Closing The Robe: Lessons from the B2B Marketing Manifesto campaign

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Neil Stoneman

20. 06. 2011 | 7 min read

Closing The Robe: Lessons from the B2B Marketing Manifesto campaign

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It’s a bittersweet day at Velocity. I can confirm the rumours are true: Project Open Robe has – until we bring it back at least – come to an end.

The project has been our commitment to showing business value from our B2B Marketing Manifesto campaign. If you’ve been following then you’ll be familiar with the ‘warts and all’ B2B analytics case studies we’ve published along the way.

It’s been great fun but now – after a long campaign and an equivalent budget spend of £25,000 (made up of our time and a dabble of a few hundred quid in PPC experiments) – comes the definitive wrap-up post for the first six months. Did we fulfill our promise of last year? Or have we been hoist by our own petard?

Let’s find out.

Business Goals

We set two new business targets.

Two projects from new clients
We’ve smashed this target. We’re sure the likes of Baynote and AppCentral will be happy to rubber-stamp the fact.

Three projects from existing clients
Another tick in the box. We loved welcoming Magus and Elateral back into the office for new campaigns and projects.

So what’s that in actual ROI terms? I talked to the guys huddled by the company abacus and they assured me the top line return is running at 700% plus. One of them actually smiled (rare for an abacus guy).

But what about the bottom line? Well, the figure of 175% (hat tip to the Lenskold Group) after only six months makes some pretty tidy reading.

B2B Marketing Analytics ROI Test

Business Pipeline
We also set a target of fresh fuel for lead nurturing campaigns.

Gather 200 names for our database
A slam dunk. Of the thousands of new contacts, we added 392 names that meet our criteria (demographic and psychographic) to our prospect database. The others are still in our wider list of ‘people we’re happy to know’.

B2B Marketing Analytics Marketo Names

We expect a future ROI boost as our B2B lead nurturing campaigns work their magic and turn prospects into future sources of revenue. The pipeline’s rumbling.

So the job’s a good one and, if we’re writing a senior management report, we would probably stop here.

But if you’re keen to know the details that underpinned our success, we’re keen to share them.

Operational Goals

Site Performance
We had three main key performance indicators (KPIs) measured over six months and, when relevant, benchmarked against past performance.

Generate 1000 Manifesto downloads
Another winner. In six months the flood of downloads (1506 to be precise) means we’ve outperformed our target by over 50%. Here’s a month by month break-down.

B2B Marketing Analytics Downloads

Inspire 50 comments on the download page
A tough assignment but a success. You’ll find 87 (minus one we made ourselves) lined up on the download page, and at least a dozen more across various other parts of our site. It helped that we begged:

B2B Marketing Analytics Comments

Drive 25% increase in thought leadership downloads
This one’s out the park. We scored an ultimate 171% uplift in downloads as the Manifesto itself became a huge source of referred traffic as visitors came, in droves, to check out our B2B content marketing library.

B2B Marketing Analytics Library Analysis

Search Performance

We wanted to improve our overall search performance in three ways.

Get higher up and UK index for ‘B2B Marketing’
Whoops. We’ve been up and down here (as you might expect) but finished the project down four spots in the UK and even further adrift in the US.

B2B Marketing Analytics Search Term

Increase search traffic on “B2B Marketing” stem by 50%
More like it. A 86% increase in search traffic shows why you should never forget the value of longer tail searches.

Increase search conversions on “B2B Marketing” stem by 35%
Close, but no cigar. But a 26% conversion rise is still a decent return (see the small green number under “Goal: Conversion Rate):

B2B Marketing Analytics Search

We also wanted to match the backlink performance of Content Marketing Workbook. The current running totals from SEOmoz (excluding internal links initially counted*) are:

B2B Marketing Analytics Link Performance

We’re happy with the results for three reasons: the content marketing book is 14 months older, it’s a more instructive (rather than inspirational) read and it has benefited from campaign cross-promotion.

Social Media

We also used the Content Marketing Workbook as a benchmark for our social media results.

Increase visits from social media by 50%
Back on track. We scored a 65% spike from key social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, SlideShare, Reddit, Delicious and Facebook.

Increase social media conversions by 100%
I think we’ve done it. Is a 2910% rise enough? It’s almost too good to be true.**

Improve our time on site and bounce rates
Two boxes, two ticks: a 21% and 8% hike respectively – see the small green figures that compare data with the benchmark period:

B2B Marketing Analytics Social Performance

Online PR

Using the Content Marketing Workbook launch as a benchmark we found.

