One of the most common questions we get asked, is how to measure the success of a particular marketing activity. This can be a tricky question to answer, as marketing tends to focus on longer-term effects. Particularly in B2B, where long sales cycles are often the rule, while budget owners tend to ask for short-term results.
We asked Anders Wallin, an experienced Project Manager in Vendemore's Customer Experience team, for his views on measuring the success of marketing activities:
What goals would you recommend when planning a B2B advertising campaign?
Anders: This is a question we often get from our clients, and a rather tricky one to answer. To satisfy the internal sponsors of the campaign, you should define a few measurable short-term goals for the campaign, e.g. increase in traffic to the website, a meeting booked, or sign-up for a certain sales-related offering.
To really understand the contribution of marketing and advertising, though, you should consider the development of the business longer term: Mark accounts that have been targeted by marketing activities in the CRM system and track the development of these over time. Then compare the development of the business with targeted accounts to that of non-targeted accounts. In the end, it's about the money earned - has the campaign generated revenue, has it attracted new accounts?
To be concrete, what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) would you recommend for a B2B advertising campaign?
Anders: I'd recommend including the standard advertising KPI's as indicators of how the campaign is working, e.g. the number of impressions per account (reach), viewability, clicks, and also the website visits. The number of clicks, for instance, can tell that the display ad catches the attention of the target customers. However, one shouldn't give these parameters too much attention. As stated earlier, the longer-term effect of the campaign on sales is more important.
Something that can be quite valuable, is to run an A/B test to establish differences in preference between display ads and/or account segments. Here, the number of clicks will be the main KPI to consider. When performing A/B tests, it's important to decide what to test and to make this parameter the sole difference between the two ads: either the message, or the colours, or the image, or the call to action, or the segment targeted. Mixing two of these will make it harder to tell which parameter makes the difference.
When defining the campaign goals, are there benchmarks you would recommend for comparison?
Anders: Well, it depends. As we're talking about B2B and account-based advertising, the accounts targeted will most likely be in different phases of their individual buyer's journey when the campaign starts. If the target audience is existing clients, the expectations on the campaign's results must be different than if the target is accounts who are not yet clients.
As a rule, rather than looking at KPI's such as "average click through rate of X%" I would recommend looking upon an advertising campaign as a way to earn new insights about the accounts targeted. Take the first month(s) of a campaign to establish an individual baseline for each account targeted, and then analyse the development over time. This will give your sales team new insights and help them to prioritise their activities much better, which clearly is more important than to beat some market benchmarks.
Can you say something about the expectations on the development of individual accounts?
Anders: One of the more interesting parameters to look at is the changes in the target accounts' traffic to the website. The visitor patterns will differ between accounts, so optimally one should establish the baseline per account before the campaign starts and then analyse the development of the traffic over time. An existing client may start to show an interest in a new product area, while someone who's not yet a client start showing an interest by visiting once or twice. This type of analysis will give an indication not only of the accounts' level of interest, but also which topics and products they are interested in. Used right, this may be extremely valuable information for your sales team.
Finally, do you have some special advice that you'd like to share with our readers?
Anders: It's to focus more on what your target accounts actually do, than on what you think they do. Employ the data available - collect it, analyse it, use it - instead of making assumptions. For instance, clients sometimes ask me to publish one of their ads on a particular media site because they believe that's the media their target audience reads regularly. This may or may not be true, but there is a higher value in placing the ad in the media that the target audience actually reads. Today, data is available to answer many of the questions you would ask in a marketing context, so use the data when planning your marketing activities.
Finally, my best tip is to talk to Vendemore! :)
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