Measuring ROI from B2B Marketing: Part II

Every marketing tactic has unique properties that influence the value that can be assigned relative to its cost. Whereas Part I addressed ROI on a macro level, this post focuses on how to value the most common marketing and communication programs on their individual merits.

Online Advertising
Even though display advertising can and should be measured through to a conversion (easy to do in Salesforce), expectations for clicks should be within those of industry averages (.2-.5%), with even lower expectations set on driving leads. The possible exceptions would include programs specifically geared toward capturing contact information prior to authorizing the download of a research paper or other thought leadership piece.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL) – may include leads attributed to the campaign that did not come from a click
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: Compare CTR against industry averages and past campaigns to reflect engagement
Compare CPM against other publications with comparable audience reach/composition
Compare lift in awareness against competitors (third party) during the flight periods

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source

Print Advertising
Print advertising, while more expensive and less measurable than online ads, should be considered in any ROI analysis. Measuring the impact of print ads can be accomplished with a specific call to action or program (custom landing page, guarantee, contest, promotion, etc.), but its effectiveness is more often relegated to the level of confidence management has in a publication’s ability to reach a qualified audience.

If not centered around a specific promotion or product launch, investment in trade publications is best kept to special issues tied to your industry, which is often tied to a specific industry event.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)

Benchmarks: Compare CPM against other trade pubs with comparable audience reach and composition
Compare lift in awareness of the company during the flight periods

Recommend: Create CRM lead source for “print advertising” and train Sales to associate related opportunities

Paid Search (SEM)
Search engine marketing serves both awareness and a demand generation objectives. However, paid search will always drive some number of unqualified leads and a process must be devised to manage them without becoming a distraction for Sales. While sometimes a nuisance, the value of SEM for awareness, as a defensive measure against competitors’ efforts and the occasional opportunity to land a substantial new client make paid search worthwhile to continue testing and measuring for its effectiveness.

Key metrics: Impressions (eCPM)
Clicks (eCPC)
Leads (eCPL)
Sales (eCPA)

Benchmarks: eCPL against past SEM campaigns
eCPA against total ad spend

Recommend: Track site visitors and associated leads by traffic source.

Event Sponsorship
Regional and vertical event sponsorship can create great awareness and meaningful interaction with qualified prospects. While practically speaking there will always be impressions made and conversations had that will be impossible to track, Marketing must develop a process for entering information from business cards obtained at events into the CRM system.

For this to work optimally, sales leadership must take a proactive role in ensuring opportunities from events are captured as thoroughly and accurately as possible. For example, a conversation with a former client where no business cards are traded but it results in securing an RFP needs to somehow be attributed to participation in the event. Or when a lead captured at an event gets passed from one rep to another it needs to be entered accordingly.

Key metrics: Potential audience – Reach/Frequency of the event’s advance promotion efforts
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Share of Voice – How well were we “heard” at the event?
Conversations – How many people did we “touch” during the event?
Leads – How many new contacts/leads were put into the CRM system (eCPL)?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives afterward to compare against other sponsored events
Compare revenue between regional event investments (holds regional sales reps accountable)
Compare revenue between vertical event investments
Compare regional events to effectiveness of vertical events

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Hosted Events
Investment in a company’s own custom events arguably attract a more highly qualified audience because the invited guests are its most important clients and prospects. For this reason, it is less likely new business cards will be obtained for entry into the CRM and it will be more difficult for Marketing to measure the effectiveness without direct input from Sales about new opportunities obtained as a result of client interactions during or immediately following the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people did we reach with the invitation (Sales must help)
Actual audience – How many people attended the event?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Survey company representatives after each event to compare against all sponsored events
Compare revenue derived from our own events against each other

Recommend: Create a lead source option in CRM for each sponsored event and track qualified
leads/opportunities accordingly

Webinars/Conference Calls/Podcasts
Webinars can be used for a combination of awareness, thought leadership and lead generation. Similar to custom events, webinars generate a highly qualified audience since the company typically controls the guest list. Although costs increase when partnering with another entity, so does the size and potential to reach new prospective clients. Unlike live events, it is much easier to track the effectiveness based on the number of people who register and attend the event.

Key metrics: Potential audience – How many people were invited to the webinar?
Registrations – How many people signed up to attend the webinar?
Attendees – How many people actually attended the webinar?
Opportunities – How many new RFPs were generated from new or existing clients (eCPL)?
Sales – How much booked revenue from our participation in the event (eCPA)?

