B2B marketing goals in 5 steps

3 min read
Apr 29, 2024 2:46:30 PM
Marketing is not an exact science and sales cycles are often long. But without measurability, you're no conversation partner for your board. These 5 steps will help you set goals that impress at the next board meeting.


Setting marketing goals is not easy. Certainly not in business-to-business. Marketing is not an exact science and sales cycles are often long. But without measurability, you are no discussion partner for your board. These 5 steps will help you set goals that impress at the next board meeting:

  1. Link marketing to business objectives
  2. Define 5-10 KPIs
  3. Benchmark or measure your current results
  4. Set marketing targets on your KPIs
  5. Build a marketing dashboard

1. Link marketing to business goals

Of course, you do this all the time. But are you doing it literally? Connecting at the c-level starts with using the same words. Simply by naming under which business objective each marketing action fits.

Does a particular marketing action not fit anywhere? Then maybe you should reconsider it. If it's not a goal for the rest of the company, are they going to support you in its execution?

Are there no corporate goals (aii 😬)? Then sales targets are a good guide. How much does the company want to grow? And where?

Pro tip: as a company, set a target at 1, 3 and 10 years. Then you automatically think in terms of growth.

2. Determine 5-10 Marketing KPIs.

In the end, only one KPI matters: revenue. But with long sales cycles, it is useful to also measure KPIs that "predict" sales. Choose a limited set of KPIs, which will help you keep track. The most commonly used marketing KPIs are:

  • Website traffic: number of sessions/visits on all your websites combined.
  • Leads : new people in your database who left their contact information for something (e.g. downloading a white paper or visiting your trade show booth)
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Leads that marketing has offered to sales to follow up 1-on-1.
  • Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs): MQLs accepted by sales for follow-up.
  • Influenced Opportunities : number of open opportunities involving a contact who has also interacted with a marketing campaign.
  • Influenced turnover: turnover in Euros from 'influenced opportunities' that have been won.

Pro tip: handovers are often bottlenecks. For each handover, make sure you measure how many contacts were offered and how many accepted. For the marketing-sales handover, these are the MQLs and SQLs. But you may have multiple handovers in your commercial process.

3. Benchmark or measure your current results

Benchmarks can be very nice. But the past still remains the best predictor of the future. So your first source for comparisons should be your own data. Even if you start using new KPIs, you can often go a long way with existing data. Take, for example, the number of conversions as an indicator of leads. Or the number of contact/demo/quote requests for SQLs.

Should you still want to benchmark. According to research by HubSpot, 1% of website visitors convert to leads. After that, it's very dependent on your M/SQL definition.

Pro tip: In Google Analytics you often have a rich history of information about sessions, conversions and contact/demo/quote requests.

4. Put marketing targets on your KPIs.

Traditionally, sales has targets. Marketing doesn't. Strange really for two disciplines that should be angling for new sales together. It leads to sales being taken more seriously than marketing. And it sometimes causes sales to set up its own lead generation.

Therefore. Set marketing targets. That may sound scary, but is the best way to rise above yourself. Think of it as setting the bar. Especially if you're doing it for the first time, it will be hard to get the target right. To put your mind at ease, it's not a disaster if you don't meet your target. One thing is for sure, without a target you can't hit it anyway.

Pro tip: often 10-20% growth on all KPIs over last year is a good starting point. Unless you are in a market that is already growing 20% of its own accord of course😉

5. Build a marketing dashboard

Now that your ambitions are in place, you want to be able to keep an eye on the results. The easiest way is to create a marketing dashboard. A good B2B marketing dashboard shows your KPIs per month (new leads/MQLs/SQLs/etc.). In inbound marketing, we often break this down to total KPIs vs online KPIs. For example, the latter are just the leads/MQLs/etc. with an online first touch.

HubSpot has a very fine dashboard functionality. But beware! Data and charts can be treacherous. You need to know exactly what the data means so you don't draw the wrong conclusions. Or worse, that you report results to your executives that you have to come back to later.

Not yet a wizard with the dashboard tool? No worries, drop us a line and we'll be happy to help you get started. How to. Request a HubSpot demo and we'll show you.


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