In this episode, Katie and Chris revisit the essential basic B2B marketing metrics. They discuss the importance of metrics such as engagement rate, bounce rate, and conversion rate. They also talk about the sales funnel and how it is a tiny portion of the overall customer journey.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:17
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we’re talking about B2B marketing metrics, particularly since it’s that time of year marketing across B2B form is coming around as it always does.
People are starting their annual planning and annual budgeting.
And recently, we’ve seen a couple of interesting trends at events.
Katie, you spoke at one last week, so did I, where we’ve noticed that with all the churn and change in people’s teams, it almost seems like in some ways, we have to get back to the basics right to set new baseline set, set some some common understandings of things.
So Katie, well, we’re talking B2B marketing metrics, where do you want to start?
Katie Robbert 0:59
I want to start with the one on one.
So you’re absolutely right.
So last week, we both have some speaking gigs.
And one of the pieces of feedback I got was that it felt like a 201 or a 301 course, even though this person was, you know, sort of felt like they were at the beginning stages, which was interesting to me, because, from my perspective, I thought it was a one on one because I was talking about the pitfalls of putting together a strategic plan, including not asking people what they want in the plan, not having a process for collecting the data to me, that I thought that was pretty one on one, but I could be mistaken.
So when we talk about B2B marketing metrics, I guess we need to bring it back down even a step lower than that and sort of talk about what are appropriate metrics, where do those metrics live? How do you collect those things? You know, almost as if someone you know, brand new, woke up one day and said, I’m going to join a marketing team, which it sounds like, has happened with people’s careers.
And so I mean, well, here’s the thing.
I don’t want to pick on people.
Because to be fair, Chris, when I joined your team at the PR agency a few years back, before we started this, I walked in not really knowing a lot of the B2B metrics, like terms like CPC, and CMA, and, you know, all these other things were being thrown around.
And I felt like a deer caught in headlights, because these were not terms that I was used to necessarily.
And, you know, I had a bit of a learning curve, and obviously, I got there, but it wasn’t part of my every day vocabulary, because I came from a very different world, which, you know, ended up working out fine.
But I think that that, when we think about B2B marketing metrics, that might be where we want to start things like engagement rate, or bounce rate, or, you know, a conversion.
Christopher Penn 2:59
Yeah, I think, you know, we have some stuff from last week that I think would be very useful.
So these, this, it really is based off of a B2B model, this slide.
So the metrics that most B2B marketers are working with look like this at the very bottom right? The most important one everyone cares about, of course, is revenue.
Because B2B is often sales opportunities, and is associated with sort of complex sales.
You have deals, right? So you have an open deal, meaning if you’re trying to work on the sales deal, and then you have a closed one deal, and of course, closed, lost and stuff.
So those those two are sort of the the metrics that immediately precede revenue.
From there, you have above that you have sales opportunities, an opportunity is something where you have the potential to make some money.
But it’s, it’s you’re not at the point where you’re like working out contract negotiations and things right, yeah, it’s still maybe you’re doing answering questions and answers, maybe you’re doing due diligence, maybe you’re just signing NDAs and all that other stuff.
But there’s that there’s a lot of paperwork there.
But a salesperson will say I have an opportunities to do business with Trust Insights.
These this section of the this B2B funnel, if you will, is very much kept in your CRM software like salesforce.com or Hubspot would be examples where this data is stored.
Above that, you have sales qualified leads, you will hear them shortened to SQL and a lot of shops who will call them SQL is a sales qualified lead is a lead that a salesperson has said yes, I can pitch this person and that’s there’s a difference between that and the the metric above that was a sales qualified lead means that some from sales and said yes, I accept this as a lead.
I’m taking it as my responsibility.
I think I can make some money with this, this contact above that.
Now we’re getting into software that will be housed in your marketing automation system against stuff like Marketo Pardot, Hubspot is a marketing qualified lead is a contact, who has raised their hand and said, I’m interested in possibly doing business with you, and meets a set of qualifications that marketing and sales have agreed upon like your from a certain company size or a certain annual revenue, a certain number of employees are in the right industry.
Above that you have prospects, these are people who are in your audience who have this wanting to interact with you, but are not ready to be sold something yet.
So these are people who subscribe to your newsletter, maybe they attend a webinar, maybe they listen to your podcast, you have ways of reaching them, but they’re not ready to be sold anything yet, and pitching them something would be a really bad idea.
