Even before the pandemic, marketers were on a data and analytics spending spree. Then the pandemic accelerated technology adoption as a result of the shift to digital outreach.
Despite marketing budget cuts, CMOs continued to throw money at martech.
Martech spending wasn't the only trend that picked up speed in 2020 and into 2021: More marketers than ever before have adopted Agile methods, breaking the 50% mark for the first time.
Just like martech that helps B2B marketing teams manage digital outreach, Agile marketing—with its emphasis on sprints—is a good fit for the B2B business environment.
But if you're focused on maximizing the return on B2B martech investments and ensuring that Agile techniques pay off in leads and revenue, you'll need a strategy to integrate data from your point solutions and align Marketing and Sales around a single source of truth. You'll also need measurement tools that yield real-time results.
Creating an Agile B2B Martech Stack
The convergence of the two trends—Agile methodology adoption and martech stack expansion—creates a renewed urgency for a focus on measurement in B2B marketing.
The Agile concept relies on frequent measurement so teams can course-correct during sprints when they need to improve performance. In B2B, measurement cannot wait until the end of a sales cycle, because Agile sprints are relatively short and B2B sales cycles tend to be longer. Therefore, measurement tools must be able to generate data that allows you to measure progress during the sales cycle.
That can be a challenge for B2B marketing teams that use dozens of point solutions. Martech tools generate data metrics that are pertinent to Marketing, such as open rates and clicks. But that information isn't particularly relevant to Sales, and because B2B Agile teams are cross-functional and usually include sales ops, B2B marketers need more compelling data.
That's where a single source of truth comes in, and at B2B companies the CRM system makes the most sense.
So, to create an Agile marketing stack, use the CRM as the central data repository. It's already in your stack, and it's capable of handling massive data sets.
To link marketing campaigns to leads and revenue, you can funnel data from lead gen and marketing automation solutions into the CRM using a measurement system that is native to the CRM. The best approach is to measure leads through the sales funnel and use attribution models to account for revenue.
The Measurement Sprint
B2B marketers who adopt Agile methods have to figure out how to measure results when the length of the sales cycle exceeds the duration of the marketing sprint—e.g., a short, focused campaign that lasts a few weeks vs. a months-long sales cycle.
An Agile marketing stack with measurement tools inside the CRM (as previously described) solves the problem for you by tracking lead progress through the funnel and returning real-time data. But it's worthwhile to run a concurrent sprint that focuses solely on measurement.
In a measurement sprint, cross-functional teams (that include, for example, marketing ops, sales ops, demand gen, sales development, etc.) can examine data from the campaign and take action as necessary to ensure campaigns are meeting their goals.
Here's how that sprint might look in a series of steps:
- Hold short, frequent meetings (matched to the cadence of the campaign sprint) to examine execution, funnel metrics, and attribution data, and to surface outliers for further investigation.
- Assess progress as related to project goals and determine campaign performance status—i.e., whether it's exceeding or not attaining project KPIs.
- Have Marketing review lead volume, velocity, and conversion rates, and have Sales evaluate lead quality.
- Wrap up each meeting by resolving questions and assigning action items for issues that could not be resolved during the meeting.
The measurement sprint process will be repeated at predetermined intervals throughout the duration of the agile project sprint.
Standing Up a Single Source of Truth
If you're looking at further investments in B2B martech while increasing your focus on Agile methods, it's crucial to stand up a single source of truth about data for ultimate success—whether you're running a streamlined martech stack or one that includes dozens of point solutions that produce massive amounts of data.
When you house all of the data from your martech stack in the CRM, you can measure campaign impact in a credible way. You'll produce metrics that make sense to the sales team, and you and your cross-functional teammates can make better decisions about campaign iterations and investments.
So, keep Agile in mind as you contemplate B2B martech investments. We're still assessing the pandemic's long-term effects on business activities, but it's clear that digital-first outreach is here to stay.
When you're able to add in-person events back in, that data will need to be integrated as well, and the CRM is the ideal place to aggregate it alongside digital data.
By using the right measurement tools and establishing a single source of truth, you can maximize B2B martech investment returns.
More Resources on B2B Martech and Agile Marketing
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