MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Sales-Qualified Leads?

MQL vs. SQL: What’s the Difference Between Marketing and Sales-Qualified Leads?

As marketers, we already know there are a ton of abbreviations used in our industry – PPC, CTR, BTC, KPIs – and so many more, it can have you feeling like WTH (that’s What The Hell, for those of you whose brains are already spinning!). So here are two more important lead gen abbreviations that are often used interchangeably, though incorrectly: MQL, or Marketing Qualified Leads, and SQL, or Sales Qualified Leads. Below, we’ll go over how they’re different; how they relate to each other and your business; and how to find, build, and pass on the strongest leads.

Information Qualified Lead (IQL)

Before we dive into MQLs, let’s take a step back to Information Qualified Leads, or IQLs. On a scale of leads weakest to strongest, an IQL would be on the weakest end. Some organizations just call these qualified leads. This lead is top-of-funnel and likely knows very little about your company and/or the solutions you provide, and is therefore not yet willing to take much action on their end. The level of conversion for an IQL is surface, usually in the form of giving an email address and nothing more. Obviously, to marketers, an email address is the holy grail gateway, and would then be used to marketing accordingly, offering free e-books, webinars, case studies, etc., to hopefully push the lead along the B2B funnel to become a Marketing Qualified Lead.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A Marketing Qualified Lead is the next stop in the funnel. This is the lead most marketers are probably familiar with, which makes sense given the label. An MQL is someone who takes you up on an offer by downloading an e-book or case study, joining a webinar, etc. He or she has shown another level of interest beyond just sharing an email address. Depending on your product and business, you may continue marketing to this lead with more information about your company, or you may jump to offers that would push this person along to becoming a Sales Qualified Lead. Example offers would be free product trials, consultations, or anything else that would allow them direct access to the product. If the MQL accepts the offer, then, and only then, would you pass him or her on to sales.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

An SQL is someone who has all the information he or she could possibly need, but might require a little extra push, or tailored education, to say yes. SQLs are the hottest and strongest leads, and should be followed up with quickly to maintain the interest that developed during the IQL and MQL phases.

IQL → MQL → SQL Real World Example

Let’s say your company makes an improved to-do list management system. A brand new way to get all the things done faster, with integration in all aspects of life on every device possible. How could someone not want to use it, right? That’s where our job as marketers comes in – to get someone interested and using it, hook, line, and sinker.

Here’s the example—A prospective customer comes across an article on your blog via a search. He or she likes your productivity life hacks and decides they want more. They sign up for your email list. They’re now an IQL. They’ve given you, the marketer, a little piece of information about themselves that you can use to push them along the funnel. Now that they’re on the list, a triggered email is sent with more information about your super awesome new and improved to-do list thingamajig. Your email includes an invitation to download some case studies showing how past customers have used your product to become 10x more productive in their daily lives. The prospective customer downloads the case studies. They’re now an MQL. They’ve taken pointed action to learn more about your business and the solutions you offer. After the MQL has some time to digest the case studies, you follow up with another triggered email offering a 2-week free trial. The MQL is flattered and excited and initiates their free trial immediately. They are now an SQL, ready to receive messaging that encourages them to pull the trigger to buy.

Defining Lead Type

Your organization may already have a system for labeling lead types, possibly as part of your CRM. But if not, you can create something as simple as a checklist that each lead needs to satisfy before moving down the funnel, or you can go as in-depth as setting up closed-loop reporting. As we covered in this post, closed-loop reporting helps track customer journey metrics from first contact to purchase. Because customers are going through many different touch points as they transition from IQL to MQL to SQL, it’s important to understand where the process is working (and put more budget to it), and where improvements can be made.

Can You Skip The MQL Phase?

Yes and no. By that, I mean you shouldn’t build your marketing strategy around trying to shorten the timeline and usher prospective customers straight into the SQL bucket. It’s so important to make sure any lead you might label as an SQL is truly ready to be sold to. Otherwise, you risk a lot of turnover with potential customers who will be very difficult to rebuild interest and trust with (ultimately leading to wasted marketing budget and less incremental revenue for the business). However, it is entirely possible for a prospect to pop up who is coming in with a more robust understanding and interest in your product, whether through their own research, or word-of-mouth. In that case, as long as the lead satisfies all the requirements of already being an MQL, you can move them right along to sales. Think of it as a type of sequential advertising you might run on Facebook. You want to make sure you’re hitting your customer with the right message at the right time, never moving too quickly or bombarding him or her with repetitive messaging when they’re actually ready to commit.

As you can see, there’s quite a big difference between MQLs and SQLs, and developing and handing them off correctly is the make or break between making or losing a sale. Marketers should work closely with the sales team to determine the best way to bridge communication and hand off the relationship.

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How to Improve the ROI of Event Marketing: 5 Strategies from the Expert

How to Improve the ROI of Event Marketing: 5 Strategies from the Expert

On average, CMOs allocate 24% of their total annual budgets to live events, according to Forrester. That’s not surprising, because many marketers consider event marketing to be highly effective. In a recent survey by Bizzabo, an event management platform, marketers ranked events among the best-performing marketing channels, together with content and email.

Why are events effective? Obviously, the Internet has a very limited power of human connection, compared to face-to-face interactions. People who attend trade shows are open to exploring new products and services. In many cases, that’s why they traveled all the way to the event in the first place.

But events are also expensive. On average, an event marketer spends $100-$150 per square foot for larger displays, which means that 20×20 displays may cost between $40,000 and $60,000.

But allocating your marketing budget is just part of the challenge. Measuring the return is quite tricky because you often don’t see the incremental revenue your investment brings right away.


event marketing roi

When asked what’s the single most effective marketing channel, event marketers said, well, it’s event marketing. (Also: content + email).  Source: Bizzabo

Prianka Dhir, co-founder and CEO of Beyond the Booth, a trade show management platform, says that budgets are usually the top concern for businesses participating in event marketing. Travel, personnel, and promotional activities — the list goes on. Prianka says that the best way to maximize your trade show ROI is to focus on the areas with the most impact. Here’re her five core principles for managing ROI-amazing live events.

1. Invest in people first

The worst event marketing mistake of all, according to Dhir, is understaffing. “Opportunities are quickly lost just because there aren’t enough people managing the booth, answering questions, or facilitating conversations,” Prianka says. The solution? “Consider the size of the event you will be participating in.”

But don’t just hire many people — hire the right people. Hiring short-term promotional staff with inadequate training or background on your product will result in less than stellar results, leads, or sales. “Hire people who know your product and can communicate clearly what the message of your company is and how others can benefit from it,” Prianka says. “Great personnel can take an event initiative from low to high impact almost immediately.”

2. Bring the swag

Prianka recommends adding visible logos on all promotional materials for added brand exposure after the event. “When it comes to purchasing promotional materials,” Prianka says, “businesses that are built to show are built to grow.”

Cool swag boosts your booth traffic and draws more attention to your brand. The best type of swag? Something useful. Most people like smartphone chargers, nice t-shirts, water bottles, or food, but you can get creative if you really know your target audience well. Importantly, don’t cheap out and stay away from anything large and heavy.

3. Attend before you spend

Prianka says that for first-timers in event marketing, attending the event before spending on a booth at this event can improve return on investment. It helps to understand who the attendees are, how they buy, and why they attend — all crucial information to help your business hold the attendees’ interest and pitch to them at the event. You’ll get a chance to analyze what works and what doesn’t by observing the trade show attendees or chatting with the exhibitors.

4. Get your success metrics right

Not every aspect of event marketing can be measured in sales. Don’t overlook the opportunities to do some competitive analysis, test new products, and build relationships with your customer. Sales are important, but using just the sales metric can be short-sighted.

“Instead, create metrics around what success means to you at the event,” Prianka says. For example, your performance metrics could be number of leads, number of sales, brand exposure, or upsell and cross-sell opportunities created.

5.  Budget for the unforeseen costs

Sure, you probably have all the major items planned out and accounted for in spreadsheets, but it’s hard to plan for everything. “Extra costs for items such as electrical charges, permits, design/decorating items are usually overlooked and underestimated,” Prianka says. “It’s good practice to set budgets for various aspects of your event, such as a separate budget for promotional materials, decor or staff so that you have a better chance of staying within the grander budget set for the whole event.”

