Why marketers' key metrics are wrong - and how they must changeby
New research suggests that marketers and business leaders are in conflict over key marketing metrics.
Marketers have access to more data than ever before. But what metrics actually matter when it comes to measuring the success of our digital marketing programmes?
Spiceworks recently surveyed nearly 200 B2B marketers to understand what metrics they track and rely on to define success. The results indicate there are several disconnects between marketing professionals and business leaders when it comes to the most important marketing metrics.
What are marketing's goals?
Spiceworks surveyed 185 B2B marketers in technology companies across North America and Europe in May 2018. The survey respondents represented a variety of titles including CMOs, brand marketers, content marketers, product marketers, demand marketers, and more. Respondents came from a variety of company sizes including small-to-medium-sized businesses and enterprises.
When asked to select their top objectives for 2018, 57% of respondents said they hope to influence revenue through new account acquisition, 52% said they’re aiming to boost brand awareness, and 39% are looking to influence revenue by cross-selling or upselling existing accounts.
Impacting revenue is clearly a top priority. Combined, 80% of marketing departments said their main focus is to either influence revenue through new account acquisition or through existing accounts.
However, only 45% of marketing departments actually measure how much revenue they’re influencing. Further, nearly 30% of marketers said they “don’t know” what percent of business revenue their marketing department is tasked with influencing.
What are the top digital marketing metrics?
So which metrics are marketers actually tracking to measure the impact of their digital marketing efforts? No surprise the vast majority of marketers are looking at total site visits (81%) and click-through rates (79%) as indicators of success.
Most marketers are also tracking site traffic by sources/channels (77%), average time on site (64%), marketing-qualified leads (65%), content downloads (63%), and contact form fills (61%). In other words, the majority of marketers are primarily tracking clicks and leads.
What’s surprising: fewer marketers are tracking conversions or revenue metrics. The results show 57% track total deals closed/won, but as mentioned above, only 45% of marketing departments track total influenced revenue, and only 44% track the number of pipeline opportunities they’ve influenced.
How do marketers use the metrics they track?
So how do marketers currently leverage the metrics they’re tracking? The results show most marketing departments use them to optimise future campaigns (79%) and evaluate the most effective marketing channels (77%). Many marketers also use their metrics to measure the success of their messaging (62%), prove marketing success to business leaders (58%), and course correct existing campaigns (57%).
But are marketers measuring the full picture in order to optimize their campaigns and determine the most effective channels?
Marketers vs. business leaders: Metrics showdown
To understand if the right metrics are being considered, Spiceworks examined how important different metrics are to marketers vs. the perceived importance among business leaders. The results indicate there’s a disconnect between the metrics that marketers and business leaders value.
Not surprisingly, marketing professionals believe leads are the most important metric to gauge their success: 72% said lead metrics are very to extremely important to their marketing department. But only 63% of marketers said leads are highly important to their business leaders.
Marketers also believe leading indicators, such as engagement, click-through rates, and contact form fills, are far more important than they are to business leaders. In fact, 55% of marketers said engagement/click metrics are very to extremely important to their marketing department compared to only 36% who believe these metrics are highly important to their business leaders.
In contrast, most marketers said their business leaders prioritize conversion metrics (e.g., total deals closed/won, lead-to-close ratio) and revenue metrics (e.g., influenced pipeline opportunity, influenced revenue) when measuring the success of their organization's marketing program. Although most marketing professionals are measuring conversions to some extent, we know that less than half of marketing departments are measuring influenced revenue or pipeline opportunities.
Why the disconnect? Why aren’t marketers moving beyond the age-old measurement of clicks and leads to include conversion metrics that illustrate an impact on revenue?
One problem is that many marketers aren’t aligning their marketing objectives with their organisation’s goals. In fact, our data shows 28% of marketers believe their objectives are “not at all” to only “somewhat” aligned to their company’s objectives. But if these objectives were more aligned, we might see more marketing departments transform how they’re benchmarking success.
Bottom line: many marketers stick with what they know and what they’re set up to measure – clicks and leads. It’s a lot harder to measure how much revenue you’re influencing via every digital marketing campaign. And we get it, measuring click-through rates and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are important, but relying fully on either of these measurements prevents you from seeing the bigger picture.
If your marketing department is solely focused on generating clicks and leads, it’s nearly impossible to accurately forecast marketing’s influence on pipeline and revenue. Marketers need to speak the language of their business leaders and connect their metrics to what their executives are focused on, and in most cases, that’s revenue.
Dillon Nugent is the marketing director at Spiceworks and oversees the company's demand generation and account-based marketing efforts. Before joining Spiceworks, she held senior positions at top advertising agencies with a focus on strategy, account management, and business development.