How you measure success is dependent on when you measure it. If you can’t dunk a basketball in third grade, that’s okay. If you still can’t dunk after college and working in digital marketing for several years, then sadly, you’re probably not the next Kobe Bryant.
The same is true of key performance indicators in marketing. How you measure the success of your marketing efforts depends on which stage your leads are in the buyer’s journey.
We’ve talked about the most important KPIs of the buyer’s journey before, hitting on the awareness stage and consideration stage, but in this article, we’re going to explore the most important KPIs during the decision stage.
Since it’s been a little while since we started this series – here is a quick recap of the buyer’s journey before we dive into the marketing analytics.
Recap of Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey might sound like an epic tale crafted by a car salesman turned fantasy novelist, but it’s really a helpful illustration of the path potential customers take to becoming customers.
It encapsulates how companies interact with potential customers on their path. Those interactions help businesses find their ideal customers and help customers efficiently find the right solutions to their problems, all while strengthening brand equity and trust.
It starts with the awareness stage, where the hero of our journey, the buyer, has a problem or need. In our B2B world, this could be a sales team leader struggling to efficiently schedule sales calls. Part of the awareness stage is that the buyer begins researching ways to solve their problem, like searching online for “best ways to schedule sales calls.”
Next is the consideration stage; our buyer explores solutions to their problem. There may be more than one type of solution that can help them, they could implement software that shares calendar availability, or they could hire an assistant to handle scheduling.
The Decision Stage
Finally is the decision stage, where our hero has arrived at the last chapter of their journey. They’ve decided on the type of solution, like a call scheduling software, and have begun actively comparing different offerings and vendors.
Content of the Decision Stage
Businesses that embrace inbound methodology develop content that showcases key differentiators to help potential buyers decide which option is the best for their situation. Some content that helps a potential buyer make a decision includes:
- Case studies
- Free trials
- Product samples
- Product comparisons
- Product demos
KPI + Metrics of the Decision Stage
So, how do we measure our success at this stage? As marketers, we know success can be intangible; not everything can be tied to our marketing analytics. A social media post can remind someone of a free trial they took two weeks ago, reminding them to return a sales call about a purchase. That journey is tough to attribute in a spreadsheet or report in sales data.
Plus, a B2B sales cycle can be loooooong. To use our previous example, implementing new and expensive sales call scheduling software can take buy-in from many various stakeholders — stretching out over an infinite stream of meetings, emails, and messages. All of this to say, it’s challenging to know when the actual decision of the decision stage will be made.
What we can do is measure the performance of the content built for the decision stage. How are our case studies, free trials, product samples, etc., performing? Are our leads engaging with them? Are they leading to follow-up calls with the sales team?
When reviewing decision stage metrics, it can also be beneficial to analyze sales data. If marketing content is performing well but sales are not, it can be a clue that something else is amiss in your buyer’s journey.
Below are the KPIs and metrics that will give you a better understanding of how your decision stage is performing.
Contact Requests + Leads
No one wants to be contacted in 2023. At best, we want an email or text suggesting the idea of contacting us. We need warnings for contact. But the decision stage is when visitors should reach out to schedule product demos, free trials, follow-up calls, and the like.
But how do you know if you’re receiving enough leads for the amount of effort and resources you’re putting into developing content?
Cost per Conversion
As its name implies, cost per conversion tells you exactly how much it costs to convert a lead into a customer. While things like contact requests and leads are helpful KPIs for examining the performance of the decision stage content in real-time, cost per conversion can be used retroactively to review how your marketing efforts are performing overall.
It’s especially easy to calculate with things like PPC since costs are tied to interactions. For content, you can measure the overall cost of developing and divide it by the value of conversions.
Content like case studies or product comparisons can be designed to be downloaded, which can provide your team with valuable info as to who has reached the decision stage.
The decision stage is when you can start thinking about the return on investment for our marketing activities. It works best when reviewing completed sales or deals; where did your leads originate? What resources did it take? Are your marketing efforts sustainable?
Conversion rate is typically used on websites to determine the percentage of visitors that are eventually turning into leads or customers. It’s a great metric to evaluate how your overall marketing is performing over a long period of time.
When your leads have finished their long and delightful journey to the decision stage, they should be well-educated on the different solutions to their problems and have more trust in your brand. While measuring those sorts of intangible improvements can be challenging, it doesn’t make them any less valuable. Focus on improving what you can measure, and the intangible fruits of your marketing labor will surely follow. Unlike my dunking ability.