To increase the ROI of your next marketing event, spend your money where it matters most. According to Prianka, your investment in staff and venue will have the greatest impact.

ROI vs. ROAS: How to Choose the Right Performance Metrics for Facebook

ROI vs. ROAS: How to Choose the Right Performance Metrics for Facebook

Over the past ten years, Facebook advertising has evolved from simple banner ads and listings to become a highly complex tool to target distinct demographics. Yet despite being one of the most common marketing tools out there, many marketers still misuse and miscalculate ROI and ROAS for Facebook ads, or have questions about the difference between ROAS and ROI, and how to optimize Facebook ROI and improve ROAS.

What is the difference between Facebook ROAS and Facebook ROI?

Facebook’s Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) measures the revenue generated as compared to the money spent on an advertising. ROAS is an advertising metric that measures the direct impact of dollars spent on advertising results and allows you to assess the performance of a campaign, without taking into consideration the additional costs of operations, training, etc. In order for a ROAS to be profitable, it has to been over 100%, as the initial 100% ROAS is recapping money spent.

Facebook’s Return on Investment (ROI) measures the return on your OVERALL investment and takes into consideration not only dollars spent, but the time, energy, labor, and intangible resources spent on generating this return. One could also argue that the “return” in this case goes beyond revenue created. It is a business metric, meaning that it measures not only the performance of an ad but the performance of your effort and your team.

We have an example of how to calculate the two later in this post, but let’s have a look at what the two actually measure.

What does ROI measure? What does ROAS measure?

In the table below I outline some of the things you may (or may not) figure into your marketing analytics to get a grip on your ROAS and your ROI.

Measures the result from money spent on: Measures the result from money spent on:
Market Research Advertising
Planning & Strategizing
Office Space
Building Relationships
Building Organic Social Media Reach (which has a compounding effect)
Non-Billable Hours
And the return includes: And the return includes:
Market Share Revenue (minus cost of product, if applicable)
Revenue (minus cost of product, if applicable)
And remember: And remember:
Return on Investment will always consider the cost of product Your ROAS should consider the cost of product, but many people forget to do this, giving misleading results.

As you can tell, ROI measures a number of factors, and the “Return” in ROI could be defined in several ways (such as social media reach, profits, etc.), making this both the most wonderful and frustrating metric.

For more paid marketing metrics, check out our article on PPC KPIs that matter to a CMO, Director and Manager.

Is ROAS a good Facebook marketing metric?

As you can see above, the tricky thing about ROAS is that while it accurately presents the impact of your marketing dollars, it doesn’t accurately reflect the expense of the product or the marketing team, making it a much more beneficial metric for digital products than physical products.

In Google AdWords, it is possible to calculate dynamic variables (such as cost), but at the time being this isn’t possible in Facebook. Fortunately, by using Facebook Pixel you can start tracking consumer behavior on your website, giving you the necessary information to accurately assess your ROI.

How are Facebook ROI and Facebook ROAS calculated?

Here is how to calculate Facebook ROI:

ROI Formula: ROI = (Revenue – Costs) / Costs

Percent ROI = (Revenue – Costs) x (100 / Costs)

Here is how to calculate Facebook ROAS:

ROAS Formula: ROAS = Revenue / Cost

Percent ROAS = (Revenue – Cost) x (100/Cost)

The table above clearly illustrates the difference between ROI and ROAS, and how ROI can be negative while ROAS is positive. The ROAS for campaign 1 is .5, or 50%, which is not profitable. In order for the campaign to break even they would either have to lower their PPC bid by 50%, or improve their strategy to bring their ROAS higher than 1.

As ROAS is a simple ratio metric, it is possible for your ads to have a higher ROAS but generate less profit.

Campaign Ad Spend Revenue Profit ROAS
1 $9,000 $18,000 $9,000 2
2 $5,400 $12,600 $7,200 2.3

The misleading nature of ROAS

The next question that always comes up is: which is the better marketing analytic: ROI or ROAS? While I generally prefer ROI, there is a lot of value in understanding both and temporarily lowering ROI in order to optimize and increase long-term ROAS, and thus further improve ROI.

Allow me to illustrate:

A few years back I challenged a client to increase their sales by lowering their ROAS. Coming from a traditional background, he was convinced that larger ad budgets and greater exposure were the best ways to drive sales. But by paying a consultant, narrowing down their audience and temporarily lowering their ROAS, they were able to target more relevant clients and increase ROI in the long run. The second sample campaign took about five times as long to plan, had more employee costs, was 15x more per click and garnered 10,000 fewer likes, but it cost half as much and created a small but significant increase in sales and plugged them into an audience who loves to buy their products, rather than liking them.

pasted image 0

So you see, temporarily lowering your ROI and ROAS (or, you could say, temporarily investing more money in market research and making informed decisions about ad spend) can dramatically increase your ROI and make your marketing efforts more scalable.

Audience building is another place where focusing on decreasing your ROAS can drastically raise your ROI. As Nash Haywood talks about in this article on Facebook’s campaign budget optimization, by spending the extra time to sort out audience types by category and creating campaigns targeting them, you will avoid having Facebook’s algorithm will quickly skew towards the highest performing audience and sinking all of your money into that one audience. Your performance may temporarily suffer, but your results will thank you for it.

Using ROI to optimize your Facebook campaigns

Facebook campaign budget optimization (item #1 in The Performance Marketer’s Guide To Facebook’s Campaign Budget Optimization) automatically optimizes your advertising budget at a campaign level, but if you are only looking at ROAS without considering ROI, you’ll miss the fact that the automation is only going after low-hanging fruit. This, as well as teams with low efficiency and projects that require complex collateral, are invisible bottlenecks that may cost you in the long run. A 10% gain in high-value customers will be much harder to gain than a 30% increase in lower-value customers, but which is more important? And which has greater potential for long-term results?

Here’s another example:

In the fall of 2017, a company named Lingokids was running ads internationally and spending a significant amount of time creating and managing those ad sets. By understanding their true investment and adopting dynamic language optimization, they were able to reduce their workload while lowering their app install cost by 26% and increased conversions by 11%.

The big picture

So which is more important: ROI or ROAS? Many people assume that there is no significant difference between ROI and ROAS, but hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll not only understand the difference but also how to strategically use these two figures to optimize both your team’s performance and your advertising budget.

The Art of the Chart: 5 Keys to Stunning Data Visualization

The Art of the Chart: 5 Keys to Stunning Data Visualization

When creating a report for someone, be it a boss or a client, the data should always be the star. Sure, you could just create page upon page full of data-dense tables, and they would tell a certain story. But creating more impactful and memorable reports requires more impactful and memorable ways to visualize data.

Since William Playfair created the first modern charts in the late 18th and early 19th century, the field of data visualization has come a long way, and a bevy of specialized and nuanced visualizations have been developed. This means that for every kind of story you’d like to tell with your data, “There’s a Chart for That.”

In this article, we share some tips and tricks you can use right away to make your next paid marketing report a stunner.

1. Whitespace is your friend

Give your data room to breathe. This focus on clarity means not overloading your charts with too many data points. For line and bar charts, there should be enough room at the bottom and left side of the chart for all of the divisions of the axes to be clearly labeled and understood. For bar charts, a good general guideline is to limit yourself to no more than 2-3 bars per point on the X-axis when comparing multiple data categories per point.

PPC Reporting using charts

2. Variety is the spice of life

Focusing on clarity also means making different datasets easy to distinguish. In a line chart, this might mean having one line be solid, and the other be a dotted line, for instance. In a pie chart, where the primary method of distinction is color, this means picking a color palette where no two color representations are too close. If all the slices are equally important to your narrative, give them each equally bright (or dull) colors so that no one slice takes the focus.

