In today’s era of easy information access and instant data analytics, many B2B marketers feel pressured to report on email campaign performance almost immediately after launch. But in our experience at OMI, where ROI and business outcomes drive everything we do for clients, we prefer to take the long view and give measurement and reporting a little more time in order for it to fully mature.
A new report by LinkedIn aligns with our approach. In analyzing the ROI from more than 4,000 digital marketers, it found that they are, essentially measuring ROI too quickly and expecting too much too soon. More than three out of four (77%) measure ROI within the first month of a campaign, which is far shorter than the time needed for the full sales cycle to be completed – and when the ROI analysis should actually take place. In fact, over half (52%) of those who measure ROI in less than a month had a sales cycle that was actually three months or longer. Very few (4%) measure ROI over a six-month period or longer, a timeline more in synch with average B2B sales cycles.
If you’re feeling the pressure to report ROI figures too soon, here are five strategies that you might find useful as you work to buy more time:
- Set expectations for a longer-term perspective: Instant revenue from a single email typically means your offer is low on price and value -- something more typical in the B2C realm (think candy by the cash register or online 4-hour flash sales). But B2B email campaigns involve a series of messages with varying content over time. This content is intended to inform, educate and further qualify leads by collecting additional prospect information. When initiating a campaign, set measurement expectations with organizational leaders as to when you should and will be providing results – well after the campaigns have had time to run their course and move leads through the sales process.
- Ask for more runway: It’s only human to be anxious to see results. Perhaps budgets are being determined and you need to prove value now. But rushing to measure results too soon can negatively impact senior leaders’ confidence in your efforts – especially those who don’t understand how email marketing works. Instead, remind them about your average sales cycle and ask for more runway to determine actual, more accurate ROI results.
- Provide KPIs as a short-term fallback: If pressed for ROI data, and your requests for more time don’t work, you can still provide key performance indicators (KPI) to report on the short-term results of your campaigns. These KPIs might include emails sent, delivered, opened, clicked and cost-per-click (CPC). You certainly won’t be alone in reporting such metrics – the LinkedIn report says almost half (42%) of digital marketers with lead-generation objectives use CPC as their main metric for measuring ROI.
It’s also important to remember that while you are monitoring the KPIs, you still have the opportunity to optimize your campaign as you go. Oftentimes, that means looking for outliers such as an extremely high or low open rate. By changing a subject line, eliminating poor-performing data segments, or by making simple content alterations you can easily course correct.
- Know your industry benchmarks: While you may be disappointed in your KPIs, you may be surprised to know they are actually quite good for your industry. For example, the best open rates are enjoyed by non-profits, agriculture and government. See how your industry typically performs here, and use these figures to show how you stack up against your competition.
- Remember the power of email: Email is likely one of several elements to your overall B2B marketing program, and is almost certainly outperforming other marketing and sales efforts in delivering ROI. In fact, email typically returns $44 for every $1 spent – a 4400% ROI. An additional study put this figure at a very close 3800% ROI. Lastly, the average order value of an email is at least three times higher than that from social media.
When it comes to measuring email ROI, marketers and other business leaders need to think for the long-term and have a bigger-picture perspective. B2B email campaigns usually involve several messages before recipients take action, not to mention a longer, more complex sales cycle that may take months to yield revenue.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.