Revenating marketing by speaking the language of business
In the past few years, Marketing has gotten really focused on metrics, right?
We’ve all reported on all the great things we’re doing. For example, 600 people registered for a conference; page views have increased by 30% YOY; our email open rates have doubled. It’s been exciting to finally be able to quantify all the hard work that marketing teams do.
All these metrics provide great information. We use them everyday to optimize our programs and measure the success of our efforts. But, the truth is that the C-suite doesn’t care. I hope that isn’t too harsh. But they just don’t care about website visits and email click rates as much as you do. What they care about is pipeline and revenue. And when you bring activity metrics to the executive table, you seem not only out of touch with what the business cares about but you also invite them into nuanced discussions about marketing that they may not be qualified to have.
But don’t fear – with the right measurement infrastructure in place, you can connect the hard work of your marketing team to the numbers executives truly care about. And in the process, you’ll learn to speak the language of business, helping your marketing efforts resonate with your leadership.
Where do you begin?
Here’s a step-by-step approach that will strengthen your business acumen and make you a stronger marketer.
Step 1: Track your company’s overall revenue goals.
It always surprises me when I talk to members of the marketing team and they can’t tell me how the quarter is going from a sales perspective. Are people panicking in the last weeks? Are folks riding high because meeting quota is a done deal? Even worse, some marketers don’t even know what the sales goals are for the quarter!
Make sure that everyone on your team learns the revenue goals each quarter and give time in regular staff meetings to discussing how the company is doing overall. Marketing cannot consider itself a separate entity. And, the closer marketing is tied to the business goals, the smarter marketing looks.
Beyond pipeline and revenue, your team should be well-versed on any other big company goals. Is the CEO talking about adding new logos this year? How many? How are we doing so far? Is the Product team doing a big push to improve the product to retain more customers? What is the current churn rate? What is the goal and how are we doing? Marketers should be able to respond to these kinds of questions.
Note: If things are not going well, marketing will likely be called upon to step up their efforts to support company goals. It is always best to see the early warning signs yourself and prepare to react.
Step 2: Stop reporting on all these metrics
Keep tracking all those activity metrics – they are important! Your marketing team needs to deeply understand the intricate details of how your campaigns are working. And flagging some odd open rate or decrease in website visits could bring to light some operational issue that needs to be addressed. So make sure you are all reviewing and analyzing as much data as possible. …just don’t flood your cross-functional partners with all these numbers.
If you start reporting all your marketing activity metrics to all stakeholders, you may pigeonhole yourself. Expectations will be set and your CEO or CFO will expect growth within each area during every reporting cycle. …and that may not be the right thing to do from a marketing perspective.
This invites unnecessary questions about the marketing mix, strategy and spend. It’s a distraction that could leave you explaining why you transferred $50K from your SEO budget to your paid media budget. What you did was right for the business, but the short-term drop in website views will alarm upper management if they’re used to seeing growth there every month.
So, you might be thinking: “If I am not reporting on activity metrics, what should I report on?” Glad you asked.
Step 3: Build the infrastructure to report the right numbers.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that we report on activity metrics is that they are easy to gather. Need to know how many registrations for your webinar? Simple. Just check the number in in your webinar platform. Want to know how many people clicked on your newsletter? A quick glance at a simple dashboard in your marketing automation platform. But actually connecting your programs to opportunities and revenue? That is much more difficult.
If your marketing automation platform is properly syncing information to Salesforce, the easiest number to get is a campaign influence report from SFDC. Unfortunately there are issues with using this kind of report. See my post on Attribution models to better understand the limitations with influence reporting from SFDC.
Lead source/First Touch reporting is a little better, if limited. This type of reporting generally requires some set-up and management in your marketing automation platform to work properly but it is usually attainable for most teams with the most basic infrastructure in place. With this, you can report to the organization on what marketing activities are best at delivering new contacts that turn into opportunities.
But you miss the influence of all the other marketing touchpoints. And with many prospect’s engaging in between 8 and 12 programs throughout their buyer’s journey, this leaves out a lot and could call into question by executives some of your most critical programs, like nurturing.
To truly show the results of marketing, you need use some type of multi-touch attribution model. (again, see my previous post on attribution models). And while some marketing automation platforms can partially achieve this, in most situations you are going to need to add an analytics tool to your marketing tech stack to achieve maximum visibility into your program performance.
But not only are you looking at a big chunk of budget for a new tool, you also are going to have a heavy lift in terms of building out your technical infrastructure and business processes to support this new reporting tool. Revenate Marketing has a track record of implementing these kinds of processes and tools and can help your organization too. Contact us for more information.
Bottom line – Speak the language of your business.
Today’s marketers have more numbers swirling around than ever before. Data helps, but it can also leave you reporting on everything under the sun—diluting the contributions you’re making to the bottom line. Come into meetings prepared to discuss the role that marketing plays in driving revenue with clear suggestions of where and how it can be done. And the more you can call out specific deals that were sourced or influenced by big marketing efforts, the better off you will be.
Anything else you would include? What other metrics matter to your business? I would love to hear from you.