And above that you have an identified audience, the people who are reading your blog, reading your tweets, maybe they don’t even follow you on social media, they’re out there, but you have no way of really getting a hold of them.
So these eight metrics are sort of the major B2B marketing metrics.
Now, every company in the world has a sales process of their own.
And you’ll see I’ve seen versions of this, which are structurally similar, but have like 15 or 20 stages.
I remember we had one client who had 22 stages.
And we’re like, does this actually help? You know, they had opportunity, one opportunity, the opportunity to seven are like, wow, that’s a lot of management.
But these would be I would call this the fundamentals of B2B marketing metrics.
Katie Robbert 6:38
Well, and, you know, this is essentially a funnel.
And so we talk about the marketing funnel, the sales funnel, the customer journey, top of funnel, bottom of funnel, you know, those are all terms that are used interchangeably, but this is essentially, you start at the top with the audience, first, you have to have an audience, they have to be aware of you, before they can buy something, and that when we talk about, you know, the customer journey, we’re essentially talking about the sales and marketing funnel.
And I think it’s more appropriate to call it sales and marketing, because you can’t really do one without the other you need.
Both of those pieces, regardless of whether or not your sales team is trying to take all the credit and say marketing doesn’t do anything.
You know, that’s all sort of irrelevant.
It’s, you need people to become aware of you, they need to be interested in you, they need to know that you solve their problem.
And then they need to buy something that is the basics.
And then you can break them out into as many phases as you want.
It doesn’t like if you want to have 22 phases to your sales cycle, because you want to really examine, you know, the length of time between someone blinking their eyes and coffin go right ahead.
I don’t know how that helps you.
It actually sounds like a headache to me, but you know, to each their own.
And so this, you know, is a version of the customer journey, which you could theoretically overlay with the sales and marketing funnel.
Christopher Penn 8:15
And I think this is really interesting, because if you did that, you would notice a pretty significant disparity.
So if we go back to this, we have audience prospects, marketing, qualified leads, sales, qualified leads, sales opportunities, open deals, closed deals, and revenue, right.
All of that entire thing for the most part fits right here.
And in this little section of the journey, here’s your audience right there, they’re just becoming aware they have a problem, your audience is now trying to figure out a solution that sort of the second stage, they’re not, the third stages are trying to figure out who can provide that solution.
And that entire sales and marketing funnel, like you said, is this tiny little portion right here between vendor evaluation and purchase.
Then we have ownership, service support, loyalty, evangelism, and all these things can create new audiences that can become prospects leads, and so on and so forth.
But this is the primary reason why strategically, a lot of people have tried to move to a customer journey perspective, because when you think about it, that entire funnel is just a tiny portion of this overall lifecycle.
And yet, think about how much energy and money and investment we put into just this portion, and ignore pretty much the rest of this even though this is all marketing.
Katie Robbert 9:35
Well, and you know, so that goes back to when, you know, companies and teams and CMOs are saying things like, you know, I need more conversions.
I need to I need a conversion campaign.
I don’t need an awareness campaign.
Awareness Campaign doesn’t do anything for me.
So we’re talking about those B2B marketing metrics.
Awareness is probably one of your More important metrics.
And so the way that you would measure awareness is through, you know, net new followers on your social media accounts or net new visitors to your website, because that means that you have done or said something or posted something, that somebody was like, Oh, that resonates with me, I want to be a part of that conversation, I want to be a part of that universe, let me go ahead and you know, start to, you know, engage with them, or follow them or learn more about them.
Might, to me might be one of the most important B2B marketing metrics.
Christopher Penn 10:39
I 100% agree with you.
And there’s three stages of awareness and you know, three different ways for your company to provide value.
The first is problem awareness.
Do you even know that you have a problem? Right? The second is that solution awareness.
Do you know what solutions are even available to fix that problem? And in general? And then third is specific solution awareness, which is which companies provide that answer.
So if your problem is, you know, you’ve got a coffee maker that brews weak coffee, right? And everyone at the office is angry with you? Because they don’t they have to go out for coffee every morning.
Are you even aware that that’s a problem? Daniel has your staff complaint? What are the solutions? Right? Do you do get a stronger coffee maker? Do you get an espresso machine? Do you get one of those crazy coffee robots? What’s the solution there? And then the then you figure out, okay, well, we can, here’s what we can afford.