On the other hand, if you want to call attention to a particular slice, give all the other slices similar, preferably more muted (grays, beiges, etc.), colorings, to allow the spotlight data to really stand out from the rest. Ideally, the color scheme you pick should still work in a black and white printout, as even today, lots of reports end up as low-quality scans or copies where color is either severely limited or absent altogether. If brand colors are required, use them, otherwise, try a color scheme generator tool such as Colormind – tools like this one make it really easy to create stunning charts.

PPC reporting -- ad spend by network

3. Use the right chart for the job

Line Charts

What’s it good for?

The line chart (aka run chart or time series chart) is a really effective way to show a change in data over time. Its ability to be easily and quickly understood, which is the cornerstone of effective data visualization, and a large number of applications where showing a change in data over time is needed, make it an all-purpose all-star.

ppc reporting -- line chart

Example Usage

Use this one when you, say, want to track month-over-month clicks for a given campaign, perhaps overlaying a second line chart to compare those values with the same months from the previous year.

Bar Charts

What’s it good for?

The bar chart. So ubiquitous, it’s used as the icon for the Mac spreadsheet application Numbers. Choose the bar chart for hassle-free comparison of different data points by showing their amount on one axis (usually the Y-axis) alongside their category (usually shown on the X-axis). A specific type of bar chart, called a histogram, is used much like the time series chart, to show multiple snapshots of a single value, rather than a single snapshot of multiple values as seen in a typical bar chart. Keep in mind, bar charts aren’t limited to one bar per category on the X-axis.

One pitfall to avoid is trying to show too many different values along the X-axis, as the limited horizontal space in a typical bar chart doesn’t allow a lot of space for label text. If too much data is crammed into the X-axis, the chart becomes unwieldy and difficult to interpret.

Example Usage

Let’s say you want to track CTR per ad network for a given month. You could use a bar chart, with the Y-axis labeled with the min and max CTRs, with equally spaced (and enough whitespace to be easily read) labels between them on the Y-axis, and then you could either have one bar for each network if only showing a single month’s totals, or you could group the network bars, showing their values for a multi-month view of your results.

Pie Charts

What’s it good for?

The pie chart shines when you need to show the ratio of “slices” of data to the whole pie, as it were. If you want to show your ad spend for Facebook as a portion of your total ad spend for all networks, for example. Pie charts are great at showing a handful of different segments of data at once. However, once you start to go beyond that, the pie slices can become too small to really be useful. Use this one when you’ve got relatively few data ratios to show, and the ratios of those data points to the total sum of the data is important to telling your story.

PPC reporting -- bar chart

Example Usage

For your monthly report, you might want to show distribution of your ad budget among ad networks within an account. Your Bing ads have been underperforming recently, so you want to make sure they’re not eating up too much of your PPC budget compared to your other ad network accounts.

Gauge Charts

What’s it good for?

This chart type is great for showing progress toward an end goal. It looks a lot like the fuel gauge in a car, and just as the fuel gauge shows the ratio of fuel still in your car’s tank to the full capacity of the tank, so a gauge chart shows the current value of something compared to a goal value.

PPC reporting -- gauge chart

Example Usage

Let’s say you wanted a certain ad to get 100 clicks per month. You could set up a gauge chart with 0 being the min value and 100 being the max, and plot where along that line your current click count sits, to be able to tell if you’re on track to where you need to be, or if you need to alter your campaign or ad settings to try and ramp up that click count.

4. Keep it simple

With all the easy access to fancy effects like gradients and drop shadows, it can be tempting to go wild with the possibilities. However, you’ll have much more pleasing results if you abstain from any special effects, and stick to simple fills and outlines.

5. Use the Checklist

The next time you set out to create a report layout to wow your client or boss, use this checklist to ensure that your report will be the star of the show:

  • Line Chart
    • There is enough space to show all the data points you want to showcase ( make sure the axis labels have enough room to be clearly read. If you’re really cramped for space, you can rotate them 90 degrees so that they read vertically rather than horizontally
    • The data point(s) you want to focus on are clearly highlighted. If not, try changing their color
  • Pie Chart
    • The smallest slices are still large enough to be labeled and understood
    • The slices are clearly distinguishable, with the most important ones clearly called out
  • Gauge Chart
    • There is only one measurement being shown
    • If the goal value is less than the max you’re showing, you should somehow indicate the goal line by adding an additional mark to the gauge chart
  • All Charts
    • The text size on the chart is large enough to read
    • Colors used in the chart are distinct enough to be easily told apart in various formats (on screen and in print, if applicable)
    • There are few or no special effects (like gaudy gradients or extreme drop shadows)
    • The most important data is at the top left of the report (or top right, for right-to-left reading languages)

By following the strategies outlined in this article, you can rest assured that your data will be shown in its best light, and you’ll be able to be proud of the story your data is telling through the use of your stunning visualizations.

For more information on the myriad charts available today, check out the data visualization catalog.

To start creating stunning, data-rich PPC reports with an intuitive and easy-to-use builder today, sign up for a risk-free trial of AdStage.

How to Know if Your Marketing Campaign Is Working

Posted by in Analytics, Reporting
How to Know if Your Marketing Campaign Is Working

We’ve all been there.

You’re in a meeting with your team and a few senior people. You’re reviewing the results of your latest marketing campaign.

You’ve got some analytics data that suggests the results were good, and some data that suggests the results were… mixed.

How are you going to call it? Was this campaign a success, or not?

Because this particular part of marketing is so critical, and because it can be such a judgment call sometimes, we thought it would be interesting to get the input from several marketers in the field on how they measure the success or failure of a campaign.

We asked them a fairly broad question: What’s your favorite way to measure a marketing campaign’s effectiveness?

It was a deliberately broad question, asked of a deliberately broad group of marketers. Some of the people listed below run their own ad agencies. Some are Marketing Directors or at a similar level. A few are bonafide analytics experts; a couple are major marketing influencers. Most are in B2B, but not all.

The key denominator of this group is that these people all do measurable marketing: Marketing that has to prove results.

And the key denominator to their answers? What “success” looks like varies. How you measure a campaign can be as different as the business that’s running the campaign itself.

But beyond that, there were two trends:

  • It all comes down to sales and leads. Those could be measured by revenue, by contribution to pipeline, by sales opportunities created, or by other metrics.
  • Begin with the end in mind. If you want to measure the success of a campaign, define your goals for it from the beginning.

In fact, after reviewing all these answers, it appears that there is one wrong way to measure campaigns: The same way every time.

This actually makes sense. Every business is different, and business goals change over time. It makes sense that what could be a failed campaign for one business (better brand awareness, but no change in lead value), could be a winning campaign for another company.

So while there’s still no definitive answer on how to measure a marketing campaign’s effectiveness – and there never will be – every one of these answers shows how smart people prioritize what’s important and what’s not. How they measure response, and how they learn from the results. And that’s always good information.

1. Heidi Cohen: Define your user context

While specific metrics depend on the type of marketing used, the key to effective tracking is to start before you develop your campaign.  Specifically, define its objective, target audience, and user context since together these variables determine your metrics. Based on these inputs, create specific calls-to-action and associated landing pages that yield trackable results. (Note: Hubspot Research revealed that increasing the number of landing pages yields improved results.) As a marketer, I prefer metrics that ultimately can be associated with contributing to sales, profitability and/or increased customer lifetime value. That said, when using many forms of digital marketing, it can be difficult to assess the specific factors that contributed to these results beyond the last site or landing page touched. This undervalues the contribution of marketing used in the early stages of the purchase process.

About Heidi:

An Entrepreneur Magazine Top 10 Online Marketing Influencer, Heidi Cohen is the Chief Content Officer of the award winning Actionable Marketing Guide, focused on social media, content and digital marketing. Cohen is also a speaker, professor and journalist.

Twitter: @heidicohen, 34K followers

2. Jeff Sauer: Think objectives first, tools last

To measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, you must first have an objective. What is the point of running a marketing campaign in the first place? What results do you expect to receive from that campaign? What are your KPIs? Once you establish objectives, measuring effectiveness becomes much easier. In fact, it’s so easy that even a simple caveman like me can do it with even the most basic of tools. You can probably do it, too! Many digital marketers get stuck with measurement, because they think in terms of tools and technology, not in terms of what the business really needs. So instead of settling on a KPI or metric of value, and then choosing the easiest technology solution to measure this point, we get stuck on bolting those objectives on to our existing tools. The result is often a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. No bueno. Think of objectives first, tools last, and the solution becomes easy. Tactically, you can measure just about every objective with two tools that have been around for well over a decade. 1) Campaign tracking URLs in Google Analytics. 2) Goals in Google Analytics. These have been my favorite methods for tracking campaign effectiveness every year since 2005.

