Measure This, Not That: Your Guide to the Demand Gen Metrics That Matter

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Abdallah Al-Hakim

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

That’s what Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, said before the turn of the century.

Liam Barnes, Head of Demand Generation at Bionic, whipped out the 2023 version of this adage during his DEMAND session: “If you don’t measure them your campaigns, you’re screwed.”

We couldn’t agree more.

As a demand generation marketer, you’re under more pressure than ever to prove your paid campaigns are driving pipeline and revenue. Unfortunately, the metrics you’ve relied on in the past probably aren’t enough to show that anymore.

So, what should you measure instead? Keep reading to find out.

It’s time to say goodbye to the demand generation metrics you love

B2B marketers are creatures of habit, and that includes leaning on the same metrics we’ve used for years to measure the impact of our demand generation strategies.

But according to Liam, those metrics mean jack to everyone at your company who matters. (Okay, he didn’t use those exact words, but he did make it clear that it’s time for you to put certain performance metrics on the backburner.)

Liam outlined these backburner metrics in his DEMAND session as follows:

  • Cost metrics: Metrics that measure the cost per something—think cost per lead (CPL) and cost per acquisition.
  • Marketing conversion metrics: Metrics tied to specific channels, like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Search. For example, you could measure the percentage of leads from Facebook that convert into closed-won business or the percentage of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) from LinkedIn that turn into sales qualified leads (SQLs).
  • Output metrics: Metrics that measure the amount of something such as website traffic, webinar attendees, and the number of leads generated from a campaign.

What’s the problem with these metrics? Teams can’t agree on which ones matter.

“Over the last few years, I’ve talked to a lot of Finance and Sales leaders, and almost every single one of them doesn’t care about some of these metrics, especially leads, traffic, and attendees,” Liam shared.

Said another way, we’re all speaking different languages and measuring success in siloes.

It’s time to ditch your differences and collectively agree on shared metrics that prove your campaigns are bringing in high-intent leads who are easy to convert into pipeline (and eventually revenue).

But to do that, you’ll have to reimagine measurement as you know it.

These are the demand generation metrics you should measure instead

The word “reimagine” might be intimidating right now. Your boss is calling for results, which doesn’t exactly give you the freedom to venture outside tried-and-true tactics.

(Want Metadata’s advice? Uncertain times are a perfect opportunity to experiment with your paid strategy because you’ll find cost efficiencies and pinpoint where you’re wasting spend.)

Luckily, the KPIs Liam presents won’t throw your strategy into unnecessary chaos. In fact, these metrics will make your strategy more focused and efficient than ever.

1. Go-to-market (GTM) metrics

Let’s be real: Marketing and Sales teams have big egos, especially regarding how they impact the company’s bottom line. For better or worse, those egos will always exist.

The egos aren’t the problem, though. The issue, according to Liam, is not backing them up with proof that what you’re doing is working. “You can’t gloat about how great you are unless you’re able to quantify and measure every other part of the GTM strategy.”

He urges marketers to measure the following GTM metrics:

  • Pipeline velocity: Pipeline velocity measures how quickly a meeting becomes an opportunity in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool. This metric is about intent—typically, the faster a prospect turns into an opportunity, the more they want to do business with you. It’s your job to find the channels that give you access to high-intent buyers who quickly turn into opportunities and closed-won deals.
  • Pipeline-to-spend ratio: Liam uses the pipeline-to-spend ratio (the total value of your pipeline to the revenue targets) as an efficiency indicator. He recommends aiming for an 8-10% ratio, assuming a 25% close rate, and using this ratio to see where you’re overspending.
  • Opportunity-to-closed-won: This metric measures pipeline conversion to closed-won business and helps you see which channels have inflated pipeline numbers.

Here’s a table Liam shared that shows how he calculates these GTM metrics—and how you can, too.

2. Conversion metrics

We’re going to scream this from the mountaintop so you hear us: You must measure every conversion along the sales and marketing funnel. This is demand generation 101 and will help you find leaky holes in your strategy, aka where you’re wasting money.

