How to Get Profitable Return on your Paid Search Program - A Four-Step Framework

Paid Search is a necessary component to a growth mix for B2B marketers. It should prove to be a source of solid cost/MQL and cost/opportunity leads, and one that helps reach Google search audiences in an important way to compliment organic/inbound efforts.

Let’s be very clear on one thing though - paid search is tough.

Unlike a well-executed organic search program, which over time can drive exponential growth and significantly reduced cost per lead metrics, the ‘natural course’ of a paid search program is increasing cost per lead.

Why?  Two reasons:

First off, Google is always looking to make more money. Google is always going to be acting in Google’s best interest, which means looking for ways to siphon off more dollars from advertisers. This past year it’s been hiking up branded search rates.

And secondly, successful terms are likely to get more and more spend from competitors. Meaning what’s working for you today, is likely to cost more money to work for you tomorrow.

So how do you get this Paid Search beast to work for you?  Here’s a four-step plan to get payoff:

#1 - Ensure you have the right measurement in place (HINT: Google AdWords is not enough).

Optimizing a paid search program for form-fills alone is a surefire way to drive a high number of ‘conversions’ (leads) that  have a high noise level for sales, and low pipeline return.

A proper measurement framework is critical to success. Specifically here's what to do:

  • Setup SalesForce campaigns for each AdWords campaign to enable tracking opportunity and pipeline return
  • Pass a Google click ID (GCLID) into marketing automation/CRM systems and pass opportunity values back to AdWords. This will allow for cost/opportunity and pipeline $/investment to be calculated at the keyword level – crucial for the optimization needed to drive success
  • Setup ‘stacked cookies’ so that latent conversions can also be measured and attributed back to the paid search investment – to give you a full picture of the impact of your investments

#2 – Target long tail, use case driven keywords

Driving profitable pipeline from PPC investment is a numbers game – and as I mentioned above it gets harder and harder. So eeking out every efficiency is vital.

Long tail, use case driven keywords are vital to this.  Rather than investing in broad category based searches which will be expensive, and tend to be more ‘top of funnel’ research terms – the searches that will drive returns are going to be more long tail (both longer search phrases, and lower volume) which are more likely to signify "intent." and lead to action -- both conversion and follow-on engagement with sales rep. This will be lower cost, lost volume and higher converting terms.

Your job as a paid search marketer looking to optimize pipeline return is to identify more and more of these terms, and invest in those.

#3 - Tailor landing pages for these use cases

Back to the point of eeking out every efficiency, as you identify these terms, build landing pages tailored for these terms. Landing page conversion rates will go up based on having more relevant, tailored content which align ads to the specific search phrase and landing pages. 

This payoff of this work will be higher conversion rates, which therefore lead to a lower cost per lead and cost per opportunity. There will also be a double positive hit as more relevance will increase your Google quality scores and help to further reduce cost per lead.

#4 - Optimize, optimize, optimize

The above framework will give you a framework for success. Then the key is optimize, optimize, optimize.

Watch the results every single day, and align with sales on what’s working and what’s not working.

Optimize for pipeline $ and opportunities created, leveraging the reporting capabilities on #1. Constantly work #2 and #3 above to identify the right terms and take all the steps possible to minimize costs per opportunity while driving quality. 

As you identify low performers, either get rid of them or work to improve them.

As you identify high performers, invest fully in those, and look to spin off other ideas from those performers that could lead to new potential winners.


The “Google PPC pill” is a tough one to swallow – when you realize the size of the check you’re writing to Google each month – but it’s much easier to do so when you know you are running the program in a way that is driving profitable return.  Because then at least, it’s a win for Google and a win for the Marketer.

#SDSummit Takeaway: SiriusDecisions clarifies a misunderstood statistic – and opens up a whole world of possibilities for integrated digital demand generation

Today is the day SiriusDecisions set the record straight.

Jen Ross & Marisa Kopec unveiled SiriusDecisions new research on B2B buying process and in doing so made a simple but powerful clarification that should open the collective eyes of sales & marketing organizations around the possibilities of digital marketing supported sales prospecting as a competitive difference maker.

The original 67% stat was “67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally”.

However it often got spun colloquially as: “Buyers are 67% of the way through the sales process before they want to speak to a sales rep.”

The implications of the misinterpreted stat were:

  • Buyers don’t want to talk to reps
  • By the time a buyer wants to talk a rep, they are 2/3 of the way through their buying process

The overall message to sales was one of helplessness and disempowerment.


Today at the SiriusDecisions 2015 Summit we learned about the recent SiriusDecisions study of over 1,000 different B2B buyers from actual purchase processes and we got clarification that: Buyers aren’t 67% through the buying process when they want to talk to a Person/Rep. 67% of the buying process may involve digital content consumption, but the sales/rep engagement is threaded throughout that buying process and spans all stages.

And here’s where it’s most interesting, as I live Tweeted as the event.

The sales and marketing organizations who can partner and enable reps to leverage digital tools to get visibility and engage with prospects will create a massive competitive edge. What we are talking about here:

  • Expanding data sources of potential prospects
  • Leveraging scoring to prioritize best fit leads based on company attributes, web behavior and social interaction
  • Leverage social marketing, content and teleprospecting techniques to build credibility as authority and engage with prospects as early in the buying process as possible
  • Use tools to best tailor conversations and understand where buyer is in the buying process
  • “Rinse and repeat” to deliver useful content to support them through their buying process, wherever they may be

The impact will come from properly harnessing reps around digital interactions. It's about Sales AND Digital and how they work together through the ENTIRE buying process.

Much more empowering for sales reps and teleprospecting.

Much more inspiring for aligned sales and marketing teams to go after this together.

And great news for all the great digital technology vendors at #SDSummit who can add value to help companies build that aligned sales and digital marketing demand generation machine.

Related Resources:

Seven insights from SiriusDecisions Forum on Channel Sales and Marketing Operations

This morning I attended the SiriusDecisions Forum titled “Bridging the Direct/Indirect Visibility Gap” with Steven Silver & Laz Gonzalez. The topic was particularly appealing as I look at ways to improve effectiveness in the lead-to-win process in supporting channel partners.

Seven insights from the morning

#1 - “Process precedes technology”

Laz gave us the first Tweetable moment of the session:

Of course this doesn’t apply specifically to channel marketing, but it does apply especially to channel marketing.  Creating and applying common definitions to how leads are qualified and processed is vital to improving and optimizing the lead-to-win process through channel partners.

