In 2007 the Harvard Business Review Press published, "Competing On Analytics: The New Science of Winning" and made an observation.
Companies are competing on analytics and those that can make use of those analytics are the ones who gain a competitive advantage.
Making this relevant to marketers, competitive advantage means:
Establishing a lead nurturing path that works
Improving velocity through the funnel
Increasing BOFU win rates
Spending less on paid media and content but generating more leads
So you’ll get that done by Friday?
These are ambitious goals, but you’re not alone. Our customers are making progress towards these goals, too. And they do so one marketing report at a time.
In this post I’ll share some of the marketing reports our customers use to build competitive advantage for their orgs. We’ll explain why they help marketers make better decisions and why they are so important to demand generation.
But first let’s discuss what makes a good marketing report.
The Anatomy Of A Good Marketing Report
A good marketing report helps you make decisions.
Great marketing reports rely on a bit of science, but there is art involved in asking the correct questions and interpreting the results.
The process starts with choosing metrics, developing analytics, getting insights and then making decisions.
Imagine you woke up one day and someone told you all your data and statistics are completely innaccurate. They are nowhere near a reflection of who your customers are, where they come from, how much they spend, and what industry they work in.
Accurate data is a luxury. Did you know marketing and advertising is much less reliant on data in countries like Russia? It’s true, where we have demographic data, touchpoints data, and data warehouses where we can access reliable and accurate information on our target customers, marketers in other countries cannot rely on their domestic statistics because they are wildly inaccurate, or plain non-existent.
Luckily we have the ability to understand our prospects and our sales cycle.
Good marketing reports begin with carefully chosen metrics. A metric is a standard of measure, for example conversions rates, sales qualified opportunities generated, or click-through rates. Analytics refers to a logical analysis for understanding what affects your metrics, how they relate or how they interact.
So here’s a description of five marketing reports our customers are using.
Leads By Marketing Channel First-Click and Last-Click Reports
These reports are used by customers who are investing in demand generation and need to measure the performance of their top-of-funnel (TOFU) activities. For marketers whose goals include growing their company quickly, the lead by marketing channel first-click report measures how well money spent on demand generation is generating site visitors who eventually turn into leads. In other words, this measures how well your ads and websites generates awareness and brand discovery.
Once these anonymous site visitors become leads their first-touch data is pushed to the CRM so they can see which ads, ad campaign, or blog post leads originated from on their first visit.
Whether the first-click happened in the same session, or six months later, our customers can identify the campaign and ad.
Why this matters: Often the observation needs to be made of whether an ad, ad group, or ad campaign worked. The creation of ad copy, content offers, and graphics is an art form. Deciding which one ones increased brand discovery and holds value in terms of demand generation does not have be an art. This is how you take budget from ads that do not hold value in terms of generating SQL’s and invest in ads that do. As a result, marketers facilitate brand discovery and kick off the nurturing process faster than their competitors.
Similarly our customers use the last-click attribution marketing report to measure and identify ads, ad campaigns, and landing pages (blog posts) that were the last touchpoint before an anonymous web visitor submitted a form to become a lead.
Why this matters: When our customers generate a click on an ad it only tells them they did a good job of getting someone’s attention. But did they do enough to convince someone to fill out a form? These two reports are give marketers different insights on their prospective customers:
Leads by first-touch = What did you do to generate a click?
Leads by last-click = What did you do to generate a form fill?
With these two reports, our customers can decide -- and control -- the effectiveness of their dollars. They can decide which demand generation campaign to put more money in and control the TOFU like a valve.
There are times when you need to focus resources on the middle and bottom-of-the-funnel, and there are times when you need to fill the top. Our customers use these marketing reports to control the top-of-the-funnel.
Brand discovery and lead generation is no longer like trying to grow crops based on a rain forecast from your local news station. Simply gain control of the weather and grow demand when you want.
First-Touch To Last-Click Velocity By Marketing Channel Report
There are certain variables that dictate what report you need to create. Whether or not increasing pipeline velocity is one of those variables. For many of our customers, the answer is yes, increasing pipeline velocity is important.
For them, first-touch to last-click velocity by marketing channel is an indispensible marketing report.
Side-by-side you can see which channels generate visitors who become leads quickly, or identify the channel where this process is slow. You can drill down to see ad campaign and keywords associated with these velocity metrics.