About Jeff:

Founder of Jeffalytics, agency owner, teacher and a digital nomad. A firm believer in data-driven marketing, Jeff’s training programs have turned over 10,000 digital marketers into Google certified professionals.

Twitter: @jeffalytics 3.7K followers

3. Ardath Albee: Measure Momentum and Engagement

Of course, contribution to pipeline is the end goal we all aim for. My favorite way of measuring ongoing “campaigns” is momentum and engagement.

How many of the assets in the campaign are prospects viewing? Am I able to get them to binge on the content or are they only giving me drive-by views? And are they sharing the content with their colleagues who could be involved in the buying decision?

About Ardath:

B2B Marketing Strategist, speaker, author of 2 books.

Twitter: @ardath421, 25.5K followers

Ardath Albee is CEO and a B2B Marketing Strategist for her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She’s the author of Digital Relevance and a frequent industry speaker.

4. Kevin Thomas Tully: Measure direct sales revenue

My favorite way to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign is simple: measure the amount of direct sales revenue the campaign produces.

Regardless of the secondary calculation a company uses to define success, whether total return on investment (ROI) [total money spent on campaign vs. total money generated], or customer lifetime value (CLV) [the projected revenue a customer will generate during his/her lifetime], or customer acquisition cost (CAC) [all costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) divided by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent], or the total number of sales opportunities created (SQLs not MQLs), marketing leadership must think in terms of tangible business value (bottom-line revenue production), rather than fluffy engagement/brand awareness metrics, when constructing new campaigns.

In the absence of any quantifiable benchmarks of direct revenue attribution, your team’s marketing efforts not only yield questionable measurable valuable to your organization, but will also be devoid of the assessments and critical indicators necessary to dictate further action.

About Kevin:

Kevin is the Global Director of Social Selling Operations at Creation Agency. A John Hopkins-trained data scientist, Kevin has applied true buyer intent data, predictive analytics, and data mining to the sales and marketing process for more than a decade to gain a strategic marketplace advantage for leading brands worldwide.

Twitter: @kevinttully, 27.6K followers

5. Robbie Richards: Get Down to ROI 

I work with a lot of B2B SaaS companies right now. These companies have much longer, and more complex sales cycles. To show the effectiveness of our marketing campaigns we’ll use a combination of Google Analytics data and Salesforce lead tracking.

There are a bunch of secondary metrics we report on, like organic traffic, keyword rankings, links acquired (we do a lot of SEO and PPC), and pull all this data in a Google Data Studio dashboard.

But, the metrics we are ultimately measured on are:

·      # new leads (by source)

·      Average cost-per-lead

·      # opportunities (a measure of the lead quality)

·      ROI

We also work with a lot of lawyers too – local SEO and PPC. In this case, we’re measuring local rankings, organic traffic, leads, and closed deals to get an ROI measurement.

About Robbie:

Robbie Richards is a full-stack digital strategist for a fast-growing tech company. He plans, builds, executes and measures digital campaigns for companies across many industries, including real estate, healthcare, hospitality and SaaS companies with 8-figure valuations.

Twitter: @RobbieRichMktg, 23.7K followers

6. Kathryn Aragon: Measure Campaign Effectiveness in Stages

I measure a campaign’s effectiveness in stages. First, did I break even on advertising? Then as the campaign continues, what’s the conversion rate?

When the campaign is done, I evaluate the results and make a final call on the message, the offer, the targeting, the structure of the campaign, etc.

The elements that worked, I’ll likely reuse. Everything else will be revamped.

About Kathryn:

Kathryn Aragon is the author of “The Business Blog Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Running a Business Blog that Drives Traffic and Accelerates Growth” and a principal at Kathryn Aragon Media, which offers advanced content marketing for small teams and entrepreneurs

Twitter: @KathrynAragon, 3.3K followers

7. Derek Edmond: Tie Your Content Metrics to Lead Quality Improvement

While the easy answer is “quality leads” it’s also the most challenging. To that extent, we measure tactical effectiveness contributing to lead generation along the way.

Examples include improvements in organic search engine presence for important keyword phrases, quality inbound links acquired from content marketing, and performance of content with respect to page view improvements and referral traffic from search engines and social media activity.

Tying these metrics to lead growth ultimately demonstrates the effectiveness of the marketing campaign.

About Derek:

Derek Edmond leads organizational strategy, direction, and growth for KoMarketing, a B2B online marketing agency specializing in search engine marketing, social media, and content marketing.

Twiiter: @DerekEdmond , 5.9K followers

 8. Lilach Bullock: Set clear goals & enjoy the process

I start by setting clear goals for my marketing campaigns; this way when the campaign is finished, I know exactly what I need to measure in order to determine its effectiveness. Frankly, the whole process is my favorite — I love analytics and I love software tools so measuring results can actually be quite fun for me.

About Lilach:

Lilach Bullock is listed in Forbes as one of the top 20 women social media power influencers and was crowned the Social Influencer of Europe by Oracle. She is a speaker, lead conversion expert, content marketing & social media specialist.

Twitter: @lilachbullock, 105K followers

9. Paul Potratz: You only need one metric

Owner and Founder of the digital agency Potratz Partners Advertising, marketing influencer and vlogger

Never before has there been so many different metrics to determine success rates for how we market. With a multitude of objectives, and success being determined slightly different for each, it can be pretty situational. Ultimately, however, there’s one metric that’s historically and universally measured the success of all marketing – sales.

About Paul:

Paul Potratz is a business consultant, news talk radio show host, founder and owner of Potratz Digital Marketing. He is best known for taking complex business problems and creating simple guerrilla processes to increase revenue and profits.

Twitter: @PaulPotratz 35.7K followers

10. Yasmin Bendror: Measure Behavioral Change

Marketing campaign effectiveness can be measured by many different metrics, depending on the goal of the campaign. But the one metric that’s so important is whether the campaign changed the target audience’s behavior: did it change a perception, cause an action or drive an engagement?

This is the fundamental metric that will trigger the other metrics we are always looking for: leads, sales, traffic, awareness, branding.

About Yasmin:

Yasmin Bendror is Founder and President of YMarketingMatters. She works with businesses to focus on content strategy and content marketing that will resonate with a specific target audience on a consistent basis, to produce results.

Twitter: @yasminbendror, 5.1K followers

11. Kim (Stiglitz) Courvoisier: Measure the Value

As a demand gen team, the obvious answer is we measure the effectiveness of our campaigns based on measurable KPIs including MQLs, pipeline generated, and sales deals closed.

However, I would also say being part of a demand gen team at a cutting-edge customer engagement platform, that one of the most important ways we also measure the effectiveness of our campaigns is how much value did it provide to our prospects and our team.

For prospects, did the content in the campaign provide useful information that helped them solve a business problem?

For our team, what did we learn from the campaign so we can use those learnings to further optimize our new campaign? We should always be learning and optimizing.

More about Kim:

Kim Courvoisier is the Head of Demand Gen and Content at Thanx. Thanx is an automated customer engagement platform for offline and omnichannel businesses that identifies, engages and retains your best customers while helping you find more people that act like them.

Twitter: @stiggy1, 3.8K followers

Back to you

So that’s how those eleven marketers measure effectiveness. How do you do it? Tell us about how you evaluate campaigns in the comments.

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How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

How to Measure Social Media Effectiveness

Ah, the eternal question: Is your social media marketing effective?

We’ve come a long way with social media measurement in recent years, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Even in 2018, only 23.3% of CMOs say they can show the impact of social media on their business:

measure social media impact

So why is this so hard? If we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we quantify Facebook activity?

Well, therein lies part of the problem. Measuring social media is dicey for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest is because every social media platform measures activity differently.

