This post was written by Kevin Joyce, VP Revenue Marketing Strategy at The Pedowitz Group.
Showing the revenue resulting from inbound media spend can be straightforward if you have an online store. But what if:
- Your sales cycle takes months, and you have a direct sales force?
- You have a Marketing Automation Platform (MA) and a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software?
- You want to see the results in the reporting engine of the CRM, because that is where inbound leads get connected to pipeline and results?
- You don’t have a Business Intelligence (BI) system?
The good news is that there are an increasing number of SaaS reporting products that connect to the various inbound channels (Google Adwords, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and your CRM, and help cut through many of the challenges you will face in making it all work.
Capturing the UTM codes and bringing them into the CRM
UTM (Urchin Traffic Monitor) codes are query string parameter/value pairs you can attach to the end of a custom URL in order to track a source, medium and campaign name. This enables you to know where the form fillers came from, as well as what campaign directed them to you. One could easily define and use any query string parameter/value pair, but using the 5 “standard” ones listed below is convenient since this is also what Google Analytics tracking uses.
- Source: Location of the unique link they clicked on
- Medium: CPC, email, etc.
- Campaign: Specific campaign that uses the unique link mentioned above
- Term: Provide more information about targeted keywords
- Content: Distinguish between content if you are testing multiple types
The most common way to capture this information is to have hidden fields in a form on the landing page, and pass the values of these parameters into those fields. Within your MAP and CRM, you should set up fields that capture these parameters on initial conversion and another set of identical fields that are updated each time a lead converts. This provides you with initial and “last touch” attribution.
But we are not done yet!
What if you want to keep ALL of the UTM values that a single visitor has, for each visit to your digital properties? A good way to do this, without creating many fields, is to copy the most recent values into five fields you created in the campaign member object in your CRM. Yes, that means connecting your MAP campaigns to CRM campaigns, and writing some code to do the copy, but it works.
And before we get off the subject of UTM, are you sure the original UTM values are really the original UTM values? What happens when a visitor sees your display ad, or visits your website for the first time and doesn’t fill in a form? Those UTM values that give clues to what drew them in originally are lost. One way we solved this for our clients was to capture the original UTMs in a cookie that will persist for a period of time. If the visitor returns within that period of time and fills in a form, we capture the UTM values stored in the cookie instead of their most recent values.
Qualitative lead reports for inbound media spend
Another common issue we find in assessing the value of media spend in B2B environments is that the leads acquired may not turn into revenue for months. How do we get feedback on lead quality sooner to help direct our spending sooner? The easiest way to do this is to run reports based on UTM values and the lead status. (i.e. How many MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads) or SQLs (Sales Qualified Leads) did we produce?)
This is good, but may understate the value of inbound! For instance, we may conduct Facebook remarketing campaigns to known contacts (different than leads) in the database. This may contribute to them warming back up, renewing interest and becoming warm qualified “contacts.” We need to have a funnel in the CRM that tracks “Contact Status” in a similar way to tracking “Lead Status” and we need to add Lead and Contact based SQLs together to get the true SQL total per month in order to track that marketing is also contributing to creating opportunities and pipeline from the existing database of customers and non-customer contacts! Some companies simply call them SQs to avoid the confusion of the L meaning “Lead,” when in fact many of the SQLs are contacts. Along the same lines, you also get MQLs (or MQs) from both leads and contacts. Usually the CRM reporting systems do not support running a single report on leads and contacts simultaneously, so in the absence of a SaaS reporting engine you may be adding numbers in Microsoft Excel or using your MAP to run these reports manually.
Creating a contact funnel is important, but requires great alignment between marketing and sales to be successful. There are several hurdles to overcome in doing this, I’ll talk about just one below.
Converted leads are not necessarily SQLs
Many companies set up their lead management process such that any lead that is converted is left with a residual lead status of “SQL” or “Converted.” Marketing counts which of these it sourced and considers those to be quality leads provided to Sales, but they might not be.
Consider the situation where a company wants to do Account Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns, and from a sales perspective wants to have all new leads immediately organized under the account as contacts. Does being associated with a target account make you an SQL? Many would argue it does not. That in fact your Lead Status value of New, Engaged, Known, or Re-Nurture should transfer over to the Contact Status if you are converted for convenience of the sales person, and that the person only gets to SQ level when they are finally qualified by sales and soon-to-be associated with an opportunity. What we learn from this is that counting converted leads may not be a good qualitative measure of the media spend on inbound when you are using inbound with both contacts and leads, or you convert leads before they reach SQ status.
In conclusion, reporting on your inbound results based on the pipeline and revenue generated is possible. It depends on having a well defined lead management process, very good funnel management, Service Level Agreements with Sales and Lead Development teams to ensure good data quality, and ensuring the technology and the integrations support the reports you want generate.