B2B Marketing Blog

Four Steps to Transform Curiosity into B2B Marketing Results

By Greg Poirier
Feb 12, 2018
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It’s 8:00 AM on Monday morning. An employee of yours sits at their desk drinking coffee and going through emails. They get curious about an eBook and the latest inbound campaign.

They ask themselves, "We get three times as many leads from the XYZ eBook, but are those leads converting to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)?”

If your employee has a question like this, how do they get the answer?

For many organizations getting an answer means filing a Jira ticket and a Salesforce Administrator may respond in two days. By then, that employee has moved on and they no longer care. Or worse, they never make the request.

In this latter scenario, the friction of making the request and waiting for the answer overrides their innate curiosity. The busier the team member, the less likely they are to scratch that itch.

If you’re a member of the leadership team at a B2B SaaS organization, you should be asking yourself:

Can our employees satisfy their curiosities in the time it takes to finish a cup of coffee?

If the answer is no, you’ll want to keep reading.

Feeding Curiosity Feeds the Bottom Line  

Marketing Operations and Sales Operations breakthroughs are all about curiosity. Transformational ideas come from curious employees’ ah-ha moments. 

It’s crucial that employees can answer questions related to content performance with very little friction, especially those who are not directly in an analytics role. 

Reporting and Dashboards Connect To Curiosity

Some B2B SaaS organizations struggle to see the value of investing in reporting and analytics, especially for team members who aren’t in a “traditional” analytics-focused role. As a result, many companies either:

  1. Ignore it and don’t invest in reports and dashboards.

  2. Invest  a ton of money only in a set of unmalleable dashboards built to answer specific questions. The result is reporting on known knowns but not known unknowns

For every organization, there’s a necessary set of reports and dashboards that Sales and Marketing need access to in order to function. The KPIs of B2B SaaS are fairly standard now. If you’re a well-funded organization with proper tools in place and mature SOPs and MOPs functions, chances are you already have many in place. However, there’s also significant value in empowering employees to exercise curiosity.

Companies experience the most success when their reporting and dashboard configuration are centered around allowing employees to self-serve and satisfy their curiosities with little friction.

How to Reduce Friction and Get to Ah-Ha

Step 1: Implement a Data Warehouse

Becoming a company that champions curiosity takes infrastructure and cultural investment.

The first step is having a data warehouse where data can be aggregated across multiple sources like your marketing automation platform, CRM and Google Analytics. Data  should be tied together in one place so curiosity doesn't have to be domain-specific. By its very nature, the interesting questions being asked span systems. If questions were easy to report on in just one system (say Marketo), they’d be solved already.

Having a data warehouse that can aggregate multiple data sources is important because often marketing questions are not domain specific. For example, to answer the question we used earlier:

"Are those leads from eBook XYZ converting to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)?”

You need to have the plumbing in place to see Facebook and AdWords advertising data. You need to pull in information from Marketo and combine it with Salesforce data to see which leads turned into MQLs. In the absence of having a data warehouse, it usually means somebody has to create complicated spreadsheets to get that answer. 

Building a data warehouse isn’t a one-step process. There are also complexities involved in cleaning and transforming the data to make it workable.

While creating a central data warehouse is a great first step, you won't get anywhere if the data can't be trusted and or queried easily. This is another area where bringing in experts to help increase data integrity pays ongoing dividends.

Step 2: Layer on Data Visualization

Data visualization is a powerful tool that makes information accessible to all employees, not just those who are analytics-focused. Right now, we’re seeing many companies deploy an instance of Redshift or BigQuery with Tableau (the incumbent) or Google Data Studio (we believe to be the primary challenger) sitting on top. Tools like Looker and Periscope are also challenging Tableau in this space and may be more suited for fast growing B2B SaaS companies. Choosing the right tool amongst these four is one essential decision.

Adding a data visualization layer on top means any employee, not just the person who knows how to write SQL queries, can obtain the answers they need. This translates into empowering employees to find answers quickly.

Beyond the infrastructure portion, it’s crucial to have a well-configured instance of Google Analytics, Bizible and Salesforce where a lot of these questions can be answered with reports and dashboards.

Cultivate a Culture of Curiosity

Step 1: Hire Curious People

The hardest part of cultivating a culture of curiosity is hiring people who are both curious and analytics-focused. Every company says they are interested in hiring people who are curious. However, sometimes curious candidates are bounced out of the hiring process.

Somebody who has an intense level of curiosity  can also come across as annoying. For example, they ask a lot of probing questions in the interview that may, in the interviewer's mind, not be directly related to what they’re being interviewed for. Or, they're constantly asking their manager why things happen a certain way. This can be frustrating for the manager in the short-term, but is often longitudinally valuable for the company.

Step 2: Onboarding and Training

When you onboard a new director, are you screening for an understanding of how to run reports in Salesforce? Or, are you teaching them how to do that once they start as part of their onboarding process? Are you asking which reports and dashboards they would like when they join? When you’re hiring team members for analytics roles, are you hiring people who display the traits of wanting to help others? Or,  are they likely to talk down to people who are less sophisticated in their understanding of numbers?

Establishing a culture of curiosity means you have to be willing to train people to be self-sufficient and provide friendly help for them along the way. Often, the friction of having to ask someone else for information means the question will go unanswered. Curiosity can go away very quickly if you don't provide an outlet for people to satisfy it. If you make it too difficult to get answers, people just stop asking questions and begin to operate purely on gut.

Wrap Up: How to Get Started

Often to build a data warehouse properly or have your current one brought up to snuff involves getting outside help. Most organizations don’t have employees who have built a data warehouse before, and it’s an incredibly complex project. If you do have that expertise in-house, it also often means those analytics team members are extraordinarily technical, but may not be building the system with the goal of allowing people to self-serve. They have their own paradigm of what this needs to do in mind and it is important to help steer teams away from biases.

To enable employees to exercise curiosity, it takes a significant infrastructure and cultural investment. At the heart of that investment is data. Learn more about how CloudKettle helps marketing teams become data-centric. 

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Topics: marketing management, marketing performance management

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