Here’s what we think people would like.
Unless you’re an evil corporation, and you just completely ignore all of your staff feedback and buy what you want.
You have you identified the vendor.
And at that point, that’s when we consider the B2B marketing lifecycle really starts.
And from a perspective of B2B marketing metrics, you’re absolutely right, that not enough attention is given to the measures in all these other sections, problem awareness, we would call that unbranded search, right? People are searching for, you know, coffee, coffee machine ideas, or you know, coffee break room solutions.
Then you have branded search, like people looking for specific coffee companies, or specific machines, specific models, then they do vendor evaluation, they’re looking into reviews, they’re, you know, reading threads on Reddit, they’re asking their their friends, you know, word of mouth marketing, and only then maybe, maybe somebody shows up at your website.
And so if we think of Google Analytics, our marketing automation and our CRM as the the universe of B2B marketing metrics, we’re missing a lot.
We’re not seeing the big picture.
Katie Robbert 12:49
And I think that that happens more often than not, there’s this focus on purchase, there’s this focus on the step before purchase.
And then that’s it.
You know, what is the thing driving people to the website? Well, do they even know that you have a website? They even know who you are, you know, what is the people driving? What is the thing that’s driving people to the contact form? Well, hold on a second, do they know what problems you solve? And so in, in marketing, in general, not just B2B marketing, but in marketing in general, marketers, all of us, we do a really crappy job of just introducing ourselves, hey, this is what we do.
These are the things we offer because, you know, unsurprisingly, we’re all focused on the sale, we’re focused on closing the deal.
Well, guess what? As a consumer, I’m not ready to close the deal.
I need to know who the heck you are and what you do.
And so thinking about your sales and marketing funnel, thinking about your customer journey, thinking about the metrics that feed into those pieces? Chris, you’re absolutely right.
It’s organic search, it’s people need to know who you are.
So that’s one of the things you know.
And so now we’re starting to talk about content marketing.
And content marketing is a big part of, you know, B2B marketing.
And organic search is, is a big part of how you measure your content marketing.
Christopher Penn 14:19
It is and the other thing I want to throw out there is that your there’s two fundamental types of analysis or measurement, right? There’s quantitative it’s all a numbers that we’d love numbers.
I love numbers, numbers are my best friends.
But there’s also the qualitative side, which is a side that you can’t afford to ignore.
Last week on analytics from marketers, we were talking about stuff from coffee, right? There was this one discussion thread about this particular type of coffee maker called the AeroPress, which looks like a big syringe basically, put coffee in it in hot water and you squeezed on coffee.
And one of the people in the our group was saying, Oh, well, there’s this thing can get which is like a micro filter with an espresso Press.
Your regulator for it as an attachment isn’t a third party accessory.
I’m like, Huh, that’s really cool.
I bought it.
for like the last three days, I’ve been googling it looking at this stuff like this, trying to figure this out.
If you were that manufacturer, you have no idea.
If you’re just looking at your quantitative metrics, you have no idea that these conversations are happening, and that other customers are actually creating demand for you or saying, Oh, well, if you’re having this problem, which I didn’t realize was a problem.
And they were like, oh, yeah, there was a lot of sludge at the bottom, my cup isn’t there.
They’re creating problem awareness and the Craig solution consideration.
And it’s happening to us as part of normal, non paid conversations.
And so part of your your B2B marketing metrics also has to include qualitative studies, it may be one on one interviews, maybe focus groups, maybe some market research that can help you understand those earlier parts of the customer journey, where you’re not going to have a metrics, right, you can never really know what’s going on in people’s heads that have never contacted you.
But you can ask questions once they have and say, Well, how did you hear about us?
Katie Robbert 16:13
You know, it’s funny on the, during the q&a portion of the event that I was doing last week, that was one of the questions that came up, as I was talking about, you know, how to put together a marketing strategy, or a measurement strategy, rather, and someone asked the question of, you know, our sales team doesn’t do a great job of finding out how people heard about us, how do I go back and capture that data? And so, you know, I gave them a couple of suggestions.
You know, you could send out a short survey afterward, you can add something to the website, and so on, so forth.