Benchmarks: Compare growth in attendance over each webinar
Compare growth in sales over time, including impact of different topics or marketing partners

Recommend: Import event registration information into CRM and track leads accordingly

Conference Speaking Opportunities
Part event marketing and part public relations, speaking at conferences cannot be overlooked for its value in the marketing mix. The challenge with measuring speaking opportunities is that we often have no way of knowing the actions taken by audience members who were positively influenced by something our executive says on stage. If the speaker interacts with a prospective client, their information should be passed to a sales rep and recorded in the CRM, yet this easier said than done since the CEO does not (nor should he be expected to) think about ROI measurement from marketing at this granular level. Therefore, it is beholden on everyone in Sales to be mindful of where every lead comes from and to track it accordingly.

Key Metrics: Number of qualified speaking engagements secured (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to speaking opportunities

Benchmarks: Number of our speaking opportunities compared to prior period (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Frequency of individual competitors appearing on stage during comparable periods

Recommend: Create a lead source for each event where we speak and track qualified leads accordingly
Hold PR firm accountable for number of speaking opportunities

Public Relations
The ability to consistently secure editorial coverage will build awareness, lift overall industry perception and increase sales as described above. But the more quantifiable metrics are the number of editorial placements, and to a lesser degree the type of placement (mention, roundup, feature, etc.) and how prominently a company is featured therein.

In years past, an accepted measurement of ROI from public relations investments was to calculate the advertising rate for the comparable amount of space secured. Today, systems offered by companies like Vocus, United Business Media and PR Newswire offer monitoring across all media with sophisticated scoring to measure things like:

• Type of media
• Type of coverage – feature story, profile, mention, round-up, etc.
• Quality of coverage –positive, neutral or negative
• Consistency, frequency, message saturation and diversity of coverage
• Share of voice against competitors

Depending upon the size of company and the importance it places on editorial coverage, it may be worth investigating third-party PR monitoring services, but often management is satisfied with simply being mentioned consistently in key trade publications and business press.

To the extent that editorial coverage secured can be directly attributed to a lead or a sale, that information should be captured in the CRM. This can be as simple as adding “editorial coverage” in the lead source field, to indicate when a new opportunity comes from any form of editorial coverage.

Key Metrics: Number of editorial mentions in trade and business press (monthly/quarterly/annually)
Number of leads that can be directly attributed to editorial coverage

Benchmarks: Number of editorial mentions compared to prior period
Number of editorial mentions of competitors in comparable time period

Recommend: Hold PR firm accountable for quantity, scale and frequency of trade media placements
Hold PR firm accountable for number of placements in trade analyst coverage
Create lead source for major editorial coverage and associate web and sales leads accordingly

Social Media
While a social media presence is not always a high priority for B2B marketers, it is advisable to at least maintain a Twitter handle, a Facebook page and a LinkedIn company profile, which need to be updated consistently in order to remain credible. Social media activities are relatively low cost to maintain (an hour or two per day of a junior level marketing staffer or intern). While it may be difficult to directly attribute revenue to the social channel, it is highly measurable in other ways and can be a big driver of awareness and thought leadership.

Key Metrics: Frequency of blog posts, Tweets and LinkedIn and Facebook status updates
Number of Twitter followers and Facebook “Likes”
Traffic to blog page

Benchmarks: Compare by channel to frequency of key competitors’ audience size and frequency of updates

Recommend: Report amount of hours spent and frequency of communication by each social media channel

Website Traffic and Analytics
A company’s website is the transom across which leads that cannot be attributed to a specific program will make their way into the company’s sales process. Monthly or annual benchmarks for traffic and leads should be established, but more importantly just looking at and discussing site analytics can lead to great marketing opportunities.

Key Metrics: Monthly unique visitors
Number of leads via the contact form
Source of traffic and leads

Benchmarks: Compare recent traffic and lead patterns to those immediately following the launch of a new site

Recommend: Monthly reporting of unique visitors and leads

Client Communication
Communicating with clients and prospects via e-mail is relatively easy and inexpensive and a newsletter can drive leads by introducing new products, promoting a hosted event or just serving as a trigger to remind a buyer to include the company on its next RFP. Whether completion of a lead form is tracked from a click or you rely on reps to indicate that a client mentioned having received our email, leads from dedicated mailings and newsletters should be tracked in the CRM whenever possible.

