Maximising B2B Marketing ROI: Aligning Marketing with Revenue
Maximise your B2B marketing ROI, reduce pressure on your marketing teams, and deliver seamless experiences, with indispensable expertise from Axon Garside.
Published: 23 Oct 2023
9 minutes read
With frictionless, person-centred customer experiences being the norm, Marketers are feeling the pressure.
A study by CommsCo PR revealed that 63% of marketers feel they’re expected to deliver more for less. As a result, marketers are now running more campaigns than ever before to meet the evolving demands.
However, accurately measuring the impact of marketing and attributing it to business growth becomes a challenge when buyers engage with content across a multitude of channels.
In this post, we summarise the key insights from a recent webinar on measuring marketing value and attribution.
Defining Marketing Qualified and Sales Qualified Leads
One of the most significant internal challenge for every B2B company is the misalignment between sales and marketing teams. Marketing teams are focused on identifying new leads and passing them on to sales, while sales teams are primarily concerned with converting those leads into customers.
Unfortunately, according to StartUp Bonsai, a substantial 79% of leads generated by marketers fail to convert. This is mainly attributed to the stage at which the customer finds themselves in their journey. In the same report, StartUp Bonsai also highlights that 63% of leads associated with your business will not convert for at least three months.
In our experience, in the B2B space, we see tend that companies have longer sales cycles. If the leads marketing are 'throwing over the fence' to sales are not ready to convert, that time only increases if the customer even reaches a stage where they're ready to buy.
As marketers, it’s imperative to ensure that leads handed over to the sales team are well-qualified and ready for conversion. Consequently, when generating leads, it’s essential to differentiate between a lead who has expressed interest and one who is prepared to make a purchase. Hence, leads should be categorised into two groups:
- Market Qualified Leads (MQLs)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
The main distinction between an MQL and SQL is the perceived readiness to make a purchase. An MQL is a prospective buyer who is inquisitive about your brand or offering, while an SQL has progressed to a stage where they’re ready to make a purchase, making them the ideal leads for your sales team.
Determining whether a lead is an MQL or SQL depends on how they’ve interacted with your brand for instance, if a potential customer has downloaded an eBook or submitted their email for a newsletter or mailing list, they’re more likely to be considered an MQL.
However, it’s trickier to categorise SQLs as customers generally don’t like cold approaches from a salesperson in the first instance, 63% of customers find cold calls annoying.
Here, you’ll need to gain a holistic understanding of your target market by taking advantage of things like lead scoring, analytics and demographics. This information provides the context you need to determine when your MQLs are ready to be engaged by the sales team. This enables you to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between marketing and sales, as outlined by Ian Guiver, Managing Director at Axon Garside.
“There should be documentation that defines what a lead is, and this should be signed off by marketing, sales and the leadership team. If there’s a set criteria, we can easily determine MQLs and SQLs. If we find that we keep coming across fewer SQLs, then the business should conclude that actually, what we've set for that qualification of a lead isn't right, and we've got to go back and revisit.”
Similarly, Rob Samuels, Head of Inbound at Axon Garside, shares his experience of how unqualified leads often cause frustration amongst salespeople, and what marketers need to do to ensure the leads are at a suitable stage before being passed to the sales team.
“I see with a lot of clients where most salespeople will think leads provided by their marketing team are rubbish, unqualified leads. What marketers need to do is look right across the pipeline and establish what a lead looks like. That way, marketers can assess a lead and say this could be promising, but it's definitely not ready for sales.”
Mapping out the Buyer's Journey
With 90% of B2B buyers starting their purchase journey via an online search, it underscores the importance of ensuring your brand's visibility at every stage of the buyer's journey. Buyers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, so much so, that 65% of consumers are able to navigate the purchasing process independently, in search of a better deal.
As marketers, it's important that you familiarise yourself with the online consumer behaviour of your target audience and the steps they take to become a buying customer.
One effective method for acquiring such insights is by conducting customer interviews. This’ll help you identify common pain points experienced throughout the buying process. While surveys can also serve this purpose. Engaging directly with customers yields a deeper understanding of their user needs and contextual factors.
Armed with this information, you can create a visual representation of your buyer's journey, and add in the types of queries potential customers are likely to have at each stage of the funnel. This not only guides content creation but also imparts a more definitive direction and transparency to your marketing efforts.
Additionally, incorporating realistic goals or objectives for conversion rates at each funnel stage, grounded in historical data or industry benchmarks, further enhances the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
“I think that the buyer's journey has changed immeasurably. And I think in terms of measuring the value of marketing and your marketing campaigns, you need to have those definitions across the board so you can measure from day one, all the way through to opportunity.” Rob said.
