three men pushing a car
PHOTO: Elvert Barnes

By the year 2020, it is estimated that for every person on this planet, 1.7 MB of data will be produced every second. With so much data available, it’s hard to believe that any marketer would still rely on their gut to make business decisions. But a joint Dun & Bradstreet and Forrester survey (registration required) found only 50 percent of B2B marketing and sales decisions are made based on data.

“Despite the vast amount of data available and firms’ commitment to data priorities, the opportunity to use data for marketing and sales decisions remains largely untapped,” noted the report. “Variation in data quality and consistency overall and across departments are common problems that erode trust and make decision makers gun-shy about using their customer data over their own intuition.”

Even though data quality and consistency are important, I would argue that B2B marketing’s failure to use data and analytics to drive revenue boils down to the fact that they’re simply looking at the wrong data.

Related Article: Gaining Customer Experience Insights: A New Twist on an Old(er) List

Why B2B Marketing Analytics Fails to Deliver

According to The CMO Survey, over the next three years, marketers plan to spend almost 200 percent more on analytics "despite the fact that top marketers report that the effect of analytics on company-wide performance remains modest."

Marketing analytics isn’t giving marketers what they need because marketers are unable to use it to prove their value to the C-suite. This graph from Spiceworks shows why.

most important marketing metrics

While marketers say measures around leads are their most important marketing metrics, business leaders prioritize conversion metrics and those that influence the bottom line. And even though both say revenue metrics are important, according to the report, only 45 percent of marketers actually measure how much revenue they influence.

Here’s what you need to help you make the move to revenue performance, bigger marketing budgets, and smoother relationships with the C-suite.

How To Drive Revenue with Marketing Analytics

1. Work Backward from a Revenue Goal

Many marketers continue to focus on the wrong metrics, without keeping their overall goals in mind. According to Forrester’s Q1 2018 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, 80 percent of marketers measure volume — from website visitors to marketing qualified leads. But what you should be measuring instead is velocity, asking: How fast can marketing deliver pipeline to sales?

b2b marketing measures

Get to the right metrics by working backwards from your revenue goal using the GQMD method. This process is based on the Goal-Question-Metric (GQM) approach used to drive goal-oriented measures in software organizations.

Start by identifying your goals. Then define the questions you want answered with the data you collect. Finally, identify the outcomes and metrics that will help you answer those questions. Be sure to define metrics that focus on velocity (speed) and effectiveness (doing the right thing), rather than volume (doing more) and efficiency (doing things right). That way you can ensure you’re putting your effort towards the strategic work that keeps sales converting quickly.

For more on GQM, take a look at this SlideShare by Leading Agile.

Related Article: Predictive Analytics: A Reality Check for B2B Marketers

2. Marketing Ops: Your Revenue Operators

Don’t leave your revenue analytics to functions like IT and business intelligence (BI), which don’t understand marketing. Instead, hire people with strong marketing analyst and marketing operations backgrounds who can make the link between insights and strategy, and put the fundamentals in place to make it all work, like data, systems and processes.

Staff with marketing ops expertise can help you build the data and analytics foundation needed to support your analytics strategies. For example, a marketing ops person can create your database strategy, help define your tech stack, track budget and performance, and measure ROI.

In short, marketing ops is the missing link to becoming an ROI marketing organization. They can provide you with insights around how your programs impact pipeline and closed deals, and give you the data you need to demonstrate the value of those programs to your CEO.

3. Build Your Revenue Technology Stack

BI and homegrown IT systems weren’t built for marketers who need dedicated, simple and easy self-serve marketing and sales analytics. They take too long to implement, are expensive, and don’t match the skills of marketing ops professionals who typically don’t use business objects in BI or know how to write SQL.

Bring insights to marketing using some of the latest advanced analytics technologies that can integrate your marketing systems, automate workflows, and alert your sales team through commonly-used communication tools like email and Slack.

Your revenue performance tech stack should include the following components:

  • Central marketing database: Revenue analytics requires access to highly detailed marketing data, so you should start tracking this information now — preferably in one place. You’ll need to track historical data around when marketing programs ran, what their attributes were, who they touched, how much they cost, and so on. Without this information, revenue analytics are essentially worthless.
  • Time series revenue analytics: Unless your operational system stores historical data, you won’t be able to measure or understand revenue analytics trends. Yet the majority of marketing and sales systems are operational and don’t store historical information, forcing marketers who want to analyze metrics for prior time periods to manually take data “snapshots” from Excel spreadsheets. However, time series analytics gives you a full picture of performance trends over time because the engine is powered by a historical data mart.           
  • Powerful and easy analyzers: Few marketers who want and need analytics data are business analysts. That’s why you need powerful analyzers and dashboards so you can explore data trends and gain insights without wasting valuable time learning how to use the technology and building custom reports. Just make sure your revenue analytics solution offers tools that pack power and are easy to use.
  • Ad hoc reporting and dashboards: Business analyst experts also need the flexibility to dive deeply into the data and customize their own ad hoc reports. In this case, table-like reports and charts are most effective and allow analysts to “follow the scent” of particular insights as far as they need to go.
  • Monitoring and alerts: According to Gartner, companies that automate their lead management business processes between marketing and sales increase conversion rates by at least 50 percent. Many companies will also see a five to 10 percent increase in revenue. If you want to impact pipeline velocity and put pipeline in the hands of sales faster, you’ll need a real-time monitoring and alerts system that can notify sales via their favorite communications channels such as email, Slack and CRM activity fields.

When it comes to dashboards, be sure you have the ability to tailor to the right audience using role-based dashboards for the CMO, marketing ops, sales, CEO and CFO. You should also have a mix of performance and operational dashboards that cover demand generation, account based marketing (ABM), revenue attribution and data quality.

Related Article: Bringing Big Data Analytics Into Focus for Marketers: 3 Principles to Simplify Your Life

What Revenue Performance Can Do for You

With the right mix of people, process and technology, you can turn your marketing organization into a revenue performance powerhouse. And when that happens, you’ll be able to increase your marketing budget, grow your team, earn that year-end bonus, win the respect of the CEO, and take your marketing career to heights you never thought possible.