Key Metrics: Size of mailing list and frequency of sending to the list
Email open rate and click rates
Lead forms completed as a result of clicks from within newsletters

Benchmarks: Compare size of mailing list, open rate and CTR trends over comparable periods of time

Recommend: Report on frequency of client communication, open rate and number of leads generated

Product Marketing and Collateral
While not an obvious marketing program expenditure, marketing typically spends an inordinate amount of time on product positioning, differentiation, launch promotions and collateral. For the most ROI-obsessed marketers, a field for “product marketing and collateral” can be created in the CRM as a place for sales reps to track when a particular sales deck, individual piece of collateral or knowledge they obtained from a product specialist resulted in their winning a piece of new business.

Key Metrics: Number of man-hours spent on product marketing related programs
Number of opportunities cited by reps as being the result of product marketing initiatives

Benchmarks: Compare growth of new opportunities from product marketing over comparable time periods

Recommend: Identify a new vertical (Education) or product (Brand-DR Connect) and measure product sales

Instilling ROI Values in the Organization

To avoid the traditional tension between sales and marketing, align their objectives from the beginning under a common value proposition and goal. Marketing can take on planning, implementation and measurement of programs while Sales is recognized as the catalyst for winning deals. Account management (operations) also has a role in retaining customers and increasing their lifetime value.

Avoid Sales not entering leads through training and by making the lead source a required field in the CRM. Sales should also be discouraged to attribute leads to a marketing activity just because they want to “help” Marketing. Incentives should be focused on encouraging an honest assessment of where leads come from and enlisting everyone on the team in tracking our ROI so we can make more intelligent decisions about where to place our marketing dollars based on real experience about what works and what doesn’t.


Key recommendations for measuring return on investment from marketing can be summarized as including:

• Enlist Marketing in refining metrics and benchmarks and determining specific goals
• Make lead source a required field in the CRM and frequently update lead source picklist
• Enlist PR firm in defending their value for media relations activities and reaffirm goals
• Train Sales about the importance and how to properly account for marketing-related leads
• Regularly analyze deal size by source
• Undertake win/loss analysis to determine LTV measurement

Multiple touch-points with an audience, at varying costs and at varying scale and quality will influence each sale, make it difficult to attribute revenue to any single marketing program. Attempting to create a common unit of measurement or scoring system across programs, while possible in theory, would be a futile effort since integrated marketing by its nature is designed to leverage the combined effect of all programs rather than any individual component.

Although it is useful to understand which marketing programs drive new business most efficiently, and the marketing organization can use the key metrics and benchmarks contained in this report to make future recommendations, ultimately management and investors should be more concerned with the cost to acquire a qualified lead (eCPL) and the most effective rate at which to drive awareness (eCPM).

How we make decisions about future expenditures is dependent on our personal experience, recommendations based on others’ experience and our belief in the audience composition of a particular program as described by sales people presenting new opportunities we may know little about. Sometimes the risk of not participating in a program can be as much a determining factor as there being a high likelihood for something positive to come of the investment. No matter what the program or how it was selected, there is always the need (and likely the ability) to test and verify.

The primary reason for tracking the return on marketing investments is to make better decisions about where to make subsequent investments based on the success of prior decisions. However, there are no guarantees that any investment in marketing will result in acquiring a new client or maintaining an existing one. The metrics, benchmarks and recommendations contained in this post are merely guidelines and observations based on my experience. I would appreciate your feedback, as I continue to understand and share insights on this important topic for B2B marketers.

Return to Measuring ROI from B2B Marketing: Part I


10 things I wish I’d learned in college

UCMORecently I spoke to a group of undergrads in the communications school at my alma mater, the University of Central Missouri — something I always imagined doing but wasn’t sure how or when it would happen. As it turns out I was speaking at the Integrated Marketing Summit in Kansas City two days before UCM homecoming. I didn’t know what to expect when I reached out with an offer to share some insights from my career with the students, but the idea was warmly received by Tricial Hansen-Horn, public relations professor in the UCM Dept. of Communication.

My comments centered around things I’ve learned throughout my career that I would have like to have known sooner or felt would be relevant and helpful to these young people who are about to walk out of the halls of UCM and into the “real world” as I did nearly 20 years ago. 

