B2B Metrics: Do Your Measurements Matter?

B2B Metrics

Applying metrics to marketing activities is a top priority for most B2B marketers, but establishing meaningful measurements can be difficult.  There are a lot of things you can track: open rates, clicks, cost-per-click, leads, followers, fans, site traffic … but just because you can track something doesn’t mean you necessarily should.  The key is deciding what to measure.  Unfortunately, this is often a lot harder than you would think. 

Ideally, all B2B metrics would be directly tied to your bottom line, but creating those links isn’t always possible.  For example, how do you measure the impact a printed brochure has on your bottom line?  It’s not easy.  And more importantly, it’s probably not worth the effort to try.  Always ask the question, “Does the measurement matter?”  Focus on the one’s that do and forget about the ones that don’t.  Don’t confuse data with information.  If a metric doesn’t tell some sort of story, it’s not worth reporting.  And don’t assume you know what the best measurements are.  Ask your associates for their input.

A while back, I suggested marketers take a new approach to marcom planning by inviting sales to the process.  I would suggest the same here.  If a key objective of your marketing is generating leads, it’s probably a good idea to ask sales a question or two about how to measure a good lead from a bad one.  Instead of trying to justify your budget to management by reporting that you generated 12,345 leads at an average cost of $67.89, wouldn’t it be nice to have a story that includes lead:sales conversion rates, opportunity values, # of touches through the pipeline, cost per customer acquisition, average lifetime customer value … you get the idea.  A story like that justifies a budget.
A lot of marketers are having a particularly hard time establishing metrics for social media. In fact, according to a new BtoB Magazine study titled “Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Marketing,” while 93% of B2B marketers are engaged in social to some extent, 75% have no ROI metrics in place to measure its effect.  Most simply don’t know what to measure.  Again, the key is to establish objectives for your social media program and measure against those as closely as possible. 

If your company has launched a Facebook page, it probably didn’t do so to gain 10,000 fans.  If it did, you’re already in trouble.  Instead, perhaps the objective was to create a deeper engagement with your customers by providing valuable content and encouraging an active dialogue.  In addition to tracking the frequency of these “engagements” on the page and the topics that are being discussed, it would also be worth tracking the number of calls being handled by your customer service team.  Is that number being reduced because an increasing number of questions are being handled via Facebook?  If so, can you identify any resulting operational cost reductions?  Now there’s a story!  Marketing is typically viewed as an expense.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create links between what we do and cost savings?

Finally, be creative when reporting your B2B metrics.  Make them visual and avoid complex tables and long PowerPoints.  Tell the story as simply as possible, always focusing on the end game.  Quantitative information is great, but don’t ignore the qualitative.  Include actual customer comments if you have any that reinforce the results.  Afterall, sometimes a few words are actually worth a thousand pictures.

What are your biggest challenges in establishing meaningful B2B metrics?  What do you have the most trouble measuring?  Conversely, what are the most meaningful measurements you track?  Let us know.  We’d enjoy hearing from you.

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