Hard Metrics vs. Soft Metrics

ABM forces B2B Marketing to Mine Data

Michael Simmons│08/03/2022│4 min read

Our particular brand of marketing strategy seeks to impact the organization as close to the point of opportunity-won/closed as possible. Success, to us, is our ability to generate meetings, phone calls, two-way communication, VR chat rooms, on-screen meetings, etc. In short, we want sales talking to prospects. That’s the primary objective.

Next, we want the brand/product/solution to be remembered. Brand recall is hugely important for our customers with long sales cycles. Most of our customers need six to nine months to identify an opportunity, move it through the sales pipeline and close the deal. When your target audience is hammered day and night with digital ads and emails, when banner ads follow them from site-to-site, when the world becomes noise, that’s where we want to stand apart. Zoom fatigue set in. Your opportunities for face-to-face are fewer and fewer.

The vast majority of VLG customers measure campaign success on vanity metrics. This isn’t to say soft metrics don’t have a place in a marketing playbook. They do. They allow us to set up a sales cadence or marketing playbook that moves the target through all the touchpoints needed to close business. They just can’t be the metrics that determine success and failure of marketing spend.

Data is the key. Good data delivers great marketing. Bad data sinks a marketing department. In a down economy, CRM data gets scorched. Layoffs and movement in the labor force turn data into a ticking time bomb.

Let’s build some context. Our typical campaign follows the same general playbook. We send a teaser email to a defined audience. It’s different and unexpected. Some ask for address updates and confirmations, others leverage a non-marketing language to drive web traffic. Then, we mail targets something super creative and unique, or go full guerilla. Inside the mailer is a scannable QR code.

Remember when QR codes were cool, but a pain in the tookus? Phone makers changed that, so you can open your camera and scan to read the menu at your favorite lockdown restaurant or store fronts across the globe — no special app needed.

Sales reps get notified when packages are delivered. They call and leave voicemails and leave behind unique URLs. Sales sends follow-up emails with the same URL. The user, if the message and offer resonates, visits the website to research the company before replying to a sales rep. We all do it. Our technology sends another notification to sales in real-time. It’s the point at which the marketing playbook and sales cadence collide.

There is disagreement across the entire sales and marketing spectrum as to which metrics we should track to drive revenue. Each company, each prospect, every industry should find and measure the metrics that connect the dots from spend to close.

Identify the hard metrics

If the questions below sound more like sales metrics than marketing metrics, you’d be right. These are the numbers we seek to influence with our marketing programs:

  • How many calls were made?
  • What was your reach rate?
  • How many meetings did you get?
  • How many opportunities were identified (qualified leads or potential deals)?
  • What’s your close rate?
  • How long is your sales cycle?
  • What was the ROI for your campaign?

If these metrics were easy to dig up they wouldn’t be called hard metrics. MRMs and CRMs automate much of this, but far too often marketing attribution doesn’t match the sales cycle. It absolutely must. You have to give a marketing campaign time to play out. Far too many marketers get bored with a campaign and give up too soon. Giving up kills your ROI.

Identify the soft metrics

As marketers, we have little visibility into the hard metrics. Visibility varies greatly client-to-client in our experience. In the absence of hard metrics, marketing is left to find something objective to measure. We’re in the direct marketing business, so our soft metrics usually fit into the following buckets:

  • What was your list deliverability rate (works for email and direct mail)?
  • What was the average age of your target record (like an Engagometer)?
  • How many targets took an online call to action?
  • How long did the online engagement last (time and clicks)?
  • How many targets went from mail to web?
  • What does your company measure?

I’m really interested in hearing your thoughts about marketing spend attribution. When it comes to giving credit where credit is due, how do you best identify money that works and money that doesn’t.

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Would highly recommend them.
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VLG has a grasp on who our target market is and understand our goals.
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The pieces VLG designed have been so successful that prospects are actually calling us directly as a result!
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