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The (Underrated) Importance of Measuring Marketing Objectives

Posted June 1, 2022
Mark Ostrander

Mark’s career began in 2008, just as the financial crisis was coming in. He started at Forrester, as an Event Sales Rep calling event marketers trying to get them to go to all the events that they just had their budget cut for.

Really, he jumped right into the sort of prospecting that SDRs do, and he was able to work on his voice, as he hit a lot of voicemails back then, as many organizations were in a tough spot financially. 

Forrester had gone from having full and overcapacity events overnight to ever dwindling attendee lists. From there, things turned around quickly. He progressed through Sales Development phases before taking on an Enterprise New Business role. Then, he came to Integrate nine years ago and has been with them since.

At Integrate, he started on the new business team, bringing on wonderful customers. Then, he moved to the Customer Expansion or Account Management team, where he worked with some of the top B2B marketers in the space.

So, of course, it’s no surprise that Mark’s got an intensive marketing know-how.

Nailing the Basics: Marketing Campaign Objectives

Mark’s a big proponent of nailing the basics, especially when it comes to marketing objective goal-setting.

“It depends on the organization, and sometimes the size of the organization and who’s driving the strategy. I’ll say often times we’ll speak with marketers who have a budget in place who are looking to run a potential program. And as soon as we start uncovering the goals of the program, you can see that we might have the persona and the audience that we’re looking to go after, but we don’t know the measurement and what’s gonna be judged to be a success or a failure.

Basics-Marketing-Objectives-Revenue-Marketing-Report“Sometimes, we will see teams with really small budgets, with just incredible audience sizes that they’re trying to make an impact on. And sometimes you have to take a step back and say, you know, would it be potentially better to, to take that smaller budget and put it towards a smaller list? Sometimes 2500-3500 accounts is a really big audience that’s gonna be hard to move the needle on.

“So just trying to identify that unit of measurement that’s gonna dictate success for the marketer versus trying to be super wide, super broad and hope that something happens once it comes into the funnel.”

But getting cross-functional buy-in on a smaller, more meaningfully targeted audience can prove quite difficult. Often, it’s the best, most meaningful way to use your spend, but a lot of sales teams can still have a volume mentality, where they think they need to start with a huge pull to get to at bats.

How does Mark recommend approaching a sales team with that mindset?

“I think it depends on who you’re speaking to. If you talked to me while I was at Forrester and a sales rep, I would’ve preferred a hundred leads a day, because I needed to make a hundred phone calls. I did all that outreach in those touches, so that was probably something that I would be working towards.

“And, if you’re a marketer serving an SDR team, sometimes it is a measure of that conversation with the head of that team, whether they report into sales or marketing, ‘is quantity better than quality?’

“At this point in my career, I’d rather have one real decent qualified lead a week than a hundred leads a day. Just from the idea that the intent is there. Maybe there’s been engagement through some of the nurturing or reaching out through some of the newsletter that the marketing teams put together through LinkedIn.

“So getting just one qualified lead a week, I would rather take that than have to sift through a lot of top of funnel, low touch leads. Which really gets into the conversation of what happens what data comes into the system. Is it immediately being passed to the SDR, or is there some type of digital engagement that’s taking place?”

When you’re dealing with an SDR team, it can really speak to misalignment on KPIs. When you’re giving somebody a sheer volume metric, like a hundred calls per day, you’re setting yourself up for that battle between volume and targeting.

“It really speaks to what’s happened with Marketing Ops and Sales Ops teams. There’s the term revenue marketing that everyone is sort of talking about, but there’s also RevOps teams. You had the marketing team in 2008, 2009 that started buying Eloqua and Marketo and Pardot, started nurturing and saying, ‘Oh, there’s these beautiful cadences, serious decision came out with this methodology of the waterfall and getting leads in the top, right?

“So what’s really kind of evolved since then is, and I think that the pandemic was really a catalyst here, but the emergence of sales teams having their own technologies. Like a SalesLoft or an Outreach, and they’re saying, ‘Hey, thanks so much on the marketing side, appreciate what you guys are doing, but I’m gonna take over here and have our new sales cadence.’

“And there’s been a competition, this arms race, of either the Sales tech and the Marketing tech. So you see that convergence now with the RevOps team to say. ‘Hey guys, we’re gonna have only one cadence out because a lot of conflicting messages are going to the buyer from the marketing team and then the sales team.

“So it really comes down to having the same goals, same alignment on how we’re gonna reach out and try to engage with that contact or that lead, as they come into the internal tax.”

Sales teams have some advantages that marketers don’t, as they’re able to use some loopholes that marketing can’t due to privacy laws. But partnering with Marketing can still help Sales.