#2 - Consider adding more qualification before leads are passed to partners

SiriusDecisions benchmarked conversion rates across different levels of lead qualification. There are various definitions and scenarios here, but the crux of this for me centered on comparing these two scenarios:

Qualifying MQLs based on an action (e.g. filling out a free trial form) and profile (e.g. not  meeting specific disqualification criteria) saw a total conversion rate of 7 wins per 1000 inquiries which was achieved through 16% inquiry to MQL, 55% MQL to SAL, 40% SAL to SQL and 20% SQL to Win.

Adding in the qualification of non-verified propensity to buy (which in SiriusDecisions terms moves a prospect from Lead Level 3 to 4) moved the total conversion rate to 9 wins per 1000 inquiries which was achieved through a 7% inquiry to MQL, 72% MQL to SAL, 65% SAL to SQL and 27% SQL to Win.

So in this benchmark by SiriusDecisions, adding more qualification to the leads passed to partners increases the total lead-to-win performance by 29% - significant business impact. This was the most significant tipping point in performance improvement for varied levels of lead qualification.

How could this be done? This needs to be done with care (and A/B testing!) as this will have an impact of reducing the number of leads to partners – so this needs to be well communicated and well managed with partners. Possible ways to accomplish this include adding an additional qualification question (e.g. “what business problem are you trying to solve?”)to a free trial form or a product activation form.

#3 - (My idea) score leads after they are sent to partners

This is my idea building on #2 above. Since the process we are trying to optimize is the lead-to-win, and the fundamental issue is visibility, this could be a great opportunity to apply lead scoring. Score the prospects post MQL qualification behavior (e.g. product activation, engagement in post qualification emails, website page views) so that these scores can be used with partners to evaluate lead quality.

This can then be used in a number of ways:

  • As part of lead reviews with partners, to demonstrate lead quality (demonstrate to the partners “there’s life there” when they may have otherwise given up and moved on to the next lead)
  • Can be used as a ‘carrot’ to drive partner adoption of CRM systems – “get visibility into lead behavior”
  • Analysis around partner lead conversion rates – does the lead score prove to be an indicator for lead-to-win? If so this can be a powerful tool for managing partners deal conversions and business predictability in an area that has often been a black hole in the past.

#4 - What’s next in marketing automation? Channel marketing automation

You thought the marketing automation market was fully mature? Guess again.

Apparently there is a new class of technologies emerging (and much needed) in channel marketing automation, and one specifically called out by Laz was Zift Solutions.

Just guessing that some of the features available including the creation of centralized templates that can be ‘pushed’ into partner co-branded assets (emails, landing pages), the management of partitioned leads for each partner and CRM connectors for opportunity management.

Some questions that come to mind:

  • Are these replacement to or integrated with a company’s marketing automation platform? “Integrated to” – powerful. “Replacement to” – still interesting but now creates potential silo’s between demand generation and channel marketing.
  • Are there proven tools to support partner outbound lead generation (e.g. social media)? – that would be very attractive.

#5 - “Treat partners like leads”

This was another soundbite from Laz. What  he meant here was that the partner relationships need to be worked to ensure adoption of marketing programs and adoption of lead management SLAs. This takes hard work. Totally agree.  

#6 - Waterfall Metrics Direct vs. Channel highlights where funnels are leaking in channel process

Another powerful data benchmark:

SiriusDecisions looked specifically at Lead Level 2 qualification (qualified based on lead profile data) and looked at lead-to-win rates for a direct sales team vs. channel sales teams.

For Direct Sales, the lead-to-win was 7 wins per 1,000 inquiries which broke down as 16% inquiry to MQL, 55% MQL to SAL, 40% SAL to SQL, and 20% SQL to Win.

For Channel Sales, the lead-to-win was 1.4 wins per 1,000 inquiries which broke down as 2.3% inquiry to MQL, 53% MQL to SAL, 51% SAL to SQL and 22.5% SQL to Win.

So here’s where this gets interesting:

If you look at the above, the channel actually performed better from MQL to Win (6.1% vs. 4.4%) – channel sales was better at working the right deals and closing the ones they worked, that’s where they specialize. However there was a massive gap for channel teams in managing inquiries to MQLs -- the direct process converted at 7X the rate at channel.

That’s telling me that the heart of the issue with most channel programs is that lack of process applied to the top and middle of the funnel. Issues here could include legacy processes where all top of funnel leads are sent to partners, no lead nurturing process applied to partner leads and/or the lack of nurturing systems by partners.

Therefore applying process and systems to top of funnel partner lead generation and qualification is a major opportunity for most.

#7 - Work towards SLAs for partner lead distribution & management

Tying it back to point #1 on process, the best practice (which, by the way, based on show of hands, very few of the companies in the room have implemented) is developing and applying a service level agreement to partner lead management. Some of the areas to agree as part of this include:

  • At which stage are leads routed to partners?
  • How will partners accept, interact and update the lead?
  • What are the response times required from issuance to close?
  • What should be done to ensure commitment to SLAs; what should be done if response times are not met?

Choose the marketing and sales performance levers to fuel your growth (and here are 20 to choose from…)

In 2014 SiriusDecisions introduced their Intelligent Growth Model which detailed five pillars of growth that companies could choose from or combine as part of their business growth strategy. The five are:

  1. Expand into new markets – geographical expansion, vertical market expansion
  2. Introduce new offerings – add additional product offers with new revenue streams
  3. Sell to new buyers – sell existing products to those you haven’t reached before
  4. Increase productivity – improve effectiveness in marketing & sales
  5. Acquisitions – acquire businesses as a source of expanded revenue

Taking a closer look at these, I’d segment them into these two categories:

  • Growth via Business Expansion: includes #1 (expanding into new geographies or verticals), #2 (expanding with additional products) and #5 (expanding by acquiring other businesses).
  • Growth via Business Improvement / Optimization: These apply to growing an existing product in an existing market, and in this case the two options are #3 (new buyers) or #4 (productivity).

The second category is more universally relevant, as every line of business can relate to it as management teams plan growth for existing products in existing markets typically as part of an annual business planning cycle.  When planning business growth in these scenarios, teams can categorize growth drivers into two high level buckets:

#1 - Growth in marketing qualified leads and opportunities


#2 - Improvement in sales performance metrics (e.g. win rate, average order value) – I use the term ‘sales’ to describe the business process, not the department, as sales performance metrics are influenced by sales, marketing and product management – as you’ll see below.

When planning for growth within a product line, management teams should agree on to which degree these two areas will contribute to that growth – as that decision will foster alignment, and may impact other investment decisions including resources and budget.

