Return on Serendipity: Telling A Data Story

ABM Analytics Expert Interview with Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

“Getting into B2B marketing was a giant mistake,” quips Matt Heinz. At least, that’s what someone could say of a journalism major who began his career as a reporter — and now leads B2B pipeline consultancy Heinz Marketing. Someone else might say Matt specializes in a different type of storytelling.

“Too often,” Matt says, “B2B teams drown in information and simply report facts. Why leave data interpretation to chance when you tell a story with it?”

I had the opportunity to chat with Matt while writing Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to ABM Analytics. Matt and his team help companies build predictable pipelines through everything from demand generation to lead management to sales enablement and data. He is one of the sharpest marketers out there, and I learn something new every time I talk to him.

Here are some other highlights from our conversation.

Discussing ROI Metrics You Can Buy A Beer With

First, your teams must be aligned. Matt rants: “Traditionally, marketing has prioritized tactics and activities over outcomes. We have a sales team that is grinding it out at the end of the month and at the end of the quarter, while marketing is at the bar celebrating because they hit their re-tweet goal.”

“The outcome of marketing should be sales development.” You have to step up and own metrics that you may not be immediately comfortable with (and certainly don’t have complete control over). These are the metrics that your CFO recognizes and your organization prioritizes. It will drive alignment of activity and metrics of culture inside of your marketing organization moving forward. You move from an environment of “more” (i.e., more leads, traffic, clicks, retweets) to an environment that focuses on “better.” It’s about driving quality over quantity.

Start ASAP. The more data we get, the harder it will be to filter to the actionable insights. The amount of data we have access to is increasing exponentially, and you must be able to translate that into a story – something that’s actionable. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll find the right data that tells the story.

Focus on business results. Dashboards show a lot of interesting data, but whether in ABM or not, Sales cares about what closes. Matt explains: “Aligned marketers find business advantages in analytics to improve results and create predictable pipeline.”

Correlate leading and lagging opportunities. Lagging analytics illuminate market interests that may differ from existing products or services. From what’s happened, leading metrics guide future action. Matt continues: “I can look at past analytics to understand what a market is interested in that may be different than what I’m offering to consider new product or service opportunities. Then, if I have a premise of what I think should happen, I need to be able to tell whether or not it’s working. I need to be able to tell whether it’s worked better than something else. “

Ask why and what. Turning data into actionable insights is always the toughest challenge. It’s very different to assess if teams hit numbers than why they hit their numbers. Not only do we measure everything down to metrics we can buy a beer with (i.e., actual dollars), we inspect tactics with the highest likelihood to convert into sales and revenue. The key is to look at a piece of data and come up with a hypothesis; find the story. Next, ask “what can I do differently in my business based on this information? What can I take action on? How can I change the direction of the story?” If there isn’t anything to take action on, you have to wonder whether that data was meaningful.

Test premises and results. Where’s the real yield of lifetime value across customer lifecycles, and how can you optimize your sales and marketing mix to improve it? Often you’ll find that the results are counter-intuitive. Therefore, a good analytics strategy isn’t just measuring what you want to look at; it’s giving you access to data that shows you everything and reveals where the real optimal mix of performance is.

Be open to surprise endings. Like Matt’s career, top-tier results in ABM often emerge serendipitously. Results can be counter-intuitive. What worked best may have been unintended. A good analytics strategy illuminates optimal performance mix.

Pro Tip: Seek more than bigger deal sizes. One SaaS company realized it generated significantly higher lifetime value within a few specific industries (deal sizes were standard). To attract similar accounts, the company changed its account acquisition economics. “We could spend more aggressively because we knew [those net-new customers] would stick around longer, be happier, be better referral sources.”

So, how do you tell a data story? “In some cases,” Matt explains, “you don’t even have to present data. Say, ‘we found field events are three times more likely to generate pipeline than paid search, so we’re reinvesting.” Be sure to specify planned tactics.

If you enjoyed my conversation with Matt, check out Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to ABM Analytics. It’s packed with actionable advice and takeaways that marketers need in order to connect marketing programs to metrics you can buy a beer with.

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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