Finding ROI in B2B Marketing Can Feel Like Pushing Water Uphill

  |  August 19, 2014   |  Comments

B2B marketers often have trouble finding campaign ROI because their marketing and sales departments aren't fully integrated and because their lead information isn't properly tracked. Here are some tips for getting solid ROI in a B2B environment.

Every marketer will tell you that the one metric they most desire, but struggle to acquire is campaign return on investment (ROI). B2B marketers, in particular, feel this pain because the systems that have historically been in place to execute campaigns and track sales opportunities reside in two completely different systems and are governed by two completely different departments (CRM-Sales).

Marketing automation systems have come a long way in how they integrate key processes around lead management into the core customer relationship management (CRM) platforms that are in place at most companies. Traditionally, marketing systems did not focus on lead management; rather they were built from the ground up to facilitate the execution of a variety of different types of campaigns.

In the evolving B2B marketing automation sector, vendors have transitioned from campaign management focus to lead management focus. The driving force behind this has been the realization that people research, evaluate, and buy online, oftentimes with little or no interaction with sales personnel until the latter part of the sales cycle.

Why have B2B marketers struggled to measure campaign ROI?

There are two primary reasons for the difficulty in tracking campaign ROI in B2B. Firstly, marketing and sales historically operate in two completely different systems. Marketing automation platforms support the marketer (obviously) and CRM systems manage sales. There is a clumsy handoff between marketing and sales when a lead is passed and all too often the data about the sales lead, once it converts to an opportunity, is not visible to marketing. The loop gets broken at this point and marketing and sales scramble to figure out how to match up opportunity values and revenue with the source campaigns.

The second problem that vexes the marketers is that the lead source and campaign information, which is dutifully tracked in the MAP (marketing automation platform), is often not preserved in CRM as a lead moves through the lower half of the sales funnel. The common workflow for leads in CRM is that when a lead is created in the CRM platform, it must often be converted to a contact, linked to an account, and associated with an opportunity.

In CRM, there are four different database tables in play. All too often the lead source information, which is typically associated with the data passed with the lead itself, is not carried over to the contact, account, and opportunity. Worse yet, the originating lead may not be the primary contact associated with an opportunity. The originating lead may be a point person who is creating a short list, but once the lead moves to opportunity, a new set of decision makers may get involved and be flagged as the primary contact associated with the opportunity, which may have no connection to the source lead!

Confused yet?

You're not alone. This convoluted process works fine for opportunity management, but works very poorly for lead source, campaign, and conversion tracking, which is what marketers really need.

Solving this problem is not simple, and while the MAPs will show a dizzying array of reports on the marketing side showing campaign metrics that would make any chief marketing officer (CMO) salivate, the reality is we are still very much dependent upon processes, data, and people who are out of our control. All is not lost. There are a few steps marketing and sales can take to ensure ROI is properly tracked.

  1. Integration: It may seem like this goes without saying, but ensuring your MAP and CRM are properly integrated at a database level is the first step. Select a MAP that has a proven track record of integrating at a deep level with your CRM. 
  2. Alignment: Marketing and sales must come together and agree on the process of lead management. This includes the handoff and critical pieces of data that must exist in both systems. This must be a top-down approach that is driven and governed by both marketing and sales leadership.
  3. Preserve the Data at All Costs: Ensuring marketing source data like lead source and campaign IDs are mapped to the CRM records is crucial. These should be fields that sales cannot edit or update. 
  4. Retain Data Through the Funnel: As a lead moves from lead to contact to account to opportunity, most CRM systems will support workflow that automatically copies the originating lead source to each subsequent table in the CRM. 

While it may seem like pushing water uphill, there are solutions getting solid ROI in a B2B environment. Start with the four steps listed above and you'll be well on your way.

Image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin Miller

Kevin Miller is the vice president of Solution Strategy at Salesfusion and has more than 23 years of experience in marketing automation, CRM, marketing campaign management, and database marketing.

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