As part of that decision, there are many potential levers to consider within each of the two buckets – let’s take a closer look.

To grow marketing qualified leads (and resultant opportunities) here are 10 levers to consider:

  1. Grow web traffic (via SEO, SEM, Social Media, Influencer Marketing, PR programs)
  2. Grow website conversion rates (make website more effective in converting visitors from #1 to MQIs or MQLs)
  3. Improve web conversion rates through post-visit tactics such as abandonment techniques or retargeting
  4. Grow MQIs through expansion of or improvement in MQI generation programs (“Growing the top of the funnel” – e.g. content, webinars)
  5. Improve MQI to MQL conversion rates and velocity via optimization of lead nurturing programs and/or expansion or sales development / teleprospecting resources (more MQLs via "optimizing middle of funnel")
  6. Grow incremental MQI/MQLs via highly targeted account-based sales and marketing programs (“small net fishing”)
  7. Improve the effectiveness of sales development / teleprospecting resources through tools including lead prioritization engines, predictive lead scoring or training
  8. Generate more upsell MQLs from customer base via educational programs or specific upsell paths
  9. Generate more MQIs/MQLs through harnessing customer base via community, advocacy or referral programs (typically a longer term strategy)
  10. Grow partner generated leads by expanding number of ‘push’ partners actively marketing your offerings and/or adding additional marketing programs implemented via partners

And to improve sales performance metrics, here are 10 levers to consider:

  1. Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via improved lead response times
  2. Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via developing, improving or optimizing MQL follow up programs (conversation guides, email messaging & sequences)
  3. Grow MQL-to-opportunity rate via follow up techniques or data (e.g. leveraging of multiple contacts at an account)
  4. Grow win rate through applying sales process around ensuring the right criteria is applied to choose which deals are qualified
  5. Grow win rate through more effective enablement of a champion buyer (enabling that buyer to more effectively sell up/across their organization) – this could be via conversations, content and/or technologies
  6. Grow win rate through focus on urgency drivers (including content to position the buying decision vs. the downside, risk or pain attached to the status quo)
  7. Grow win rate through the development of specific competitive content or positioning vs. key competitors
  8. Grow win rate through development of new product functionality to address top loss or no decision reasons (a process for win/loss analysis will help uncover and prioritize these)
  9. Grow average order value through product packaging or bundling  
  10. Grow average order value through price increases (hey, you gotta consider it right!)

Aligning around the how of growth, first at the high level and then into the specific growth drivers, is a key step to achieving the growth that every business wants.

Demand generation is about lead generation and oh-so-much-more

In recruiting for a Demand Generation Manager role I’m finding there’s a lack of universal definition of the term demand generation – it’s not broadly understood – ironic considering every business by definition needs to scale and accelerate their demand generation (at least, if it wants to grow).

I’m finding a set of people who think of demand generation way too narrowly, for example:

  • Some equate demand generation to an outbound calling function (in a previous post on defining Moneyball Marketing I got into the difference between demand generation and lead generation)
  • Others equate demand generation with marketing automation (I thought Scott Vaughan from Integrate did a good job of describing the differences in a recent post)

A successful demand generation marketer massively broadens from these specific functions to truly take ownership of the multiple facets of demand growth for a business. It cuts both wide and deep, but I’ll boil it down to these 10 components:

#1 – Leads (with Definitions)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t list leads first – but it’s also vital to note that gone are the days where leads are the “be all, end all.” Also gone are the days where all leads are treated equal. A crucial first step in any demand generation program is ensuring lead definitions are established, applied and measured so that you can measure both top of funnel engagement (MQIs – marketing qualified inquiries) and throughput of creating qualified leads for sales (MQLs – marketing qualified leads).

#2 – What Happens After the Lead is Generated

Although lead counts are one of the critical KPI for demand generation success, measurement needs to extend beyond leads to sales pipeline and business impact – so opportunities and wins (and the conversions rates to these) are vital. For demand generation marketers, meeting lead goals is table stakes; tracking and improving how those leads convert to meet opportunity and pipeline objectives is where you move from good to great.

#3 – Enabling Teleprospecting and Sales

One of the influencing factors to conversion rates is how you as the demand generation marketer align your programs and equip sales to follow up the leads and the resulting conversations. Part of a successful marketing program include enabling sales in what content to use as part of the follow up and how to use it.

#4 – Aligning All Forms of Media to Drive Demand

Demand creation is not a single role on a marketing team – demand creation is the culmination of the alignment of the efforts of the entire marketing team.  All forms of marketing awareness and engagement contribute to demand generation programs. Demand generation needs to partner with all marketing resources to ensure cross-channel alignment and leverage including:

  • PR
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Paid Search
  • Publisher programs (which are requiring an increased level of creativity and digital thinking to drive effectiveness)
  • Email
  • Webinars

#5 – SEO & Website Optimization as the Center of Demand

Inbound marketing is vital to any demand generation strategy and becomes especially vital for any business looking to scale to support high volume and low cost per lead. Thus core ongoing activities to improve website performance include:

  • Ensuring the right technical setup for website & blogs
  • Aligning web content to keyword strategy
  • Driving high volume of relevant, engaging content creation via blog(s)
  • Driving quality, relevant inbound link placement in partnership with PR programs
  • Ensuring web resource center serves to engage and educate prospects and effectively capture leads
  • Analyzing website usage patterns and improving website engagement and conversion
  • A/B testing and optimizing various calls to action throughout the website

#6 – A Content Repurposing Machine  

Depending on a company’s structure, a demand generation marketer may or may not be the originator of core content e.g. white papers (I think more often than not, they would not be). However demand generation marketers need to be expert content repurposers, taking core content assets and getting maximum impact from those assets. Some examples include:

#7 - Influencer Strategy

It’s one thing for a business to tell its prospects how great it is – it’s another thing entirely for an influencer to do that. Identifying the influencers and building programs to leverage them is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Influencers should be infused in your demand generation programs and content, and influencers can be the path to the another key to demand gen success – which is identifying which communities your prospects are participating in so that you can contribute to those conversations.

#8 – Marketing Technology Strategy

I’m finding one of the value aspects of a marketing automation system is having a single platform which can then integrate across all of the growing set of marketing technologies in building a demand generation machine. Your marketing technology strategy should result in an integrated approach, with the marketing automation platform as the integration point and including:

  • CRM & closed loop reporting
  • Incoming data enhancement technologies
  • Data append / cleaning technologies
  • Paid search
  • Retargeting
  • Webinar platforms
  • Predictive lead scoring

#9  – Leveraging all Routes to Market Including Partners

For organizations who go to market via partners, supporting partner demand generation is critical for maximizing demand. This includes ensuring an active program to leverage marketing programs and content through the channel, with technologies, process and people in place to help partners maximize their demand and measure the impact of the efforts.

