It all begins with one simple question, "is marketing achieving the results your company wants?". The answer to this question will determine the type of assessment that is needed, but the elements that are analyzed will give your organization an expansive look at your entire marketing effectiveness.
When a company is not happy with their results the reasons for that could go beyond any metric the marketing or sales teams have used thus far. Therefore it is important to dive deeper than your ROI or analytics and look at the health of your systems, the sales/marketing collaboration and other key aspects that play a part in your overall success.
The key elements to assess your marketing effectiveness are:
- Content and systems infrastructure
- Analytics and ROI of all marketing channels
- Conversion to opportunities, or MQL's to SQL's
- Messaging for products or services
- Marketing and sales collaboration and workflows
1. Content and Systems Infrastructure
When establishing benchmarks for success a marketer will generally focus on what they know best, which is their content, conversions, lead pipeline and other important data that needs to be reported to the executives and stakeholders of the company. Many marketers lack the experience or understanding of the infrastructure that is needed for their entire marketing universe. This involves everything from their website CMS to how data is collected and organized in Salesforce or their CRM.
The infrastructure, which includes how things are coded on the website, is important because a company can have the best content in the world, but if the content is not used in the right places, indexed correctly by Google or Social Media, and not accessible via mobile, then what good will it do? A marketing decision maker may then be unknowingly making uninformed decisions or leaving things up to an inexperienced team member. 6 months down the road it may be too late to change course and re-engineer your infrastructure.
Key elements include:
- the use of the best possible online or offline systems, and ensure smooth integrations with sales platforms like Salesforce.
- quality backlinks to your content, crosslinks internally and hierarchy of content for best SEO and SEM results.
- well maintained and clean data that is easily accessed and correctly interpreted by both sales and marketing personnel.
- Suggested platforms or services: Screaming Frog spider software, Wordpress or Joomla CMS, Uberflip for content.
2. Analytics and ROI of all Marketing Channels
If you have enough data and activities over time, the first step is to assess what your current Cost of Customer Acquisition (CCA) is and the relationship it has with the Customer LIfetime Value (CLV). The results of this will tell you a lot about the effectiveness of your marketing in relation to what has been spent in the past. You will need to go further to discover which elements of your workflows are successful and which ones are not.
The most efficient process is to plan your marketing campaigns with analytics and ROI built into everything you or your team does. It is important to set goals for each channel and track results with as much insight as you can achieve with the systems you are using. If this is not done then you will miss key metrics or discover down the road that what you assumed was being tracked was not. For example it is important to track each individual CTA on your landing pages or blog, which will help you discover which CTA is working better than the others. Having used Hubspot and Marketo for this purpose gives great insights, as well as access to reports, but Google Analytics and other 3rd party tools (your marketing stack) can be used as well. No matter the system there should be a central place where you can reference your analytics and ROI so that it can be quickly compiled for meetings and strategy.
Key elements include:
- making informed decisions by analyzing as much data as you have access to.
- creating guidelines about how each campaign is setup, tracked and maintained over time.
- setting up your marketing stack with the best possible tools your budget allows.
- Suggested platforms or services: Hubspot or Marketo CRM, Tableau, Infer.
3. Conversion to Opportunities, or MQL's to SQL's
This is where things can get sticky, depending on the nature of your workflows, within the sales and marketing teams. Most companies will watch closely how many opportunities are created and won, and use those metrics to determine if everything is going well. This is definitely a metric to observe, but the telltale signs are found by looking at the health of your entire lead and target account pipeline, which will include metrics for each stage before and after a conversion. Once again it is all in how the data and overall process is being interpreted by the leaders. The conversions may be down, but the other metrics could be skyrocketing.
Every company needs to begin by clearly defining exactly what a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is for their specific organization. This is where sales and marketing enablement comes into play, especially if Account Based Marketing (ABM) is being utilized. When sales and marketing have full buy-in to the entire plan, and have the discipline to follow through with it, then there is a much greater possibility for success. To acheive this involves practice, testing, refining and testing the workflows over and over again till the elements that drive the prospect to buy are determined.
Key elements include:
- reviewing your companies marketing and sales workflows to determine the key moments when decisions are made by customers.
- responding to all the data within your pipeline, not just reacting to the bottom line of how many opportunities have been created or won.
- challenging your sales and marketing workflows through testing and refining them to find your sweet spots.
- Suggested platforms or services: Hubspot or Infer for lead scoring, Terminus for ABM.
4. Messaging for Products or Services
This is a very obvious element when reviewing the success of your marketing, and it amazes me how many companies do not value this enough to give it the focus and energy it needs. The first step is to establish a content strategy complete with guidelines on how the process will be managed and who the leaders will be. There is no need for this to be a rigid structure, but with a well managed process, new and existing team members will have more confidence, understand their roles and be able to contribute their expertise.
By defining your customer profiles with as much detail as possible the writers will then have the ablity to speak to those specific profiles as they create the messaging. Most fiction authors and playwrites do this very thing when creating their stories, by first creating a biography of their main characters, then using that imagined biography to help the story blossom to its eventual conclusion. Creating the story can be the most enriching experience for the marketing team while establishing a mental picture of "who the company is and what it does" for everyone.
Key elements include:
- setting the stage for great messaging through the establishment of customer profiles and what would attract them to your product or service.
- ensuring that the entire marketing and sales teams know what the messaging is and how to apply it to their own activities or communications.
- testing your messaging in a number of ways, both online and offline, to observe the behavior of the prospects and make adjustments.
5. Marketing and Sales Collaboration and Workflows
It is essential that sales and marketing collaborate and that both sides have buy-in to the plans and goals of each team. Part of the creative process is managing the tension that is experienced by those who have ownership of their work and team process. Famous stories abound of how tensions have led to both success or failure, such as Steve Jobs at Apple, and thus it is the leaders job to tune in to how all of it is being managed and make changes when needed.
There needs to be an ongoing process for assessing the marketing to sales workflows. Some of the workflows I am speaking of include how many touches are made with a prospect by sales or marketing, what content and action events are presented to them, and what the intervals or timeline is employed during each stage of the cycle. The only way to assess is to watch and observe the actions and behaviors on a regular basis and look for trends. Many marketing teams will be too busy to examine all of the data, but if they do not give this time then assumptions and guessing will take the place of sound judgement and best practices.
Key elements include:
- the direct need for the leaders of marketing and sales to collaborate and create a culture for all team players to do the same.
- developing workflows that use best practices to achieve the result the company expects and wants.
- observing all data and prospect behavior to find trends, respond quickly to them and build off the successes that have been made.
- Suggested platforms or services: Basecamp, Asana or Pivotal Tracker for collaboration management.
The Integration of Marketing and Business Principles
Marketing is the ultimate game of decision making; coupling creative energy with scientific analysis to create a formula for success. The decision maker needs to consider "what are all the most effective channels to use and where do I focus the teams energy and spend the money?". To answer these questions entails a deep dive into both the marketing "mindset" of the company and marketing channels that are available.
Finding the "holy grail" for your go to market strategy is an ongoing process of working with business principles that will have enormous effects. The main elements include having complete buy-in and commitment from all sales and marketing workers and stakeholders. When that is established the possibilities are endless and an organic process towards success is born.