B2B Marketing Metrics to Impress the C-Suite 

Olin Hyde

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Today's special guest is Bonnie Crater, President and CEO at Full Circle Insights. Bonnie has a particular point of view about how marketers should measure success, how to set it up, and how to make the most of the information available. LeadCrunch[ai] uses artificial intelligence to drastically improve the performance of B2B demand generation campaigns through account-based "lookalike" modeling. Click the link for more information. https://leadcrunch.com/solutions/

Posted by LeadCrunch on Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Hosts: Dave Green & Jonathan Greene

Guest(s): Bonnie Crater

Topic: Marketing Attribution 

Subtopic: Funnel Metrics  

Duration: 26 minutes

In this episode of the Green & Greene Show, the LeadCrunch B2B podcast, seasoned marketing experts discuss B2B marketing metrics with guest Bonnie Crater. 

TL;DR

  • Introducing Bonnie Crater, President & CEO of Full Circle Insights 
  • Supporting Better Marketing & Sales Alignment 
  • How Measurement Helps Marketing Speak to the C-Suite
  • Best Practices Using The Full Circle Method 
  • The Demand Waterfall & Three Must-Haves
  • Necessary Complexity: Why Sales Needs to Be Part of the Framework
  • Funnel Metrics & The Do’s and Don’ts of Futurecasting 
  • Attribution & Funnel Metrics: Understanding What’s Working
  • Marketing Operations & the Data Champion
  • Why Your Ability to Effectively Report Hinges on Your Sales Cycle 
  • Getting Started With Full Circle 

Podcast Transcript

[INTRODUCTION]

[0:00:07.0] ANNOUNCER: Live from the city with the most perfect weather ever, San Diego, California, all the way to the gleaming shores of Jacksonville, Florida, it’s the Green & Greene Show. Here are your hosts, Dave Green and Jonathan Greene, goofing off instead of working, while unlocking the mysteries of demand gen. The Green & Greene Show is brought to you by LeadCrunch, which creates B2B look-alike audiences.

[INTERVIEW]

[0:00:39.4] JG: That music, man, I’m talking—are my shores gleaming, Dave? I’m not sure if my shores are gleaming.

[0:00:44.2] DG: It might have been a little bit of license, but you know.

[0:00:47.0] JG: Yeah, a little brief overkill there. Anyway, we have Bonnie Crater today. She is the President and CEO of Full Circle Insights. I’m stoked, frankly. Ma’am, we’ve got my buddy here. He’s the Priest of Profit. He’s the Rabbi of ROI. He’s the Reverend of Run Rate. It’s our own David Green. As always, a pleasure to have you on the show, sir.

[0:01:06.7] DG: Yeah. Bonnie, welcome.

[0:01:08.7] BC: Hey, thanks.

Introducing Bonnie Crater, President & CEO of Full Circle Insights 

[0:01:10.6] JG: All right, so you’re building software for marketers. You’ve been a vice president of everything on God’s earth. You have been an executive at Oracle and Salesforce and probably somehow involved in the formation of Google, if I had to guess. What have you not done? That might be the easiest question to start.

[0:01:30.0] BC: Well, I did miss the formation of Google. I was at Netscape at the time.

[0:01:33.3] JG: Close enough. Close enough. Tell us what you’re doing over there at Full Circle, and let’s start there.

[0:01:40.7] BC: Well, when we started the company, I am a former five-time VP of marketing, and I really wanted to measure my marketing. I didn’t have the right tools in order to do that. What I really wanted was to be able to work really well with sales and create a simple funnel, so I could track volume and velocity and conversion rates and actually have all the data in one place, so I could really analyze it. That was the formation of Full Circle.

Shortly after that, we got this idea, and at the time, this is six or seven years ago, people didn’t really know what the word “attribution” meant. Now, it’s a commonly-used term. At the time, we also wanted to create an offering that enabled our customers to track the impact of every campaign on pipeline and revenue. We also built a set of models and attribution software that can be easily deployed.

[0:02:43.5] JG: Right on. When you say, “easily deployed,” you mean laid atop something like Salesforce?

