It’s understandable, we’d all love to quantify our marketing activity with a single number – this amount of marketing spend generated that amount of revenue. However,  ROI in the B2B world is not that straightforward. The sales cycle in B2B is most often a lengthy one, and there are many complex interactions that happen at all levels throughout a business before a sale is finally closed. Within this context, the ways in which we are currently measuring marketing ROI isn’t giving us insight into these dimensions and it certainly isn’t telling us what percentage of sales revenue can be attributed to our marketing efforts, no matter the number of qualified leads are sent  across to sales.

Remember marketers are not salespeople. Furthermore, lead generation is just one aspect of marketing, a tactical, short-term activity that is designed to do one thing only – provide a sales teams with a pipeline of potential customers.

Without a doubt, marketing impacts the bottom line. Yet marketers are consistently failing to quantify or communicate their contributions to the business in ways that are meaningful and of value to the business.

So, what should marketers be measuring and how should this translate this into information the business understands and values? This is not an easy question to answer, but the first step is to stop talking about marketing outputs and start talking about marketing outcomes; in other words, about what is marketing actually trying to achieve.

Here are 4 tips for creating meaningful metrics for B2B marketing:

1. Change the conversation

Have very different kinds of discussions with B2B stakeholders about what marketing success looks like, for them – both in the short term and the long term. Instead of starting with what can measured and ‘explaining’ to the business how that ‘proves’ marketing’s value, start with a completely different conversation about business goals and objectives.

2. Agree up-front what measures are meaningful

I often meet marketers who are asked to justify their activity and thus their marketing spend on ad hoc basis, which always catches them by surprise. They then rush around ‘proving’ ROI by hyping numbers that are simply not understood or valued by the business. Measures by themselves are meaningless if we can’t connect them to what’s important to the business.

3. Create a standard measurement framework

The reporting format or frequency doesn’t matter, as long as it’s agreed with the business and used by everyone consistently. Most business stakeholders prefer a simple dashboard with a few key metrics that summaries marketing ROI at a glance, along with the contextual factors that underpin the data. No matter the framework, it needs to be embedded within and across the business, enabling both marketing and the wider organisation to see and understand marketing’s impact.

4. Choose the tools and stick with them

Choosing the technology and tools to use is the final component for developing meaningful measures. This has to happen after its’ been agreed what is actually going to measured and the framework in which it will be delivered.

Ultimately, defining marketing metrics that matter means resetting the ‘value’ agenda with stakeholders. By developing and agreeing on a simple set of measures that will consistently provide real insight into what marketing is doing, the impact marketing can be demonstrated to a business.