Six takeaways & tidbits from the Hard Corps Marketing Show

That's Casey, not me

That's Casey, not me

Thanks to Casey Cheshire and Jamie Taylor for having me as a guest on Casey’s podcast, the Hard Corps Marketing Show.

I met Casey a couple years back as Bedrock Data expanded into the Pardot ecosystem for integrations, and we bonded at last year’s OpenView Go-to-Market Forum; we moderated different panel discussions and were among a small group going back and forth on social media at the event. And then I discovered Casey and I also have a shared affection for podcasts, with Casey starting his own recently.

Why “Hard Corps”? Not only is Casey a badass demand generation marketer, he is a United States Marine Corps veteran - hence the name of the show.

You can find the podcast on Podbean or YouTube, plus you can search for it on iTunes, the Apple Podcast App, Stitcher or Overcast.

It was an organic discussion and these were some of the things I covered:

Marketing attribution:

Avoid the word “credit” as it’s not about crediting one specific action, and that will  set the wrong tone with sales. Educate that marketing is a multi-touch game and therefore measure multiple influencing factors in customer acquisition and revenue generation.

Approach to Closed loop reporting:

It’s not necessarily about ROI (e.g. saying XYZ investment will generate XYZ return), but rather to rank your marketing programs & activities by revenue influence. This will help you to identify which types of activities you want to invest more in, which are promising but need to be improved/fixed, and which you should likely divest from / drop.

Run Marketing like a Business:

Frame decisions this way when analyzing results, with sales, finance and executive teams. For both internal resources and program $, ask where should we be investing more, where should we be investing less and how do we get better results. Always strive to make the best possible business decision, and communicate why those are the best decisions.

It’s okay to say “We need to improve X”:

As a marketing leader, don’t shy away from pointing to things that need to improve. This can help build confidence from others around you, that you have the awareness to know when things are working, and not working. The first step to improving something is acknowledging “there is a problem”, right?

How to align with sales on funnel numbers:

I talked about when presenting marketing outcome metrics like MQLs, Opportunities created or Pipeline side by side with Sales bookings numbers - to both give perspective on what was created that’s impacting the current sales booking period (e.g. with sales cycle built in) and the current period. This can help give perspective on why, say for example, a growth in marketing performance is not immediately showing up in sales numbers. It’s a win for both sales & marketing to present this clearly.

All in all, be transparent, accountable, & thoughtful:

To earn the respect of colleagues across departments.

Casey is always pointing out I can be found at many B2B marketing events, so he asked what I have in store the rest of the year. I told him I’ll be speaking at both MarTech West in April and the Data Summit in Boston in May, and I’m sure I can be found at both Hypergrowth and Inbound in the fall.

We also got into some of my earlier career stories including the genesis of the Moneyball moniker based on my work with the NBA, plus what it was like growing the first marketing technology software within Omnicom Group while traveling around the world.

Give it a listen!

Six critical attributes and three must-have metrics for closed loop measurement of marketing programs

Marketers for decades have been trying to answer the question, “How do you measure campaign effectiveness?”

We’ve come a long way since the days of the quote "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half”… which has been attributed to many although I believe the true attribution goes back to the 19th century with John Wanamaker.  

Today measurement is more attainable but we have to deal with issues like parent and child campaigns, UTM tracking, first touch and last touch attribution and campaign influence weighting.

After years of evolution, improvement and refinement, I’ve landed on this model for measuring campaign and program performance:

The six attributes I use to slice and dice campaign measurement:

#1 – Theme

Themes are the roll up of multiple programs and last for multiple quarters.

#2 – Program

A program is the intersection of content and a specific media outlet/vehicle over a specific time duration, and has a cost investment attached to it.

#3 – Medium

Medium identifies the marketing channel e.g. website, blog, social media, paid search, email, retargeting and syndication.

 #4 – Media Outlet/Vehicle

This identifies the specific vehicle within a medium. I like to identify major sub-categories for analysis so for example Google splits out into Google Branded Search, Non-Branded Search, Retargeting and Display Network. LinkedIn splits out into Ads and Sponsored Posts. And this also includes specific publishers e.g. Madison Logic, Network World or IDG Connect.

 #5 – Call to Action

This identifies the type of call to action used as the primary call to action in the program so common values include Free Trial, Free Tool, White Paper, eGuide, Webinar, On Demand Webinar, Analyst Report or Case Study.