Supporting Better Marketing & Sales Alignment 

[0:02:48.6] BC: Yeah. Our strategy was, since we really wanted sales and marketing people to work together well, the idea was to all the data inside Salesforce and to do it in a really efficient way. Salesforce charges money for storage, so you don’t want to put everything in there, but put the most important information inside Salesforce. That allows you to track the most important metrics around campaign impact on pipeline and revenue.

[0:03:18.7] JG: I don’t know, Dave. Sales and marketing working together. It sounds like a scam. What do you think?

[0:03:23.6] DG: I’ve heard about it, but it doesn’t happen too often. 

[0:03:29.6] BC: Yes. Because marketing is working in these different marketing systems and sales was working in Salesforce, that was the start of the big problem. We thought, “Oh, well, what if we just get marketing and sales to have the same information that they’re working from?” That’s a good place to start to have a meeting. Then you’re not arguing about all the data. “Who’s got the right data? Who’s got the wrong data?” That’s a silly argument.

[0:03:55.6] DG: Jonathan and I understand why marketers should measure stuff. You understand that, but there are a lot of people in the audience who may be newer at this. It’s not just why, but also how. How do they go about it in a way that yields the results they’re looking for? Can you speak to that just a little bit, Bonnie?

How Measurement Helps Marketing Speak to the C-Suite 

[0:04:20.4] BC: Yeah. In the bad old days, we used to just measure how many leads we generated. That was the measurement, “I generated six million leads.” Then you gave them to the salespeople, and they would say, “Those six million leads are terrible.” Then your feelings were hurt. Then you would find out that they never followed up on the six million leads. Then your feelings were hurt even worse. Anyway, this is the start of the issue.

We decided that, in order for marketing and sales to have a good conversation, you need to talk. Marketing needs to talk like sales. They need to talk about results, because those people are under a huge amount of pressure to get results. Your poor CMO or VP of marketing that’s sitting with the CEO at the weekly meeting doesn’t have any data to work with, any good data to have a reasonable conversation with the VP of sales, or the CFO, who’s all about the data.

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We wanted to arm the marketing people to have really, really good, engaging conversations with sales to say, “Yeah, maybe that program didn’t actually work, but this other one is really performing well,” and, “Oh, yeah. Your mid-market group’s not following up on the leads. What’s going on there? Can we dig into that a little bit?” In terms of why, there are many reasons. One is, in order for marketing to really participate in a company, marketing is always viewed as a source of driving sales. The ability to actually prove what’s working, what’s not working, is very valuable to a company.

Best Practices Using The Full Circle Method 

In fact, we invented this method, and we call it The Full Circle Method. This is a set of best practices that our customers use. When they actually do this method, they uncover all the campaigns that are working great, ones that are working so-so, and then ones that are working not so well at all. The dirty little secret is that there are a lot of campaigns that actually don’t really work that great. Just knowing what they are, you can redeploy all that money to campaigns that are working well. Then you can get a big lift in your marketing budget.

[0:06:54.6] DG: Yeah, it helps to be able to actually talk about the economics of the spend as opposed to just the cost. What’s the return? That gets you a seat at the at the executive table, ultimately, if you’re good at it.

[0:07:10.7] BC: Yeah. The CFO loves this information. 

[0:07:15.5] JG: We actually wrote a paper where we portrayed CFOs as fire-breathing dragons in a cave. Like that. 

[0:07:27.0] BC: You just feed the dragons some data, and the fire goes away.

[0:07:34.2] DG: What have you learned about measurement through this journey, both as a VP of marketing and as a company trying to productize it and make it easier for people to do? What have you learned are some of the common pitfalls and things that people should do and should be thinking about?

The Demand Waterfall & Three Must-Haves

[0:07:51.7] BC: The first thing is to know exactly what to measure. I do this advertisement for Sirius Decisions, because I am a huge fan of them. They invented this thing called “The Waterfall”. A lot of B2B marketers are really familiar with this. There are many versions of the waterfall that got very complex over time. Anyway, the simple ones, which are great to start off with, identify a set of stages in a funnel that provides a common language for both sales and marketing to use.

The first thing is common language, making sure that everybody understands what a marketing qualified lead is. What is the definition of that, exactly, and what are you supposed to do with it? Then, what is the process? Everyone needs to have agreement on the process. That’s your table stakes.

