5 Secrets to Great B2B Marketing Dashboards

June 5, 2016
by Christine Viera

In the not-too-distant past, B2B marketers kept measure of our impact on market share growth, revenue, leads generated, and how much content we created.  None of these were truly a measure of marketing’s contribution and impact.

When we grew and our numbers were good – this method worked. If revenues were flat – it was a mad scramble to show our business unit / team / personal impact. 

To no small degree, our success was heavily based on how well our sales and market peers liked our work. Haven’t we all lived through that stage in our careers where we cranked out data sheets and white papers because that’s what sales wanted? But did even one customer read the content? 

Good marketers quickly escape this trap, but it’s ridiculously hard. The barriers to seeing if messaging and content works with customers and salespeople robs everyone of the ability to be more effective. It’s time to retire this old-school approach to marketing. 

 

Freed by the Facts

With loads of work our plates as B2B marketers, a clear view of metrics on a simple dashboard unifies the pieces. But what does good look like?

Given all of our unique B2B needs, it doesn’t work to just copycat B2C dashboards and advice. You’ll obsess about traffic volume while ignoring data-driven insights into growth in market segments with the right personas. So where can you start? How can you pick the right path? What’s pragmatic to do?

Having hit my head on this rock, let me save you the pain. Here are guidelines plus special secrets to creating the right B2B marketing dashboards.

 

  1.  Right-size your exec dashboard

Somewhere between having no data and having 50+ charts to manage weekly is the right mix.

Working without data will hurt your business. It’ll manifest itself as overly optimistic forecasts, followed by watching both sales and marketing miss targets. However you do it, get your company on the move toward becoming data-driven.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re expected to be a data ninja with 50+ charts that change constantly and at the whim of your boss — you’re in the data danger zone.

You should be able to see the health of your funnel in 5-10 of the right charts. You’ll need enough charts to see results and trends. All of these charts must focus on the outcomes that make or break your business…including what drives those results and trend lines.

The secret to success is how you empower your team. Unless you want your team stressing out as they try to become finance jockeys, arm them with the handful of charts they can directly influence.

  1. Track flow and quality

Get insights into funnel flow. Learn how web traffic, landing pages, events, and email marketing drive leads from casual interest into closed revenue. If your demand creation pipeline is sluggish at any point, it’s time to collaborate with marketing and sales peers to fix it quickly.

Watch out for the lead volume versus lead quality trap.

A higher volume of leads doesn’t matter if you’re attracting the wrong buyers. So, jump on the Account-Based Marketing wagon. Identify who you want to have as customers. Then target those buyers with compelling content and engaging digital marketing programs. Pair that work with sales-driven focus on those same accounts for true joint marketing. Invest in resources or, better yet, marketing technology to monitor how well you’re attracting those specific accounts.

The secret is to keep have a clear time frame identifying when the quality ramp will come online and start paying off. Only then, should you reset your traffic and lead volume goals. As you make the switch, watch out for the comparison trap. You’ll recognize it when stakeholders may say “we had a lot more leads in the past.” Be sure to have conversion rates ready for your response. Track what the baseline stats, what you project for the future, and what your quality trials are yielding.

 

  1. Know what’s driving your trends

Marketing needs to see the bottom line. Traffic volumes, leads generated, lead quality, the pipeline, and revenue. That’s the B2B business landscape. 

And we need program-level insights into what gives lift to our numbers. Trying to drive more leads? Which programs work? What content marketing themes drive engagement and conversion? Which elements of your website convert, lower your bounce rate, and attract linkbacks? Which ‘sales plays’ get the most traction with prospects and customers with up-sell potential?

The secret is in having program-specific contribution insights. Marketers need to see what programs contribute to lead and pipeline forecasts. It’s the equivalent to sales reps knowing what accounts are likely to close for their forecasts.

If you can see what programs and tweaks are working, you’ll know what marketing experiments are paying off. That in turn allows you to start forecasting how you’ll hit results. Without this, it’s like owning a sales number without any idea of what might close.

 

  1. Understand both digital and sales channel results

Especially with digital marketing advice, take care that what you’re reading makes sense for B2B results. A lot of guides offer good insights into measuring click-through rates and engagement. However, there’s little content dedicated to how B2B marketers should measure sales engagement with prospects and marketing content. That’s the B2C bias in effect.

As a B2B marketer, you need to know what’s working in all of your channels to market – digital, sales, and partners. You need to know the impact of events, user groups or other in-person activities too. B2B marketers especially need to prioritize getting regular and automated feedback from the sales experience.

Most already meet with sales, get regular feedback, and take ad hoc ‘readings’ for launches of products or sales initiatives. This tribal input is important and you probably do this beautifully. It’s also unmeasurable, inconsistent, and indefensible when Sales or Marketing miss their numbers.

The secret is to supplement tribal insights with automated feedback and research activities. Make sure you have quantitative and survey-based insight into content salespeople use. Get insights into marketing programs salespeople promote via email and social channels. Know what training programs get engagement and lead to results. Don’t just ask them what they want once in a blue moon, track what they really use and do with the marketing assets and programs you give them.

 

  1. Measure content marketing topics and assets

Content marketing moved from hype to a new norm in marketing. Yet it’s still a newer area of marketing, so many aren’t sure what to track.

There’s a tendency in marketing for our stakeholders to come up with shopping lists of assets they want, and for us to fulfill. It certainly keeps the peace to say yes, but is it driving actual results? Everyone wants to know and it helps you say yes more strategically.

The secret is to make sure you measure both collections and assets. Focus on “collections” of content that drive traffic, leads and customer/sales engagement. Did ‘data-driven marketing’ drive 15% more leads than your last content campaign around ‘marketing efficiency’? Find out!

Know how your content collections drive leads across pipeline stages. How far into the pipeline does the content collection take a lead? Are both digital and sales-curated content from the same collection working to drive leads to closed business? Figure out the answer.

And also learn how specific assets are performing. What’s the most popular piece? Type? With what persona?  Was there a sequence of assets that drove engagement? How did that compare to your last content campaign? What’s the optimal content type? What’s the best spacing of time between content offers? Is there the best time of day to launch an asset that works for your audience? You should know.

 

With improved insights into collections and how they drive funnel flow, you increase your odds of delivering assets drive engagement and business.

 

About

High energy, inspired B2B Marketer. Lessons learned largely in high tech and communications industries where I've worked with very smart folks, on very cool things, in very dynamic environments. I like helping others navigate people, tech, programs, and problems with vision, courage, and impact. All opinions are solely my own.