If you’re a B2B marketer, you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride for the past few years. The pandemic temporarily halted in-person events, a major source of leads for many B2B companies, prompting marketers to shift to digital channels. Many CMOs scrambled to upgrade their martech stack and figure out how to measure campaign impact with greater accuracy. Economic uncertainty prompted some companies to cut marketing budgets.
At the same time, marketers continued to adopt account-based marketing (ABM) strategies, which became the go-to approach after intent data providers made ABM practical at scale. Marketers also had to deal with changes in the customer base, reevaluating long-established ideal customer profiles to accommodate marketplace shifts as target customers reevaluated priorities and reined in spending. These are all significant changes that happened in a relatively short timeframe.
While marketers on the B2B side may have expanded their use of digital channels, added to the martech stack, and adopted ABM in greater numbers, the “defend the spend” imperative remains. In fact, it gained intensity. So, what should marketers be measuring now, given all the changes in the industry? Here’s a closer look at five must-track KPIs for a new era in B2B marketing.
- Activation rate: Forrester revised its B2B Revenue Waterfall last year to more accurately describe the sales and marketing funnel in an ABM context. In the new framework, marketing’s most important job is to activate accounts, and the activation rate tells you how marketing campaigns are performing in terms of engaging and prioritizing buying groups after intent has been detected. In the Forrester B2B Revenue Waterfall, prioritized accounts are roughly equivalent to marketing qualified leads (MQLs) in a funnel that tracks individuals rather than accounts.
- Pipeline speed: This KPI measures the velocity at which accounts are moving through the funnel, which is an important metric because it can tell you which campaigns are driving accounts through the funnel fastest. Say your company’s sales cycle averages 180 days and a certain campaign and/or channel is closing business in 90 days. That means you may be able to double sales within that timeframe if you focus on campaigns that drive a rapid response. Conversely, if some campaigns are taking longer than anticipated to drive conversions, this KPI notifies you so you can adjust in time to hit revenue targets. It’s a valuable metric that is often overlooked because it can be difficult to calculate without the right tools.
- Volume trending: This essential metric gives you a snapshot of activation trends over time. Are your marketing campaigns driving more account activations as compared to data in the previous month, quarter, or year? Are activations down over a specific timeframe? The volume trending KPI requires a historical record so you can put your current data into the right context. A martech solution that operates within your company’s CRM instance can report volume trends and enable data sharing across the organization, including with your counterparts in sales.
- Progress against pipeline goals: At the beginning of each year, B2B organizations set pipeline goals, and marketing and sales leaders identify the number of activations, average deal size, etc., they’ll need to reach those targets. The progress against pipeline goals metric tells you where you stand in relation to those objectives. It’s also a useful metric to promote marketing and sales collaboration and ensure alignment of the groups’ activities.
- Progress against revenue goals: This metric also promotes alignment between sales and marketing by enabling both teams to track progress toward revenue objectives. It can reveal critical insights, such as which marketing campaigns are driving the most revenue, which messages are driving the largest deals, getting the most responses by industry type, etc., so that marketing can invest its budget dollars to maximize revenue.
Marketing’s dramatic evolution over the last few years, combined with marketplace changes in the wake of the pandemic, has changed the fundamentals of the industry in many ways.
The overwhelming majority of B2B marketers are now using ABM. Data from companies like 6Sense, DemandBase, and Bombora helps marketers identify businesses that show intent to purchase their products or services, providing an opportunity to engage members of the buying group.
Most B2B marketers are doing more outreach on digital channels, even as in-person events have resumed, and they need a way to measure performance across channels (in-person and digital), compare results over time using historical data, and create reports that show how marketing is delivering value. The five KPIs listed here can provide those insights.
These KPIs can also give marketing and sales leaders an opportunity to improve alignment between their teams. In marketing, efficiency drives ROI in two ways: more efficient processes allow teams to do more with fewer resources, and more efficient investment of marketing dollars allows CMOs to generate more revenue without spending more money. The right KPIs can help marketing leaders achieve both.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bonnie Crater, CEO of Full Circle Insights
Prior to joining Full Circle Insights, Bonnie Crater was a five-time vice president of marketing and executive at many software companies in Silicon Valley. In 2013, Bonnie was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, in 2015 the Sales Lead Management Association named her one of the “20 Women to Watch” and in 2016 Diversity Journal honored her as one of the “Women Worth Watching.” Bonnie holds a B.A. in biology from Princeton University. Check out her LinkedIn.