Also, because different social media platforms have completely different functionality, there’s no way to bend the definition of most metrics so that all the platform metrics can “talk” to each other.

I’d say it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, but actually, if you look at all the social media metrics available across even the most popular social media platforms, it’s more like an apples-to-oranges-to-clementines-to-bananas-to-kumquats to…

Oh, you get the idea. It’s a headache.

That said, despite all the challenges of measuring social media effectiveness, some companies have solved the mystery. You can see this plainly in the first chart. 23.3% of CMOs do know the impact of their social media work. It can be done.

Now, we hope you’re on the team of one of those CMOs. But if you’re not, maybe you can get there.

The exact way to do this will be different for every company. And that’s as it should be: You’ve got different business goals, different tactics, different assets, a different business model. Using the exact same methodology to measure social activity as everybody else would be ridiculous. It wouldn’t work.

But you can take the principles of social media measurement, and get a reliable read on what’s working and what’s not.

Here’s how:

1. Define what “effective” means.

What does your company want from its social media marketing? More revenue? More brand awareness? More social media leads?

A bit of all three?

Ideally, you’ll pick just one primary goal for your work, but “ideally” is the operative word there. Often, there’s a squabble between different people on your team about what “effective” means.

Work this out as best you can. Get a meaningful, working definition of what “effective” means. You can change that definition next year if your business goals change.

But obviously, until you get clear on what “effective” means – in a quantifiable way – it’s going to be basically impossible to measure it.

Want to know what your fellow marketers are doing social media for? The DMA asked them about that last year:

primary social media goal

2. Assign some metrics to track your vision of effectiveness.

Does “effective advertising” mean more revenue for your company? Great. The classic ROI formula will work for you.

Here it is:

ROI formula

Did you want to measure brand awareness instead? Ah… that’s a squishier problem.

Brand awareness is not impossible to measure, of course. But it’s not as cleanly quantifiable as revenue. However, there are companies that can measure how aware your target audience is of your brand or products/services now. And then your team can decide where you want your goal brand awareness number to be. You’ve got your starting measurement, and your goal measurement.

At that point, some companies just step back from measuring every little step along the way. They’ll say, “Great – get us to brand awareness measurement 6.3 and we’ll call this effective.”

That’s fine in the boardroom, but it breaks in the cubicle. You – the social media manager, the marketing manager, even as CMO – are going to need to measure every campaign by how much it moves the needle toward the brand awareness measurement that you want.

You need an attribution model.

3. Pick the best possible attribution model for your needs.

An attribution model is basically the formula you’ll use to tie marketing messages and customer actions directly to quantifiable results.

In other words, an attribution model takes into account a variety of different “touches” your prospect will go through before they become a customer. It weights each touch and then assigns each touch a quantified value (in dollars) for the sale.

Attribution models range from the simple to the far more complicated. For example, “last touch” is a simple attribution model. That’s where you attribute revenue to whichever marketing message happened right before the sale went through. The “last touch” before the sale happened, literally.

So if the sale is worth $30, and the last touch is a click from an email that drove the customer to your site, the email message gets full credit for the $30 sale.

Unfortunately, while last touch and other simple attribution models make for easier analytics and report generation, everybody knows they don’t tell the whole story of what’s happening.

Here’s why: We know that it takes the average B2C consumer 9.5 visits to a website before they decide to buy. So while using a last touch model is convenient, it completely ignores any contribution from those other 8.5 visits (much less what drove those website visits).

If you’re in B2B, the sales funnel gets even more complicated. It’s not uncommon for B2B marketers to have a sales cycle of six months or more. And remember – every sales process (aka “customer journey”) is different. We consumers don’t move through sales cycles all in the same way.

So suffice it to say, there’s just a lot to track. Which is why we have attribution models. Think of them a bit like simple customer journey tracking algorithms.

This complexity gets particularly funky for social media. Even if you just optimize all your social media marketing for clicks, and add a set value to each click (either based on what you pay for social clicks, search clicks, or organic clicks), you could still miss out on quantifying some the benefits your social media marketing delivers. Especially if your goal is, say, brand awareness.

All this complexity is at the core of why marketers struggle to know if their social media is effective. Many of them know, intuitively, that it is – but they can’t prove it on paper.

Which is, again, why we use attribution models. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they’re much better than just throwing your hands up. A well-implemented attribution model can give social media the credit it is due, while still weighing all the other steps your prospect goes through along the way.

Again, it is definitely not perfect, but it can be good enough to make decisions from.

The question, of course, is which attribution model to use. That’s really for you and your CMO, your CFO and your team to figure out. But for reference, here are the most commonly-used attribution models for B2B marketers.

b2b attribution model

Also consider this breakout of attribution models. It’s for B2B and B2C:

attribution models for b2b and b2c. Emarketer

Source: eMarketer

After you’ve got an attribution model, all that’s left is to plug in your data (we recommend using our new Calculated Metrics Builder to make this easier).

You’ll get back a measurement of how effective each of your marketing campaigns are.

Now, is it gospel? Hardly. It’s an educated guess.

In Zen-speak, you attribution model is the finger pointing to the moon – not the moon itself. But it’s as accurate an analysis as possible. And you can confidently run a business, manage your social media campaigns, and invest in resources accordingly.

Word to the wise: Every CMO I’ve ever come across will ask you to run more than one attribution model. So even when we have our snapshot view of “this is our best, data-driven view of what’s going on,” they’ll want another view of it.

And this makes sense. It’s smart to take attribution models with a grain of salt. But they’re good at dispelling cognitive biases we may have (I know Snapchat works… we just can’t prove it yet.”). But they’re still a model. Sometimes data models fail.

But they’re good enough to trust and take actions from. And that is the ultimate goal of all this data we have – to show us which actions to take.

4. Figure out what it cost to achieve your results.

This is in some way the easiest part of measuring social media effectiveness. You do it because to get a true return on your investment, you’re going to need to know what your investment was.

Here are a few of the items to include in that calculation:

·      Staff salaries

If you have people dedicated to social media, this is easy. But you probably have a couple of people who contribute to your social media work part time. Ask them roughly what percentage of their time goes into social media, then allocate that portion (including benefits and all other employee costs) to the staff section of your social media costs.

·      Outsourced support.

Got any freelancers who contribute to social media? Add up their costs here.

·      Tools, software, services, etc.

Use a social media scheduling tool? Add its cost here.

·      Advertising and promotion costs.

·      Content creation costs.

This is trickier than it sounds. For example: You publish a blog post. It costs $900 all in. You publish it on your blog but it also goes into your email newsletter, and you share it several times on social media.

Is it fair for your blog to bear the overhead burden for the whole blog post, when your newsletter and your social media marketing get benefits from that post, too? Most marketers would say no. So they might attribute 10% of the cost of the blog post to both the newsletter and social media each. The blog itself would only “pay” for 80% of the overhead for that post.


Let’s bring all this complexity into perspective.

At it’s simplest, achieving social media effectiveness just means you’ve achieved the goal you set for yourself on social media.

If your goal is clear, it’s not hard to tell if you’ve done that.

Of course, as business people, we want to quantify our marketing goal and its achievement better than “I achieved my goal – good for me!” So we’ll specify what our goals are. We’ll set measurable goals and give ourselves a deadline to achieve those goals.

Again, it’s not so hard to tell if you’ve achieved a goal or not. No rocket science required here.

But because we’re wonky businesspeople, we’ll also want to know if we achieved our goal in an affordable way.

So when we set out to achieve our goal, we allocate a bunch of resources into achieving it. And we keep track of how much those resources cost, so we’ll know how much it took to achieve our goal.

If the results of our goal are worth more to us than what value of the resources we put in, we’ve got a positive return. Our social media marketing was effective.

Now, that’s certainly not the classical definition of ROI, but this simplification can help. It’s a plain way to think about the resources we put in, and the results we get out. Or, in other words, if we achieved our goals at a price we’re happy with.

Back to you

Where are you at with this whole issue of tracking social media effectiveness? Does your company use an attribution model, or can you say with confidence that you know your social media work is effective? Leave a comment and tell us what you think.