A marketer who has 15 years of experience with email marketing and understands that sales emails have to be structured differently in order to make an impact can reach across the aisle and make sure those outreach methods are being maximized.

Mark describes the following about the inbound flow of leads:

“I think I sometimes look at the lead as it comes in as the baton. Sometimes working with partners, you’re at an event or LinkedIn and the contact comes over and who’s responsible for ? You can try to put too many hands on it. So maybe it goes to the marketing team queue first to score, to qualify, to put some arbitrary numbers on it to say, this is a persona of ours, it’s a company that potentially is a fit and now we’re gonna pass it over to sales versus marketing, holding onto it, sales seeing it. And then you have that divide.

“Just articulating and putting down to paper what the path is going to be for an individual, either at a new business account or at a customer account that you’re trying to expand maybe into a new area because knowing myself and the sales peers that I work with, sometimes you see the names coming, you get very excited, you wanna jump right in there and rip it from the marketer’s queue nurture steps.

But does Mark think that every lead should be jumping the marketing queue to sales?

“Sometimes I think there’s definitely warrants kind of bypassing some of those processes, but other times you, you need to really trust the process, trust the system, understand that maybe they’re not a qualified lead at this point, just learning to get a little bit more information and, and, and kind of just sit back.”

Top 3 Marketing Objective Missteps

We asked Mark what three factors he sees companies making over and over again that impacts their overall marketing campaign’s efficacy.

“I really go back to starting with the goal, starting with the end in mind. What’s the goal of the marketing objective or campaign? What’s the goal of the program? Is it a single channel campaign? Is it something that you’re just running in social? Is it obviously an event or a paid type of syndication program?Just trying to define how we’re going to be measuring it kind of goes back to the budget that you have, the audience that you’re trying to serve to, and where the leads are gonna be going.

Marketing-Objectives-Missteps-Revenue-Marketing-Report

“If it’s gonna be going into a nurture queue, if it’s gonna be going to SDRs, depending on where the leads are gonna be initially scored and measured by that, really dictates the strategy that a team or marketing team will wanna put in place as mentioned. We work with a lot of different teams, and it kind of maybe speaks to the second piece being siloed.”

Silos can be the killers of marketing campaigns, even long before they’re executed. Communicating across functions, especially between Sales and Marketing is vital to making sure you’re setting yourself up for success.

“We’ll work with a team that comes with the list or they have an audience that they wanna start working with and engaging with. And there’s so much work that’s already being done by their peers, either in the digital side of the house, or in the event side of the house with virtual events and things like that. And there’s a lot of data that exists in terms of engagement of the account. 

“So we talked to a lot of teams and there might be a thousand accounts, and there’s no way to segment that list in like a tiered ABC, but what accounts are already interested in whether it’s an intent based solution that you’re implementing, that you’re able to find that data on. Is there activity off of your website or engagement from other programs to maybe say, let’s start with these, or let’s definitely avoid these 200 accounts for certain reasons because you wouldn’t wanna include those in your campaign.

“Moving forward, if a peer of yours has already uncovered that they’re either out of market or not a good fit. So trying to maybe kind of ask that conversation before you get going. Because a lot of the teams that we work with were on campaigns on a quarterly, or even sometimes a six month basis, cuz there’s so much work to set up and to launch and get going, which is totally fine. I think that run rate, but the idea of being of setting it and forgetting it first coming in and kind of like find out, do a quick test, see where you’re making an impact, see where you’re not.

“And then pivoting, that’s really one of the biggest pieces that we’ll talk to on teams is trying to put those checks and balances in place to say, all right, let’s stop six weeks into the quarter, see how things are going, maybe check on the persona, make sure you guys have the right account list. Maybe there’s new content that has come into play, things of that nature.”

Waiting to see how a campaign performed as a retrospective just isn’t feasible. Checking in frequently, so you understand its performance and see if you’re meeting your marketing campaign goals is a huge piece of the puzzle. Adjustments often can be made to create a better impact, but if you wait until it’s finished running, you’re missing a huge area of opportunity.

“Identifying the metric of measurement and monitoring it and checking in on it on a frequent basis, whether that’s every two weeks or you depict the cadence that works right. Because you know, it’s something, it’s not a B2C environment where you’ll have so much data and trends on a 24 hour clip that you’re able to go day to day.