#10 – Customer Marketing (it can no longer be an afterthought)

Customer marketing can no longer be an afterthought and needs to be a core cog in your demand generation strategy. Elements of this include:

  • Programs for nurturing customers – Marketo has recently put out some good content around this focused on customer activation
  • Ongoing customer education e.g. a customer webinar series
  • Customer advocacy – Influitive puts out great content on this subject, which should include a customer referral program

These are some additional articles I found helpful in framing and defining Demand Generation:

This is all to say, demand generation isn’t easy and requires a completely holistic and integrated view (integrated by medium, integrated within marketing, integrated with sales), a digital approach and a tenacity to get results. These are all reasons why great demand generation marketers are hard to find.

I’m going to introduce you to the best Demand Generation marketers I’ve found in an upcoming series Demand Generation All Stars – The Best of the Best.

Finding common ground on closed loop reporting via Boston Marketo User Group

Today’s Boston Marketo User Group (BMUG) featured three presentations and Q&A on closed loop reporting from Paul Green of Extreme Networks, Lauren Brubaker of NetProspex and yours truly and well chronicled on Twitter by many of the Marketing Automation-erati including Jarin Chu, Jeff Coveney, Ed Masson and OpFocus.

The presentations and conversation spanned a wide range of topics and perspectives, but these were my top overarching takeaways:

#1 - EVERYONE is trying to improve their closed loop marketing effectiveness

Companies may be at different stages in their journey towards closed loop reporting, but every business spending money on sales & marketing is trying to better understand the payoff on their investments and how to leverage those investments to scale their business performance.  Many companies are in the early stages and trying to head in the right direction, while the ones who have been working on it for several years continue to strive for more.

#2 – The skills of marketing technologists as in demand as ever

With a room full of some-70 marketing technologists, the conversation was clear that everyone is looking for more talent in this area. It’s a great time to be a revenue marketer and specialized in technologies such as Marketo.

#3 - Closed loop, revenue marketing takes partnership between marketing, sales and IT

This was one of Paul’s summary points but it applied to all of us --- all three of these departments need to contribute to the closed loop engine. IT teams can be a great ally for marketers looking to connect data and systems and ensure they have the real time dashboards and reporting required to enable close loop reporting. In Paul’s case, he also noted that his sales and marketing teams are now seen as a single organization reporting into a Chief Revenue Officer.

#4 - Tracking revenue stages is now broadly adopted

Whereas everyone has different approaches to where data resides, what is tracked and how reporting is performed, and one common denominator between everyone in the room was the underlying fundamental of using revenue stages to track lead progression through their buying process e.g. MQI to MQL to SAL to SQL.

For those who attended (or even if you didn’t), these are some related resources to the topic:

And as there were multiple requests for the slides here is a download of my PPT deck on closed loop reporting:  Closed Loop Reporting Slides



Seven articles dripping with insight for Moneyball Marketers

I find myself consuming content all the time - the tipping point was over a year ago when I finally gave up my circa 1999 flip phone for an always-on iPhone. I’m now consuming content even more than before – Twitter feed, LinkedIn feed, LinkedIn emails, vendor emails, you name it.

These are some of the better posts I’ve come across of late - and you know they're good when you not only share them but you find yourself going back to read them time and again.

#1 - The Content Marketing Imperative – Some nice visuals and stats on the WHY of content marketing from Michael Brenner. My favorite part is slides 19-26 which was a mini before and after case study for Michael’s work at SAP – inspirational! After that you are welcome to tune out as it turned more into a commercial for Michael’s current gig at NewsCred.

#2 – Why Content Marketing Fails – First off all, Rand Fishkin rules. He was the highlight for me at the HubSpot INBOUND conference this past year. This is also inspirational and my single favorite slide is the insight from Slide 85 where he says: "The Price of Success is Failure after Failure after Failure" and "Hopefully each of those failures provides an opportunity to learn. We as marketers need to commit – great results take time to develop, and the single biggest source of lack of performance is stop/starts or constant change in direction without ever seeing a set of strategies through to completion."

#3 – On Challenger Marketing – This one resonated with me big time and contains key insights for any brand trying to unseat the “main player” in their space.  Read the Q&A on Commercial Insight which has impacted my approach to webinars – I want all webinar topics to align to this approach.  First and foremost, commercial insight must be grounded in a set of unique capabilities and strengths that set your company apart from all possible competitors (including the status quo). Ultimately, whatever you teach your customer about their business has to lead back to something you can help them do better than anyone else”. And, “Commercial Insight isn’t about the supplier. It’s about the customer.”

#4 – Why Sales People Shouldn’t Prospect – This is a classic from David Skok covering Aaron Ross’s Predictable Revenue approach. I often refer to the four specialized functions of sales that Ross recommends  - Inbound Lead Qualification; Outbound Prospecting (Business Development); Account Executives / quota-carrying reps who close deals; and Account Management / Customer Success. Lots more insight in this article.

#5 - Presenting Value of Marketing to the Board – Nice blog post from John Neeson of SiriusDecisions with some good tips on how to communicate the value of marketing at the senior most level. I find this a helpful read when preparing for any senior level presentation and helping to “keep the conversation high.”

#6 – How to Get a Job at Google – In all of my roles building a team via recruiting and  hiring has been central to success. There are some good tips in this New York Times article which I’ve also followed in my career including the prioritization of cognitive ability, humility and ownership over a specific skill or expertise.

#7 - Don't Just Curate Content, Harvest it – Content operations is an increasingly important function within marketing teams to support content marketing execution. Jim Burns and Mark Gibson provide four key fundamentals to support a content marketing operation – constant acquisition; content headers; harvesting contents; and managing content source. This is a must read.

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.

"Everyone on the team owns a metric" and 11 other best practices to support a data-driven, high velocity marketing process

Marketing is a team sport. I’ve come to admire and relish being part of marketing teams that operate as a team – where team members excel in their roles and support each other, and the team evolves and improves and ultimately creates market impact “greater than the sum of the parts”.

One such team is a group of modern Boston-area marketers who are now on their third venture together – first an initial group at HubSpot, then a larger group at SmartBear Software and now at Continuum Managed Services.

You have to figure that if the team has stayed together over the years through multiple company moves (from Cambridge to Beverly to Boston), the recipe must be working and they must have figured out plenty of best practices along the way.

