How Are You Measuring Customer Success?

  |  January 29, 2014   |  Comments

Marketers often struggle with measuring success, but it's important to be able to measure your efforts so that you can adjust and improve over time.

In my role at Silverpop, I work closely with our customers to help them strategize and achieve their marketing goals -- and ensure that they are providing their customers and prospects with the best experience possible, all while driving revenue. And, nearly all of the marketers that I meet with work very hard to get these jobs done with excellence. We all ply away at our trade, creating content, conducting events, attending trade shows, launching integrated campaigns, sending email, and so much more. But, if we're not careful, we won't get the credit we deserve for all of our efforts.

This begs the question: How are you measuring customer success? Are you able to measure your efforts so that you can adjust and improve over time, while also eliminating tactics and strategies that are not giving you the return that you need to have the highest levels of success? Are you able to explain to management how effective your budget investments have been in contributing to pipeline and revenue? If you can't easily and crisply answer these questions, then this month's column is specifically for you.

Marketers often struggle with measuring success because of the virtual tug of war over offers and sources. For example, if one of your key marketers takes the time to write a brilliant white paper, the real marketing begins once the content is complete. It will be promoted heavily on social, used as a booth offer at an upcoming trade show, be a lead story in the monthly newsletter, and part of a retargeting ad campaign. You get the idea -- the content will be everywhere! Now that the content is everywhere, how do we measure its contribution to the sales pipeline and revenue?

The best way to measure the results is to separate the sources (for example, the trade show, the tweet, the newsletter, or the ad) from the actual offer (the white paper). This will eliminate the contention and you will have more than one way of deciding who receives "credit" for the white paper's success. You will have immediate insight into your most valuable offers and the most effective vehicles for promoting them. Your marketing automation system should be adept at capturing all of your sources and all of your offers.

In addition to the vehicles mentioned above, you should also be using Web tracking technology to capture all site visitor interactions. For example, did the visitor click on an email link, download a white paper from the website, or watch a video? Any social mentions should also have lead source embedded in the shareable links. Additionally, make sure you are capturing all offline interactions such as trade show booth visitors and SMS opt-ins. If you have a CRM system, this is a perfect time to make sure that all this powerful information you are collecting is integrated into your marketing automation platform.

Now that you have captured all of this data and stored it in your marketing automation system, you will need to decide how to attribute or assign revenue credit for your efforts. The cool thing is that you can decide which technique you will use, depending on what is best for your organization. Options include:

  • Single Attribution -- The first or last tactic gets the credit for the sale. This is a good way to get started, but most likely you will eventually want to move on to a multi-touch attribution method.
  • Multi-Touch Attribution -- Where a different amount of credit is given to each marketing activity. You can decide if each activity is weighted evenly or differently based on where it occurs in the buying cycle. If you want to weight your sources differently, there are several approaches that you can employ, such as time decay models, interaction, position, or title-based models. The most important thing is to decide on your attribution rules and stick with them for an entire measurement cycle to ensure consistent results.

Once you have established all of your sources and offers, added in Web tracking, linked your CRM, and decided on your attribution model, the fun really begins -- it's time to start analyzing your data and optimizing your campaigns. Now you can look independently at lead sources and offers and clearly see how they are impacting both pipeline and revenue. Identify not only originating sources and offers, but also how the content and activities are being used throughout the buying cycle. This analysis should also give you further insight into what worked, how leads moved from first contact through the buying cycle, and where leads might be stalled out. You'll have the most accurate information possible and be able to plan future campaigns and marketing investments. You'll also be able to show management and executives how you've been spending your marketing dollars and how you are going to work smarter in 2014.

We all work too hard as marketers to let another revenue reporting cycle go by without kicking up our sophistication level on our revenue attribution and analysis efforts. Done correctly, you'll be able to laser focus and double down on those things that work and eliminate unproductive marketing spend.

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Ellen Valentine

Ellen Valentine has more than 20 years of experience as vice president of marketing/CMO for a number of technology companies. She has deep expertise in launching new products, evaluating product and market positions, designing go-to-market strategy, and managing all digital marketing initiatives. She believes that great people and effective technology are foundations for success, but great execution is the ultimate differentiator.

In her role at Silverpop, an IBM company, she's focused on coaching and mentoring Silverpop clients to adapt and thrive in marketing's changing role. She's also a sought-out speaker at industry conferences and events.

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