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B2B marketing KPIs for a Data-Driven Business



B2B Marketing is a long-term process of building a reputation, brand awareness, and relationships with customers or clients. As with human endeavor in general, success in B2B marketing is unlikely without setting measurable goals. 


This is especially true given the long-term scope of B2B marketing. Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are the yardsticks by which success in B2B marketing is measured. B2B marketing is a complex process that is as diverse as the companies that practice it. Likewise, the combination of KPIs companies choose to use depends heavily on context. You likely won’t find two companies that use the same KPIs.


In business, and in B2B marketing especially, accurate, valuable data is key. For success in B2B marketing, it is crucial to analyze your KPIs and revise your marketing strategy accordingly continuously. No one wants to dump time and finances into ineffective marketing methods. 


An astute B2B marketing manager has an almost endless list of KPIs to choose from and dozens of tools for keeping track of them. There is no excuse for having anything but a fine-grained view of how your marketing efforts are going. Despite that, Marketingsherpa notes that 68% of B2B marketers have failed even to identify their marketing-to-sales funnel. In the same vein, KoMarketing finds that 69% of marketers say they are only somewhat effective at proving the value of their work.


It is crucial to understand that B2B marketing KPIs are distinct from those used for B2C. Unlike B2C marketers, B2B marketing professionals generally need to take account of sales cycles stretching from half a year and up. In contrast, B2C marketing hinges on emotional and impulsive reactions from targets. 


Put simply, B2B marketing KPIs must measure the progress of longer, more complex developing relationships with prospective customers. Besides, a B2B customer is often not represented by an individual but a decision-making unit (DMU) of around seven members within a company. DMUs make buying decisions more on logic and analysis than whimsy. 


Many of the KPIs used by B2C marketers are next to useless for B2B specialists. In return, B2C marketers may be utterly unaware of long-term-focused B2B KPIs like Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and Sales-qualified leads  (SQLs). Below we will go over these and other B2B marketing KPIs that are foreign to B2C, such as stage velocity.


One key to identifying effective KPIs is your trusty marketing funnel. You will find it divided and labeled in different ways, but a stalwart version is arranged as follows:


  1. Awareness

  2. Interest

  3. Consideration

  4. Intent

  5. Evaluation

  6. Purchase


Many of the most valuable B2B marketing KPIs are descriptions of the volume and speed of buyers progressing down this funnel. There is tremendous room within this framework for nuance and subdivision. Different marketing strategies will flesh out the funnel with specifics of their own. For example, a digital marketing funnel can be expressed as:


  1. Impression

  2. Click

  3. Lead

  4. Marketing Qualified Lead

  5. Sales Qualified Lead

  6. Revenue

  7. Repeat Buyer


As powerful as the funnel metaphor is, it is by no means the only source of B2B marketing KPIs, as we shall see below. Check out our article on B2B marketing examples for more. There are many ways to categorize B2B marketing KPIs, either in relation to a buyer’s progression down the funnel or otherwise. You may categorize KPIs according to your company’s team focuses, regions of operation, or business units.


The distinction between marketing programs and marketing campaigns can also be material to your planning and analysis. A marketing program is longer-term in focus than a campaign. Different programs and campaigns will involve different content marketing strategies and focus, for example, organic traffic, events, webinars, and paid advertising. 


They will also focus on different channels such as social media, paid search, or email marketing. For more on this, check out Anyleads’ article on B2B marketing plans and templates. Most of all, your KPIs will de dependent on marketing goals such as pushing a product launch or upselling existing customers.


B2B marketing KPIs: Website traffic

Website traffic is one of the most important b2b marketing kpis

Image source: ContentDistribution


It is good to keep an eye on your website traffic, but not merely on the number of site visits. Depending on what exactly your marketing strategy is, you will have a different distinction between valuable and ‘vanity’ website traffic KPIs. 


