B2B Articles - August 16, 2023

How Lean Teams Can Master Marketing Efficiency: Auditing for Strategic Optimization

B2B marketers face a unique set of challenges when trying to improve their team’s outcomes. For example, one HubSpot report found that the average marketer works on five campaigns at a time and that most marketers surveyed thought their workload would increase in the coming year. Additionally, many B2B marketers work on small, internal teams that get pushed and pulled in different directions by their counterparts in sales, their leadership team, and their own marketing knowledge and expertise.

These problems are all really just symptoms of a much bigger issue: a lack of data-driven decision-making. Without marketing data integrated into strategy and campaign planning, sales and leadership teams often have an outsized influence on marketing activities, and marketers find themselves doing more work and finding less success.

A lean marketing audit is the first step in breaking the cycle of doing more without producing the desired results. Auditing marketing outcomes helps marketers understand their overall performance, pinpoint areas in need of improvement, and identify productive strategies so they can build on them.

No matter what level of data access, virtually any marketing team can conduct a marketing audit to learn how to re-focus their work. Auditing is a crucial skill and should be a part of every planning process. 

Click here to learn more about auditing for teams without access to a CRM.

Click here to learn more about auditing for teams with a CRM that isn’t integrated with sales.

Click here to learn more about auditing for teams with a CRM that is integrated with sales.

Basic State: Audit Conversions

Who this section is for: Marketers with no access to a CRM.

An Ironpaper survey found that almost two-thirds of marketers use a legacy system in place of a CRM. These cobbled-together systems often leave marketers without a means to consistently improve their output.

For these teams, auditing revolves around evaluating conversion rates. Conversions are foundational to digital marketing success, and while the metrics on their own lack some important context, they can provide a lot of workable, actionable insights. 

Consider the sample report below as an example. 

Screenshot of Sources analytics report showing sessions, conversions, new contacts, etc. for traffic sources like paid search, direct traffic, and organic search.

It’s a pre-built “Sources” traffic analytics report from HubSpot that shows the session-to-contact conversion rates for all of the channels this team is utilizing. 

Reviewing this report, two things jump out:

  • Paid search has generated the highest number of contacts, but it has a weak conversion rate.
  • Paid social has a very strong conversion rate, but a low number of sessions.

Looking at this report, it might be tempting to try to increase the number of sessions for paid search, but increasing traffic to sources that already have high conversion rates is typically more fruitful. 

For example, look at the difference in the number of leads generated by adding 50 sessions to both paid social and paid search. Fifty more paid search sessions don’t add any new leads to the pipeline, but 50 more paid social sessions add 8 new leads.


A table showing sessions, conversion rates, and leads generated by paid search and social media, respectively.

A table showing sessions, conversion rates, and leads generated by paid search and social media when 50 sessions are added to each source, respectively.

Just by reviewing this simple report, this team can make the strategic decision to divert some of their paid search budget to their paid social channels to increase traffic to a high-conversion channel.

Although some important context is missing from these conversion metrics — such as the quality of the leads coming in through these channels — teams that don’t have access to in-depth reporting or CRM data can still audit conversions to make strategic decisions.

Conversion data can also provide insight into which channels and conversion points have the most effective messaging and design, which teams can then carry through to other channels.

Looking back at the sample report above, this marketing team now knows that the messaging on their paid social ads is highly effective at converting leads. They can evaluate the messaging and design on high-performing channels and accompanying landing pages and look for ways to incorporate that messaging into low-performing channels

As you can see, auditing conversion rates can provide some great insight into where teams should focus. Performing these audits consistently over time provides even more insight into how a marketing team’s work is affecting conversions.

Advanced State: Audit Marketing Metrics

Who this section is for: Marketing teams with a CRM that is not integrated with sales (or a sales team that doesn’t input sales data).

In its ideal state, a marketing team should have access to data illustrating the entire buyer’s journey, from the time they become a lead to their history as a customer. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many teams find themselves with a separate CRM from the sales team or working with salespeople that don’t always input deal information. 

However, these teams can still audit their own CRM data to improve their efforts to connect with their ideal buyers. For these teams, marketing audits should focus on three critical lead conversion metrics: 

  • Conversion rates
  • Total qualified leads
  • Total marketing-qualified leads (MQLs)

Marketing CRMs provide a lot of in-depth data, and it can be easy to get distracted by all of the reports and metrics available. For lean teams, it’s crucial they don’t spend too much time wrapped up in metrics that don’t reflect how effectively they are able to generate qualified leads.

If the technical capabilities exist, auditing these lead generation metrics for individual channels can provide even deeper insights into marketing performance. The ideal state is to understand how each channel — and possibly even each individual ad, social post, email, etc. — contributes to qualified lead generation. 

The reporting capabilities of a CRM are a huge benefit, even if it’s not integrated with sales. Building reports and dashboards that display these metrics and automatically update allows marketers to perform quick spot audits, regularly dive into the data, and even communicate more effectively with leadership and salespeople. Users can also compare and contrast data from different time periods, providing insight into how their efforts improve over time.

The main pitfall of this audit state is the disconnect from sales. Marketing data can only tell half the story, and when that data is not integrated with complete, consistent sales data, it’s missing important context, like which of these qualified leads ended up as opportunities. It’s possible for the marketing team to be generating a lot of leads they believe are qualified only to find that the sales team is frustrated with the leads they’re being handed.

It’s crucial for these teams to validate marketing data with sales perspectives. Marketers need to make a continued effort to build a relationship with salespeople and have open channels of communication about how the leads they generate are performing. 

Ideal State: Audit Revenue Influenced

Who this section is for: Teams with a robust, sales-integrated CRM that contains complete buyer data. 

For marketing teams that have access to a CRM that is integrated or shared with sales (and that salespeople consistently update with accurate deal information), revenue influenced is the key metric to focus on for a lean audit. 

Revenue influenced is almost impossible to calculate without an integrated sales-marketing CRM, but it is the ideal metric for evaluating a marketing team’s performance. It connects the marketing team’s efforts directly to the business’s overall health and growth. 

Renevue influenced is also the metric that non-marketing leaders are most likely to be concerned with. A survey report from Demand Spring found that 78% of marketers are now having their performance evaluated by the portion of the sales pipeline that they influence. About 32% of marketers reported that they are expected to initiate between 20-30% of the pipeline at their organization. This makes Revenue Influenced an important metric when requesting a higher budget, new tools, or additional team members. 

With a robust, sales-integrated CRM, marketers can build reports and dashboards that show revenue generated along with other metrics that provide additional insight and context, such as:

  • The value of deals in the pipeline
  • The value of deals with a high probability of closing
  • How much potential revenue is in each stage of the pipeline (e.g., the value of deals currently in the proposal stage)

With these types of reports, data on past and current revenue influenced can help the marketing team look ahead and evaluate the success of new or revised campaigns.

Understanding how the marketing team influences revenue can also open up fruitful conversations with the sales team. Salespeople are often paid on commission, and they don’t always have a deep understanding of digital marketing. When marketers can connect their own work to salespeople’s success, it forms the foundation of productive, innovative conversations.

Empower your lean marketing team to drive growth today.

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Grow your B2B business boldly. Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency. We build growth engines for marketing and sales success. We drive demand generation campaigns, ABM programs, B2B content, sales enablement, qualified leads, and B2B marketing efforts. 

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