“Maybe if your organization has a shorter sales cycle, you could see something like that. But for a lot of teams here, you know, you want to identify what that cadence is to come in and check on the data. But the idea that you’re putting all this work in and effort, and it’s just gonna run successfully for six months, when it does, everyone looks like a hero. But the last time, the last thing you ever want to do is get to the point where you’re halfway through, exhausted either budget or efforts or a database say, oh my gosh, we need to make a crucial pivot. So identifying what that unit of measurement is, and then following that really quickly allows teams to then to put a pause in place and adjust.”

MQLs, SQLs, AQLs, and ABM, Oh My!

Ultimately, as marketers, we want to have an impact on pipeline and on revenue. But often times, we don’t have a deep enough understanding of the buying process to truly know what KPIs are helpful to us.

“We work with a lot of different teams that look to say, Hey, this campaign, we’re 60 days in, we haven’t seen any impact to pipeline. Until you understand more about the buying process, where certain companies are, how long it takes, shifts where people will buy services or a product potentially, two, three years at a time. And understanding when winds come in, they come in big. Like waiting for that pipeline 60 days in isn’t potentially the right signal where someone with that smaller life sales cycle, you know, might have that impact already.

KPIs-Revenue-Marketing-Report“So, you know, go back to like thatold MQL or AQL or SQL that you have, but it’s that engagement potentially with that contact, once you’ve started engaging it, once the lead comes into your system and once you’re emailing it, it’s like, oh my gosh, this is a great signal. Let’s now see that as a win. And let’s go back and look at the measurements there, but it’s this balance, I guess, because sometimes marketers get stuck generating all these MQLs, waiting for the impact on revenue. And sometimes, it’s gonna come until it doesn’t. So it’s a balance of having different indicators within each stage and monitoring those along the process.”

In B2B, revenue and pipeline can take a long time – and setting that as your campaign goal just to ignore other indictators…you’re going to end up waiting a long time to see if you made an impact.

“I think everyone’s moved to this ABM model too. So the AQL and the MQL has really changed in terms of being able to go out and get names. A lot of the teams that we work with, you try to get a balance of coverage to accounts, whether they’re running display to them or whether they’re running paid efforts or LinkedIn. So I think the measurements that we had that we used before have really kind of changed.

“It’s now more of like an account qualified lead is you’re trying to build out the buying committee of an organization where either you don’t have a product in, and it’s a new business play. And going back to like, that’s a totally different strategy, tactic generating awareness. They don’t know who you are versus someone who already maybe has one of your products and you’re trying to upsell or cross sell to another area. Because you have the account and maybe a totally different buying team or persona internally. So if being able to decipher which ICP for each of those components, and then having those early stage indicators, it gets more complex, but you can kind of see how the workflow is for whether you’re targeting that new business list or a list of customers where you’re trying to land and expand.”

But when it comes to ABM, how are we defining target lists and how can we think through it?

“It kind of goes back to the new business and then the expansion piece, cuz I know that there are a lot of marketers that are tasked with supporting a team that’s trying to be new logo specific. And then there’s teams where on this day of sell, cross sell. So that’s, you know, I’d say a little bit different, but let’s take the new business piece in general. If you’re starting with sales leaders, it goes back to aim small, miss small.

“So rather than ask them which 10 accounts and you get that 10,000, what’s your budget gonna be for that? You know, were you really trying to make an impact with so many accounts? I think maybe taking one or two from each rep and trying to move the needle and show either that’s awareness and familiarity driving people back to your site, whether it’s through LinkedIn ads or LinkedIn lead gen forms or virtual events and things of that nature.

“There are a lot of different paid ways to go out and get those people to kind of come through. But at the end of the day, you have to tier out that list of accounts, and what are you doing to tier it out? Is it by fit? Is there a system or a platform that you market with? Do you have content that aligns really well to a particular industry within those set of accounts that works well because your best piece of content is something that you’re gonna be leading with. So maybe look to that, to what speaks to it.

“Is it a case study with a certain set of customers, right? Like low hanging fruit here. These are some of the things that we’ll try to advise on teams because it can be really daunting when you have a really big list. And even if you have a decent budget, it’s gonna be spread so thin. You need to know how you’re gonna be measured by success, aim really small. And then, you know, as we just talked about, be ready to make a pivot and make an adjustment, or when you see success, you can dial it up a little bit.”

When it comes to buying B2B software, G2 is one of the best ways to find indicators that an account is interested in something related to your product family. It’s a warmer intent than maybe identifying their current tech stack and doing cold prospecting outreach around that.

“Would I rather have one lead from G2 on someone who’s in the search queue there and it’s organic, it’s such a heavy high intent in terms of a signal. Versus, you know, I was at the B2B MX show this week, versus getting the list of people that came by, we  didn’t have too much swag, but you know, leads from events sometimes are very engaged, based on the conversation or are not at all. So being able to kind of pick and choose, what those are, but definitely agree with G2.