Once you have that, make sure you have a good set of data. If your marketing data is in one system and your sales data is in another system, that is trouble just off the bat. You need to get all your information into one system. We advocate putting it all in Salesforce, because that’s where all the salespeople are living anyway. Marketing just puts their information in there, too, then everybody’s looking at the same dashboard and report and it’s all cool.

The third thing is communication. Marketing people are often afraid to talk to the salespeople because they’re afraid of the feedback on their leads. The best customers that we see, the best marketers that we see have a weekly meeting to discuss all this information. They identify opportunities. That’s where things aren’t going so well. That’s an opportunity to make things better. Then, they identify areas where things are going really well. It makes sense to recommend more investments in those areas. Those are basically the three things that we would recommend.

[0:10:02.2] DG: Yeah. I’ve always found—and you alluded to it—this handoff is the critical part. If you don’t get anything else out of it, at least start there and see what happens from the time you hand lead over. Whether it’s to an SDR team or a salesperson, what happens? Does it look like a lead to them? They’ll have a point of view about that. Then, are they putting reasonable due diligence around those that do meet whatever the agreement is between those two teams? I can’t believe how much revenue leaks as a direct result of those handoff stages and people not really looking at them, especially when you start them off. You do your best to understand how it should work, and then you find out all the things you didn’t think about and try to go from there and optimize.

[0:10:57.2] BC: That really goes back to definition. What are the salespeople expecting in terms of a lead? What is a marketing qualified lead? Once you have that profile, that definition, a lot of problems are solved. That’s really table stakes in order to make this all work well.

Necessary Complexity: Why Sales Needs to Be Part of the Framework

[0:11:15.7] DG: We actually have a service-level agreement here where we talk that stuff through and we’ll be revisiting it. I think that’s one of those things you just have to do. I agree with you about Sirius Decisions. I think we should all be really grateful that they came up with this demand waterfall framework years ago. A little bit peeved that they made it so darn complicated, but their heart was in the right place.

[0:11:42.6] BC: Yeah. That was because people complained. The original waterfall that everybody understood was too simple and it didn’t include any salespeople. Of course, I laughed when I first saw it, because it was all marketing in this funnel. Sales had one line, one stage, nothing happened, the salespeople weren’t doing anything anyway, so they needed to beef that up and add the sales components.

Once they did that color coding that was really complicated, then there were all those variations now of whether you have response-based marketing or you have account-based marketing and how that all works in it. It gets complicated pretty fast, but it does provide a lot of platform for some good, intellectual discussions and a platform for just general discussion about how you optimize your business using this framework.

[0:12:43.4] DG: It takes a while to get there, depending on the buying cycle, but the baselines are one of the things I really love. How many leads did I generate and how many SQL and MQLs and so on at different points in time? What is that trending like, and what are the conversions like? With that, you can see whether you’re getting better than it used to be. Can you talk a little bit about how you go about that and what you need to be setting the expectations for with leadership, in terms of funnel metrics?

Funnel Metrics & The Do’s and Don’ts of Futurecasting 

[0:13:21.9] BC: Yeah, it’s very important to set a baseline as you say. Typically, the baseline is when you start, when you decide, “Okay, I’m going to start measuring my marketing.” You have to establish what those baselines are. With regard to a funnel, the length of your sales cycle has a huge effect on how you can actually do this. If you have a sales cycle that’s a year and a half long, it’s going to take a long time to get a complete funnel going. You can get some early indicators of and actually use more top-of-the-funnel metrics to actually get impact immediately. If your sales cycle is nice and short, a few days long, a few weeks long, those companies have an advantage, because they can actually see more immediate impact. They make a change, then, literally several weeks or several days later, they can actually see if it actually had an impact.

That’s setting your baseline metrics. Being able to measure a full funnel is very helpful and that ability to get information on what your current top campaigns for revenue impact and pipeline impact is very important. This is just getting the baselines and starting off with that and setting expectations with management that this is what you’re doing first. It’s hard for us to set goals without actually knowing how the marketing is working. When you have that information, it’s super valuable.