So when I learned that Adam Barker, the Director of Demand Generation at Continuum, was going to be sharing his best practices around reporting and marketing process at the MassTLC Demand Gen Peer Group, that meant “Must Attend” for me.

And Adam delivered the goods.

These were 12 best practices that Adam shared, that he and his colleagues apply to building and operating their data-driven, high velocity marketing process

1.       Hire “T-shaped” individuals

They look for marketers who can go deep in a specific area of specialty, but also have a breadth of experiences and interests and the flexibility to operate in multiple areas.

2.       Everyone on the team owns a metric

The team is structured such that everyone owns a metric that represents the impact of that particular  marketing area, usually a specific medium. When I asked Adam for examples he said that the team is broken down into owners of:

  • Blog / Organic Web Traffic
  • Paid Search
  • Social Media
  • Events
  • Programs
  • Prospect Emails
  • Customer Emails

These metrics represent approximately 50% of quarterly MBOs tied to individual bonuses.

 3.       Cross-train the team

There are regularly scheduled “lunch and learn” sessions where each team members presents a “how to” in their area, e.g. “writing a great blog post” or “running a PPC campaign”. This serves to both further develop skills as well as build team camaraderie, and is also a component of the MBOs for each team member.

4.       Report on how marketing is doing, not what marketing is doing

This is also a principle I’ve employed, which is reporting on activity alone sends the wrong message – because it’s not about activity, it’s about the results. Adam made the point that reporting on activity can actually serve to cloud or create confusion around performance and take away focus.

5.       Share updates weekly

As part of the process, each metric owner updates the metrics in their area weekly. These metrics are posted to a shared repository, in their case the company Wiki.

6.       Develop automatic repeatable reports & dashboards

Automated reporting is essentially to feed the process. Having now lived through seeing a product line move from manual to automated reporting, I can tell you that many businesses are still relying on manual reporting, and the shift from manual to automated is a true difference maker – in the visibility its bring and the marketing ownership that it enables.

7.       Meet with Sales weekly

Meet with sales weekly and as part of this review the performance results (see #4). Adam’s group refers to these as “Smarketing” meetings – I first heard Mike Volpe CMO at HubSpot use that term to refer to joint Sales & Marketing sessions when meeting with him in 2009 – and I’ve also referred to this as the revenue team.

8.       Share anecdotal updates    

Adam showed an example of an “anecdotal update” e.g. an email to the sales team with info on the success of a recent program. Everyone is likely doing this in some way, but referring back to #4 and what’s noteworthy about this update is it includes brief highlights of the programs e.g. # of leads or how it compares to results of other programs, to reinforce to the sales team that marketing has its eye on the ball.

9.       Operate in monthly marketing sprints

The marketing team defines deliverables as part of monthly sprints, which both ensures alignment and focus on specific deliverables and minimizes distractions getting in the way.

10.   Weekly marketing leadership meeting

The marketing leadership team stays aligned with a weekly leadership meeting.

11.   End of Quarter retrospective board meeting

This quarterly business review asks questions such as “What did we learn?” and “How will it drive our strategy for the next quarter?”

12.   Rinse & repeat

Each of these steps become more effective as team members get comfortable in the roles and their process. So like many things in marketing, it’s important to remain committed and the results will come through consistent application of the process.

Great list from Adam.

For those looking to understand how to setup and operate a data driven demand generation machine, these are two additional resources I've written that go deeper into these topics:



Seven-Step Plan to a Demand Generation Turnaround

As boards, shareholders and executive teams seek predictable revenue, they apply pressure on sales and marketing leaders to drive sustainable growth. Today with buyers  in control and sales organizations increasingly blind to the first two-thirds of the buying process, demand generation teams have moved front and center as the key driver of this growth. And most have a ways to go in putting a demand generation machine in place to predictably drive growth requirements.

This is a seven-step revenue growth marketing approach to provide a measured, well-paced and action-oriented blueprint for the demand gen turnaround that so many businesses are demanding today.

1.       Agree to Lead Definitions

Maribeth Ross covers the key revenue stages in this article; the Marketing Qualified Lead definition is absolutely vital. By establishing a joint MQL definition with Sales, marketers create a quality metric for leads and establish a clear handoff point to the sales team, which in turns helps sales perform better with the MQLs that marketing generates.

I find that most struggling demand gen teams have a lack of clarity around this definition which therefore means there are wild fluctuations historically in lead quality that make results difficult to measure, and also make sales’ job more difficult in following up the leads they receive.  The MQL definition  provides a building block foundation from which to grow.

The second crucial definition that is a consistent Opportunity definition, which will enable you to use the MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate to identify top quality lead sources. 

2.       Get Quick Wins On Board – Here’s Five to Get You Started

While most of these steps work sequentially, this one should occur in parallel to the rest. As a Demand Generation leader, you want to make short term impact to support the sales organization and demonstrate that you are able to simultaneously consider short term lead and revenue objectives while building long-term marketing strength.

These are five “quick-wins” that can bridge the gap while demand generation fundamentals are being developed

Quick Win #1 – Late Stage Content

In a Demand Gen turnaround you can’t do everything all at once. So I first prioritize late stage content to help identify and move prospects entering a buying process closer to sales. Look to reface or repackage late stage content, feature it on your website as a means to capture MQLs and drive these assets through syndication programs to bring in later stage prospects. Late stage content include vendor comparisons, evaluation guides and product webinars both live and on-demand.

Quick Win #2 – Website Conversions

Your website is your last step in converting leads for sales, so any improvements you can drive there will have immediate impact. Look at forms and user paths to eliminate friction and improve conversion rates. Ensure forms driving MQLs to sales don’t have any extraneous fields or unnecessary distractions.

 Quick Win #3 – Invest in a Paid Search Agency

If you have been running your paid search account in-house, chances are you would benefit from bringing in an agency expert to help you improve performance. I find some marketers are reluctant to pay the 13-15% management fee, however with the ever growing complexity of paid search and varied opportunities within it, don’t be short sighted and rather challenge an agency to double your paid search performance for the 15% investment you make with them.

Quick Win #4 – Align Webinar and Content Topics to the Problems You Solve

Lead Gen webinar topics need to walk a fine line. It’s well understood today that lead gen (earlier stage) webinars can’t be about you and your products… they need to center around compelling topics of interest to your prospects. However I find some marketers swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, whereby the webinar topic will fail to connect it to the problems their company/product solves so therefore it’s ineffective in driving leads for sales. Adjusting webinar topics (as well as other content including PR) to speak to broad topics and connect these topics to the problems you solve should increase yield from these programs by a multiple.

