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Marketing KPI Lessons from Oregon Technology Leaders

March 18, 2016

Every business has (or should have) a set of key metrics that illustrate how well, or how poorly, things are going. This is perhaps most true within the marketing function, where decisions made to determine where to spend money, invest resources and cut costs almost always have an impact on revenue.

The big question, though, is which key performance indicators are top of mind among marketers at top performing companies?

Last month, the TAO Marketing Committee set out to tackle that question and gathered together a group of top tech marketing minds in Portland to discuss how their marketing KPIs feed their organizational objectives.

The group, which included Chris Fisher, the Senior Director of Marketing at Tripwire, Hillary Ervin, the Director of Demand Generation at Navex Global, Ken Anderson, the VP of Marketing at Smarsh and Kathy Stromberg, the VP of Marketing at Webtrends spoke at length on their strategies for selecting KPI’s, and their views on what does and doesn’t work in-the-field when it’s time to measure performance.

Among the highlights of the event, the panel offered advice on how pick the set of KPI’s that are best for you, and what to do with them once they’re set. These views included:

  1. Pick one number or one metric that you want everyone on your marketing team to know at all times, and know how it contributes to the sales pipeline.
  2. How do you determine your KPI’s? Understand what is marketing tasked to do and build your KPI’s so they correlate and work towards these goals.  
  3. Be honest with your marketing department's current state and choose earnest, achievable strategies to grow.
  4. Firms tend to have different ways to account for their impact on sales. Most are built on sets of assumptions and none are perfect, but if you want to quantify your marketing impact, you have to start somewhere.
  5. Using your fully-loaded marketing department costs (instead of channel-by-channel) as your baseline to measure ROI.
  6. Be patient with picking your KPIs because once they're chosen, they're going to be set in stone for the foreseeable future.
  7. Understand that quantifying your impact (whether it’s in terms of revenue generated, leads created, or some other figure) will help you build credibility within your organization. Knowing that $1 spent leads to X result means you can demonstrate your value to even the most skeptical minds. 
  8. Try as you might, PR is one KPI that always has been, and always will be, difficult to track. For this reason, it should not be something that is presented to executive leadership with the same rigid metrics as other marketing initiatives that produce quantitative figures. PR is not an area to be discounted but should be evaluated and monitored within the marketing department as a strategy necessary for promoting overall brand awareness and driving customer engagement. PR absolutely supports other KPIs that are being presented to top management, but it should not define the success of a marketing department and should not live or die as a result.

If you found these words of advice helpful, or you’d value the chance to meet up with other marketing experts in the Portland Technology scene, be sure to check out our next community event "Does the Buyer's Journey Fit in Today's Customer-Led Environment?being help April 19th, 5:30-7:30pm.