Best guess? Over 80% of reporting for I.T. B2B campaigns has little-to-no impact on future campaign effectiveness.Campaign reporting is often retrospective, delves fairly superficially into what people clicked on or looked at, presents a campaign’s return on investment (ROI) in the form of an impressive revenue number attached to sales qualified leads, and then…. mic-drop: it’s buried next to memories of childbirth and never spoken of again.
Or, worst case scenario: campaign ROI becomes a coding task. For example, “can you put this campaign code against that lead? I need it to bump up my numbers.” (Sounds like something you’d hear circa 2005? Believe us, it’s still happening).
So why is campaign reporting so limited?
Shallow reporting is understandable to a point. We high-five our successes, quickly forget campaigns that don’t go as well, and get lost in the complexities of campaign delivery, our next meeting, who liked our latest post or who checked out our LinkedIn profile.
But the truth is, very few vendors and even less partners are measuring ROI by channel, audience segment, campaign wave or creative message.
Fewer still are tracking the net contribution of a campaign by taking into account actual revenue, margins, and the real costs of activities, including chosen channels, content development and agency fees.
And only unicorns are accurately forecasting the performance of a campaign before it’s executed.
A large problem with top-line, retrospective reporting, even for wildly successful campaigns, is that the slate is always wiped clean and we start again for the next campaign. And the next. And the next. It’s Groundhog Day without the charm of Bill Murray. Learnings from past campaigns have largely evaporated by the time the next brief rolls around.
So, how do we successfully move away from a ‘one and done’ approach, to a program of works?
And how can we effectively apply learnings across campaigns and quarters, so as to get a line of sight on the best path forward?
At Splendid, over the course of planning, executing and managing hundreds of B2B campaigns for I.T. companies, we’ve found that discipline, process and a seriously good campaign forecast model are key indicators for campaign success.
At the start of certain projects, we build out a financial forecast model that predicts impressions, engagements, contacts, marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs), sales and revenue. We do this across various channels, audience segments and creative messages dictated by the campaign strategy. The campaign costs, from paid media to asset development, are also included, so true campaign ROI can be predicted.
Setting up the first forecast often reveals gaps in internal tracking tools and black holes of accountability. It’s a bit like pulling a high-performance car apart and trying to put in back together. You realise, in the process, that half of the car is either useless or for aesthetics and contributes nothing to performance.
The forecast process is also an illuminating process for our strategists. It keeps them happy as it backs up their art with science. The first model invariably results in a rework of tactics and costs until we feel confident we are allocating a client’s budget in a way that’s going to maximise results and deliver valuable insights.
Ongoing measurement is everything
It’s no good having lofty goals and then comparing actuals at the end a campaign. What matters is what we do in the middle, and how a campaign is optimised to get the absolute most from a client’s budget.
Throughout the course of a campaign and through a delightfully visual dashboard courtesy of Power BI, Splendid matches actual results against our initial forecasts, which enables us to extract meaningful insights and optimise the campaign as we go.
We can quickly understand which message is a stand-out across all media channels. Or, we may find that different channels warrant different approaches based on the specific profile of the audience. Messaging and approach can then be altered accordingly.
And not just across one campaign, but over several
Over time, and over multiple campaigns, clients using our forecasting and reporting service (which we’ve dubbed Damascus) find forecast accuracy increases and risk diminishes as marketing activities are driven by historical benchmarks and insights rather than hunches. And it’s not just the wins that take us forward - but often, the things that don’t work that give us even deeper insight of how to best steer a campaign forward.
It sounds easy as a sound bite, but it’s not a trivial exercise - even with a solid automation platform and properly implemented tracking codes. For your big bets and business priorities, however, we think it’s a critical piece of an effective marketing function.
The results are better planning and allocation of marketing budget, an easier process around justifying marketing spend with internal stakeholders and the capability to refine your approach for current and future campaigns based on evidence of what works.
Want to find out more?
If you want to learn more about how we can help you to define targets and track, analyse and optimise your B2B I.T. marketing activity, get in touch.