“It’s a little scary being on the vendor side to kind of start like peeking behind the curtain and seeing how some of the reviews are there. People are very honest. And so it’s great to see when you’re reviewed favorably, the things you’re hopefully gonna go quite well once a brand pops up there.

“I don’t know why we’re all so conditioned to think worst case scenario. But yeah, it’s definitely a valuable channel, I think in terms of what we’ve seen here. And if someone’s not leveraging G2, it’s definitely something I recommend checking out.”

What Should Be Measured When it Comes to ABM?

“I think this is probably the most complicated component of it is defining that measurement and where we should be. Again, it goes back to what’s the goal of the campaign and the program. And if you’re, I hate to use the term, but some reporting to sales and being judged by sales, it’s gonna be the opportunity—have you gotten me to close one deal? Or it’s the super ready lead. So if that’s the success, it’s just a really, really tough role as a marketer because you have these accounts that have a lot of conflicting pieces between the timing piece and competitors in market, the performance of the product or solution in general. It just really goes down to saying like, you know, as a marketer, you can generate a thousand leads that are all from intent signaled accounts.

Measure-Marketing-Objectives-Revenue-Marketing-Report“And then what? If you go through LinkedIn or you go through on-demand webinars or paid syndication, you get those leads and they’re all gonna AQL because they meet the ICP and the target accounts, it’s like well then what? So it’s more down funnel? Like how do we get them to move them along? That’s really, I think, where it gets difficult because depending on the cadence that you have and that relationship with sales, everyone’s kind of reaching after it and overwhelming it.

“I think, you know, it’s gonna be a really tough go, but I think the teams that have a cohesive strategy with sales to, whether it’s through that nurture engagement that you potentially have set up or, ‘Hey, we’re gonna pass this one straight to you based on title, role and company.’ At least the sales rep will be like, this is great. This is the lead that I was looking for, or the person that I was looking for that are part of the buying committee.

“So you can have a win in that point and just getting those discussions and trying to have that’s a success. Understanding that not every lead that’s gonna come in is going to equate to a close won deal, but it’s those at bats that you’re trying to set up, those discussions that you’re trying to set up. Getting them over to sales is usually what’s most important, but we don’t want to just pat ourselves on the back sometimes for getting all these leads in from the accounts it’s then, but also getting them through that process over to them for that discussion.

“It’s a great time to celebrate that and, looking back at the different relationships I’ve had here at Integrate with our marketing team, I think just being on the same page, keep going back to that. Being able to celebrate that early is just terrific, because I think sometimes there’s this like over the fence mentality, and you don’t get the feedback and you’re not able to celebrate it. So I think sharing that success is really important.”

You can have a lot of really great leads, but once they’re handed off to sales…you might be running into some issues with follow-up. But this speaks to the power of silos, and why it’s so important to have an open dialogue.

“I think depending on how you have reporting stood up internally, it can be what kind of lead was it? What channel did it come from? What account was it in? Is it a prioritized account? I think as an SDR, I remember seeing where leads originated from whether it was, you know, the web form and the cross your fingers for the contact us web lead. But then there’s also the event, the webinar, the newsletter, LinkedIn pace indication, right? There’s all these different avenues. And you’re prioritizing your follow up as an SDR in sales. And it’s like, you know, you’re looking for those high intent type leads. And so a lot, a lot of the times it goes back to the quality over the quantity and maybe potentially they’re getting too many if they’re not following up with them. I think there’s an argument for that.

“That’s probably my biggest pet peeve. Here at integrate, we automate a lot of channels connecting leads with our internal demand acceleration platform before they get into different marketing automation systems. And so that’s really kind of the context to the discussion we have, where the lead’s going. Because there are different channels that again, should potentially bypass some of the marketing engagement, and maybe even go straight into that sales outreach, whether it’s a direct email or the sales cadence. So there’s high intent leads where you say, Hey, you guys take this. And then there are other ones just to your point, syndication or low intent potential leads that you’re gonna send over to them and kind of confuse the queue of the SDR and those touches aren’t ready. They’re definitely more low intent compared to like a G2 or LinkedIn or something off the website. So having them percolate through a nurture, get to certain scores, thresholds, and engagement, and then go up. That’s where we see a lot of success within that particular channel here, but definitely have conversations with marketers all the time that are gonna take the leads, you know, one touch and send ’em straight over to the sales and that’s a tough one.”

You can find Mark Ostrander on LinkedIn or at local Boston conferences and events.


For more ABM content and strategy, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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