Last week, CMO Survey came out with new data that shows only one-third of top marketers can demonstrate a quantitative impact for their marketing spend. Despite all the technology, tools, and tactics available to marketers to quantify organizational impact and return on investment, we are all still missing significant opportunities to measure our business impact. Here are three tips to help marketers more effectively quantify how inbound marketing drives results.
1. Define your buyer persona
If you ask any marketer about his or her target audience, far too many people still respond with a vague answer. In the Internet age, this is simply not enough: marketers need a deep understanding of who they are marketing to on a daily basis, and it must go well beyond vague generalities. Every company needs to understand the buying behaviors of their target customer, what drives his or her purchase behavior, and what moves the needle on influencing this type of buyer. Creating persona discipline informs everything from the type of content you create to the social networks you target to the event opportunities you consider.
If you don't know enough about your buyer persona, spend one day interviewing your customers to understand how they consume content, the Web sites they visit, and what matters to them most. Listen more than you speak, and record what they are saying in their own words, then work with your team to develop a comprehensive picture of your buyer persona. Persona-based marketing allows you to focus your efforts, making it easier to measure and move the needle with your audience.
2. Measure the impact of your content on your buyer persona
Consumers today often complete 60% of their research on a product or service before ever talking to a sales rep, so it’s more important than ever that you create content that is relevant to potential buyers. When people think about content creation, they often think about written content, but the truth is that you should experiment with both the nature of your content and the medium or channel, from Vine videos on Twitter to blog entries to memes and photos on Facebook. Creating content is a wonderful (and imperative) portion of inbound marketing, but it's not sufficient unto itself to deliver results: you need a system to test, measure, and quantify your efforts across channels.
Successful marketers don’t just think about impressions or page views: they create content for multiple channels (blog, social, email, etc) and quantify the impact on their efforts in terms of conversions: what percentage of the people who opened your email eventually became customers? What types of tweets drove the most revenue last quarter? These are the types of questions that 21st-century marketers need to answer.
3. Create a service level agreement with sales
We practice what we call “smarketing” -- the alignment of sales and marketing using measurable, scalable goals that hold both of our teams accountable. In addition to being persona-based and metrics-driven, the SLA is based on a dollar value associated with each lead our marketing team delivers. In turn, sales is responsible for delivering on revenue relative to the number of inbound leads we provide, and our executive team and board hold each of us accountable to deliver upon these goals.
Fundamentally, marketers can create and deliver upon as many qualitative metrics as we would like, but until we are willing to quantify lead goals that align with those standards, we will also struggle with value delivery. To that end, push your team to examine and formulate a service level agreement with sales. Doing so not only facilitates measurable impact for your team, but also enables more relevant conversations with your executives because the metrics drive core business value versus impressions, likes, or visits.
Sixty-six percent of marketers feel increasing pressure to exhibit more measurable impact on a daily basis, according to the CMO Survey -- and yet far too few of us change our ways to reflect the way that modern consumers shop and buy. The 21st-century marketer needs to be tech-savvy, forward-thinking, a digital native, and a prolific content creator, but all of these attributes are for naught if we can't measure organizational impact. If the motto of the 1980s salesperson was “always be closing,” the modern equivalent for marketers is “always be measuring”: delivering real business value is challenging, but it's the only way to demonstrate true return on investment and ultimately facilitate more effective interactions with your prospects, customers, and leads, as well as your executive team.