Not all traffic is of equal quality. Not every website visitor is a potential lead. The best way to attract quality traffic is with quality content marketing. So you will want to employ a mix of KPIs that give an accurate picture of your website’s effectiveness. Examples to consider are:


  • Visitors by referrer

  • Bounce rate

  • Sign-ups

  • Logins

  • Pages per session

  • Session duration


Ultimately you want to know who your potential customers are and what they want from you. You want to know where they’re from, everything about them and their company and how they got to your site. Information like that can be a massive benefit in optimizing your content and marketing strategy and attracting high-quality traffic and leads.


One critical KPI for assessing the quality of your website traffic is the website traffic to website lead ratio. Obviously, you want potential leads, not the proverbial dog at a keyboard visiting your site. If this ratio is low, you may have to consider how suitable the content on your website is for your target market.


An interesting KPI closely related to website traffic is inbound link building. This is arguably mostly a vanity KPI, but growth in inbound links can be an indication that your content quality is on point.


If you don’t run a blog on your company site, consider doing so. Hubspot has found that publishing at least 15 blog articles per month will reward you with five times the traffic you would receive if you didn’t blog at all.


Organic and SEO B2B marketing KPIs

organic and seo b2b marketing KPIs are integral for any business

Image source: ContentDistribution


Some KPI analysis tools monitor things like organic and SEO KPIs. Organic traffic can be calculated by adding your average customer click rate to your click-through rate for your keyword’s search result rank. You then figure out how much you would pay for that keyword rank if it were a result of pay-per-click ads. This seems incredibly esoteric, but it is a great way to measure your SEO effectiveness in contrast to other drivers of traffic like ads. Related KPIs include referring domains and keywords in the top five.


If you identify lackluster performance with your SEO, there are a few key fields to look into. These include the technical competence of your SEO team, the competitiveness of your content marketing, and your digital PR. Your content marketing should stand out for the quality information it gets across and how well it contributes to the authority tied to your brand. SEO is, of course, a huge topic beyond the scope of this article, but for more on the topic, check out our article on B2B digital marketing.


Search impression share (SIS) is a KPI that can be expressed as the number of impressions you receive in relation to how many impressions you were eligible to win. Eligibility is determined by the black magic of Google AdWords, which expresses SIS as a percent. If you find your SIS to be poor, see how you can increase your content quality, conversion rate, or click-through-rate. 


The role of social media in B2B marketing KPIs

Utilize the power of social media and measure its success as a b2b marketing kpi

While Facebook has been losing its throne as a leading social media platform to Instagram, Linkedin remains the top one for professionals. However, it is worth noting that B2B Facebook advertising is still quite effective, especially if you dabble in social selling. Every company will have to decide for itself which social media platforms deserve the most focus in its marketing strategy. The common KPIs for your social media strategy are likes, shares, retweets, comments, and mentions. These are not simple statics. 


You want conversions from qualified people, and you want them saying the right things about you. Ultimately, various measures of the proportion of social media interactions that lead to sales. Other social media KPIs can involve reach, volume, and exposure.


The importance of measuring the effects of email marketing

One of the most essential b2b marketing kpis is email marketing

Campaign Manager has found that for every dollar of investment in email marketing that a company makes, they get an ROI of $38. Email is not going anywhere as the dominant medium of business communication. If you are not incorporating an email marketing strategy, you seriously need to look into the vast potential benefits. 


Just make sure that any email marketing strategy that you formulate is optimized for mobile platforms, as the significant trend in professional email communication is in this direction. Some important email B2B marketing KPIs are:


  • Delivery rate

  • Open rate

  • Subscribe rate

  • Unsubscribe rate

  • Click-through rate

  • MQLs from email rate

  • Conversion rate


These KPIs can be organized according to the segmented categories of recipients. This can ensure that the stats from your KPIs reflect quality leads. Check out this article for everything you need to know about B2B email marketing.


