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Signs Your B2B Organization is Still Not Data Driven

Posted May 10, 2024
CaliberMind Revenue Marketing Report podcast episode, Signs Your B2B Organization is Still Not Data Driven


Ian Michels, Sr., Technical Account Manager at Adobe, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Ian shares the tell-tale signs of a marketing organization that isn’t committed to using data and hallmarks of those who are.

Today, we are going to start with signs your company isn’t so data-driven, or insights-driven, as I like to call the alternative. What have you seen out there?

“So my background, I have worked within consulting and you can quickly begin to pick up on some of the general areas where people aren’t as data-driven. Sometimes, it is truly as easy as asking, what are you measuring? You will be surprised, sometimes it is nothing. They are doing marketing for the sake of marketing, as my old CEO used to say. There was nothing data-driven about it. There was no way to measure their point of success. It was just marketing for the sake of marketing.

“I heard this influencer say this so I’m going to do that. It is like the wild west and I think some of the marketers get a bad rap because of the marketers who do that. They just follow the trends. Other times, you see where the measurable results are just your standard metrics; MQLs, leads created and ops created, all very important valid things. However, what I often refer to is this statistical mindset, when the marketer doesn’t have the mindset to go a little bit deeper and ask the question why or what is impacting this? What is influencing this? You can quickly begin to pick up on that as you work with different individuals, when you ask them to go a little bit deeper within those standard key metrics and nothing is there.”

Yeah, I love me some random acts of marketing.

“Yeah, that is right.”

It happens. I think there is always solid positive intent there, but I don’t know if you agree with this. What I see a lot of times when running into a marketing team that is resistant to a weekly talk about numbers, that tends to start from the top down. You need to have a leader that is invested and looking at the right things. Maybe instead of focusing on the signs, we talk a little bit more about what it should look like in your ideal state. Perhaps we pick on a couple of roles as good examples.
Digital marketers should be deep in data, what should that data look like and how often should they be looking at it?

“I think that is a good place to start. I want to go back one step when you meet as a team and the right questions aren’t being asked from the top, but at the same time, it’s also the wrong questions that are being asked from the top. Sometimes, there’s no question being asked and it is, this is the budget, this is what it is. You just do random acts. Other times, wrong questions are being asked because of what I affectionately call HBR metrics, are we just having leads, MQLs, ops and that is it. And it is the top down. This is all they ask. They don’t ask for anything else. Marketing keeps doing what they want to do or try random things since all they are held to are these standard HBR metrics that are just notoriously known to be what you report on rather than going deeper and trying to understand the data.”

I think HBR has evolved since then, but we haven’t caught up yet. 

“Yeah. I think it’s unfair to say that HBR, but that is what everyone refers back to, I saw this in a HBR article and it is from 2009. But nonetheless, it was ingrained and continued to be the norm for most people where they’ve progressed to how you measure, but I don’t know if they have done a good job of getting that out as well as probably those previous ones.

“Alright, the question of what is good and the different roles, this is great. Camela and I went off on this when we talked about multi-touch attribution. There is a different way in which they are looking at measurements in general. Solely from a marketing perspective, when we talk about engagement and measurement, we have to talk about the different roles. You have the lead gen where it all starts, they are held accountable for leads created, but what is that? And lead gen is perhaps in a little kerfuffle right now of, well, what is going to happen with the cookies?

“Google is shutting this down. They are trying to figure things out right now. How are they going to measure outside of solely leads being created because that’s where all their dollars are invested. Now, the funny thing, I was having a conversation earlier, is, does the number change? Is it not all the money just still Google, maybe it’s still only going to be Google that is invested in. I don’t know. Well, find out. Probably, it will shift, who knows? But I think for them, they have to start figuring out the shifts there as they lose track of the cookies. More of like a medium mix model is what we’re seeing. If I invest in these types of campaigns across different initiatives, am I getting that ROI?