Quick Win #5 – Nurture New MQIs

If you don’t have a lead nurturing program in place to nurture new MQIs, put one in place. Start simple – it can be a series of emails driving to a single landing page or microsite, as having that initial nurture program in place is essential to establish a baseline from which you can grow. You will need lead nurturing in place to extract full value out of your lead gen programs.

3.       Benchmark Performance by Channel

Benchmark your historical performance to create the picture of how demand is being generated today and what metrics need to move and by how much to drive the required business growth. Benchmarks should include:

  • MQL to opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity to win rate
  • Website traffic by channel (organic, referral, direct) and conversion rate
  • Size of active marketing database and conversion rate
  • Paid Search account performance, split out by branded & non-branded search, retargeting and display network ads

4.       Build a Revenue Growth Calculator

Using the benchmarks you’ve established, build a revenue growth calculator which shows how these numbers need to move in order to meet the revenue growth plan for the business.  To do this you will also need to know the required future bookings (based on average sales cycle), the average order value and the % of business you are looking to drive from net new vs. existing customer.

Take the current baseline, and create an outward plan showing to where the metrics need to move. Ideally you can do this such that you set metrics that exceed your MQL requirements by 10-20%. This becomes a plan which sales and marketing can partner on with clear ownership and accountability.

5.       Closed Loop Tracking of Lead Stages & Programs

To manage the metrics you set out in #4, you will need a closed loop marketing system to track the effectiveness of programs and lead progression in general. I discussed the ‘how’ around this in a previous article Six essentials to setting up a closed loop marketing system.

6.       Help the Sales Team “Beyond Just Leads”

This is a parallel set of activities which will help in establishing demand generation as “more than just leads” and driving impact on demand at all stages of the buying process. The types of programs are crucial as they can help the sales organization overcome a near term lead shortfall, and as leads grow ensure that are best converting leads into opportunities and wins. 

Areas to consider helping sales include:

  • LinkedIn Coaching – Encourage sales to connect with all customers on LinkedIn so as customers switch jobs the reps are the first to know; this also grows their network so they can best leverage LinkedIn as a prospecting tool; encourage the rep to set up their profile from a consultative, customer-centric standpoint so when prospects view their profile, the rep leaves a strong impression.
  • Personalized Landing Pages for the rep to use with prospects and customers – Build a personalized landing page such as this one which puts the Rep front and center and wraps useful content around the rep. This is a page a rep can use and apply at various stages of the buying process including their own prospecting activities.
  • Coaching on Asking for Referrals – Remind the Reps that they, via the products and services the company provides, add immense value to customers, so asking for a referral is helping and not selling, and part of the sales process should include a follow up process to ask for referrals.
  • Help Sales Improve MQL to Opportunity Rate – Ensure system handoff on MQLs is clean, ensure reps are armed with questions to ask to establish pain and value, and consider automated nurturing programs for free trial evaluations.
  • Help Sales Improve Win Rate – Inventory and improve the content sales uses during the opportunity phase; look at interactive content such as assessment tools to take this to the next level, and also consider web-based tools that sales can use to share content and best support their buyer champion during the opportunity phase.

7.       Drive Towards the Revenue Growth Plan

With the plan via the Growth Calculator established in #4, the tracking of programs in #5 and the holistic view of helping the reps in #6, now monitor and measure performance towards these goals. Identify high and low performing activities through your closed loop tracking – slice and dice including program types, lead sources, calls to action, and segments by vertical, size, geography, job function or buyer characteristics.

As you identify top performers, assess the possibility of shifting investments in time or resources into these top performers. And as you identify low performers, make decisions to either invest in improving these low performers, or drop them.

The metrics based approach and visibility should ensure you get buy-in and support for the steps needed along the way and keep you well aligned with sales as you build the demand generation required to best drive the business.

CEOs and Boards of Directors: Should your marketing team be paid on variable compensation?

Mike Volpe, the CMO of HubSpot, recently published this article entitled “CMO Warning: Don’t Tie Marketing Incentive Compensation to a Metric.” Mike shared six reasons why tying marketing compensation to a metric could have adverse impact on the marketing team and the business.

I shared the article with my Sales Operations colleague who is often championing for metrics-based compensation for marketing, and she asked me “So what do you think?”

When I paused to think about it, what I realized and shared back with her is that for performance-based marketing compensation to have a positive impact, you would need these five things to be in place:

  1. Strong Marketing Leadership - to communicate and manage the program
  2. A clearly documented & agreed to MQL Definition with sales
  3. MQL goals aligned to the business plan, based on revenue targets, forecasted win rate & forecasted MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate – I have discussed a planning process for this here
  4. A plan for how the MQL numbers will be attained – I have discussed building a bottoms-up MQL plan here
  5. Closed loop reporting visibility to measure effectiveness of each vs. goal – in this Aberdeen CMO Essentials article I discussed how to do this with six essentials to setting up a closed loop marketing system.

Now here’s the rub - the marketing organization that has these five components in place should be set up to meet and exceed their target numbers, so the performance based conversation should be seen as a massive positive (not a negative) provided that like Sales there is no cap around the upside marketing can attain based on their performance. So it shouldn’t be seen (by either Marketing or the Business) as attaining a % of your bonus based on meeting MQL objectives, it should be seen as earning a % of the revenue growth driven through marketing’s efforts to meet and exceed the revenue growth plan.

And for those organizations that don’t have the five aforementioned points, any attempts at performance based compensation will surely lead to conflict and negative ramifications like those detailed by Mike Volpe.

So for marketing management, whether or not compensation is tied to specific MQL metrics, having an approach like it is, will help ensure the process and systems are in place to best ensure success.  

And the best case scenario for boards of directors, executive teams and marketing teams alike – and the whole business for that matter –is that marketing drives the pipeline at the pace required for the target business growth (and beyond) and is rewarded for doing so in line with the performance.


Building a bottoms-up MQL Plan

Moneyball Marketers want to take the guesswork out of demand generation. The best way to do this is building a bottoms-up MQL plan to reach and exceed MQL targets. Ideally the plan targets 10-20% lift vs. the MQL target number established in the revenue team’s planning process.

These are metrics you’ll want to benchmark and then establish targets for and monitor.

Website – Recommend approaching traffic measurement as an integrated approach incorporating Digital Marketing, PR & Social resources.