Increase visits from Online PR by 50%
Ace! It’s an increase of 194% on our benchmark period.

Increase Online PR conversions by 100%
Whoosh! Increased by over 5000%. Almost certainly too good to be true**

Improve our time on site and bounce rates
Mixed bag. A 13% drop in time plays a 17% better bounce rate.

B2B Marketing Analytics Online PR Performance

The Seven Cs of Strategic Analytics

So that’s the project in numbers. We’re delighted, relieved and more than a little bit wiser. It got us thinking about the role analytics play in helping B2B marketers create better campaigns. Your analytics deliver more when they’re:

1. Commercially-Focused
The first thing is to make sure you work out the impact on sales and revenue. Imagine you can prove that your work brings in the revenue (and the profits); then imagine your next review; now ask yourself why marketing analytics are so important.

2. Campaign-Driven
You can’t measure everything. And measuring the odd random statistic is pointless. That’s why campaigns with clear budgets, costs, timelines and outcomes are a great marketing focus. What’s not to measure?

3. Conversion-Based
Getting people to your site one thing, but the goal has to be to make them do things: download, play, contact, buy. These action-orientated behaviors are signs of funnel movement. And that’s what we’re paid to do.

4. Consistent (Part 1)
We’re all (most of us anyway) programmed to act consistently. The chances of us doing something increase exponentially when we publicly declare we’re going to do it. The act of writing Open Robe significantly increased the likelihood of its success. The main point: the best analytics shape your future, they don’t just report on the past.

5. Consistent (Part 2)
And there’s the other kind of consistency. You need to stay focused from start line to finish line. We’ve tried to be consistent and report on the things we identified at the start. Sure business directions change, but shifting the project goal posts too far simply leaves you with data that makes no sense.

* We included internal links in our initial analysis. We shouldn’t have done that.
** The data looks great but reflects better goal organisation and management in our analytics more than actual performance.

6. Comparative
Only by benchmarking results against your own past projects or competitors (using tools like can you really determine success. It’s not about how things are: it’s about how much better you can make them.

7. Continuous
This project is over, but it’s just one of a number we’ve got running at any one time.  A commitment to great analytics is a commitment to great marketing. You don’t stop one if you want to carry on doing the other.

Summing Up

So it’s time to close the robe and get on to our next ideas. The entire exercise has been hugely rewarding, enlightening and just plain fun. We put our money where our mouths used to be. We set out our targets, metrics and performance for all to see. And we’re really glad we did.

Campaigns for our clients have already benefited from the things we learned in this project, with measurable results. So watch this space.

Thanks for staying with us – do catch up with the rest of the project if you’ve not done it before – and don’t be shy to leave a comment below. We’d love to know what you think of this exercise.

Project Open Robe Part 1 – the one where we commit ourselves in public (Planning)

Project Open Robe Part 2 – the one where it all kicks off (Thinking)

Project Open Robe Part 3 – the one where confidence starts to rise (First results)

Project Open Robe Part 4 – the one where the trick shots start (Cross-promotion)

Project Open Robe Part 5 – the one where we share the first month’s results (Reviewing)

Project Open Robe Part 6 – the one where we toughen up (Soul Searching)

Project Open Robe Part 7 – the one where we find the world’s best marketers (Segmenting)

Project Open Robe Part 8 – the one where we show that design isn’t everything (Style v Substance)

Project Open Robe Part 9 – the one where lead nurturing proves its worth (Marketo)

Project Open Robe Part 10 – the one where the form fights back (Form v No Form)

Project Open Robe Part 11 – the one about autoDMs in Twitter

Project Open Robe Part 12 – the one about re-purposing and atomising your content

Project Open Robe Part 13 – the one with an early peek at the outcomes

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  1. Jeff Miller

    July 28th, 2011

    Thanks for sharing…transparency leads to credibility. I’m impressed and that is not easy to do these days.

    Cheers mates,

    Jeff Miller
    Rockford, IL US

  2. Atul Dhakappa

    December 7th, 2011

    Impressive results, great transparency and a lot of things for everybody to learn. Many thanks for sharing

    Atul Dhakappa
    Xenia Consulting

  3. Neil Stoneman

    December 7th, 2011

    Thanks Guys,

    We thought we should practice what we preach. There’s no doubt that setting transparent goals makes you work harder to achieve them.

    Turned out to be a lot of fun as well.

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