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BMI: Tuesday Marketing Notes (Number 119—April 8, 2008)



Six Steps to Developing the Measurability Mindset: Building Strong, Measurable B2B Marketing Programs Using CRM Systems (Part 1)

By Eric Gagnon

The focus on measurement of B2B marketing programs is a major issue for many of us who run and manage marketing programs for our companies or clients. Marketers now find they need to measure every marketing activity partly because many marketing programs were in past years not held to any requirement to demonstrate measurable return on their expense.

Timely, accurate measurement of every aspect of a company’s operation is now commonplace—in manufacturing, production, inventory, customer service, supply chain management, etc. However, and even today, many marketing programs in these same companies have yet to implement workable measurement programs, but this is changing rapidly. As more and more companies integrate CRM systems like on-demand CRM and other CRM apps into their sales and customer service operations, sales managers and senior executives at companies everywhere are questioning their marketing expenses; they’re asking why marketing can’t show a better correlation between a specific marketing activity, and sales linked to that activity.

This week and next, we’ll highlight some of the more important aspects required for tracking and measuring business marketing programs, to help you develop the mindset required for integrating measurability into every marketing activity you develop for your company or client.

CRM Systems Require Effective Marketing Measurement

One of the primary characteristics of any CRM system used in your marketing program is that it requires measurement and accountability for the marketing activities in your program. Every marketing activity in your marketing plan can be entered as a separate, trackable project into your CRM system (or, for instance, entered into on-demand CRM as a campaign), and responses from potential prospects who see your ads, receive your mailings, click on your Google AdWords text ads or otherwise provide you with their contact information, are entered as leads into a lead record on your CRM system or on-demand CRM. A lead can be tracked from the time it’s entered there, when it’s qualified and assigned to a sales rep on your company’s sales team, and over time as the lead changes from a prospect to an opportunity, and finally, to a buying customer.

Over time, campaigns (marketing activities) can be analyzed by their cost, the number of leads they have generated, and the dollar value of the revenue generated when prospects traced back to a campaign become buyers. This provides a clear assessment of the marketing activities in your plan yielding the best sales response and generating the most dollar sales volume over the long term. Measurability helps you expand the marketing activities generating the highest response, eliminate the ones that don’t pay, and improve the activities that show promise, but could generate better response with changes to marketing deliverables, sales copy, prospect targeting, promotional offers, or other elements.

Do Your Best to Measure, But Help Your Management Understand that Marketing Isn’t Always Accurately Measurable

While you can track response and measure many aspects of your marketing program using CRM systems, there will always be certain aspects of your marketing that will stay difficult to measure. In this respect, a marketing program is like a company’s research and development program: Just as many company R&D efforts may not yield saleable products, despite your best efforts you will never be able to link every activity in your marketing program directly to the sale that generates the return on investment.

Also, as a method of person-to-person communication, marketing is a human activity. And like all human activities, it can be unruly and not subject to easy classification or precise measurement. In other words, when it comes to marketing measurement, we as humans are creatures who are not well suited for conformity to CRM systems.

For example, there will always be leads (i.e., humans) that contact your sales team apparently right out of the blue, even though these individuals may have indeed been influenced by your advertising at some point, but can’t recall if they were, and your marketing program will never get credit for generating this lead because it couldn’t be assigned to your program. And, of course, there will also be many marketing programs that don’t generate an adequate response, because you haven’t (yet) found the right message, promotional offer, or medium to generate measurable response from enough humans. This too is a common (and necessary) aspect of running a successful business marketing program since, as a marketer, if you’re not failing, you’re not on the path to succeeding (and turning around a failed marketing project is an issue we’ll address in an upcoming TMN).

Fortunately, some marketing activities are more inherently trackable and measurable than others. For example, direct mail and Google AdWords, where final orders can be linked directly to the mailing list or Web database where the prospect first signed up, are highly and accurately measurable in CRM systems. By contrast, print advertising, especially “image” or “brand-building” ad buys, are notoriously difficult to measure, since prospects may not accurately recall when or where they learned about your product, only that they saw your ad “somewhere,” maybe a year before they called your company. If it weren’t for all of these humans like us, marketing could be as measurable as counting the pencils in your office supply cabinet, but it isn’t.

Your success as a B2B marketing professional depends not only on running marketing programs designed to be measured to the best of your ability, but also in making it clear to your sales and senior management why parts of any marketing program can’t ever be accurately measured in the way your CRM system would like them to be measured. The important goal here is to get enough of your marketing program under control so that it can be measured well, by optimizing your marketing deliverables to generate solid response, and selecting the marketing activities that are inherently measurable. And this process starts with developing a mindset in your approach to your marketing program, as you begin every new lead generation or lead development project.

Developing the Measurability Mindset

Here are the first four of the six steps necessary for developing measurable marketing programs. Internalizing these steps will help you develop the mindset or planning, developing, and executing marketing programs you can track and measure:

1. Select Marketing Activities that Can be Inherently Measured

As we said, some types of marketing activities are more inherently measurable than others. For example, direct mail, where leads who respond to a mailing can be tracked back to the mailing list, mailing piece, and date of the mailing they responded to, is a marketing method that is highly measurable in CRM systems. The same is true for Google AdWords programs, where leads entering your CRM or on-demand CRM database from your Web landing pages can be exactly matched to the ad, Web page, or e-mail promotion generating this lead. Leads generated from a trade show can also be tracked right back to their source in your CRM system.

