Is Your Marketing Team Ready For or Dreading Data?

June 17, 2016
by Christine Viera
  • Is your marketing team ready for data?

Data is a marketer’s new best friend. For those getting their groove on with data, I’ve shared some tipstricks and 3 great guides to help. So what’s next? It’s all about people. Coaching people to adopt data is as important as having it in the first place.

Don’t kid yourself. It freaks your team out when you give them quotas for marketing goals. Even if they act cool, they’re quietly wondering “how am I supposed to hit that?” Among marketing disciplines, Demand Gen marketers tend to be the best at owning numbers. But if you try to raise or accelerate conversion rates without deep data insights and a plan for how…you’ll face the same reaction from them.

The truth is that we’re in the wild west of mastering marketing data.

Data tells a story. Yet the story for B2B marketing isn’t simply black and white. We can see some trends straight up. Yet other marketing impacts on results must be inferred.

Even when we have good insights, knowing what to do about them is new territory. So, we must invent new ways to help our teams know what to do with the data we give them.You’ll create more fear than freedom if you set metric-based goals without helping your team meet them.

Think about it. In B2B sales, reps have quotas to hit and pipeline to manage. There are also accounts they can target, track and forecast. There’s a basic unit of measure to manage – accounts & the revenue they generate. CRM tools track every aspect of sales pipeline, forecasting, pricing and reporting. So, sales team members can (need to, are required to) track their progress in building the business.

But what’s your unit of measure in marketing? Leads, inquiries, or percent of closed revenue attributable from marketing, customer renewal rates, or a combo of new and renewal revenue? How are content marketing, Web traffic, events and other marketing activities driving the main goal that you own? Also, what can be attributed to the Social Marketing or Product Marketing teams’ contributions as compared with the work of the Demand Gen team?


How is any B2B marketing activity linked to measures that matter?


B2B marketing leaders have a huge opportunity to innovate in this area. Here are the 4 areas where pioneers can make their mark:


1. Measure marketing as a team sport.

Tracking traffic, pipeline, and revenue are a norm. And also – we all know that marketing supports sales, branding teams, and much more. So, isn’t it time that we get smarter at how we assess this?

Pioneers can invent a smarter way to correlate the impact of marketing resources to sales productivity, market penetration, and brand awareness. We need to start associating how marketing investments directly and indirectly help other teams hit their goals.


2. Measure content impact.

As marketers, we’re in our infancy in understanding the impact of content. Most efforts at content measurement are anecdotal or ad hoc. Alone, an asset is an island unto itself. It doesn’t advance a dynamic dialogue with a prospect.

Over the coming years, we need to get better at measuring what content themes drive engagement, leads and pipeline. We need to track the flow of digital content conversations and where these conversations trail off. I’m not talking about tracking views of your assets or ebooks just to score leads. That’s only half of the story. Actually, it’s just the beginning of the story.

It’s the thread of the prospect’s or customer’s interest that we need to see, track and deliver to our sales and service teams for true insight. That requires us to match digital content engagement plus social selling interactions plus conversation topics with our sales teams. Hard to do? Today…yes. In the future, this is how we get smarter.


3. Measure program impact.

What programs drive more leads and pipeline? Do Webinars get new leads or engage the base? By what average number and percent?  If we can benchmark how programs perform, we can start to forecast contribution to net new and install base engagement and pipeline.


4. Make it safe to embrace data.

We need a discipline of delivering data insights across the integrated marketing team.

Today, marketing automation tools help with prospect databases, lead tracking, and flow. And that’s good. None of the rest of the work we do in marketing seems to be in the sights of marketing automation vendors. And that’s an opportunity.

When I recently looked, I did find a few good guides to marketing data. But it was a hunt to find B2B-focused marketing ROI guides. And, the work to get insights using these is highly manual. Even if we had the right tools, we’d need marketing ROI boot camps to help train all of our marketers – demand gen, product marketing, events teams, and others – on the practice of using data to drive better results.


It’s simply time elevate the practice of B2B marketing ROI to a new level.


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.

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