[0:14:56.8] DG: This is something that I don’t know how many marketers understand this, but over time, that data becomes a framework for forecasting what you’re going to do in the future. You can go back to look at your conversion rates and your average deal size and project out, “All right, if I pour this many marketing inquiries into the top, here’s what’s going to come out at the other end.”

[0:15:20.4] BC: You can do that, but as we all know, the world changes every day. Your customers are changing, your products are changing, your salespeople are changing, your programs are changing. Everything is changing. Well, you can use that as a guideline, as a good starting place, but there’s no terra firma.

[0:15:45.8] DG: Yeah, absolutely.

[0:15:47.3] BC: It’s just a guideline and a baseline.

[0:15:49.7] DG: It’s better than making it up, though.

[0:15:51.8] BC: It is a whole lot better than making it up. The CEO totally appreciates that you’re not making it up.

[0:15:59.2] DG: Yeah. Point well taken. You have to go in there with your caveats and all of that, so that people understand that the past is only a little bit of a guide to the future. The future is its own thing. What other thoughts would you have for marketers about their measurement journey of the funnel and of attribution?

Attribution & Funnel Metrics: Understanding What’s Working 

[0:16:26.9] BC: Two thoughts here: One is the topic of attribution, from our point of view, is actually different than the topic of funnel metrics. Actually, the purpose of these measurements is different. The purpose of funnel metrics is really to understand how your marketing is working. It’s largely about the process. How well is your process working? If you have a well-oiled machine and the handoffs are working well and you can see that your conversion rates are trending better, or your velocity is trending better and you can look and see which campaigns are actually driving those things, that’s different than seeing the overall impact of a set of campaigns on sales.

With these two metrics, they actually work hand in hand. Attribution is something that you typically would look at after a period of time has passed. Then you can see the marketing mix that is and what that marketing mix is that’s driving pipeline and revenue. Whereas, funnel metrics is because these conversions happen on a more frequent basis rather than tilt it to the close-one deal, typically, for most companies. That’s something you can review on a more regular basis. That’s what our best customers do. They literally have a weekly meeting, looking at this this data, seeing which campaigns are converting better than others, then coming up with ideas for generating new opportunities for their companies.

[0:18:23.8] DG: Very good. Jonathan, I know attribution is a topic you’re passionate about. Do you have any questions or comments?

[0:18:32.8] JG: Why do you feel more people don’t do this? What do you feel are the barriers to entry that the average marketer is running up against when they’re trying to implement attribution?

Marketing Operations & the Data Champion 

[0:18:41.2] BC: Well, I think it’s a range of issues. If you’re a smaller company, you have to have someone, a champion who’s really passionate about the data. In a small company, being able to pay attention to that data can be challenging if you don’t have a champion, if you don’t make it a priority. I guess you could say the same thing for a big company. Typically, in a larger company, if measurement has been thought of at all, it will be someone’s job to collect the data, review the data, and analyze the data. Those jobs are typically in place.

The job of marketing operations is a relatively new job. I think it’s probably a maybe a 10-year-old job. It has become a very, very important position in many companies, but many companies still don’t have someone whose job is to do marketing operations. The job of marketing operations is to own the lead management process and to report on the results of all the campaigns. If you have someone who’s doing that role who loves living in the data and who loves reporting on the data and loves all the complexity that’s associated with that, that can be super valuable. Companies will get a return on investment in spades just by having someone whose job it is to focus on all that.

[0:20:18.0] DG: We have a guy who’s probably like that. I just locked him in the closet with a bunch of Red Bull and Doritos. He’s probably nerding out on data right now. 

Well, listen, you’re an executive, but you’re also a marketer. Usually, I’ve found in smaller companies, when they try to go to attribution modeling, it’s because somebody at the executive level read an article and now understands that this visibility is possible. They want it, like, yesterday.

You mentioned the link to the sale cycle and all those things. If I’m a practitioner-level marketer, let’s say VP level and below, and I’m getting that pressure from the C-suite to have analytics and attribution modeling stood up yesterday, how do I intelligently explain to people, “Hey, this is going to take a little while, so ease off the beatings until…”?

