Everyone wants to be good at their job. For B2B marketers, you spend time carefully planning, executing, and optimizing campaigns all with the intention of making them successful. The last thing you want is to overlook or change something that ends up hurting your campaign’s performance.
We don’t want you to make those mistakes either. So we put together a list of five common mistakes that we’ve seen B2B marketers make that have hurt their campaigns’ performances (as well as how to avoid them).
1. Optimizing For The Wrong Metrics
If you’ve read a few of our blog posts, you’ve likely heard this before. One of the biggest things B2B marketers do wrong is use the wrong metrics. Yes, metrics like click-through-rates, pageviews, and even leads are good things to track, but they aren’t what you should use to judge campaign performance.
For example, a campaign with a highly targeted audience will likely generate a low volume of pageviews and net new leads compared to a campaign with a broad audience. But if you judge your campaigns off of those top-level metrics, you might miss out on the fact that the targeted campaign brings in higher quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.
When you optimize for the wrong metrics, you run the risk of turning off ads or campaigns that may have tons of downstream potential. Ultimately, you need to judge and optimize campaigns based on downstream metrics like pipeline and revenue.
2. Optimizing Too Early
A/B test results can be misleading if you forget the lessons from your basic statistics courses. Often, test variations outperform the original version right off the bat due to novelty. When charted, a test could look like this:
A clear winner, right?
Not so fast. As we often see with these tests, the performance of the variations typically evens out over time and the difference becomes statistically insignificant. The chart above eventually turned into this:
It’s important to wait for a statistical significance before declaring the winner because with a small sample size, the results can be misleading. This can be trying on your patience, but it’s necessary if you want to make positive optimizations.
3. Not Accounting for the Full Sales Cycle
There are actually two separate ways marketers can hurt their campaign by making decisions too early. The first was described in #2 and the other is by making changes to campaigns before you allow prospects to make it through the entire funnel.
B2B marketing campaigns should primarily be judged based on two things: ROI and scalability.
(If a marketing campaign can generate $10 from an investment of $1, that’s great ROI. But if you can’t scale that campaign to make $100, $1,000, $10,000, or more while maintaining the great ROI, it’s not particularly valuable.)
In order to judge a campaign on both ROI and scalability, you need to measure the marketing campaign’s impact on revenue.
So if your marketing and sales cycle is three months, you need to allow for that three month lag between prospects seeing ads and prospects closing before you make final judgments on ROI and revenue generation. When you don’t account for the full sales cycle when calculating ROI, you may end up dramatically undervaluing the campaign’s ROI. Here’s how that works:
When you invest $10 in Month 1 on ads, if successful, they move people along the funnel. Those prospects will engage with other campaigns, get contacted by your sales team, and then a few months later (if your cycle is 3 months) will become customers. So the earliest you can expect to reap the benefit of your investment is Month 4.
If you calculate ROI after 2 months, your ROI will look bad -- $20 investment and $0 in revenue.
To calculate ROI effectively, only after month 5 can you calculate the ROI of the first two months of your campaign -- $20 investment and $40 in revenue, an ROI of 2x -- as shown below.
4. Not Using Personas or Thinking All Personas Want the Same Thing
In B2B marketing, there are often several different types of people that you’re marketing and selling to within accounts. These are referred to as personas and each persona has different characteristics, such as areas of expertise, pain points, budget control, etc.
Each of these characteristics make personas different from one another, which is why they need to be considered when creating marketing campaigns. For example, if two of your personas are the Head of Marketing and the Head of Sales, different things will resonate and appeal to them.
If you create content targeted at both of them, it will end up resonating with neither of them. Sure, there are likely areas of shared interest between your personas, but it won’t be the bullseye for either. It ends up being far too general and the campaign becomes just another voice in the crowd. By using persona-based campaigns (different campaigns for each persona), or at least campaigns that consider personas, B2B marketers are more able to hit the “sweet spot” for each persona and communicate something that will resonate and impact their way of thinking.
When creating audiences for your campaigns, specificity helps. Personalized, one-to-one messages are ideal (a huge reason ABM is effective), so the closest that you can come to that while maintaining efficiency with your campaigns, the better they will perform.
5. Only Investing In What Has Performed Well In The Past
The mistake here is actually two-fold. First, the marketing landscape and what interests prospects is always evolving. At a certain point, great ideas that are performing well today will stop working in the future. If you’re currently ahead, repeating what’s working today will not keep you ahead of the competition in the future. You need to always be innovating and coming up with better ideas.
The second reason why this is a mistake is that only sticking with what currently works doesn’t give you a chance to discover something that could possibly perform even better. Let’s say that your successful marketing campaigns have an ROI of 2x. That’s great -- it’s steady growth. If you don’t try anything new, not only will that return slowly diminish over time, you may miss out on opportunities that have an ROI of 5x or 10x.
It’s absolutely important to continue to invest in what’s working. But if you only look at the past, you’ll never be ahead in the future. Reserve some budget to test new campaigns and see if you can do even better.
Putting together a marketing campaign is a lot of work -- planning, coordinating, executing, measuring, optimizing, etc. It would be a shame to make an avoidable or fixable mistake that hurts the campaign’s performance.
With the right data and the right understanding of the data, marketers are equipped to run effective campaigns and empowered to test new ideas, knowing full well that the marketing data can be trusted to prove the campaign’s business value.