Here are a couple of underrated conversion metrics you should track:

  • Closed-lost-pipeline %: This metric measures the percentage of pipeline that your Sales team marks as closed-lost in your CRM. Liam says your worst-case closed-lost-pipeline % should be around 75%.
  • Meeting held:Opp created by channel: Liam calls this the “time-waste metric” because it tells you if you’re taking too many meetings to create one opportunity. If this metric is high, there’s likely something off with elements of your strategy, like your audiences or creative.

Here’s a hot take from Liam: “Opportunity” can be a BS metric in and of itself because it means different things to different teams. Liam’s advice (and ours) is to define an opportunity as whichever stage of the sales funnel is closing 25% or more of your deals.

3. Awareness metrics

Liam was blunt about awareness metrics, but he’s spot on: “The way demand generation marketers currently measure brand awareness is pretty tough. It typically comes in the form of clicks, organic traffic, engagements, and email opens, which don’t show any validity.”

He suggests tracking these metrics instead:

  • Branded search volume growth: How often are people searching for your branded terms on Google and other search engines? A few branded search terms for Metadata are Metadata, MetaMatch, and Marketing OS. If the number of branded searches is rising month-over-month and quarter-over-quarter, it’s a safe bet that your target audience is becoming more aware of you.
  • Word-of-mouth inbound leads: How many people tell you they heard about you from a friend, colleague, or peer? Despite the rise of digital marketing, B2B buyers still trust their peers more than anyone else. According to Forrester, over 90% of survey respondents said buyers “completely” or “somewhat” trust peers for vendor advice.
  • Territory or total address market (TAM) coverage: How many people in your TAM or territory are associated with an opportunity, have engaged with your ads, or become a customer?

“Sometimes our job as marketers is to be visible and memorable—tracking TAM and territory coverage is a great way to figure it out.” We couldn’t agree more, Liam.

In a previous article, Liam touched on how early-stage startups can (and should) create brand awareness. “One of the main issues with an early-stage company that doesn’t have any marketing resources is that only the people whom you’ve sold to know who you are.” He continued, “Even further, when you bring up who you are, your prospects have no idea what you do.”

So, he pointed out a few tactics you can use—regardless of company size—to build brand awareness:

  1. Podcast appearances with industry thought leaders
  2. Social media posts from key company stakeholders
  3. Brand awareness ads across cost-efficient channels

Metadata is all about that last recommendation. In fact, we encourage our customers to invest a sizable chunk of their budget in brand awareness ads on Facebook despite the channel’s low cost per click (CPC). From there, you can build an engaged audience (people who clicked on your Facebook ads), and retarget them on LinkedIn and other higher-intent channels.

Source: Metadata’s 2023 Paid Social Benchmark Report

Liam also suggests avoiding gated content and MQL-driven marketing. We agree with that advice, too. Instead, embrace account-based marketing (ABM) and ungated content to reach more people that align with your ideal customer profile (ICP).

Build yourself a better chair to sit on

Liam rounded out his DEMAND session with this powerful idea:

“To change the way we measure demand generation, we need to reimagine the way we measure successful go-to-market strategies. Marketers are constantly talking about wanting to have a seat at the table, and I think that the best way to do that is to go build yourself a better chair to sit on.”

—Liam Barnes, Head of Demand Generation at Bionic

To do that, you need to measure the metrics that really matter to your leadership team—like ones related to your GTM strategy, conversion, and awareness.

To build a better chair, measure:

  • GTM metrics: Metrics that give you a better understanding of how your GTM team is performing, like pipeline velocity and pipeline-to-spend ratio.
  • Conversion metrics: Metrics that measure conversion along the entire sales and marketing funnel to help you find “leaky holes where you can better spend your time and budget.”  The percentage of closed-lost-pipeline is a good example.
  • Awareness metrics: Quantitative and qualitative metrics that help you see how well your target audience knows you and your offering—think branded search terms and word-of-mouth referrals.

Optimize toward the metrics that matter with Metadata

With Metadata Optimizer, measuring these metrics and reallocating your budget accordingly is easy. Just tell Optimizer which metrics matter to you—whether that’s CPL or CPO—and let our technology automatically move your budget to the top-performing ads.

Want to learn more about Metadata? Schedule an intro today.

Want to check out more sessions from DEMAND? Here you go.

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