 #6 – Content Asset

This identifies the specific content asset by title. With the ever importance of content marketing and being able to quantify content effectiveness, this has reached a status of must-have reporting and thus warrants its own field so program effectiveness can be rolled up by content asset.

The three ways to measure campaign effectiveness:

 I was once asked if it’s better to measure first touch or last touch campaign attribution, and my answer is “both”. I use this model, which I call A-I-C for Acquisition, Influence, Conversion.

 #1 – Acquisition Program

The acquisition program identifies the program used to acquire the MQI, which generated the initial interaction.  And (like all of these) carries through to all follow-on performance metrics MQL, Opportunity, Pipeline $, Bookings, etc.  Think of this as measuring “first touch”, and a given lead can only have one acquisition program.

#2 – Influence Program

Influence programs measure all leads who engage around a program and follow-on performance. This is ideal for program comparison (plotting program performance and identifying top performers and low performers)… it should NOT be used for summation to measure total marketing impact as there would be double counting across program. A given lead can and should have multiple influence programs. Since it counts “all attribution”, it’s strongest use is identifying low performers (that have clear non ROI) and for identifying top performers that stand out relative to other programs. A future evolution here are influence weighting system enabled by companies such as Full Circle.

#3 – Conversion Program

The conversion program identifies the “last touch” program prior to MQL conversion, and all follow-on metrics. A given lead can only have one conversion program.

These three sets of metrics provide a complete picture around campaign/program performance, and should be used in combination to provide perspective and measurement when analyzing effectiveness of investments

Five Powerful Metrics to support your Closed Loop Marketing in an Inbound Marketing and Lead Nurturing World

The first challenge of closed loop marketing is getting a system and process in place to enable your closed loop reporting. I’ve covered how to do that in multiple posts and most succinctly you can read about that in my CMO Essentials article “Six Essentials to Setting up a Closed Loop Marketing System.”

Once you done that, you’ll encounter a new set of challenges --- how do you navigate through a set of metrics and reports and use the ones that are the most important? Reporting for the sake of reporting helps nobody – the key is identify the right metrics that help you measure against your strategies and indicate if you are headed in the right direction or have issues that need to be addressed.

In a world where inbound marketing and lead nurturing are critical to building a high volume and repeatable demand generation machine, these are five metrics I’ve found to be particularly useful:

#1 - Active Marketing Database

Your active marketing database represents your ‘cookied population’ of MQIs whom you are using nurturing programs to try to advance to MQL. A growing active marketing database is a signal that your top of funnel inbound programs are growing and your nurturing practices are not serving to turn off your audience. Active marketing database grows each month based on adding additional MQIs, and falling out each month are unsubscribes, bouncebacks who have not been matched to a new email address and those who have not engaged with you via a web page visit in over 12 months.

#2 - MQIs by Medium

This measures how each of your mediums are contributing to MQI growth. One of Adam Barker’s best practices is that each team member owns a metric, and these are key metrics to have ownership by team members. The most scalable MQI mediums to grow are Inbound (Website, Blog, Social Media) and Digital (Paid Search, Retargeting, Email). As a side note I am at a point where I don’t even want to consider content syndication leads as MQIs because of the massive quality difference between syndication MQIs and those from inbound & digital channels.  

#3 - % of MQLs that “graduate” from MQIs

This metric give you a single measure of the performance of your MQI-to-MQL nurturing programs… how much are they contributing to your MQL production? A higher number indicates you are driving performance out of your active database, whereas a lower number indicates prospects are identifying themselves to you for the first time as they visit your website for a later stage call to action such as free trial or contact sales – which signifies a missed opportunity to have more influence as they move through their buying process, or cast a wider net. The best in class number for this percentage for mature demand generation organizations is 50%.

#4 - Of MQLs advancing from MQIs, what were the MQI Lead Sources?

Building on the concept from #3, the next question becomes which sources are yielding MQIs that are then after nurturing graduating to MQLs? This should help to identify which sources to spend more time on driving volume to scale your MQL numbers.

#5 - MQL to Opp Conversion Rate by MQL Source & Medium

As you scale MQLs you also need to keep an eye on quality, and a key quality metric is the conversion rate from MQLs to Opportunities.  Monitor these rates to ensure you don’t see any red flags. The most common red flags to watch for are quality issues within paid search particularly the Google content network and that if you are using scoring programs or content triggers to pass leads to sales, that sales team has everything they need to best convert those MQLs to Opportunities.