Conversion rates as an important KPI

Conversion rate b2b marketing kpis should always be measured

Image source: doofinder


A conversion occurs any time a potential customer takes an action that you want them to take. Landing pages exist precisely to elicit such conversions, that is, to make a visitor perform a particular activity. In B2B marketing, it is standard practice to use high-quality content to build your reputation and relationship with potential clients. As such, calls to action on landing pages are often invitations to partake in an activity. Examples can be to:


  • Watch a video

  • Participate in a webinar

  • Join an event

  • Read a newsletter

  • Download a white paper


Other calls to action could be to sign up for a free trial or fill out a survey. Whatever your CTAs are, their conversion rates can prove their suitability for your target market. Just make sure that any CTA buttons are clear, specific, and prominently located, ideally both at the top and bottom of a page or email. Other ways to act on lackluster conversion rates include:


  1. Improving the quality of your content

  2. Optimizing the segmentation of your content

  3. Increasing trust with security markers and award icons

  4. Improving your website’s loading speed

  5. Optimizing the layout and include more top-quality imagery and video


If one of your keywords stands out massively in conversions, you should consider whether your content addressing the keyword is outstanding or conclusive. And, if so, why your other content doesn’t stack up. You may also consider whether your other landing pages need to be reworked or whether your products and services could be better positioned.


When tracking conversion rates, try to track conversions at the top of the funnel and the bottom separately. Ultimately, you want to track exactly where your customers came from and the entire process by which they ended up handing you their money. Separating analysis of your top and bottom of funnel conversions is key to this.


B2B marketing KPIs: Leads

One of the most vital b2b marketing kpis are the leads you generate

Leads are what dreams and sales are made of. As noted above, not all leads are equal in quality. We express these distinctions by defining marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) and sales-qualified leads (SQLs). 


The criteria for these distinctions are decided through each marketing and sales team’s unique priorities and requirements. There is no hard and fast rule here. A marketing team will formulate its own criteria on what makes an MQL based on a range of indicators separated into profile and initiative. 


The profile includes factors like company size, company field, budget, job description, and authority. Initiative indicators include actions taken, conversions made (having downloaded a white paper or attended a webinar), and the velocity with which one progresses down the marketing funnel. Put simply; an MQL ticks the right boxes to deserve attention from the marketing team. 


Likewise, the sales team will have its own unique criteria for what makes an SQL. Identifying an SQL means that the foreplay is over, the party is ready to become a source of revenue. Make sure you track where SQLs have come from. There are few better ways to determine how to revise your marketing strategy.



MQLs

SQLs

Have executed specific conversions identified as MQL criteria by the marketing team. Also Fits the profile of a customer

Has made direct contact with the sales team in ways identified by them as SQL criteria

Deserves special attention from the marketing team

Deserves special attention from the sales team

Have enough authority to influence their company toward a purchase

Have the authority to make buying decisions

Ready to learn all about your offerings

Ready to talk numbers and make a decision



Once you have defined your MQLs and SQLs, you can use them to set B2B marketing KPIs. For example, the advancement rate from MQL to SQL should be over 80%.


Measuring velocity


The advancement rate is not the only metric for showing an efficient flow down the marketing funnel. Velocity KPIs measure the time that a potential customer spends at each stage along the road to a sale. You can choose to measure the duration between different milestones. MQL to SQL velocity is an obvious one, but you can also measure SQL to quote velocity or quote to close. 


Measuring the sales KPI

How to measure the sales b2b marketing kpis


Ultimately, sales KPIs are what really bring home the bacon. Don’t get hung up on just one sales KPI. There are a few that may be worth considering given your unique needs. Sales volume and revenue are essential, but perhaps more important is sales growth. Aim for a steady increase in performance. Salesforce underscores that “Revenue and performance are not equal.” Other sales KPIs to consider are cost per sale, margin achievement, and customer satisfaction.


One sales-related  KPI you don’t want to overlook is the response time of your sales team. This is one area where most companies have a lot of room to improve, especially given the impact that it can have on revenue. If the response time is over five minutes, getting it under that threshold should be a priority. 


Despite this, a slightly dated report from the Harvard Business Review notes that the average lag between a request made to a sales team and their response is 42 hours. Drift, a major marketing services provider, has found that out of 433 responding companies, only seven percent respond within five minutes. Over half tragically take closer to five business days. Inside Sales stresses that companies that do respond within five minutes are 21 times more likely to get that potential client into its funnel.