You know, but those, you’re absolutely right, those qualitative marketing metrics are just as important as the quantitative marketing metrics, because it’s the behavior, it’s the thought process as to why somebody sought you out, it’s why you’re the answer to the question and not somebody else? Or why you’re not the answer to the question being asked.
And that starts to feed that be those beginning stages of your sales and marketing funnel of your customer journey.
Because that’s really what it’s all about is being helpful in answering questions.
And if you don’t know the questions being asked, if you don’t know the problems that need to be solved, and if you don’t know what people want, it doesn’t matter what the rest of your B2B marketing metrics look like, you’ve already missed the most important, important part of it.
Christopher Penn 17:45
One of the things you said earlier, is really important for people to realize when it comes to B2B marketing metrics.
If you’re if this is what you’re looking at, and you know, your VP of sales is hammering, you know, saying, hey, we need more prospects, we need more leads, the leads are weak, whatever the case may be, right? You can and people do spend egregious amounts of time looking at Oh, how can we get this email to convert better how, you know, what subject line should we be using? What color should we make the button on the website? What if what’s being poured into the top of the funnel is a tiny trickle, then you’re optimizing for a tiny trickle, right, instead of going out and getting more of the stuff that pours into that funnel.
And this stuff can only come from that qualitative research, because you can’t measure things that you that are not part of your company, right, you cannot go out and just dig around in people’s heads.
I mean, you can’t if you pay for, like lots of surveys and things.
But in terms of general B2B marketing operations, people generally are not just going to volunteer to give you that information.
So you’ve got to go out and find it, and you’re only going to find a tiny sample on it.
But if you want more of that audience, you’ve got to, you got to let the numbers stay in the areas that you have control.
Or and you have visibility, and then use qualitative for the rest.
And it’s not an either, or you need to have both.
And I feel like when we talk about B2B marketing metrics, particularly when you hear software vendors talking about B2B marketing metrics, like CRM vendors, they promise you, you’ll be able to measure everything well, yes, you can measure everything that occurs within the scope of that tool.
But that scope of that tool like we’ve been saying, there’s this tiny little link right here, out of this entire lifecycle.
Katie Robbert 19:41
I think it would be interesting for us at some point to overlay three things.
One is the customer journey.
Two would be the sales and marketing funnel, and three are the metrics that you can use to measure each of those things that would we would have to visit really figuring out how to make not make it an eyesore, but I do feel like it was sort of be like, you know, awareness, you know, audience prospects, blah, blah, blah, you know, consideration, so on so forth.
And what really kind of falls into each? Because those are the B2B marketing metrics like so if someone’s starting brand new, if someone is brand new to all of this, then the first thing they’re probably like is, how do I know if I’m doing it? Right? How do I know? If I’m measuring the right stuff? How do I know if I’m looking at the right data? How do I know if I’m giving my sales team qualified leads.
And so in order to understand those, the B2B marketing metrics that you need to understand would be everything that goes into your digital customer journey, ahead of understanding what goes into the sales and marketing funnel, because you’re right, the sales and marketing funnel that actually comes into play halfway down the digital customer journey.
Because it doesn’t really factor into awareness and evaluation.
Once those two stages have passed, and someone’s in consideration.
Now you’re talking about your sales and marketing funnel, which is your audience, your prospects, so on and so forth.
Those are people who are ready to take some kind of an action.
Christopher Penn 21:21
And with each of the stages of the customer journey, and you can, you can make this as granular as you want, you need to have sort of five different pieces of them documented to understand the big picture, right.
And this is something that I think would be valuable for everyone to do with with their customer journey, because it will also help get you on the same page with your stakeholders.
So problem awareness, you have we call them the five P’s, what’s the purpose of problem awareness? Right? It’s to help people figure out they even have a problem.
Who are the people that you would need it to be involved? What are the processes that would be involved in measuring that? What are the tools the platform’s could use? And then what’s the performance or the KPIs for problem awareness? For example, unbranded search people searching for or adjacent search would be examples of that and social media conversations and solution consideration of the five P’s.
For us ourselves, it’s actually interesting, I was making a note for myself to take a look at all the software and stuff that we build, and figure out where they all the different pieces slotted because we do stuff like unbranded search, analysis and search trend analysis that would occur earlier on, in like problem awareness and solution consideration that don’t necessarily fit later.
But we have piles of software that we’ve written around, and probably should figure out how they slot into this was going to be a very, very ugly diagram.