Understanding these velocities adds a level of predictability. When our customers go to spend on demand generation, they not only have an accurate understanding of lead volumes, they know when they can expect conversions. Our customers have sales teams and this velocity report enables marketers to plan ahead with their sales teams.
For example, we have X number of leads expected for next month from Y channel, this will require Z kind of follow up from sales. For B2B companies where sales and marketing alignment is important for success, this marketing report is the perfect illustration of how to get there.
Why this matters: Our customers use this marketing report to understand how to shorten TOFU conversion rates. They can build analytic models that test and identify the factors that contribute to shortening the velocity of anonymous-click to lead-conversion-click.
Being able to improve velocity provides the kind of competitive advantage that wins races. It’s a race to:
Acquire a market segment
Establish the branding benefits of being “first” in the eyes of customers,
Or simply first to know which ad campaign generates the demand quickly.
The TOFU velocity report is essentially launch control.
In the history of automotive racing, launch control was a major engineering innovation. The fastest way to go from zero to 100 mph is through the balance of grip and power. Too much power and you lose tire grip, your car spins its tires, generating smoke and not traction. If you aren’t using every ounce of grip available through your tires, then you aren’t going as fast as you can, and your competitor will beat you to the first corner. Use too much power and you’ll spin tires, go slower, and your competitor will beat you to the first corner.
Launch control optimizes your car’s acceleration to maximize grip so you can go fast. Controlling pipeline velocity using analytic models with velocity data is the same kind of innovation. Rather than making a race car go faster, marketers are making their prospects go faster through the funnel.
Revenue By First-Touch and Revenue By Last-Click Reports
Take a look at the conversion rates for a marketing campaign below:
Day 1: 4% conversion rate. (5000 visits, $100K in monthly recurring revenue)
Day 2: 10% conversion rate. (1000 visits, $500K in monthly recurring revenue)
Now imagine you don’t actually see the revenue numbers and you’re asked to continue managing a large budget for demand generation.
You aren’t feeling super confident are you?
Where long sales cycles exist, these reports are crucial to TOFU activities and decision-making. These reports are used by our customers to measure the important questions around spending money. How much money did we make back? What factors predict revenue and closed-won deals?
While it’s a simple concept, there’s a lot that must be measured in order to understand what happens between first-click and sales-closed. And it begins with these two reports. These reports tell you where to investigate when it comes to promising campaigns or problematic campaigns. They also help you give credit to the teams responsible for generating TOFU pipeline.
Why this matters: As marketing leaders, our customers must be able to attribute credit to their teams, and do so in an accurate way. They must provide their teams with guidance and direction based on metrics and analytics. The result? Your team continues winning and hitting targets.
Leadership is action. And actions are better when the calculations are right. Think about one the most important factors for a sharp shooter’s success: his spotter. The spotter is responsible for watching the first bullet fired by the sniper in order to help him readjust his aim. He watches where the bullet lands and the vapor trail, a visible mirage caused by the change in air density and heat generated by air friction as the bullet travels, to advise the sniper on how to adjust for the second shot.
As a marketing leader you do the same for your team, advising them on how to readjust their aimt. Just to be clear in this analogy, we’re shooting dinner plates, i.e. the precious china you inherited that’s too delicate to use but too morally important to just throw away.
A marketing team that optimizes and spends budget wisely every quarter? That's building competitive advantage.
Quarterly Revenue Attribution By Channel Report
Marketers use the revenue attribution by channel report to review and compare channel performance. With this unified view of marketing channels, our customers understand which channels are falling short of expectations and which ones are performing above expectations.
Why this report is important: Reconciling between different marketing automation platforms and ad networks creates datasets that are inaccurate. Leads are miscounted, or double counted.
Additionally, marketing platforms measure conversions differently and formulate or define metrics differently. Having a unified view of revenue attribution via reporting through a central database (the CRM) allows marketers to compare apples to apples when analyzing data from different marketing platforms. In other words, one conversion, one lead, or one SQL is exactly that, no matter what channel or platform the data comes from.
So far we’ve focused on marketing reports relevant to improving demand generation and TOFU activities. We’ll be following up with reports for account-based marketing and the most important aspect of B2B marketing: bottom-of-funnel conversion rates and velocity. Stay tuned for more.