5 Ways Facebook Analytics Beats Google Analytics

Posted by in Analytics, Facebook
5 Ways Facebook Analytics Beats Google Analytics

Are you taking advantage of Facebook Analytics? What if I told you that it may be better than Google Analytics at measuring and analyzing your audience?

Facebook continues to provide marketers with the tools they need to be successful. With the addition of Facebook Analytics, they’re closing the gap on measuring actions taken in the News Feed to what happens on company websites, apps, and brick and mortar stores. They’re tying all these channels together to provide marketers with an omni-channel measurement and analytics tool. And it’s awesome!

Yet, the adoption rate of Facebook Analytics among marketers appears to be low (at least amongst my circle of paid social friends). I’ve been playing around with Facebook Analytics since it came out and it’s powerful! You can build audience cohorts, retention models, and revenue funnels with a few clicks.

Have I stopped using Google Analytics? No. But I’m definitely in Facebook Analytics a lot more learning how people are interacting with our content, our Page, Messenger bot, and more.

What is Facebook Analytics?

According to Facebook,

Facebook Analytics allows you to measure, understand, and optimize the interactions people have with your business across both devices and channels to help drive meaningful growth. With over 2 billion people on Facebook, our analytics solution provides rich, unique audience insights, powerful reports like conversion funnels and retention curves, and automated insights.

Facebook is directly tying activity on it’s properties to actual business revenue. This is huge for marketers. Your marketing goals shouldn’t be tied to single channels anymore, because people interact with your business across channels like your website, Facebook Page, Twitter, email campaigns, and in-store visits. Understanding how those interactions happen is key to creating the right user experiences, measuring omni-channel performance, and scaling growth across your marketing campaigns.

Here are five areas where Facebook Analytics is better than Google Analytics.

1) The Focus on People, Not Devices

Google Analytics is great at tracking devices, but not necessarily the person behind them. For example, when I visit a website on my phone and again on my desktop computer, Google Analytics sees me as two different users. That’s a tough pill to swallow for companies running a lot of social media companies. Why?

Because mobile ads accounted for 89% of Facebook’s ad revenue during Q4’17. In other words, the vast majority of traffic coming from Facebook is on a mobile device. And for most companies, people still convert on desktop. Thus, making it difficult to track Facebook campaign attribution in Google Analytics.

In contrast, Facebook Analytics is able to stitch together who you are by using your Facebook login and enriching your profile with activities from other third-party data. More importantly, Facebook Analytics focuses on people, rather than cookies, sessions, or devices.

This allows marketers to understand when the same person interacts with their business across different channels and devices. Marketers can now easily measure and unify people’s behavior without any additional work or hassle, such as manually assigning and mapping user IDs in data warehouses.

Facebook Analytics Overview Dashboard

2) Cross-Device Measurement and Analytics

Facebook’s omni-channel analytics makes it easy to monitor activity across devices and get a complete view of the customer journey. Facebook Analytics has many reports that can help you better understand your customers and their behavior across devices and channels, including:

  1. Funnels – Funnels allow you to monitor people’s journey’s through your experiences – whether that’s an e-commerce checkout experience, registration or sign up process, or how far people make it through your New User Experience (NUX). Funnels are the best way to identify where you should spend your resources and optimize your app.
  2. Cohorts – After acquisition, retention is the other half of the growth equation. Cohorts are the way to understand how well you’re retaining your users and, more importantly, how changes to your app are affecting that retention. With Facebook Analytics behavioral cohorts, we can even look at how changes to your app affect Lifetime Value (LTV) or any other event you care about.
  3. Segments – To really understand your users you need to zoom and understand different audiences. Whether that’s seeing the demographics of your top performing customers by value or seeing how well a particular demographic converts in your funnels (segmentation is supported on most reports in Facebook Analytics).

For example, a university could build a funnel to measure the amount of people who commented on a particular Page post and then requested degree information on their website. Tracking Facebook Page activity to website leads/purchases should have marketers saying, “giddy up.”

seinfeld giddy up

3) Events Source Groups (ESGs)

A newer feature in Facebook Analytics is the ability to unify your website, app, Page, Messenger, and more into one global view. ESGs are two or more of your event sources (like Messenger, website, your mobile app, or your Facebook Page) grouped and given a name. ESGs have their own dashboard in Facebook Analytics, and let you see user behavior and interactions across the sources you group together.

Facebook Analytics Events Source Groups

Marketers can now aggregate, measure, and visualize people’s actions across both devices and channels, including your website, app, Facebook Page, and offline events to optimize campaign conversions and even retention. They’re calling this omni-channel analytics as it spans across Facebook’s family of apps and services with the addition of your website, bot, and offline events.

4) Omni-Channel Custom Audiences

Seamlessly create custom audiences from your apps, websites, and bots, and target them with Facebook ad campaigns. This is really cool and something I haven’t heard many paid social people talking about.

Think about all the ways you can organize your custom audience groupings for deeper user segmentation. Again in Google Analytics, you can create very advanced audience segments, but you’re really limited to only website visitors by device. We can’t combine other Google properties and apps like Gmail and Maps into one holistic view.

This is why this feature is powerful for marketers to understand and utilize to drive the right messages at the right time. Keep in mind that you can’t create a custom audience if your Facebook Page is included in your Event Source Group. You’ll have to create Page audiences using the Audiences tab in Ads Manager.

Facebook Custom Audience in Analytics

5) Automated Insights (beta)

Using advanced machine learning, Facebook Analytics reduces the time spent searching for clues by bringing valuable insights directly to you.

Facebook Analytics Automated Insights surfaces valuable data and trends to help you focus your efforts and keep your business moving forward. This is similar to the Google AdWords opportunities tab where they’re surfacing insights quickly and easily for marketers to understand audience performance.

Facebook Analytics Automated Insights Beta

They breakout insights by device, age, location, and more. Pretty cool to see these granular user trends going up and down as it’s not something we usually think about.


By closing the loop between your online and offline channels, you won’t have to wonder if people browsing items on your website or commenting on a Facebook Page post translates into sales in your store. Be sure to also check out the Complete Guide to Facebook Analytics for more information. And be sure to like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter for the latest updates.

Go check out what Facebook Analytics has to offer and let me know what you think!



How to Set and Track Your Marketing Goals

How to Set and Track Your Marketing Goals

“Begin with the end in mind.”

That was good advice back when Stephen Covey wrote The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People so many years ago. And it’s good advice now.

In fact, if you had to write The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marketers for 2018, “begin with the end in mind” would be a smart chapter title. Perhaps even the first chapter title.

You could begin it by talking about how to define marketing goals.

This is trickier than it sounds. If you’ve ever been around the conference table when the question of which marketing goals to pick comes up, you know how the conversation goes. People start tossing in all sorts of ideas…

“More revenue!”

“More ROI.”

“Better leads.”

“More website traffic.”

 Those are all admirable goals, of course. One or two of them might even be the right goals. But you need to distill all those suggestions down to one or two priorities. Because if “improve every single metric we track” is your marketing goal… you don’t have a goal. You have a herd of competing priorities.

 The trick, of course, is to pick one goal that will support all the others. That one thing that, if achieved, would make pretty much every aspect of your business better.

Then your second trick would be to find the perfect, trackable metric through which to measure your progress. The one metric to measure every piece of content by, every advertising campaign, everything you do. To find the “one metric to rule them all” in Lord of the Rings parlance.

Now, can you have more than one marketing goal? Sure.

You can have no marketing goals if you want. You can even be like 66% of B2C or 55% of B2B content marketers, who don’t have a working definition of what success even looks like.

But we do not recommend this.

And frankly, if you’re reading this, you wouldn’t take that path, either. So pick one goal (or two, if you must).

How to pick your marketing goal/s

You may already have an idea of what your primary marketing goal should be. Here are a few ways to test if it’s a worthy goal, or to develop a marketing goal in the first place:

·      If you could change one thing about your business, what would deliver the biggest impact? More revenue? Shorter sales cycle? Something else?

·      A year from now, where do you want your business to be? What’s one specific, succinct goal that would prove you had achieved that?

