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An Insight Rich Mindset: The Time to Lean In is Earlier Than You Think

Posted August 13, 2019
Mike Norland
If You Wait Until There is a Pressing Need for Attribution Reporting, You’ve Waited Too Long Historically, marketing attribution has been challenging. There’s no sugar-coating that. But, we’re also being asked by the business to prove what’s working… and what’s not. So, we know we need to tackle it, but aren’t sure how to… or even when is the right time. Mike suggests leaning in earlier than later.  Here’s why: by the time you realize there is a gap in your ability to attribute success,  it’s likely already too late, and your team may be challenged with being able to implement quickly and scale efficiently, especially when working with other functions in the organization.  This could impact a CMO or marketing leader’s ability to show impact within the organization, and with eighty percent of CEO’s already not trusting marketers…that’s simply not a risk worth taking.
“By the time you get to a point in your demand journey when you really, really need this information … it’s not an easy thing to do. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s an investment that needs to be made. If you’re waiting until the need is incredibly pressing, you’re going to see problems.”
Like with anything, you want to be able to implement it right and devote the appropriate time and resources to ensure it’s done in a way that will drive decisions for your business. To this end, Mike is proud of how his team took the time to consider what goals really mattered to their business and how they were going to track them. 
“At HIRED, one of the things that we did very early on was put in an attribution system, define our funnel, and set up our core dashboards and how we were going to track our goals.”
As a result, the way they track towards their goals have stayed consistent quarter over quarter for almost a year and a half now. Keeping consistency when it comes to goals enables his team to be able to truly see the impact their efforts are having, because they’re able to look back at how they were performing against those same goals in the past and compare. Things move and shake daily in a B2B company, and fast – so, keeping consistency in goals for your team and how they impact the organization is one way to know if what you’re doing is working amidst what can sometimes feel like chaos. Mike recommends taking the time to think about the 3-4 metrics that are going to truly move the needle for your business, and set goals around them.
“You don’t want to be innovating on how you set goals. You want to be iterating on the way you are reaching those goals.” 

People are Saying the MQL is Dead… and to a Certain Extent, They’re Right

Most marketing teams have a handful of dashboards and metrics that they look at on a consistent basis to determine how their activities are performing, and it’s not uncommon for most B2B organizations to look at Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) as a key metric of marketing’s success. For many years, the MQL provided “good enough” insight into marketing’s impact on the sales team’s ability to close business. These days… not so much. Because MQLs can be so far removed from the actual business results, they’re not always the best sole metric to determine marketing’s effectiveness and impact.  But, they can’t be ignored, either.  The reality is, you need more than just this metric if you’re looking to truly understand how marketing activities convert into revenue. MQLs continue to be a strong top-of-funnel leading indicator of engagement, but marketing teams need to be looking further down the funnel (i.e. Marketing Sourced Pipeline, Marketing Sourced Closed Won, Revenue Attribution) in combination with leading indicators in order to truly evaluate their success and where they need to focus their time, effort, and dollars to continue growing the business.
“Some people say the MQL is dead; it doesn’t matter anymore. To a certain extent, they’re right, because it’s so far from the business results that if you just win on that number alone, it doesn’t mean anything. But I do think it is valuable to understand that because it’s an early indicator. You can’t get to anything else unless you at least have some engagement.”
He’s right. Without leading indicators such as MQLs and top-of-funnel metrics, you’re missing half of the picture. But, the same goes for only looking at these metrics. Be sure you’re not looking too narrowly, or too broadly — “How do I make sure we hit the commitments when measured in a very narrow way, but also how do I make sure people understand where there is more value to be had.”

Data Rich, Insight Light

We’ve all heard “data-driven marketing” over and over again, and that if you’re not thinking about how to use data in your decisions, you’re likely making a mistake. But, with all of the data available to marketers these days, it’s also easy to fall into the trap of having so much data that you don’t know what to do with it.  So, consider data, but don’t worship it.
“A lot of data not examined critically is more dangerous than no data at all.”
One way to attack this issue is by starting with asking yourself a question. For example, “what do I need to improve from this stage to this stage”. Or, “why are we not performing as well now as before”.  Then start peeling back the layers to get to an answer. The insights from the data will start to emerge. 
“I think very deeply about the data informed versus data driven question. The reason is, we live in a world where you have unprecedented access to different number sets. People are drowning in data. They’re not able to actually make the decisions needed. They have the data but they have too much of it to make sense of it”.
Thinking through the issues this way will help you make the right decision – which is the main point of gathering all of this data in the first place – to make the right business decision.

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