A recent study on ROI found that 20% of B2B marketing departments don’t track their return on investment. To many of us, this seems peculiar; without knowing what ROI you achieved across your marketing ventures how can you be sure your future investments will benefit your marketing? This is true, but measuring the success of marketing channels and campaigns comes with a set of challenges that take some serious thought.
Time – knowing when to measure ROI
This challenge is especially prominent in B2B marketing, due to the longer sales cycles seen by these organizations. When a campaign is launched, you’re keen to know the ROI sooner rather than later so you can assess its success, especially if the campaign carried some untested elements, or was seen as a risk.
When a long or uncertain sales process occurs in your business model, you need to plan ahead for ROI measurement, and understand the effect time may have. You can measure a campaign 1 month after its launch, and get a number for the initial impact, however you’ll need to take into account that if you were to measure next month, the number could be quite drastically different.
So how can this challenge be overcome? It’s a difficult one, and there is no singular system for success here- but there are some ideas you could look to implement –
- Quarterly ROI measurements
– This allows ample time for leads to make their way through the pipeline, and the regularity over several years can help show you seasonal changes as well as the impact campaigns have had. This works especially well for channels with regular annual activity, such as events, or for companies who habitually launch larger campaigns at the start of a quarter. This tactic of course may produce anomalous results if the impact of specific campaigns or channels carry a large amount of leads through the pipeline across the quarter dates.
- Monthly ROI measurements
– This is a popular measurement, especially when measuring specific campaigns, as you can then use the results to plan ahead. If you launch a direct mail campaign and measure it’s ROI monthly, the number will eventually even out to a constant figure – this then gives you an idea of how many months a DM campaign will need to generate leads and get them through your pipeline, so next time you launch one you know the best time to measure it’s ROI. This method is great for keeping up-to-date with your ROI, and for measuring the direct impact of campaigns, however it can only measure the long term effect of individual campaigns if you measure everything separately – which can mean a lot of numbers and data that may become confusing!
- Planned ROI measurements
– If you’re well-seasoned in your marketing channels, then you might feel comfortable planning appropriate time for a campaign to yield results, and know when to measure ROI for the most accurate reading. This works well for channels that are ongoing in their activity, and whose usual ROI you’re familiar with – so you can detect an especially positive or negative result easily. This doesn’t work so effectively for campaigns or channels that are new to your marketing strategy. You never want to jump the gun and measure ROI too early, as you may draw an inaccurate result and make assumptions about future investments. A follow up measurement of ROI for new ventures or tactics is always recommended, so you can be sure of the longer term result as well as the initial impact.
Multiple touches- knowing the effects across different campaigns/channels
Buyers sometimes enquire based on the first and only touch they’ve encountered from your marketing department, though this rarely happens. The amount of touches needed to engage a B2B buyer with your product is known to be between 7 and 35 – this is a large window, and when measuring ROI, it seems odd not to account for all of this activity. After all, you can’t read the prospects mind – you don’t know exactly what it was that made them come to you asking for more. This was a problem seen by 54% of B2B marketers last year, and there is no easy fix.
You can implement an attribution model, whereby you adhere to a “multi-touch” system, and you ratio the resultant revenue between all the channels that have recorded reaching out to that lead, weighting it appropriately towards those channels that were more prominent in the engagement. This can do wonders for combating the multi-touch aspects to ROI measurement, however this is only really achievable for smaller businesses who generate fewer leads, and can devote the time to analyzing the split of revenue appropriately between channels. This is great for giving detail, but requires extremely well-kept and maintained records across all channels.
If you’re unsure about a multi-touch approach, then it’s probably best to bite the bullet and chose a single touch attribute model, where by the first or last touch (your choice), is held as the relevant channel/campaign in the ROI measuring process. This is far more efficient, especially for larger companies, even though some detail can be missed.
Though at first I assumed this an obvious challenge, (we all know it’s true – messy data = messy measurements!), can we all put our hands up and say every piece of data we keep is 100% accurately gathered, entered and filed? Sometimes we’re in a rush, or we’re off sick, or we just forget to triple check – it’s easy to get data wrong. It also easy to record the wrong things – when we come round to measuring ROI, we need specific figures; if it’s not been measured, then we’re stuck!
42% of B2B companies said messy data holds their ROI measurement back and is seen as a challenge. If data is incorrectly gathered and recorded, it can have increased effects on lead attribution and cost-per-lead as well as an impact in the ROI measurement.
There’s little to do here but re-evaluate your systems. Audit each channel and ensure the right data is being gathered, and the appropriate systems are in place for the accurate recording and storing of data.
Miscommunication between departments
Whether you rely on figures from your sales team, or you use your CRM to track leads and their success once in the sales funnel, ROI measurement is made far easier if the channels of sales and marketing are combined. When looking to invest in future marketing campaigns, you need as much information as possible about the “return” on your previous investments, some of which can only come from sales.
In a discussion around content marketing, 56% of B2B marketers confessed they had no idea about the effect their leads had on the sales team. Even though you can measure the ROI – this gives little information about lead quality and brand perception. It’s also been found that 51% of B2B marketers were unable to track activity between specific buyer stages which is key when running a successful warm lead nurture program.
This is where sales need to be involved in the discussion. When you’re measuring ROI for a campaign, open up the channels and ask the sales team for their opinion – were the leads they spoke to well informed and keen about the product? Did they qualify quickly? Would they support you running the campaign again? Get this information as well as the ROI, and your knowledge on investment will be far richer.
Lack of KPIs
The last two challenges lead nicely into a discussion around KPIs (key performance indicators) for both marketing and sales. A hot topic, KPIs measure the performance of channels and departments; they often measure specific elements that adhere heavily to the success and detail of the channel/campaign.
We are soon to release a blog surrounding KPIs, and what works best for marketing and sales, but for now let’s say – understand your KPIs and why you’re using them. Look to the data you hold and the communication between departments to understand what’s missing, and set KPIs up to fill these gaps. Equally look at what you’re working hard to measure now that may not be necessary or useful, and get rid of it (or change it).
Though ROI is an end goal for marketing, if you look at the measurements you employ on a daily basis and perfect them, the effect will last down the line, making your ROI measurement smoother and simpler.
Not knowing where to start
With ROI, don’t be afraid to put your hands up and say “I don’t know where to start!”, this is more common than you’d think. There’s so much to think about when tackling ROI, especially if you’re new to it, or looking into the results of a risky campaign; you want to be sure of the result, but the truth is, you can never be 110% sure. All you can do is the best you can in ensuring every angle has been considered and evaluated in your workings.
Lead Forensics are driven by making the world of B2B marketing better, so if you’re stuck on where to begin with ROI, check out these resources. They’re sure to get your started on the right foot, and lead you to ROI success!
Lead Forensics is the market leading lead generation solution, that not only brings you more leads than ever before, but also allows you to see the ROI gained from other investments. By telling you which businesses are on your website, how they found you and what they looked at, you can see the success of all your marketing channels in affecting your website traffic. Added to this, the software provides contact details for your business visitors, allowing you to contact them in seconds ensuring your investment efforts don’t go to waste.
Free guide – Effective marketing tactics for doing business in the USA has plenty more information in about B2B marketing. If you found this interesting, you should definitely give it a read!