Lost in the Numbers Jungle? Unearth the Story Behind Your Marketing Data

by Jen Marino | January 24, 2024

In the data-driven world of B2B marketing, it’s easy to get lost in a thicket of clicks, conversions, and KPIs. We pour resources into crafting compelling campaigns, optimizing websites, and engaging audiences. However, gauging the true impact of marketing efforts often feels like navigating a freeway by streetlights – fleeting glimpses with no real sense of direction. Focusing solely on the surface of your analytics dashboard, tracking clicks and conversions, is like reading a novel by skimming the chapter titles – you might get the gist, but you miss the heart and soul of the narrative.

In a previous blog, we walked through the various marketing metrics and how they can be useful in steering marketing efforts. But, as important as they are, marketing effectiveness goes the metrics. Measuring marketing ROI means deciphering the impact your efforts have on revenue and long-term customer relationships. It’s about unearthing actionable insights, understanding the “why” behind the numbers, and optimizing your efforts to improve overall profitable return in the longer term.

One element of unveiling the data’s story means looking at your numbers in the context of industry benchmarks. However, navigating this data-driven terrain isn’t without its challenges. Here, we’ll explore some common pitfalls and how you can minimize the risks:

Lead Generation and Conversion

The critical first step in your sales funnel is attracting attention and converting that interest into bringing the right customers “through the door.” Putting your data in context is important for understanding how successful your marketing efforts are at attracting and engaging potential customers and generating actual revenue through a positive impact on the sales funnel.

However, this can be challenging. Industry benchmarks for lead generation and conversion rates from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) vary widely. Depending on industry, the benchmark for generating qualified leads from your website visitors is between 2-5 %, and the conversion rate where those leads become actual customers is anywhere from 1-5%.

Avoiding some of the common pitfalls can give you a more reliable idea of how your business is measuring up:

  • Standardize definitions: Make sure your definitions are consistent across the organization so that everyone understands the same definition of “lead” and “conversion.”
  • Integrate data systems: As far as you can, connect marketing, sales, and CRM systems to create a single view of the customer journey.
  • Use attribution models: If possible, use an attribution model to understand how different channels work together rather than relying on the last channel a prospect touched.  
  • Look beyond averages: Averaging your data can blur the details. Analyze data by segment to identify trends and areas for improvement.

Customer Acquisition Costs and CLTV

Understanding the relationship between customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLTV) is key to unlocking sustainable growth. CAC is the total investment required to acquire a new customer, including expenses like marketing and sales employees. CLTV is your return on that investment, the total revenue a customer is expected to generate over their entire relationship with the company.

While industry benchmarks typically suggest a CLTV/CAC ratio of 3:1 or 4:1 is healthy, accurate measurement requires careful consideration. Fully loaded CAC, incorporating both internal and external costs, paints a more realistic picture than simply tracking direct expenses. Similarly, calculating CLTV solely on revenue overlooks profit margins and ongoing service costs, potentially distorting its true value.

Further complexities arise from organizational structures and internal narratives. Siloed functions, such as sales and marketing operating in isolation, can hinder comprehensive customer journey tracking, compromising CAC accuracy and obscuring potential acquisition bottlenecks. Meanwhile, in every business, there are internal narratives that may have been true at one time or are true in certain circumstances that become a source of truth for everyone, even when their value is outdated.

The key to unlocking valuable insights lies in consistent and thorough data collection. Marketing automation and data visualization are the key to getting the most out of your data. By systematically tagging and tracking CAC and CLTV data over time, you gain a clearer understanding of customer behaviors and their relative value within the competitive landscape. This is the knowledge that will empower more informed decision-making so you can optimize customer acquisition strategies and foster long-term customer relationships.

Marketing Campaign Benchmarks – website traffic, email marketing

It’s easy to confuse activity with progress and get caught up in tracking metrics like social media followers or blog post views. While these indicators offer glimmers of interest, they don’t necessarily translate to sales or customer loyalty.

Benchmarks are more general for specific efforts. For instance, a jump in otherwise steadily increasing website traffic would indicate reach and attractiveness, assuming nothing is occurring like seasonality in your business or recent market news that is directly relevant to your business. Engagement metrics like time on page, bounce rates, or social shares can also help you evaluate the quality and relevancy of different content pieces.

For email campaigns, benchmarks might suggest that a successful campaign shows an open rate in the 15-25% range, with a click-through rate between 2 and 5%. However, it’s important to note that these numbers are industry-specific, audience-dependent, and even vary by email type (think newsletters vs. transactional), so comparing your efforts to the wrong baseline can be misleading.

Similarly, CTRs alone don’t tell the whole story. It’s necessary to consider your specific campaign goals (brand awareness, sales, engagement) and compare metrics relevant to those for a truer picture of how you’re doing.

Remember, benchmarked insights are the starting point, not the finish line. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies and tactics to see what works best for your audience. A/B testing can be a powerful tool for optimizing your content, messaging, and delivery channels. By continuously iterating and improving, you can ensure that your marketing efforts deliver the greatest possible impact.

Customer Retention and Net Promoter Score

Keeping customers coming back is the lifeblood of any business. Benchmarks like customer retention rates and Net Promoter Score (NPS) can help assess your performance compared to your competition.

  • Retention Rate: This is the report card for how many of your customers you hold onto. Benchmarks can vary around 70-90%, depending on your industry and how established your business is.
  • Net Promoter Score: This goes beyond just keeping customers – it measures their loyalty and enthusiasm. An NPS above 40 is considered good, and above 50 is excellent. But remember, just like retention, your industry, products, and the maturity of your business matter.

Comparing your business to benchmarks for customer retention and NPS can be valuable, but it’s not without challenges. Some of the key hurdles to be aware of include:

  • Benchmark Source: Ensure the benchmark data comes from a reputable source with a similar methodology.
  • Industry Specificity: Benchmarks should be specific to your industry or even sub-segment, as retention and NPS can vary dramatically.
  • Company Size and Maturity: Compare yourself to companies of similar size and maturity stage, as larger or more established businesses may naturally have higher or lower benchmarks.
  • Measurement Differences: Check if the benchmark uses the same definitions and calculation methods for retention and NPS.

Context also matters. External factors affecting your region or industry fluctuations might skew comparisons. It’s also a good idea to track your own historical data and compare it to benchmark trends for a more nuanced picture. And, of course, the goal is not just to compare but to use the insights to set specific, measurable goals and improve customer experience.

In summary, use metrics to tell you what’s happening and dig deeper into them to find out why. Use this information to optimize and get the highest ROI from your marketing efforts. Benchmarks are a tool that can help improve your understanding. They can be helpful as a guide, but always be aware that you may not be comparing apples to apples. At Marketri, we use them as just one input to help guide your journey. Ultimately, focusing on your own unique customer needs and business goals will be the key to marketing that supports and strengthens your customer relationships over time.