·      As you look through your reporting – particularly your marketing reports – what’s one metric you feel your company is just really weak on? Another way to ask this is: Where’s the black hole in your marketing funnel?

·      If you could achieve this one goal, what else would you be able to do? Often, goals are like chess pieces – you pick a particular goal simply because it opens up so many possibilities and options for your business. Achieve that one goal, and you’ll be in a position of power.

·      Can you realistically achieve this goal? Tripling the number of leads you get sounds great, but could you actually map out what it would take to get that done – and realistically plug those tasks into your calendar? Give yourself a winnable goal, not a moonshot. Unrealistic goals often get ignored.

Choosing a primary marketing goal is something that you should get a group consensus on. That’s because if you’re really picking this one goal as the focal point of your marketing work, that means a lot of people are going to have to be committed to this goal. All those people need to believe in this not just give it lip service.

For those of you who aren’t 100% sure of what your goal should be, here are the most common goals digital marketers have:

marketing goals and objectives

Those are all excellent, admirable goals. But notice how spread out the answers are. None of them gets more than 20%. This speaks to how individualized most companies marketing goals are – and that’s as it should be.

How to attach a metric to your marketing goals

 This is where we get specific. The metric you pick – and how you track and measure it – is the ruler by which you will measure success.

Sometimes, goal metrics are easy to measure. Like new leads. You define that as how many unique individuals fill out a particular form, for example. That’s a nice, clear, easily trackable way to see what’s happening.

But as Michael McEuen writes in his post on B2B attribution, more leads is not always a great way to actually improve your business, because not all leads are created equal.

Some leads are more affordable to get, sure. But when you track their performance all the way down to revenue earned, the source of the most leads is not necessarily the source that generated the best leads. Or even the most revenue.

marketing leads excel spreadsheet

This is exactly why so many marketers have shifted from “get more leads” to “get better leads” for what they track. Or their metric may be even more specific, like “reduce the cost per Sales Qualified Lead by 30%.”

There are many other types of metrics to track, of course. Customer retention is a great thing to track, as it can result in so much revenue growth.

Lifetime value is another one of marketers’ favorite metrics. This is an especially smart metric to focus on because the marketer who has the highest lifetime value can outspend all of her competitors.

If they only earn, say, $50 per customer as a lifetime value, and she earns, say, $150 from each customer, she can outspend them three to one with advertising and still break even. She can afford to spend more to keep those customers loyal, too.

But again, that’s just one metric. And if you’ve got your analytics dialed in, you may want to track a very specific thing.

That can be a limitation of some marketing analytics tools. All tools help, sure, but often you’re stuck with only 5-6 “out of the box” metrics to track. You can’t create a custom metric unless you’re a Google Analytics whiz or can cobble together your own reporting tool via Excel or Google Sheets.

calcualted metrics adstage

Our new Calculated Metrics Builder lets you define and track pretty any metric you can calculate. You don’t have to be limited to just a handful of KPIs to track.

You may also want to track a constellation of goals. Sometimes this is the best way to see the details of how you’re achieving a particular marketing goal.

Here’s a series of marketing goals, and their supporting metrics:

o   Increase website traffic

  • Time on site
  •  % of returning visitors
  •  Social media referral traffic
  • Value per visitor
  • Email marketing referral traffic

o Increase revenue

  • Average order size
  • Customer Lifetime value
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Value per lead
  • Shopping cart conversion rate

o   Increase advertising effectiveness

o   Incremental revenue from advertising

o   Cost per click

o   Conversion rate

o   Cost/engaged visit

o   And even more:

You get the idea. Often, the hardest part of tracking marketing results is deciding which metrics or KPIs to focus on – and which ones to screen out.

Again, it’s a good idea to talk to your teammates about which metrics they think will support your chosen goal or goals. Their perspective on what should or shouldn’t be measured can be extremely helpful.

The limits of analytics… tracking things offline and the squishiness of attribution models

If you’re purely a digital marketer, you might be lucky enough to actually track every single step from when someone first sees a brand message through to when they place their fifth (or 50th) order.

Most of us are not so lucky.

This can really cloud the issue of picking a marketing goal. And it can make tracking that goal even harder.  Sometimes, marketers just give in and decide to measure what can be easily tracked (like leads, or gross revenue). The metric and goal they pick might not be perfect, but the idea of wading into their analytics to really track the hard stuff is just too daunting.

Unfortunately, this is kinda like that old joke about the drunk scuffling around under a street light. Someone asks him, “What are you doing?” “Looking for my keys,” he says. “Where did you drop them?” “Oh, down the street” “So why are you looking here?” “Well, the light is better here.”


Image: Unsplash

I hope you laughed at that.

For those of us who have tried to track complex sales cycles, it might be a little less than funny. It may hit a little too close to home. Many marketers are guilty of looking “under the streetlight” for our data, simply because, there are a lot of dark alleys along the buyer’s journey.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Marketing analytics tracking is getting better all the time. What was a data “dark alley” five years ago can now be a well-lit path.

Just look at how far attribution models have come – and how many companies are using them.

eMarketer change in company's prioritization of marketing attribution

Despite all the advances, you and your team will need to be honest about where the dark spots in your tracking are. There’s bound to be a few places where you’ll have to make an educated guess about what’s really going on.

You’ll also need to define which attribution model really makes sense for your sales funnel.

This is when things can get weird around the office. Who knew intelligent people could get into heated arguments over time decay or last non-direct click attribution models? But if you’re awarding bonuses and raises based on how people meet the goals defined by these metrics, expect to have some friction.

We often tie performance bonuses directly to these type of metrics, and that can make almost anyone surprisingly passionate about marketing analytics.


We hope it doesn’t seem like marketing goals are overly hard to pick. And we hope that tracking those goals seems within reach – not something that you’ll have to overhaul all your reporting to do.

It definitely is something to put some thought into, but don’t get too worried about making a mistake. Even if you don’t pick the perfect marketing goal, at least you have one at all. That puts you well ahead of many marketers – or companies.

And if you can’t track that goal down to the atomic level… so what? Get the best data you can, shape it so you can make the best decisions possible, and forge ahead.

Not having a marketing at all is by far the biggest mistake. And not even trying to track it? That’s the second worst mistake.

Even if you can’t track things perfectly, you can get a good enough idea of what’s going on. Having even one or two reliable, trackable metrics will always be more successful than just guessing.

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Closing the Loop on Retail Marketing ROI

Closing the Loop on Retail Marketing ROI

Despite glum predictions, US retailers saw steady growth in 2017 and finished with a record-breaking $598 billion holiday season, proving once and for all that retail is not dead. Even e-Commerce colossus Amazon is making concerted moves into retail.

In spite of its growth, tracking and proving retail marketing ROI can pose a challenge for marketers. This piece will explain how to set the right goals, gather the pertinent information, and provide your clients with detailed and practical insights that prove your retail marketing ROI.

Before you get started, keep in mind that you can’t prove ROI without first setting a performance baseline. This can be tricky in retail, so make sure that you ask your client whether or not they have records of in-store activity, such as foot traffic, sales (both number and volume) and promotions that you can combine with the information from the online side of their business.

1. Set Goals Linked to Business Outcomes

Retail businesses are less concerned with how many people visit their stores than they are with how much money those people leave with them. That is why it’s crucial to set correlational goals that illustrate how consumer behavior relates to revenue and profit.

Here are some examples of business-outcome-based goals:

  • Decreased customer acquisition cost: Are you able to bring more customers through the doors using the same amount of marketing dollars, or maintain the current level while lowering marketing costs? Can your campaigns attract a new customer base?
  • Increased sales volume: Are you able to persuade customers to take home more items per visit? Can you nudge them into purchasing the higher value item?
  • Increased sales amounts: Are you able to increase the number of people who come through the doors and make a purchase?
Statistic: Average daily consumer spending in the U.S. from July 2016 to July 2017 (in U.S. dollars) | Statista

Understanding seasonal patterns (such as vacation season) in retail can help you figure out whether things are going well.

Since retail can be a highly seasonal business, you’ll want to account for any potential fluctuations in future business in both your planning and any reporting that you do. According to the most recent Gallup Polls, consumer spending tends to slow in January, August, and September and peak in December, April, and July.

