buyer’s journey) has always been a pipe dream — an item on their wish list, but one they recognized was unlikely to come true. In place of that full-funnel attribution, B2B marketers turn to complex, automated nurturing programs designed to educate and strengthen relationships with prospects mid-funnel (for more on that, click here read my first post in this series).

The problem? Those nurturing programs aren’t capable of precisely determining the right mix to cost-effectively advance leads through the funnel. And they certainly can’t tell you which campaigns are actually impacting the bottom line. Sure, most tools in the marketing automation stack offer some form of attribution, but that attribution is still driven by a single-touch approach.

This is the year that changes.

Why now? Frankly, B2B companies have always wanted to perform multi-touch attribution. They just haven’t had the inputs or the tools to do it. Thanks to these four trends, that will no longer be the case.

1) We finally have the data (and the tools)

When marketing automation tools came to market a decade or so ago, B2B marketers were finally able to break down the walls to data digitization and access buyer insights they’d only dreamed of. The problem with those tools, however, is that they only paint part of the analytics picture. In fact, until recently, marketers had very little visibility into the complete range of buyer interactions throughout their funnel.

Thankfully, new marketing tools (like BrightFunnel) are filling that gap and generating deeper attribution intelligence.

2) Marketers are remembering the middle of the funnel

When intent-based advertising was all the rage, B2B organizations began throwing all of their energy at first- and last-touch campaigns. In the process, they forgot about everything that happens in the middle of the funnel to influence revenue.

Today, there’s a bit of a backlash against that old-school philosophy as more marketers begin to focus on the entirety of the buyer’s journey. This, of course, has created demand for — and solutions around — mid-funnel multi-touch attribution.

3) Marketing is eating more of the sales cycle

Multiple studies have shown that more than 70 percent of a B2B buyer’s journey happens before they ever engage a sales rep. Translation: marketing is owning more of the sales cycle and, as a result, playing a more significant role in revenue generation.

Given this reality, B2B organizations are placing greater emphasis on attribution throughout the funnel — rather than just first or last touches.

4) Marketing is becoming more quantitative

The flood of talent pouring into B2B marketing is data-driven. In fact, the new generation of VPs of marketing are increasingly coming from quantitative practice areas like demand gen and marketing ops. As that trend continues, multi-touch attribution will become less of a “nice to have” and more of a “must have.” Going forward, metrics against initiatives — at all stages of the buyer’s journey — will be critical.

2015 is the Year of Multi-Touch Attribution: Now What?

Some of those trends have already happened, some are happening now, and some will reach a fever pitch in the very near future. But, collectively, they will all come to a head in 2015 to usher in the year of multi-touch attribution. I genuinely believe we’ll continue to see the value of quantitative, multi-touch marketing analysis go up.

Some organizations will try to meet those needs through brute force — by manipulating Business Intelligence tools to do unnatural things or pushing Excel to the limits with a full-time bean counter. But the real potential lies in new platforms that streamline the attribution process — through machine-learning and intelligent modeling — to tap into insight that was once viewed as a B2B marketing analytics myth.

In my final post in this series, I’ll talk about four steps senior B2B marketers need to take to embrace multi-touch attribution, and share a simple checklist CMOs can use to choose the right technology to gather full-funnel marketing revenue intelligence.

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* This post originally appeared on OpenView Labs. It’s the second installment of a three-part series on multi-touch attribution for B2B Marketing. Stay tuned for the third part next week or click here to read the first post.