Response from other marketing activities, such as image-building print advertising programs, PR campaigns, or celebrity golf tournaments, is difficult or impossible to track and measure using CRM systems, or any other method.

So when planning a marketing program using the measurability mindset, think first about selecting the marketing activities that increase, and don’t decrease, your chances of measuring them. While image-building ad and PR programs may or may not raise the background level of market awareness about your company over time, they’re of no help to you in the short term if you’re not measuring your marketing program now, or if current measurements show your marketing activities aren’t generating enough sales leads to produce a decent return in your marketing program.

2. Where Possible, Target and Capture Your Prospects Before You Execute

All of us direct mail folks know that the single most important element of any mailing is the mailing list. A mailing list that correctly targets the prime potential buyers of your product means the difference between success or failure on any mailing project. But when integrating a CRM system into your marketing program, mailing lists aren’t just for mailings anymore, and with CRM systems, this rule extends to other marketing activities as well. As an exhibitor to a trade show, you can receive a list of show attendees. You can generate any type of e-mail mailing list of your existing prospects from your CRM system. Likewise, you can use your CRM system to generate a leads list from your database by any targeted criteria. Wherever you can generate a list (i.e., leads database), do this well before you execute the rest of your marketing project.

Wherever you can compile a CRM leads database for your marketing project, pay close attention to the fit between your marketing activity, the presentation of your deliverable, and the target criteria you’ve selected for the project, such as job title, product interest, previous buying history, company size, etc. Once you’ve targeted this list and selected it, capture it to your CRM system and link it to the marketing activity. For example, in on-demand CRM this is done by associating these leads to a campaign in on-demand CRM. Then, as prospects respond to your mailing, e-mail program, trade show follow-up, or other activity, you can readily match these respondents against their lead record in this database.

This same procedure also applies to mailings of any quantity to rented mailing lists, such as mailings to trade publication subscriber lists. List owners and brokers now permit you to import the same lists directly to your CRM system for tracking purposes only, while you mail to the same list, usually on a one-time basis.

Targeting, closely examining, and preparing your database correctly, capturing it to your CRM system, and defining it to the marketing activity at hand before you execute helps you to accurately match up the leads who respond to this database, and gives you a discrete universe of prospects from which response rates and returns can ultimately be measured.

3. Develop Marketing Deliverables that Generate Sales Response You Can Measure

The next step to achieving solid measurability begins with developing marketing deliverables that motivate readers and viewers to respond to your ad, mailing, Web site or landing page, keyword search ad, or any other deliverable. And generating measurable response (i.e., sales leads) means using the techniques of Clear Presentation to create deliverables to achieve this goal.

Clear Presentation in all marketing deliverables and media used in your marketing program means clearly and persuasively explaining:

1.) What your product does;
2.) What’s good about it;
3.) Why it’s different from the rest;
4.) How it solves your reader’s problem, and
5.) What the reader needs to do next

Fall short on any one of these marks and response decreases on your marketing activity. Hit all of these marks, by giving the typical prospect in your market the information that answers the questions they’re most likely to ask about your product, and you give yourself a fighting chance at generating a solid, measurable return on any marketing activity.

4. Provide that “Something Extra” to Motivate Your Reader to Act

As a marketer, your prospect’s inertia is your greatest enemy. Celebrating the status quo—i.e., “doing nothing”—is the default mode for each and every one of the potential prospects you are trying to reach in your market. It’s always easier for your prospect to do nothing after skim-reading the sales copy in your deliverable, or clicking away from your landing page, turning the page over on your ad, or tossing your mailing piece onto their pitch pile.

Offering your potential prospect that “something extra” if they act, right now, finishes the job that Clear Presentation started:

A special, limited-time savings offer (or an opportunity to reserve a savings if the prospect isn’t ready to order now);

• A white paper, report, book, software program, wall chart, or other information premium that shows the prospect how your product solves their problem;

A valuable editorial information premium (as above) giving the prospect useful information that’s important to their job, technical area, or their applications need—and showcasing your company’s specialized expertise in the process

Using Clear Presentation, all of the elements of your marketing deliverable—your headline, body copy, bulleted sales benefits, illustration, etc.—work to move your reader or viewer into this all important “call to action,” and break your reader’s inertia enough to get them to enter their e-mail address, pick up the phone, fill out a reply card, or take whatever next step you’re asking, right now, instead of “later,” which nearly always means “never”.

What’s more, providing “something extra” closes the loop on measurability by giving you an objective standard you can use to track and measure the marketing activity in your CRM system:

Calls to your sales team to redeem the special savings offer;

Log entries with e-mail addresses from your landing page to download the white paper (or better yet, to choose from a list of available white papers);

Coupons returned from a mailing requesting the information premium, or asking for more information

These are the first four important steps to develop the practice that eventually becomes a mindset for incorporating measurability into your marketing program.

We’ll cover the fifth and sixth steps in part two next week. . .

Eric Gagnon ( is the author of the CRM Field Marketing Handbook, the core content study guide for the BMI CRM Field Marketing system.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Business Marketing Institute, LLC (BMI) training and certification services are offered independently by BMI and have not been authorized or endorsed by any CRM vendor. BMI systems and services provide content, training, and certification that is complementary to, and not competitive with, training and certification programs offered by CRM vendors. For further information on training and certification provided directly by your CRM vendor, visit their Web site.

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