  • Organic Search Traffic
  • Organic Search Conversion Rate
  • Referral Traffic
  • Referral Traffic Conversion Rate
  • Direct Traffic
  • Direct Traffic Conversion Rate

Paid Search – Ensure you are looking at paid search segmented by these four areas as they all behave differently and investment and optimization decisions should be varied for each.

  • Branded Search
  • Non Branded Search
  • Retargeting Ads
  • Display Ads


  • Net New Program MQIs
  • Same-Month Conversion Rate (e.g. from a ‘Burst Nurture’) – this will tell us when we do outreach what % of prospects are ‘ready for sales’, I typically see this as a range between 2-10%


  • Active Nurture Database
  • Monthly Conversion Rate – This is where lead nurturing and teleprospecting to the database pays-off, as it helps bring yield from past marketing programs that helped grow the activity database but leads were not yet ready to engage.  
  • ** Note I would include recycling of closed/lost opportunities in this active database although it also can be split out separately

Outbound Calling

  • Contacts per month
  • Conversion Rate

The bottoms up plan help in multiple ways:

  1. Educate outside the marketing team to various components of the plan and move away from all “all or nothing” measurement – Exec Teams tend to ask questions like “are we hitting the MQL numbers?”… this allows for education to show which areas are growing faster than expected or slower than expected.
  2. Which leads to the second benefit, as it will help guide investment decisions going forward, which is top of mind to both the marketing and exec team. Are there areas growing well whose growth can be accelerated with investment? Are there areas underperforming who require investment to improve and mitigate risk?
  3. Help hold various contributors to the marketing programs accountable – often outside agencies are involved and this allows them to see how they fit in the plan.

And last but not least  -- having a plan greatly increases the chances that you’ll  hit the plan!

Answering the question, “How many MQLs do we need?”

A data driven marketing plan needs to start by answering the question, “How many MQLs do we need?”

Although it can be calculated with straightforward arithmetic, ambiguity around some of the details has thwarted many a marketing team, so let’s walk through it.

Here’s the assumptions that you’ll need – for each product line x country or geographic region.

  • Revenue Target – If it’s a high growth business, you could calculate each month with the appropriate # of leading months based on the average sales cycle. Alternatively if you are planning this annually you could take the monthly average over a 12-month plan.
  • Makeup of Business By – Here’s where this can either get complex or stay simple. Marketing and Sales will want to agree where the source of business is expected to come from these sources, or all that apply to your go-to-market strategy:
  • Net New Customers (Inbound / Marketing Programs)
  • Net New Customers (Outbound) …. Worth splitting out for two reasons – conversion rates and deal size will likely vary, and the responsibility for generating the business will likely vary vs. Inbound/Marketing Programs.
  • Existing Customers
  • Cross Sell (e.g. from other product lines)
  • Partner Driven Deals

For each of the above you will want to then have these assumptions:

  • Average order value (based on how the above number split this will then allow you to calculate # of wins you need over the time frame)
  • Win Rate (this will then allow you to calculate # of opportunities you need)
  • MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate (this will then allow  you to calculate the number of MQLs)

The next step is then taking your MQL target and building a bottoms-up MQL plan.

Seven Reasons I Love Moneyball Marketing

In the first two posts in this space, I introduced and then defined the term Moneyball Marketing.

You know what the best thing about it is? – it’s a ton of fun. And I love it.

It really makes a difference to do something you love.  In fact, whenever I interview a prospective team member or get introduced to a new team member, one of the questions I ask is “Why do you love marketing?”.

So what’s my answer?  There are many, but here’s Seven Reasons that I Love Moneyball Marketing:

(1) It works “all sides of the brain”

In school I always  had varied interests, and initially I had a hard time choosing “what I wanted to do in life.” Moneyball Marketing requires equal parts analytics, process, people management, information architecture, persuasion and creativity.

(2) You’re truly building something

I’ve heard the term Revenue Architect, and I like it. Software developers are often fulfilled by the act of coding something elegant and effective. Similarly systematic, marketing driven revenue growth requires the build-out of integrated teams, systems and processes. Processes that need to be created and refined include mapping the buyer journey and connecting nurturing programs to it; process for content production at scale; process for program development, integrated across marketing channels and regions; process for tracking the impact of marketing investments across all forms of media; and many more.

I find something fulfilling about the 'architecture' element of revenue architecture, designing something and then seeing how it works out in practice, and then evolving it further.

(3) It requires true teamwork

Revenue growth is a team sport. Four examples of the teamwork required on a daily basis for revenue growth to be operating effectively:

  • Product Marketing and Marketing Programs - to maximize effectiveness of programs leveraging the right strategy and the right content
  • Marketing Programs, Digital Marketing and PR/Social - creating integrated, cross-channel programs
  • Marketing and Sales - ensuring alignment through the generation and leads and creation of opportunities
  • Marketing and IT - ensuring the systems are in place to support closed loop marketing

(4) It’s okay to fail

This may be my favorite. Baseball hitters have a job where if they fail (make an out) 7 times out of 10, that is considered excellent performance as it translates to a .300 batting average.

In Revenue Growth Marketing, a significant part of programs analysis is to identify what isn’t working… and either drop it or fix it. Especially in the first year or working in a new marketing organization, finding out what doesn’t work is just as valuable as finding out what does work.

And we can extend the baseball adage to marketing and saying if you’re not failing at least half the time, then you’re not doing your job. Why? A/B testing is a required component to revenue growth marketing, to ensure you are evolving your understanding of what works best and have empirical data to back it up. If you are A/B testing, then half of what you do is going to ‘fail’, and that’s okay.

On that note, it’s vital to foster a culture amongst the revenue growth marketing team which says that it’s okay to fail, and in fact failure is needed. Encourage teams to fail fast, and to share the failures, and the resulting learnings, with their colleagues.

(5) It’s constantly evolving

There are new companies and technologies emerging every day. There are new techniques and best practices. Of last for me SEO has been a fun area to learn about the various perspectives and point of view, and then formulate a SEO plan that involves the creation of effective web content, the management of effective website hygiene, the development of influencer relationships to drive the seeding of content and the management of best practices around inbound links. There's always something new to learn, someone new to learn form and something to do better. 

(6) It involves helping people - meeting the needs of customers 

Around 2003 I was traveling back to New York from a Procter & Gamble pitch at Targetbase in Dallas with Matt Seiler, then an EVP at Omnciom Group and now Global CEO of IPG Mediabrands. I remember Matt, who had at that point recently had his third child, talking to me about how he explains to his kids what he does, as an advertising executive. I remember only partially understanding what he was talking about, or why he even cared to answer that question. And it was a hard question to answer, especially at that point when looking at it from the lens of an Advertiser, how do you explain to children the benefit of Advertising?