Why Your Ability to Effectively Report Hinges on Your Sales Cycle 

[0:21:11.6] BC: Yeah. With the funnel metrics, the length of time that’s required in order to actually get a full set of metrics in place is essentially based on your sales cycle length. Attribution modeling actually can happen immediately. You can deploy a system that actually measures attribution and has immediate impact. You can see that immediately.

You can also see top-of-the-funnel metrics for companies that have a longer sales cycle, so you can see how a marketing qualified lead converts to a sales accepted lead, for example. You can see that conversion relatively quickly. We’ve had companies that have had long sales cycles, and so they take what they can get, right? They do attribution right away, and they can see what the results are for the programs that they’ve had. Then they can make some adjustments based on that historical profile.

Then they also will look at conversion rates at the top of the funnel and even making adjustments to get better conversion rates from MQL to SAL (marketing qualified lead to sales accepted lead) can be super helpful as well.

[0:22:30.9] JG: Right on. Dave, last question goes to you, I think.

[0:22:34.5] DG: Yeah. You can do attribution rapidly, because I guess, it all depends on your definition. Don’t you want to be able to tie revenue back to the attribution model that you have? I get that you can see who’s active at the top of the funnel and where you’re getting clicks and which call-to-action is working, and which media channel is working the best and things like that from a top-of-the-funnel standpoint. There are a lot of false positives up there, so I just wanted to understand your point of view about the rapidness of attribution.

Getting Started With Full Circle 

[0:23:10.5] BC: If you implement a system like Full Circle, there may be some other ones out there, but if you implement a system like Full Circle, you can just lay it on top of your Salesforce instance, and it will calculate which campaigns have been impacting sales. Within 24 hours you’ll have it.

[0:23:28.9] DG: Don’t you have to have a campaign set up beforehand?

[0:23:32.1] BC: Yeah. There are some requirements. If you need to be using campaigns inside Salesforce, but as long as you’re using campaigns inside Salesforce, and most people do, because when the marketing automation system is hooked up to Salesforce, it pushes leads into Salesforce. Typically, they’re assigned to a sister campaign inside Salesforce. Most people have that set up correctly. Again, you can get this type of information very, very rapidly. 

We also recommend starting off with some simple out-of-the-box models, so you can get a feel for how the data is going to lay out. When you’re looking at attribution and how you want to model your data, over time, you’re going to want to make the models more specific to the goals, to the marketing goals based on what your goals are, so that you get a distribution. Essentially, it’s a score, but it’s a dollar amount assigned to campaigns that reflects the goals of your marketing organization.

[0:24:47.2] DG: Very good. Bonnie, very, very insightful about a tremendously important topic, and one that ties directly to the level of a funding commitment you ultimately get from your company. Can you measure what you’ve done and show a return and that you are making it a little better over time?

[0:25:04.6] BC: We have success story after success story about this. One of our customers runs an event and the CEO is skeptical about the success of the event. They can specifically tie in what sales they got from that event. This year, this customer was able to quadruple the budget for that particular event, just because they could really tie the result to the actual activity.

[0:25:33.1] DG: Very good. Well, thank you very much. Jonathan, any final comments or questions?

[0:25:37.8] JG: Man, this is the greatest B2B marketing show in all the land. In all the land. It’s just celebrity after celebrity after CEO after CEO. It’s like we’re sitting on the bench, Dave. We don’t really play. We just let the guests do all the talking.

[0:25:54.4] DG: I love that. You get other people and they do all the work and you just have to joke around. Bonnie, thank you so much.

[0:26:02.4] BC: It was really fun to talk with you guys.

[0:26:04.7] JG: Hey, it’s our pleasure and we’d love to have you back. This has been the Green & Greene Show. I’m going to play that funky music. Let’s go.

[END OF EPISODE]

[0:26:20.6] ANNOUNCER: Thank you for tuning in to the Green & Greene Show by LeadCrunch. Green & Greene think differently about B2B and are starting a movement to transform demand gen. If you have ideas for topics or would like to be a guest, send an e-mail to david.green@leadcrunch.ai. If you’d like to find more customers, visit our website to talk to one of our demand gen guides, www.leadcrunch.com.

[END]