Key points of my talk included:

  1. Learning to cut bait sooner and the art of saying “no” (including a rare public display of my “no card”)
  2. The art of “pitching,” the perception of public relations and the radical shifts in PR over the past 10 years
  3. The difference between product and service businesses and the importance of scale
  4. Partnerships and the value of imbalanced ownership 49/51%
  5. The importance of salesmanship and how to ask for (and get) what you want
  6. The importance of relationships and distinctions between friends and contacts
  7. Knowing what you want and creating a mission statement for your life 
  8. Why knowing yourself and your core values matters most
  9. The importance of learning to think critically
  10. Life is short, so thrive

While my talk was in the spirit of “giving back,” I did so knowing the fulfillment I would receive from doing it, something made even more meaningful by the feedback I’ve recived from both students and faculty who have followed up with me since then. The process was also cause for an introspective look at my career accomplishments, not judging good or bad, but rather taking a moment to reflect on several years of hard work and the value of those experiences. In sharing them I hope to have inspired a few of the students who turned out to hear me speak that rainy morning in October and that you too will consider doing the same and seeing what it does for you.

View my photos from UCM homecoming


A Seat for Marketing at the Revenue Table

IMSAfter speaking at the Integrated Marketing Summit last week, I attended sessions on the burgeoning field of demand generation, marketing automation and CRM, something I’ve been studying for awhile but was brought home for me in a big way during talks by James W. Obermayer and Debbie Qaqish. I’ve been tracking ROI on marketing spend for a long time, but the tools are becoming increasingly sophisticated, allowing marketing professionals to monitor and take action on the “digital body language” of leads we acquire from various marketing and communications programs. By collaborating with sales to score leads and undertaking segmentation and nurturing campaigns to communicate with them effectively through CRM programs, there has never been a more opportune time for marketing to earn its place at the revenue table.

James W. Obermayer, executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association, began his talk with a simple question: “Isn’t it time you take credit for the wealth you’re creating in your corporation?” We as marketing professionals are the most creative minds in our organizations. If we are not accountable to sales, if we do not know the revenue goals of our organizations and the quotas of the sales teams we serve, how in the world can we know the number of inquiries necessary to achieve success?

According to Obermayer, good performance marketing managers know their goals, create demand, count every inquiry (and every dollar), manage data (CRM), qualify and nurture leads (by channel), repeat wins and remove losers, and they read and follow James D. Lenskold’s book “Marketing ROI.”

He also offers four ways to ensure that CRM programs do not fail:

1) Management has to want it

2) Sale mangers must be on board

3) Sales people need to be trained

4) Marketing has to use the system

Debbie Qaqish of The Pedowitz Group was equally inspiring. Her premise: the role of marketing changes radically with marketing automation tools. It will take a few years and maybe even creation of new analytical roles within your organization, but when sales and marketing partner to deliver qualified leads which are scored, nurtured and closed based on reading the digital body language of our prospects, marketing will be better respected and more highly valued among the ranks of sales leadership and executive management.

10 Best Practices for Demand Generation Marketing

1. Map the Buying Process

a. Crosses marketing and sales. Line up assets to meet how people buy. Buyers do research online, long before a sales person is even remotely engaged.

2. Track and report on “metrics that matter”

a. Conversion and revenue

b. Not “cost per lead”

c. Act and sound like a VP sales

3. Build a Marketing Funnel System

a. Similar to a sales funnel

b. See CSO Insights report

4. Build a common language of leads

a. No fuzzy definitions – lead scoring

b. Quantify definition of a high quality lead

5. Build a common lead management process

a. Life of a lead is everybody’s job

i. Each step is a conversion point we’re trying to improve up to closing

b. How does a marketing qualified lead get passed from marketing to sales?

i. Follow up within x hours or it’s going to another sales person

6. Institute Service Level Agreements

a. A seat at the revenue table is not done in isolation. One process, respected by sales through an agreement.

7. Involve Sales

a. Build Sales Champions for the lead management program

b. Build field focused campaigns

c. Are leads qualified? Are they ready to buy?

8. Create a regular communication cycle and feedback loop

9. Trending, Tweaking, Trying

10. Educate, educate, educate

Change the conversation with your executive team. Think marketing operations. You are a lead production house contributing to revenue. The structure of marketing team will change. You need analytical people – somebody thinking about the campaigns and how to improve upon them daily. Testing is key, and like database work, the job is never done. Just keep at it.

Kansas City Star article about the Integrated Marketing Summit

My pictures from the Integrated Marketing Summit