So flash forward 11 years and now I’m the father of three and I find the B2B marketer has a much clearer path to explaining the value they deliver – our job is to help people. Through the content we create, through the programs we develop, we are there to help people do their jobs better and more easily. And that to me adds an element to the job that I couldn’t have made as clear a case for in a 2003 ad pitch.  (PS - Matt is and was brilliant, and he could make the case however!)

(7) You can celebrate along the way

The beauty of measurement is we can monitor the moving of the needle along the way.  Whether it’s something we learn from an A/B test, or an improved conversion rate from a specific web channel or marketing program, or the roll out of a new activity under development… there is a lot to celebrate along the way. Lots of little victories that can boost the team and personal morale, and lead to much bigger victories down the road.

Defining Moneyball Marketing

In this blog's inaugural post, I introduced the term Moneyball Marketing. I now want to take a few minutes to define it.

The definition will relate closely to the Demand Generation function within marketing so I will start there. I was recently asked by a colleague, "What's the difference between  Demand Generation and Lead Generation?" The difference is stark. To answer I explained that lead generation implies a myopic, top-of-the-funnel activity, while demand generation goes both much broader and deeper – if you think of business as having Supply and Demand, then the Demand side of the business encompasses all possible avenues for the creation of new revenue and a “lead” is just one piece of the process for one of these avenues.

Demand Generation also includes the programs to nurture those leads; the systems that define the qualification of the lead as marketing qualified, the programs that enable sales to be most effective with turning that lead to an opportunity, and that opportunity to a win; the customer marketing programs to nurture and expand that customer relationship over time; as well as other avenues to generate incremental business including additional channels, referral sources or influencers.

So putting pen to paper (or cursor to rich text editor, as the case may be), my definition of Moneyball Marketing is partnering with sales to build measurable and predictable MQL flow through all available sources of new business, measured by MQL and Opportunity attainment, pipeline impact and business growth.

Yes that works as a definition.

Marketing and sales partnership – check.

Measurement and moving to predictive – check. 

Moving beyond leads or even MQL stats to driving pipeline impact and business growth – check.

So that can work as our “dictionary definition”, and beyond that let me share three key behaviors of a Moneyball Marketer:

(1) You run marketing like a business

I find this to be the most fundamental concept. Simply put, when making decisions, you are looking at it to answer the question “What’s best for the business?”. Not what’s best for marketing, not what’s best for you as an individual, or your boss, or your direct reports. Moneyball Marketing is about making well thought out, data driven business decisions every single day.

(2) You consider all opportunities for revenue growth

Moneyball Marketing and Demand Generation are liberating as they consist of all possible avenues to increase revenue, so a partial list:

  • Programs to acquire new leads and nurture them

  • Maximizing conversion rates through buying process including MQI-to-MQL, MQL-to-Opportunity (e.g. an Evaluation Process) and Win Rate

  • Efficient and effective systems to support marketing and sales during the revenue process

  • Digital Marketing programs to maximize impact of website as a demand generation tool

  • Outbound sales prospecting programs

  • Programs via channel - driving demand gen programs through channel partners

  • Customer marketing to drive additional customer business through customer education and communications

(3) You are an advocate for Sales within Marketing

Sales management and  reps are incredibly busy, so the Moneyball Marketer has the opportunity to take the overall objectives of sales, which is to maximize revenue short term and long term, and add strategic value and be the advocate for sales within marketing, allowing sales management to focus on driving results for the month & quarter while getting their interests represented within the Sales & Marketing organization.

Next time I'll share the Seven Reasons I love Moneyball Marketing.

Introducing Moneyball Marketing

In January 2010 I moved from LiveTechnology, a growth startup with funding from Omnicom Group that for nearly a decade gave me amazing access to the top integrated marketing talent in the world to Avitage, a B2B marketing specialist firm outside of Boston. The timing could not have been better. Over those next few months I became deeply engrained in a fast moving, rapidly evolving B2B marketing landscape that had three emerging concepts.

Inbound MarketingHubSpot defined and took ownership of this concept, stating that the new age of marketing was one not led by outbound, disruption tactics, but fueled by a content driven web presence that attracted prospects. HubSpot became the technology of choice, particularly for small businesses aiming to drive top of the funnel lead generation through their websites.

Content Marketing – I started following Joe Pulizzi who espoused the virtues of content marketing. Some came to say “All marketing is content marketing” (to dismiss the notion of content marketing as a new insight), but the point regardless was that the value of thinking like a publisher and creating content to serve the needs of your audience was going to be a key driver for marketing success more than ever before. And I noted in this interview with Aberdeen Group, Content Marketing is essential to Inbound Marketing success and is in fact bigger in scope than Inbound Marketing as it fuels interactions with buyers at all stages including existing customers.

Revenue Marketing - The momentum of Revenue Marketing trailed a bit from the other two concepts, I seem to remember both Marketo and Eloqua stepping into that theme around early 2011. To me, Revenue Marketing meant that the marketer could now impact and measure all the way through to opportunity/pipeline and wins in connecting marketing investments and programs to business impact.

Interestingly, as I Google search these phrases today, we can see how they compare in terms of broad appeal:

  • 117,000 results for Revenue Marketing
  • 1,140,000 results for Inbound Marketing (10X Revenue Marketing)
  • 5,570,000 results for Content Marketing (48X Revenue Marketing)

So the Revenue Marketers are a more concentrated bunch, you might say, while the other concepts have more a broader following. Which is interesting because it's Revenue Marketing that drives sustained growth, through a variety of strategies, of which one will be Content Marketing. So you can make the case that Revenue Marketing is a much broader concept than Content Marketing in spite of only having 1/50th the buzz.

Which gets us to, the compilation of all three of these -- Moneyball Marketing. Moneyball Marketing is Revenue Marketing with a focus on data-driven business growth. Moneyball makes the mainstream connection to say we will do to Marketing what Billy Beane did to Baseball.... an analytics driven approach to building success. 

Moneyball Marketing requires a systematic and programmatic approach to scaling revenue through a marketing-to-sales end to end process.

Within this space we’ll discuss how to drive Moneyball Marketing including areas such as the Closed Loop Marketing process and systems required to power this and all the aspects of Demand Generation required to maximize the impact including digital marketing, marketing programs such as webinars,  customer marketing, influencer marketing, teleprospecting and sales prospecting programs.

I’ll get us started in the next post by defining three key behaviors of the Moneyball Marketer.