ABM measurement – why revenue first isn’t always right

Let’s start with an uncomfortable truth – display ads don’t close deals in the B2B world. They build awareness, they drive interest, they maybe even trigger an engagement.  But they don’t close deals. And yet when it comes to measurement for these types of tactics, the first thing I’m often asked is “what is the revenue generated by my display campaign that I just launched?” If you’re asking this, I guarantee you’re asking the wrong question. Here’s why:

1) Revenue takes time to materialize

I’ll go one step further – so does pipeline. Every company is different, but Hubspot places the average sales cycle for an enterprise deal at six months or more, and that’s from the point of first contact. Meanwhile, the received wisdom of the industry is that it takes about six to eight marketing touches to deliver a lead. Your display ad may well be critical to that result as one of those touches, but you’re not going to know that until months after the fact. It would be like trying to gauge whether you enjoyed your dinner from whether you remembered it in a few months’ time.

2) A long-term view can stop you understanding the short-term indicators

With revenue taking so long to materialize, marketers need to get savvy with how to use leading indicators to make campaign decisions – and how to communicate early-stage success back to the business. With your display ad, your success criteria may be something earlier in the pipeline – that could be visiting multiple website pages, downloading an asset, signing up to a newsletter – indicators of future consideration, rather than immediate impact. We should also always be considering results like these in the context of measuring multiple touch points from a target account across multiple channels.

3) Sometimes it’s about optimization, not success

With the pressure to defend budgets and prove importance, it’s tempting to focus on the “green” – the things that are going well. As ABM professionals, we also have to be open to the “red” – the bits that aren’t going so well, which help us course correct and make better decisions in the future. Even when it’s too early to consider impact, use your leading indicators to consider improvement.  If your click-through rate is lower than other ads, consider why, if you’re seeing higher bounces from your landing page than you expected, it’s time to act. Rather than trying to prove what is working, proactively look for what isn’t to see if, and how, you could improve.

Recognizing the time and place to bring in revenue reporting is an art form within ABM, and comes down to carefully balancing the needs of the business with truthful, accurate, impactful results. However, we know that sometimes the pressure comes from beyond marketing, and ABM leaders need to be armed with the right strategy to keep sales and executive leadership bought in throughout the whole ABX experience. 

Tune in next week to learn how to utilize leading indicators to sell back success beyond the marketing function and, in the meantime, reach out to us at measurement@agent3.com to see how we can help you measure your ABM programs – from making better planning decisions all the way to proving results back to the business.