It is fairly safe to say that most –if not all- B2B Marketers agree that it is important to measure and communicate the value marketing brings to their organizations. However from speaking with fellow B2B Marketers, many are looking to improve their marketing accountability in a practical way without getting bogged down into complex dashboards with more dials than they can shake a stick at. Here are a number of key pointers for a practical set up and why now may be the best time to further sharpen existing B2B Marketing metrics.
Why Sharpen Your B2B Marketing Accountability?
There are many reasons why it makes sense to sharpen the measurement of the value marketing brings to your company, but 3 key reasons I like to focus on for this post are:
- Measurement is at the basis of improvement – this goes for any performance related activity whether in business, or for example in sports;
- Measuring how marketing results contribute to the overall business or corporate objectives provides the ultimate argument for the ‘raison d’etre’ or reason of existence of a marketing department –and related budgets- in your company;
- Most marketers prefer marketing to be seen as an investment rather than an expense; and investments are normally measured on the return they provide.
These are quite fundamental arguments, so why is B2B Marketing Accountability still identified as a weak spot in many B2B Marketing research papers? As I know from personal experience, it can be a challenging route to embark on. However if you feel you do want to take -even a small- step in advancing your B2B Marketing Accountability, now may be the best time to do it.
Now, or any time outside the annual planning season of your company may be the best time to review and sharpen your marketing accountability. By the time everybody starts to speak about the annual plan and budget, most marketing professionals will have little time to reflect on an improved measurement structure.
By taking the time now to think about your planning and related metrics you can create the opportunity to:
- Sharpen or set up your measurement system;
- See how it works in relation to your current business and marketing objectives;
- Adjust where necessary before the new budget-round comes along.
How To Go About It?
An effective approach to sharpening B2B Marketing Accountability includes 2 key elements:
1. START WITH BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
As a principle, marketing objectives should in the basis always be directly related to the overall business objectives of the company as:
- Delivering a measureable contribution to the corporate strategic/business objectives is a prerequisite to B2B Marketing success;
- In terms of internal communication: explicit links of marketing results to the overall business objectives resonate remarkably well with senior (financial) management.
The issue here is that the above sounds so blatantly obvious you could actually forget to make this link really explicit and instead focus on process related metrics, which are not always that relevant to senior management.
2. START SIMPLE
Some companies have developed marketing dashboards with some 150 metrics and dials feeding into it. For (very) large marketing departments (often also in the B2C arena) this may be a necessary solution. For many B2B companies though it could mean spending too much resource on a means that becomes an end in itself.
In order to build a simple yet logical structure it may help to define your B2B Marketing metrics on 3 levels:
- Level 1: Start on a high level with the overall business objectives. What are the key areas where marketing will provide value?
- Level 2: For each of these areas indicate the key projects/activities with their objectives and desired outcomes. The key question here is: what will success look like for this project or process?
- Level 3: Where relevant, dive into further detail – for example into specific process metrics such as website or social media statistics.
Again, don’t make it too complex to start with, but treat it as a development process. A good sanity check on your metrics includes verifying if they are really actionable.
Once you have set up a good foundation, you can always move into more sophisticated ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) metrics including NPV (Net Present Value), CLV (Client Lifetime Value) metrics and other interesting acronyms.
How You Will Benefit
Starting the process of sharpening your B2B Marketing Accountability will give you a better overview of where you (want to) deliver marketing value to your company. Other benefits include:
- The increased transparency caused by a sharper measurement of what marketing really contributes to the business may be slightly uncomfortable at first. However once used to this, it will be a great asset in profiling the marketing department -and yourself- in terms of value contributed to the business;
- A balanced set of metrics as part of the marketing plan will also greatly help in focusing yourself and your team in terms of priorities and activities – next to the many ad-hoc requests most B2B Marketers receive on a daily (or hourly) basis;
- There is a lot of benefit into experimenting with these metrics for the sake of your own learning. Once you have a few planning cycles under your belt it will also greatly help to predict what you resources you need to achieve your next set of challenging objectives.
Originally published on B2Bbloggers.com