If your client’s merchandise is impacted by seasonal shopping, make sure that you account for that in your goals to avoid underperforming by default. If the retailer has limited physical locations, you may also want to keep tabs on current and future construction, events and openings happening nearby that could impact the numbers.

foot traffic measurement for retail

Source: ShopperTrak. Tools like ShopperTrak or Aeselabs help retailers track in-store analytics through sensors, mobile apps, and information gathered when customers log into the local WiFi network.

Depending on the size or age of your retailer, they may not have a comprehensive picture of in-store information for you to work with, making it difficult to set your baseline and prove your ROI. If in-store behavior is one of your client’s top priorities, you may want to throw in the towel, quit your job and go home and drink cocoa.

I don’t blame you. But you could also invest some time in the beginning estimating current levels of traffic and consumer behaviors. Tools such as ShopperTrak or even Google Maps track daily visits to locations, which you can then combine with purchase information and past promotions to get a general picture.

2. Design Smart KPIs

Once you’ve determined your business outcome-based goals, you’ll want to design KPIs that align with those goals.

You’ll find many possible options for tracking in our extensive list of e-commerce KPIs, but the ones that are absolutely critical are customer acquisition cost (CAC), average order value, sales conversion rate, and revenue generated from marketing campaigns (incremental revenue).

Physical locations are an expensive investment, so be sure to track the two channels separately (and to track multiple locations separately, if they have under 10 locations). This will help your client decide whether or not to keep physical locations open, and also allows you to show off your ability to drive growth in all channels.

Retail can be a unique beast in that it requires you to combine hard-to-track in-store intel with online indicators. Before you commit to performance metrics that involve the former, you’ll want to research how your retailer is tracking that information and what will be available to you.

3. Align your Campaigns with your Goals and KPIs

A retailer’s physical foot traffic may be hard to track, but fortunately, most shoppers leave a clean digital footprint that you can use to prove your marketing ROI. Design campaigns that target both online shoppers and those who prefer a more traditional experience.

Just like with online-only advertising, you can use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. This is as simple as a link or QR code the customer scans in order to retrieve a voucher, and if your retailer’s clientele is less digitally oriented, it could be displayed throughout the store or conducted via a text-based sign-up campaign.

CafeX marketing campaign -- coupon and Instagram ad

Use codes, promotions and customized printed promotions that are redeemable online to give you deeper insight into what is driving customers through the doors. CafeX combined digital and in-store promotions to attract customers to their new location on Market Street in San Francisco, CA.

4. Measure Retail ROI With Closed-Loop Reporting

Once you’ve planned your campaigns, use AdStage’s software to schedule a number of ads targeted towards your ideal audiences, and measure engagement and retail marketing impact using closed-loop reporting, combining paid marketing campaigns data with your conversion data, online and off.

advertising data integration

How to Measure Incremental Revenue in Paid Marketing

How to Measure Incremental Revenue in Paid Marketing

If you can drive revenue and growth above the cost of advertising, why would you want to cap your marketing budget?

The truth is, that’s not how most marketing organizations function. The status-quo approach focuses on clicks and sign-ups, not revenue, and this model of thinking is clearly broken. Measuring incremental revenue helps marketers understand and prove the real impact of advertising – calculated in dollars, not clicks.

Here’s a hypothetical example:

measuring incremental revenue image

With incrementality measurement, you can more accurately attribute value to each paid social media campaign.

A subscription service startup expects to make $100,000 off their services in a typical month without advertising. In March, while running a Facebook campaign that costs $10,000, the startup makes $150,000 off their subscriptions. To calculate incremental revenue and measure the effectiveness of their advertising, the paid marketing team runs the following calculation:

$150,000 – $100,000 = $50,000

The incremental revenue generated by the paid marketing team equals $50,000.

Or, in other words, those Facebook ads just earned their business an extra 50k.

What’s incremental revenue in paid marketing?

Incremental revenue is revenue that wouldn’t have happened without a specific paid marketing campaign, all other things being equal. This metric is radically different from other PPC metrics — and way more impactful.

Incrementality measurement helps marketers understand the effectiveness of paid campaigns by comparing differences in outcomes between an audience that saw the ad and a comparable audience that didn’t. This metric shows the real value driven by paid marketing, which ultimately helps the paid marketer decide on where to invest ad dollars — and justify a budget increase if they need more money to spend.

The CEO of a company is naturally interested how much revenue the company produces in a given time. The CMO of a company should be equally interested in the following question:

How much money did the company make thanks to paid marketing?

You can answer this question with incrementality measurement.

facebook ads incremental measurement ROI

With direct-response ads, incrementality measurement can help you track how much revenue is attributed to a specific paid marketing campaign.

Calculate incremental revenue to prove the impact of paid marketing

Another way to show how incrementality measurement works is to compare two hypothetical digital campaigns.

Say a company is running two Facebook marketing campaigns, each of which requires $10,000 investment:

The sales for campaign A are $100,000.

The sales for campaign B are $75,000.

Which campaign delivered the best return on ad spend?

Let’s see.

Facebook campaign A:

With a marketing spend of $5,000, actual sales at $100,000, and expected sales at $100,000 (without marketing, based on historical data from a similar time period or based on data from control group not exposed to advertising messaging), that brings the incremental ROI of paid marketing campaign A to….$0.

Facebook campaign B:

With a marketing spend of $5,000, actual sales at $75,000, and expected sales at $0 (without marketing, based on historical data from a similar time period or based on data from control group not exposed to advertising messaging), that brings us to $75,000 in incremental revenue (thanks to the marketing campaign).

Even though the sales figures look better for campaign A, if you compare to control group or historical data, campaign B is clearly the winner from a paid marketing perspective.

How to measure incremental revenue

You can calculate incremental revenue/sales as Actual Sales (thanks to marketing) – Actual/Expected Sales (without marketing). (If you can attribute the difference to your marketing campaign).

So, to calculate IR, you’ll need to create a baseline metric to represent the average results based on historical trends (how much you sell in a given time, no ads). Or, if you can isolate the variable you’ll be measuring (your ad campaign) by having your target audience very similar to your control group (comparing apples-to-apples), you can measure incrementality in an experiment.

Prove the impact of paid marketing with closed-loop reporting

Measuring incremental revenue and other meaningful business metrics in paid marketing is easy with closed-loop reporting.

You can track the incremental revenue from each ad network, campaign, ad set, or ad when you consolidate all your cross-network data in one place and connect it to conversion data that lives in your CRM, spreadsheets, or any other platform or tool.

When you bring in your offline conversions from different platforms and tools and connect those with your cross-network campaign data, you can understand the incremental revenue for each (that is, if you set your baseline revenue or compare it to a control group in an experiment).

Optimize your campaigns for incremental revenue

Once you close the loop between campaigns and revenue across different networks, you can see the full picture and make improvements. With a clear view of how each ad campaign translates into revenue, not just clicks, you can set up automated rules to pause or scale campaigns up and down based on custom metrics (such as incremental revenue).

calculated metrics

AdStage’s Calculated Metrics (currently in beta) allows paid marketers to automate campaign optimizations based on custom metrics.

The importance of incremental revenue in paid marketing

As we’ve seen, incremental revenue is a powerful metric for paid marketers to track how much revenue can be attributed to a specific marketing campaign. Incrementality measurement shows the real effectiveness of advertising by comparing how much money a business makes with marketing vs. without marketing, all other variables being equal.

Incremental revenue not only proves the value driven by paid marketing, but also helps to improve performance by tracking more meaningful PPC metrics. As a result, marketers will invest in the most effective channels — and justify a higher spend if necessary.

With calculated metrics (currently in beta), you can also set up automation to tweak your campaign settings based on custom metrics in near real-time, optimizing for business results, not clicks.

As paid marketers are increasingly held accountable to revenue, closed-loop reporting solutions will help measure, optimize, and report on deeper-funnel metrics. What’s more, measuring incremental revenue will make it easy to report to the CMO or the board because now you know how to answer the critical question: “How much money are we making thanks to paid marketing?”