Metrics and the Marketing Waterfall

Marketing is now able to track almost every activity in the buyer’s journey and connect it to revenue. At the 2015 Marketo Marketing Nation Summit that was held last week in San Francisco, I attended session after session on the ins and outs of these metrics. Some of the mind-boggling concepts being discussed include measuring first touch vs multi-touch attribution, marketing influenced pipeline, and the importance of lead flow consistency.

Why were they mind boggling? Because marketing used to be considered a cost-center—a fuzzy department that everyone just assumed would help drive business. We invested in it and kept our fingers crossed that there would be a payoff. However, thanks to the Internet’s ubiquity and its pervasive role in global commerce, this is no longer the case. Marketing has become a revenue-center—and we’ve got the numbers to prove it. Instead of talking about cost-per-lead, marketing can present revenue-per-lead and make a real case for itself around the executive table and when presenting to the board.

The only topic I didn’t hear much about at Marketo’s summit was PR. I left wondering, is it the only discipline within the marketing department that can’t be directly involved in the demand gen marketing waterfall? Marketers can track their influence on SEO and follow website leads throughout their journey to revenue. Same with ebook or whitepaper downloads, webinar registrations, event attendees, and even social media shares through referral traffic. The impact of email marketing and online advertising can also be cleanly tracked back to bookings.

But What About PR?

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention PR in relation to marketing waterfall metrics. Is PR doomed to be left out, or can we fix this? For now PR can monitor all company media mentions; measure owned, earned, and paid media; and see how well each is doing. PR can put together reports showing the quantity of these mentions, assess their quality using online readership data, and zero in on where this activity is happening around the world. PR can use social media as a channel and track some of its impact that way (or is PR now social, that’s a discussion for another day). And PR can compare all of the above to that of the competition, and set realistic share of voice benchmarks as part of their quarterly goals. There are really great tools to help PR do all of this, of course, we even sell one.

As a demand gen marketer, I’d love to be able to measure PR’s impact on website traffic. I recently talked to our head of PR about this. For now we can see what prospects click directly to our website from a link in a brand mention or a company press release. That’s at least a step in the right direction. Maybe one day there will be a way to bring the rest of PR’s impact into the demand gen marketing waterfall!