“Is that bringing back the right amount of revenue for us? So it’s going to be a little bit of a top-down type of marketing approach. It is not going to be as individualized. It is not going to be as unique as data points, but it’s going to be more overarching, these channels, these types of campaigns overall investments, and what is driving those revenue points as they lose track of those cookies. I would then go into demand gen, what is driving it? How do we continue to create demand? They are a little bit of that, but they’re also about having to then get into what is creating those opportunities. What is actually driving pipeline, which is eventually revenue.

“That I think is where you get more into multi-touch attribution type of metrics. You are going to get a little more individualized. You are going to try to understand, okay, yes, it is not just these webinars that we are running, but who are the different individuals? What are the personas that we have created? Are they engaging with us? Are they being involved in these things? Do we need to make that shift in those things? You get a little bit more individualized and personalized in that area and you got to determine how do you want to measure those things with that data?”

What I like about what Ian is saying is, I think marketers are super savvy at using the tools they are in all the time and looking at early indicators. What I like about what Ian is saying is, yes, there’s absolutely time and place for that, but if you aren’t tying that or trying to tie it to opportunities and getting information on what is actually generating pipeline and closing business, that should be your goal, and you’re ultimately out of alignment with business if you are not trying to do that in some fashion. Okay, I don’t want to put too many words in your mouth.

“No, I think you made me sound smarter than I am. No, what exactly I am getting at is even if they have standard metrics, I need to create leads, I need to create MQLs, I need to create opportunities, go above and beyond as a marketer to understand what is actually driving revenue. Yeah, you may be quarterly held to those responsibilities, but at the end of the year, you can ask for way more money if you associate it with revenue. You can’t ask for more money if you just assign it to those top-level types of metrics. There is no way because you have no way of associating it with, how did the company actually grow? If you’re looking to grow your marketing initiatives, you need money and you have to be able to associate it back with the money.”

I think perhaps CMOs do a little too much of a good job of shielding their team from the pressures they face. I think if the team understood which pressures they face, they would understand what they have to measure to help their boss communicate what they’re doing. As a VP of marketing, I was under constant pressure to prove ROI and they wanted it by channel. For every dollar I put into search, how many am I going to get out because they wanted to do an equation in their head, “If I give marketing X amount of dollars, it’s going to result in X amount of bookings.” It is a lot more complicated than that. However, I think people need to realize that if they are not trying any sort of attribution, which I define as any way to tie an opportunity to a marketing activity, whether you’re doing single-touch or multitouch, you are losing credibility with the rest of the C-Suite.

“Absolutely! I think what you are calling out here is great since again, having been on the consulting side, I enjoyed getting to work with the practitioner. As a practitioner, you get to get muddy. You get to get your hands dirty. You get to be just in it all, especially in the operations space, marketing operations space. Those who thrive in that are the ones who like doing that. They like getting their hands dirty. They like scrubbing through the data. They enjoy those processes. Executives don’t. That is not part of it. That is a big leap when we’re talking about the data and we are saying, hey, this is all great data. And when I would coach clients of mine, I would say, this is all great data, but this is all you can talk about to your executive. Don’t go with all this. These are great findings and keep those close to the chest and use those to execute, but this is what you have to show them.”

Excellent point. When I coach other marketers on how to present to their boss and their boss’ bosses, we always have this discussion, what do they care about? The temptation is to go in there and start talking about impressions, cost per click, and cost per impression. No, what they want to know is how many leads did you generate? And how are they converting into actual opportunities since I think a lot of us realize these early indicators can all look fantastic and you can think, man, I should be getting more budget because this is producing. Nevertheless, if it is not turning into actual opportunities and bookings, it’s not working in the eyes of an executive.

“Exactly! To encourage marketers, keep the data. It is all great data, but begin to work. Ask the right questions about, what is it that you need me to show? Once you have all your dashboards, let’s say you’re using Salesforce to build your dashboards or whatever it may be, I guarantee you maybe 10% of those are going to go into your executive’s dashboard. What you are doing is already in place. It’s already there for your executive. It is just not going to be all of it. Keep building those things. Keep developing them but know that most of that will never see anyone up in the executive level. They are not going to look at those things.”

No, it can be your secret sauce.

“Absolutely! Exactly! Totally!”

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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