Agile marketing is all about small teams repeating short-term activities that have the maximum value to your brand. You keep reiterating them, over and over, refining the process each time, so that each iteration is more effective and valuable than the last. It’s a process that has taken the marketing world by storm, with the majority of marketers (51%) having adopted agile practices
For the most part, that seems simple enough. But there’s a certain word in there that seems unclear: “value”. What is value when it comes to marketing activities, particularly agile marketing, and how do you measure it?
After all, one of our favorite quotes here at the B2B Marketing Alliance is from the Victorian scientist, Lord Kelvin, who said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” Kelvin was a super smart dude about many subjects, but it’s likely he didn’t know much about marketing (let alone agile marketing).
However the quote still stands, and it’s why we’re going to dig into the different measurements that are important to determining the value of your agile marketing activities. We’ll take a look at the big picture ideas of value, and for each one, break them down into KPIs you can use to measure the success of your agile marketing efforts in producing value.
In this article we'll take a look at how to measure the value of your agile marketing in relation to:
- The number of leads generated
- Reducing churn
- Brand awareness
- Your mailing list
- Your social media following
- Your coverage
- Scoring your awareness
- Final thoughts
Revenue, or make that money
Increasing revenue is one of the most important measurements of the success of quite a lot of activities in a B2B company, including your agile marketing actions. However, the ability to measure direct-cause-and-effect when it comes to revenue and B2B marketing can be a little tricky, outside of certain cases.
If your main focus is on B2B eCommerce, then you can directly correlate certain agile marketing activities to an increase in sales, which directly leads to an increase in revenue. For example, if you run a quick social media campaign advertising a certain product with a link to where people can buy it, you can measure the value and success of that campaign by the number of purchases, all of which should increase revenue (so long as the cost of the campaign doesn’t outweigh the gains). Simple enough.
But what if there isn’t that direct link from marketing to a sale? This is pretty common in B2B companies, which don’t always have an eCommerce structure (often it’s simply not feasible with the products/services they provide), and instead rely on sales departments. How do you measure the effects of marketing on revenue when there isn’t a direct tie from marketing to final purchase?
Well, you could just look at the period of time a certain marketing activity comes into effect, or a campaign is being run, and see if there’s a spike in revenue at the same time. This can work, but it relies on leaps in logic and could ignore outside factors that have contributed to the boost in revenue.
Say you had an ice cream parlor (we know that’s not very “B2B”, but bear with us). You noticed a spike in sales in August. Now you could attribute that to the banging marketing campaign you ran. But realistically, it’s probably more to do with the weather being nice and lots of kids being on vacation.
Now in this example, it’s just a little bit of hubris about your marketing abilities overriding your ability to recognize external factors. But making these leaps in logic without direct evidence can be dangerous. Going back to the ice cream parlor, what if you decided that the reason there was a spike in sales was that August has an "A" in the month? Therefore your logic would dictate that you should buy lots of stock for January, February, March, and April, four months that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with people buying ice cream. Basically, you’re in trouble.
That’s why you need to look at marketing’s contribution to revenue in ways that you can see direct results and evidence, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by measuring…
The number of leads generated
Lead generation is one of the top priorities for many marketers, to the extent that 61% of marketers cite it as their number one challenge. It’s one of the clearest ways to show how marketing contributes to revenue, as the more leads you generate, the more potential there is for your sales team.
So you’d think that you should make lead generating activities your absolute priority for your agile marketing efforts, right?
Just generating leads and throwing them straight over to your sales team isn’t setting them up for success. And to do that you need to nurture your leads until they’re SQLs (sales qualified leads). These are leads that have engaged with your content and indicated their interest in what you have to offer.
And nurturing leads can be extremely valuable. An effective lead nurturing strategy can produce 50% more sales at 33% less cost. And you won’t just make more sales, they can be bigger ones too: nurtured leads on average spend 47% more than unnurtured ones.
With this in mind, it’s clear that you shouldn’t be thinking about lead generation, without nurturing (and of course you can’t nurture without generating those leads in the first place). Therefore, the activities you should be focusing on with your agile marketing practices (if increased revenue is your goal) should be the ones that generate the most leads for you, and nurture them towards being SQLs.
You can then use your agile practices to reiterate and improve these actions until you’re consistently delivering qualified, valuable leads to your sales teams.
By using the generation of SQLs as your main KPI, you’ll be able to see the direct value of your agile marketing activities when it comes to increasing your revenue.
But getting new customers is just one part of your revenue stream, you also need to keep hold of the customers you do have. This is where retention marketing strategies come in, and the way you can measure the success of these activities (and know which ones are the most valuable and should be the focus of your agile marketing efforts) is by...