Katie Robbert 22:52
Yeah, we can worry about making it clean later.
But well, and I think that that’s also when we’re talking about B2B metrics, the focus on making things pretty and usable, and you know, the UX and the customer experience, that’s all really great.
But if you don’t have the marketing metrics, squared away, if you don’t have those foundational pieces, if you don’t know how you’re collecting that data, if you don’t know where that data comes from, all of the UX and CX and you know, all that stuff, it’s not going to it’s going to be just a waste of time and money.
Because if you can’t measure it, if you can’t understand if you’re doing it, right, if it’s working, it’s it’s a waste, it’s just you basically holding up $1 Bill and setting it on fire.
Christopher Penn 23:42
So the exercise, I would suggest that for anybody doing the B2B marketing metrics sort of alignment, and goal setting now is go through this diagram, and ask yourself, what do we measure? What tools do we have? What people do we have? What skills do they need? What processes do we have in each place for each stage of your overall customer journey? How do you measure it? And if the answer is we don’t, I mean, that’s fine.
That’s that’s, that shows you where the gaps are in your ability to measure the customer journey.
And it shows you where the weak spots are, right? So if you have absolutely no tooling, and no people or no processes for problem awareness, then you know that you’ve got a major gap at the top of the funnel, the very, very top your funnel that is probably causing problems for you later on.
Right if you’re if you’re just chief sales officer saying we were struggling on lead volume, you like like a plumbing issue, right? You look further up a moment in the plumbing say, Okay, well, where’s the clog? Well, it’s in problem awareness.
We didn’t we don’t have any and so people are not are not going to buy something that they don’t have a problem with.
Katie Robbert 24:59
And because As this as a podcast, we will include screenshots of the diagrams that we’re talking about in the accompanying post, that will go up on our website at trust insights.ai.
Because it struck me halfway through this conversation, Chris, that we’re showing a lot of visuals, but this is actually a podcast.
So there may be people who are trying to follow along and aren’t really sure what the heck we’re talking about.
Christopher Penn 25:24
That is true, you can also go to trust insights.ai/youtube.
If you want to see the video version of this, we always post the video version up there.
Katie Robbert 25:30
So it sounds like the big takeaways for understanding your B2B marketing metrics is to understand your customer journey, to understand the phases that are included in your company’s sales and marketing funnel, and then you can start to piece together.
Well, okay, so my top of the funnel, is this, these are the stages that I’m interested in.
And then therefore, what are the marketing metrics that feed into each of those so that you can appropriately measure it? Because I think that that’s really what we’re talking about.
A lot of times, you’re just relying on the CRM, as you said, Chris, to do the work to understand those B2B marketing metrics.
But that’s not enough.
You can’t just rely on your CRM once somebody’s already in the system, because then you have no idea what happened prior to them coming into your CRM.
Christopher Penn 26:26
And from a governance perspective, if you have a large marketing team and a large sales team, get people together and get them talking with each other, because there is probably somebody somewhere that has a enormous bank of qualified qualitative data that you’re not tapping into, for example, one of our clients, we see the comments on one of their social media channels, right? We see the comments people leave, and I read them like, oh, but the question that those comments and questions and things goes into helping inform the customer journey about it, like, hey, people are saying this about you.
This is kind of a problem.
This is impeding your sales, right? If if one person is saying it 100 People are thinking it and just not feeling like keyboard Commandos, that data to let you on fire on your on your social media pages, that data exists.
And, as we’ve said many times data is not just numbers.
So that would be my final suggestion when it comes to B2B marketing metrics.
Data is not just numbers, even if you don’t have a lot of commentary.
Your competitors do right be monitoring that collecting what what people say not how much they say it, but what people are saying because that can inform your B2B marketing metrics and your B2B marketing plans as well.
Katie Robbert 27:48
I agree with that.
I think that that’s a good place to start to wrap up
Christopher Penn 27:52
is if you’ve got comments or questions about the marketing metrics, B2B or otherwise, that you want to talk about, pop on over to our free slack group go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, where you and over 2600 other marketers are asking and answering each other’s questions every day.
And wherever it is you watch or listen to the show.
Or if you just want to see what we’re talking about from this episode.
Go to trust insights.ai/ti podcast where you can find us on pretty much any channel that covers podcasts.
Thanks for tuning in.
I will talk to you next week.
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