Tracking Conversions Through the Funnel
Understanding the customer journey and effectively measuring conversion metrics at various stages of the funnel is crucial for optimising your strategy. This enables you to gain valuable insights to inform decision-making and refine your overall marketing approach.
Here are some key steps you need to complete to effectively track conversions at each stage of the funnel:
Identify Key Metrics
At each stage of the funnel, different metrics will come into play.
Tracking click-through rates (CTR) for your SERPs results, paid ads or email campaigns will help you gauge initial interest, while completion of forms on your landing page or consultation booking requests represents a deeper level of engagement.
But more importantly, tracking the progression of your leads through different stages provides insights into each touchpoint they have had with you to further refine the buyer's journey you’ve originally mapped out. What’s more, this information can help you tailor your messaging and content to resonate with your leads at each phase of their decision-making process.
Track dropout rates
Monitoring dropout rates helps you pinpoint weak spots in your funnel.
Examples of a dropout rate include high bounce rates, low click-throughs against a high number of email opens and a dip in the number of contacts unsubscribing.
In examining these dropout rates, you will need to investigate what the root cause is for prospects falling out of the funnel. Possible reasons could lie in the copy not resonating enough with your target market, the colour of the CTA button, the frequency of emails being sent, or the type of content you’re sending.
Once you know what the root cause is, you can then proceed with exploring how you can optimise those weak spots. It does take experimentation to improve these rates, but you can set the basis for making data-driven decisions to help drive results that affect the business' bottom line.
Take Advantage of Attribution Reporting
Attribution reporting is a powerful tool for connecting marketing activities to closed deals and revenue. By tracing back the customer's journey, you can attribute revenue and conversions to specific touchpoints. This insight allows you to allocate your marketing budget effectively and prioritise the channels and campaigns that contribute most to your bottom line.
Also, by doing this, you can demonstrate your value to the business with monetary value, and associate actual closed own revenue with your marketing efforts.
“All of [our clients] are primarily concerned with the measurable business value that deliver to their organisation. Too often, people are caught up measuring the results that are just not appreciated and respected by the business. To measure the value of a business, you've got to establish a link between those marketing metrics and a direct link to the bottom line,” Ian said
Proving Value to Leadership
While it's vital that your marketing teams take onboard the advice above, you need to demonstrate marketing’s value to your company’s leadership team. Provide them with statistics and real-life examples of inbound marketing making a real difference to similar organisations in your sector.
The first step you need to take is to educate your company’s leadership on how today’s buyers prefer to research and make purchasing decisions. Utilising statistics, such as how implementing a well-executed inbound marketing strategy alongside your current outbound efforts, will help you gain 54% more leads than just sticking with traditional tactics, can help get this message across to your C-Suite team.
When sharing case studies, make sure they’re from industry competitors to show the growth opportunities in similar businesses. Highlight key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that prove the positive impact of these campaigns. These success stories not only provide concrete evidence but also serve as a source of inspiration.
And finally, to gain the full support of your executives, it's essential to provide tangible insights into the potential outcomes of your marketing efforts. Show funnel models that outline the different stages of the customer journey and the expected outcomes at each stage. Leverage industry data and benchmarks to set realistic expectations and goals for your marketing campaigns. This data-driven approach helps leadership understand how marketing contributes to the sales pipeline and revenue generation.
“[Funnel] models are great, but everyone accepts it's a model. It's hypothetical.
If you can illustrate [the advantages of inbound marketing] with real examples of how it's worked for someone else, or even better, a competitor, you’re able to show [your executives how this strategy] is doing really well for them,” Ian said
Your B2B Marketing ROI Should Correlate with the Bottom Line
The pressure on marketers is mounting. With customers now expecting a seamless experience across multiple channels, marketers need to do more for less.
To maximise the ROI from your marketing efforts, it is imperative that you establish a direct link between these initiatives and revenue. To accomplish this, you must gain a comprehensive understanding of your target market and become well-acquainted with the buyer's journey, all while setting achievable targets at each stage of the funnel.
By identifying the pain points your customers encounter at various stages of their journey, you position yourself to deliver timely content which resonates with your audience.
Another crucial aspect is the need for alignment between sales and marketing, underpinned by a documented SLA regarding the definition of SQL and MQL. This alignment prevents marketers from passing on leads that aren't yet ready for prospecting, instead directing them towards lead nurturing campaigns.
Above all, you must determine the most relevant metrics directly linked to your revenue. This becomes significant when you aim to showcase the value of your marketing efforts.