Cattle Dog Digital

How Do You Know Marketing is Working?

3 Key Factors You Must Address

by Deirdre Mahon 

October 8, 2020

So you’ve got your tech stack rolled out, completed messaging and created inspiring content that you’re certain will get attention. It’s “go” time and you’ve created multi-step cadences with landing pages attributed, set up the campaigns in Salesforce, synching with your marketing automation tool. Everyone on the sales team is alerted and knows how to “pick up” inbounds and continue the conversation with a prescribed, personal touch.

For budget, you’ve upped your game and poured more dollars into a dedicated keyword and branded SEM campaign, feeling good about the channels including LinkedIN, Twitter and a niche content site that attracts your exact customer persona. The mix feels right based on history. You’ve gone from crawl to walk and you’ve set objectives and KPIs. Next question, will this pay off? How do you know it’s working?

#1 Reach & Volume

The first question every marketer must answer is the topic of reach. Where are your customers hanging out and how do you get their attention? Are you accessing them in the most efficient and intriguing way to start engaging? At a minimum, garner responses through opens and click-throughs on the content you are sharing. Getting better than a cold ~1-2% return is what we all aspire to. An engaged audience will give you ~10%+ CTR but it’s not terrible if you’re seeing ~5% at the outset as you warm up your market. Remember, the more prescriptive the content by persona, the better the response. Above all, keep it useful and timely.

Achieving critical mass at the top of the funnel is important. Essentially you’re looking for a solid return on investment (ROI) dollars. If you’re a young startup, striving to generate awareness, it will take time so be patient and don’t lose faith. There’s a lot of different elements to experiment with and fine-tune over the course of a campaign, some of which I address below in factor 3.

If you know the buying cycle, then you will know important aspects such as number of personas involved, number of touches and overall cycle latency, by stage. When it comes to the question of volume, it depends on your business, strategy and model that will then translate to the best GTM approach and budget investments. 

If you’re selling to a shorter list of say Fortune 500 organizations with a 6-figure ASP that involves executive decisions, the mix will differ considerably from a volume play with a low entry price and a self-service model. Such decisions early on will determine the nature of campaigns, cadences, channels and investments. Point is. Get specific. Know your ideal customer and then the volume of records, you will need in your Salesforce system, over time.

#2 Align on the Most Important KPI

It’s pretty normal for marketing to focus on Leads plus MQLs at the top of the funnel and while those are important indicators, it’s challenging to get close to sales when they care more about Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) or Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). With different teams looking at different targets, animosity can creep in. Marketing may start to operate in it’s own silo, believing that everything is going well as MQLs increase quarter-over-quarter. If the trendline is not going in the same direction for sales, further investigation is needed to understand where changes need to occur. That should be a shared exercise across sales and marketing.

Determine the Best Metrics and Adjust

MQL scoring may be too loose and alerts to sales may be going unheard. Perhaps the demographic criteria needs closer examination. Is everyone aligned on the ideal customer target? Perhaps the messaging is misaligned or sales feels that marketing is too aggressive with the number of touches. 

If marketing doesn’t pay attention to pipeline and revenue, disconnects will transpire which doesn’t help anyone, including the health of the business.

In a self-service, subscription model, it’s common for marketing teams to share revenue goals with compensation incentives to drive activities. With shared “skin in the game”, everyone starts to align on the chosen few metrics, that gets everyone on the team to focus and know what it takes to win business. 

So if marketing, sales (and customer success) agree on pointing everyone towards the most important handful of key metrics, you start to report on it regularly and work to iterate and improve. In a recent CDD webcast, Tony Hughes believes that marketing should carry quota which may be an extreme form of this but nonetheless worth considering.

#3 Measure, Report, Iterate and Improve

Once the campaign kicks off, measurement can start, real-time. Within the first few days, you will know the responses from outbound email pushes. SEM campaign responses will take a little longer to understand trends you can expect over a few weeks. Assuming you have attribution in place, you will know which channel is yielding the best response, CPL (cost per lead) and after a little time transpires, whether the responses are ideal targets and conversions are occurring downstream to that ‘holy grail’ of pipeline or SQLs.

There are lots of different areas to adjust if the response is lower than you expect:

  • Content asset the right fit for the persona and buying stage?
  • Subject lines for emails
  • Length of email and copy
  • Obvious CTA links/buttons
  • Channel and persona matching and critical mass
  • Optimized landing pages and form layout above the fold, below the fold
  • Tech-stack synching and tracking with the right attribution by channel
  • Social pushes with headline copy and imagery
  • Day of week and timing of day when you push emails

Timely Follow-Through on Inbounds with Sales

Openly discussing this with all GTM team-members is the only way forward. It actually helps to build trust over time. There’s nothing worse than marketing telling sales “we got this and will get back to you when we know more” and sales scratching their heads wondering if they are adjusting which elements of the campaign. 

Most integrated campaigns should run at least a quarter and in many cases if successful can run more than 6 months. Of course, all content is available on-demand and I’ve personally witnessed specific ebooks yield responses and generate a pipeline two years past the publish date. Also, there’s no need to put dates on such assets.

Consider these factors as you shape the campaign plan and objectives, communicate often and clearly across all teams. Stay patient and know there are lots of areas for improvement over time. You got this — one team. And, good luck!

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