My 5 favorite B2B marketing numbers.

Everyone, except perhaps the creative folks in advertising agencies, knows that marketing is a numbers game. Numbers such as click-thrus, cost-per-lead, cost-per-sale and ROI dominate the landscape of marketing numbersdiscussions.

I like numbers. They measure the real market success (or failure) of B2B marketing campaigns, they support the argument for following best marketing practices, and they give marketers real insight into the cost and potential value of various marketing approaches.

So, it makes sense to share my 5 favorite numbers to help other marketers experience the confidence and the joy that numbers bring to the strategic process. I didn’t devise these numbers. But after years of knowing them, I cannot honestly remember whose testing and research discovered them in the first place. They are:

  1. The value of following up with leads immediately: 88% of people are happy to hear from the B2B vendor within 24 hours of downloading informational content. Waiting 96 hours drops that percentage to the 40s.
  2. The reason nurturing leads is critical in maximizing sales: 45% of new leads generated will buy from someone in the industry category within 12 months.
  3. One big argument for integrated outbound marketing: Qualified B2B direct mail lists consistently provide 60% more records, business profiles and demographics than email marketing lists.
  4. Making sure the results of marketing tests are statistically valid: When testing one list or channel against another, the results of the test can be considered minimally statistically valid only if the response to each individual test cell is 85 responses or higher.
  5. Where to focus efforts in B2B marketing campaigns: Out of 100%, the elements that affect the outcome of a B2B marketing campaign carry the following weights List/Media/Data = 40%, Offer = 30%, Design = 15% and Copy = 15%.

Marketers building strategies and plans for the remainder of the year and beyond should let the numbers be their guide.

Doing marketing math avoids painful experiences.

The wonderful gentleman who recently gave us a tour of the Seamen’s Bethel in New Bedford, Massachusetts gave us a look into some interesting history of the area. It Seamen's Bethelwas about the poor, often uneducated farm boys in the mid-1800s who were wooed into signing up for a whaling voyage with the promise of riches amounting to (what sounded like) a substantial share of the money that voyage produced.

Often 18 to 36 months in length, these voyages meant long hours of backbreaking work that ultimately wore out the seaman’s boots and clothes, which they had to replace with purchase from the on-board “slop shop.” These purchases used up the seaman’s entire take, leaving him with nothing upon his return.

If these poor boys had had the ability to do more than simple math, they could have realized how little they were being promised and could have avoided the painful experience altogether.

In marketing, doing the math also avoids painful experiences.

Marketing campaigns require a lot more than knowing your budget and how many sales that budget needs to generate. When planning a marketing program, it’s critical to run these numbers:

  1. Is the universe large enough to deliver the numbers you need? Say, for example, you are marketing to Fortune 1000 companies and ultimately want the campaign to produce 30 sales or 3%. If, on average, your sales force closes one sale out of 10 meetings, then you need 300 meetings to close 30 sales. Is this reasonable? Or do you need to broaden your prospect universe?
  2. Can your sales force handle the inquiries your program will generate? If you are inviting a prospect base of 10,000 to participate in a survey (which can generate 5% to 25% response rates) and you want your sales force to personally contact each participant, can they handle that kind of volume?
  3. What do you have to spend to generate those leads? Reaching CEOs usually requires the use of a more costly delivery method such as FedEx® or a dimensional mailer that can get past the gatekeeper and grab attention.
  4. Are you prepared to spend what it takes to reach this target group effectively?
    How many inquiries will you generate?
  5. What is your cost per inquiry?
  6. How many of those inquiries do your sales force typically close and what is your cost per sale?
  7. What are the average response rates from the channels you plan to use?
  8. What is your average profit per sale?
  9. What is the average lifetime value of a customer?

No marketing plan is complete unless it addresses all of these critical Ed Nash Book v2numbers.

For the formulas and proper calculations, I recommend Direct Marketing: Strategy, Planning, Execution by Edward Nash. This classic direct marketing book does an excellent job of covering the math of direct marketing. Although it primarily addresses direct mail marketing, the concepts apply no matter what channels you use.

The cost and time of reviewing your numbers will be well worth your while and can avoid a long, painful voyage that ends in disappointment.