Cost as an essential marketing KPI


Costs are invaluable B2B marketing KPIs to keep track of. Far more than only static indicators, cost KPIs really come into their own when used to monitor changes over time. Sales and revenue KPIs, although the stars of the show, don’t make a lot of sense without considering costs. Some of the most useful cost KPIs include


  • Cost per lead (CPL)

  • Cost per SQL

  • Cost per Acquisition


The latter represents the total cost of acquiring a new customer. You will want to keep track of this KPI to help find ways to cut it down. This metric is often used by investors to help determine the profitability and value of a company. The lower it is, the more profitable you are. To calculate it, simply divide the total spent on acquiring customers in a given period by the number of customers acquired within that period. 


Customer lifetime value (CLV)


This is one major B2B marketing KPI that is not shared with B2C. Customer lifetime value is the total revenue that you receive from a customer over the entire duration of your professional relationship with them. The value in focusing on CLV is that it lets you gauge how healthy your customer relations are in the long term. 


You should look for a steady increase in CLV and compare changes in CLV to changes in revenue over time. At the simplest level, to calculate CLV, simply subtract the cost of acquisition and service of a customer from the total revenue earned therefrom. There will be variations in the formula for your specific priorities and methods. Factors like gross margin and the average number of repeat purchases may also be relevant for your calculations.


Some KPIs loosely related to CLV follow trends in customer retention, upselling, and referrals. Customer retention can expose issues in your customer relationship management (CRM), and upselling is usually a high-priority goal for a B2B company. It can contribute to CLV and other revenue-based KPIs. 


Referrals are also a great reflection on the quality of CRM. They can also add nuance to your CLV, ROI, costs per acquisition, or other costs formulas. It is hard to work referrals in as a direct goal of your marketing strategy, so it borders on being a vanity KPI, but it can be worth watching.


B2B marketing KPIs: ROI


ROI can seem pretty straight-forward. Indeed, more than any other KPI, ROI is the brass tacks of your marketing strategy and your business in general. However, there are various ways to calculate ROI. 


Different formulas will work best for different business models, as with so many other KPIs. A simple calculation is to subtract marketing investment from gross profit. You may want to calculate it differently to identify room for improvement in your marketing strategy. For example, consider subtracting marketing investment from customer lifetime value (CLV). 


Obviously, you want an increase in both the volume of customers and CLV. Without differentiating them in your KPIs, strength in the former can conceal weakness in the latter. There are a variety of other factors that you can throw into your formula, including overhead and general expenses. In this case, the formula might look something like revenue with marketing investment, overhead and incremental expenses subtracted.


How to determine the right B2B marketing KPIs for you


Ultimately, each marketing team will have to determine which KPIs are most beneficial for it to track. This is part art and part science. No two businesses and marketing strategies are completely alike. Nevertheless, here are some tips that you may want to keep in mind.



Do

Don’t

Start with the most important KPIs and expand your tracking to others gradually

Don’t try to track everything right from the beginning and get swamped in data

Focus on one or two tracking tools that will get you the reporting you need. Keep your life simple and don’t waste time on the latest toys

Don’t assume that more and fancier technology will produce better results. New, complicated tools and tech require time and training to use successfully

Closely revenue- and ROI-related  KPIs represent the bottom line that upper management cares about. Focus on these

Don’t forget to cut the fat to save yourself and management time. Identify vanity KPIs and minimize their appearance in reporting

Segment your KPIs according to relevant sectors like lead or traffic sources. Try to differentiate quality leads and traffic.

Don’t compile KPI data into long, complex reports. The vitals should fit into a dashboard or catchy graphics


Conclusion


We have by no means exhausted discussion of the possible B2B marketing KPIs that you could use. Be creative and experiment at compiling, comparing, and contrasting different KPIs to generate the most meaningful data. The odd vanity KPI can keep you smiling as well. Just don’t lose focus on ROI and revenue-based KPIs. As noted, this is part art and part science but with some practice, it will come naturally.


Author

Mathieu Picard

CEO, Anyleads, San Francisco

We are the leading marketing automation platform serving more than 100,000 businesses daily. We operate in 3 countries, based in San Francisco, New York, Paris & London.

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