By Kara Brown, CEO and CRO of LeadCoverage, an advisor for B2B demand/lead generation and marketing agency.
In the business-to-business (B2B) world, there’s a digital marketing “spectrum of sophistication.” It’s not about the marketing itself, but rather it has everything to do with measurement. Your edgy copy may wow your team, but it’s useless unless you can measure its effectiveness. Likewise, it’s not about being on all the channels, because as cool as your podcast or Clubhouse room is, if they’re not providing ROI then they’re not working for you and they’re not sophisticated.
Ultimately, marketing is math, and if you can’t (or don’t) measure it then you can’t determine if it’s doing the heavy lifting that it should to drive your business decisions.
Here’s how to tell where your business falls on the spectrum of sophistication:
Companies with less sophisticated digital marketing are using things like Mailchimp and Excel spreadsheets with little measurement, if at all. Worse, those supposed tools aren’t aggregable, so you never have a complete picture of your data. If you’re downloading lists and uploading them in another tool, and you can’t measure much (or at all), your business is sitting at the low end of the spectrum.
Organizations in the midrange are a little better off than their low-end counterparts because they’re actively working on it, trying to measure their efforts. They may be doing some public relations (PR) work or they might have looked at Gartner’s magic quadrant methodology.
The high end of the spectrum is where companies work from a position of power and own their space. They’re often public or private enterprises that have achieved some scale. They intentionally nurture and measure their investor, analyst and press relationships through marketing attrition and carefully observe what’s going on in their marketing engine. Companies that tell their stories early, often and well will usually win in terms of marketing sophistication.
It’s important to note that your placement on the spectrum of sophistication doesn’t necessarily have to align with your revenue band. A larger company can be less sophisticated in their digital marketing if they don’t know what to do or measure and likewise, digital marketing can be more sophisticated at a small company with great PR and relationships with the press where attribution is calculated.
If you’re still unsure where your business sits, take a look at your marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) to see if you’re tracking the return on investment (ROI) on the volume, velocity and value of each marketing activity.
Sophisticated marketing is not about the number of leads or value. It’s about how much is measurable. In B2B, especially, this is super important, yet many executive teams struggle to measure the effectiveness of their efforts and what’s having the most impact.
You don’t have to be using systems, applications and products (SAP) marketing software to be on the high end of the spectrum. The democratization of tools like HubSpot, Demandbase, Seamless.ai and Gong have allowed small and medium-sized businesses to create a robust marketing and revenue operations ecosystem. Therefore, the more sophisticated your measurement is, the more sophisticated you are.
Awareness plays into sophistication levels too. For instance:
• At a lower sophistication rung, you may not have any KPIs, and you’re unaware that it’s even possible to measure them.
• Midrange, you have an awareness of what to measure and know it’s possible, but it’s harder than you thought it would be.
• The most sophisticated engines know exactly where their marketing money is spent and the related ROI, including PR, analyst relations and brand, which are always the hardest to manage and measure.
With marketing measurement, what’s most important is to know how to do it and why it matters. Once you understand it, you can use that data to test new campaigns and initiatives. You’ll help your marketing team get the credit it deserves, and the relationship between the sales and marketing departments will improve because sales will better understand what marketing does and how it contributes to their bottom line. But most importantly, you’ll be able to use that information to make informed business decisions.
Remember, sophisticated marketing online doesn’t take tons of money, but it does require time, attention and tracking. You should measure the effectiveness of your marketing (and its level of sophistication) by how often the numbers it produces are used in important decision making. If this isn’t the case, then you’re missing an enormous opportunity to step up your marketing game.