Every B2B company has to deal with churn to some extent. On average, 50% of your customers will churn out every 5 years, and infuriatingly, many of them will never tell you why they’re leaving you. Often, it’s due to poor customer service, or dissatisfaction with your products and services, none of which fit within the purview of most marketing departments,
However retention marketing strategies can allow you to take proactive steps that can reduce churn. Need help with retention marketing? We've written about it plenty.
However churn management tends to require long term analysis over extended time periods (if you’re getting huge peaks and troughs when it comes to your churn rate over a period of time, then there’s clearly something fundamentally wrong that your marketing might not be able to fix). And doing things over a long time period doesn’t really gel with the agile marketing ethos.
So how can you tell if your marketing is having an effect on customer retention and likely to be reducing churn?
Well, you ask your customers! Conducting regular customer feedback surveys can be extremely useful in judging the success of your retention marketing strategies. As well as getting updates on how satisfied your customers are with your products and services, you can also ask them which content (if any) you’ve produced has been the most useful and valuable to them.
With this data, you’ll know the types of content you should be producing more of in order to reduce churn and increase customer retention.
Now, it’s a bit harder to judge how much retention contributes to revenue when compared to lead generation in a marketing context. So much of it depends on things that are likely beyond marketing’s control, which is why the majority of marketing budgets are spent on lead generation, rather than customer retention. But always remember, retaining a customer is 5x more cost-efficient than getting a new one, the chance of making a sale to existing customers is between 60 and 70% (compared to between 5 and 20% for new prospects), and increasing your retention by just 5% could increase your profits by 95%.
So, yeah, any efforts that are likely to reduce churn and increase customer retention are highly likely to contribute to your revenue, making them valuable and worth your agile marketing efforts.
But not all agile marketing activities necessarily have a clear line towards revenue in a quantifiable way. How can you determine their value and whether they’re worth approaching from an agile perspective?
Showing the value of brand awareness when compared to things like customer retention or lead generation is tricky indeed, especially if you’re in a company that requires intense, high-speed growth (like a start-up).
However, at the end of the day, if people don’t know who you are, they won’t buy from you.
Measuring your brand awareness, and how much you can increase it through your agile marketing activities can be difficult, especially in a B2B setting.
Only 3% of your potential customers are active buyers, meaning they need your solution right now and would be willing to buy it straight away. The rest are thinking about it, have a need for it but no impetus to act, don’t need it (but may in the future), or have absolutely no interest in what you’re offering right now. By increasing your brand awareness and making yourself known to the 97% of potential customers, you’re laying the groundwork for when they could potentially shift into that active buyer bracket.
But how do you measure your brand awareness, so you know which activities are increasing it effectively and are worth being put through agile reiterations?
Your mailing list
If your mailing list is increasing, then that means more people are not only aware of your brand, but interested enough in it that they’ll allow you to send them regular emails.
Your social media following
Social media followers are a clear metric of how successful your social media strategy is, and how many people know about your brand.
The degree to which your followers are actively engaging with your social media and content will give you an indication of how far your reach extends and how much status you have.
Are other people talking about you? Whether it’s individuals discussing you or in the press, keeping track of how frequently you’re mentioned (and how positive the coverage) can be a good way of measuring your brand awareness.
Scoring your awareness
But in the B2B world, mass coverage isn’t always effective. It doesn’t matter if you have a million followers who are regularly engaging with your content if none of them are the right people to buy your products.
That’s why it’s important that you’re raising awareness among the right audience. You can do this by scoring your social media followers, mailing list, and who is engaging with your content. By assigning a metric to certain job titles, or people from certain companies, you’ll be able to see how valuable your brand awareness building activities are to your business.
For example, if your product was a new suite of design tools, you’d want most of your followers to be designers. However, entry-level designers won’t have the clout at their companies to be able to buy the product. You would need more influential people, the decision makers, to be following you as they would be the ones who would ultimately have the say about whether their company will purchase and use your products.
You would therefore prescribe higher scores to those decision makers and aim to make them aware of your brand.
So if you did a marketing activity that engaged with and produced followers that were majority the right decision makers, the agile process would be to reiterate and improve that activity.
This also applies to press coverage. Getting mentioned or featured on certain sites or in certain publications will be more valuable than others. You'll want to be featured in places that have high prestige and is widely read among your target audience. This is a fairly standard SEO practice, so hopefully you were considering this already!
That which is most valuable to your company, and therefore the most important to focus on using agile marketing processes can change depending on your overall business goals. That which is most valuable and top priority could change very quickly depending on your industry, company growth stage or even external factors.
But being aware of how to quantify and define value is important to improving and reiterating your activities, which, at the end of the day, is the core philosophy behind agile marketing.
Are you struggling with priorities when it comes to agile marketing? Have you got advice to share? Head to the B2B Marketing Alliance community!