“Campaign optimization” has been a buzzword in B2B marketing demand generation for years now. Any leads shop will tell you that they can optimize your demand generation strategies to deliver the best results.
But what does true “optimization” look like? And how can you tell that your demand gen partner is making good on its promise to deliver the most value on your budget?
In this post, we’ll look at the basics of campaign optimization and how you can be confident that your demand gen provider is helping your team drive meaningful engagement and grow revenue.
What Do We Mean by Campaign Optimization, Exactly?
Optimization is the practice of adjusting demand generation strategies, parameters and tactics based on response rates and success metrics.
Most providers can handle the response rates part of the equation, at least within a given B2B marketing channel. If a certain email creative is getting better click rates, they just lean into that creative and shift resources away from other mailings. More clicks equals more leads.
But you don’t need leads – you need real opportunities that ultimately result in revenue. Just tweaking a campaign to pump out the most MQLs/AQLs can often hurt your bottom line if those contacts don’t look and act like your best customers.
You’re just cluttering your MAP and CRM with email addresses that will never convert. It’s a waste of money, and the exact opposite of true campaign optimization.
The Golden Rules of Campaign Optimization
To maximize the ROI of your demand generation strategies, you should embrace these guiding principles of optimization, whether you are running an inhouse campaign or working with a trusted provider.
Quality Over Quantity
We can’t say it enough – you want opportunities that lead to revenue, not dead-end leads. This often means spending more of your budget to engage smaller, more qualified audiences. Defining “qualified” boils down to next-step conversion rates, revenue attribution and meaningful KPIs (more on that later), but it’s a fundamental step of campaign optimization.
Behavioral Audience Segmentation
Some marketers limit their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) marketing audiences to a few job roles and firmographic filters. That’s a mistake that will quickly burn out the same target account and name lists. Audiences need to be enhanced by behavioral business intelligence and purchase intent. If someone in finance is doing the exact same research as your key ICP influencer model, you probably want to be talking to them as well.
You want to know which channels are driving engagement with your best customers, and you need to track the entire journey across all those touch points. It’s often a well-timed combination – an email or phone call after a display ad click through – that really drives the conversation. You need to rebalance your spend and sequence per channel to accelerate the most profitable branches of your campaign.
You can’t book revenue if Sales doesn’t close the deal. Create and hand off opportunities to Sales at a steady pace that they can manage. Letting your campaigns breath a little also allows you to observe behaviors and optimize tactics for the current effort in real time.
To drive revenue, you must offer your audience useful, compelling content that helps them make the right purchase decision. And you need it in formats that work across the full spectrum of B2B marketing channels. This can get expensive – in fact, you may need to outsource or license your high-end content creation efforts to meet demand. But a having a broad menu of content offerings in the bank empowers you to optimize tactics in real time.
What’s the Right Time for Optimization to Happen?
Short answer: Whenever you see the opportunity.
Most demand gen providers use the term “optimization” to describe shifting tactics during a campaign – tweaks made to the ICP marketing personas to meet delivery goals, or shifts in spending to high-performing channels.
That’s great. But optimization also needs to be the guiding principle as you design your next campaign as well. Every contact with your customers is a chance to learn and improve your demand generation strategies. It’s a never-ending process.
How to Optimize Demand Generation with a Trusted Partner
As you can see, successful demand gen optimization is a comprehensive, sometimes complex process that spans channels, industries and ICP marketing models. It’s a lot of work, and it demands resources and experience your in-house team may not have.
Working with a trusted demand generation partner can elevate your campaigns with expanded data and cross-market expertise. It’s one of the main areas where B2B marketing teams are expected to continue to expand their ecosystems of closely integrated outsourced providers, according to Forrester and other analysts.
To get the most from such a partnership, you need to view your demand generation provider as an extension of your own marketing team. They should understand your demand generation strategies and goals, and bring additional resources and skills to the table to elevate the entire operation.
Here’s a quick look at the assets that are fundamental to successful campaign optimization with a trusted demand generation partner.
Quality First-Person Data
Your partner should own their own data, particularly business intelligence about purchase intent and other key signals that identify a prospect is in-market. Owning the data allows your partner to adjust campaigns in near real-time, not weeks later. (They also should be executing the campaign themselves, not simply brokering your business to another provider (we call that the “inbetweener,” but more on that later.) They also can run multi-factor analysis to find behavioral patterns that pinpoint your most promising revenue opportunities across markets.
Clearly Defined Ideal Customer Profiles
With in-depth analysis in hand, you should constantly hone your personas to reflect your best revenue opportunities. Job titles and company size are important, but behavior is the real tell that a company is ready to buy. And purchase journeys change with the economic landscape – you should rely on your partner for business intelligence to keep your ICP marketing roadmap up to date.
This asset really needs to come from your in-house team, with some support from your partner. As we said earlier, meaningful campaign optimization focuses on success metrics, not just bulk response rates. Revenue attribution is always a little tricky, but you do need to identify some key KPIs that indicate an opportunity eventually turned into a great customer. And we’re not talking about cost per lead (CPL) or other bulk delivery stats – you need to know which customers have the greatest lifetime value and how they are contributing to your revenue. That’s the needle that optimization needs to move.
Transparency into Campaign Design and Management
Demand that your partner is completely transparent about the tactics they will employ for your campaign, from data sourcing to the timing of mail drops. You don’t want to be involved in every tactical step – that’s why you have a partner – but you do want to have a complete picture of what’s going on, and who is doing the work. And, perhaps more importantly, you want to be confident that you will get a straight answer to any questions you have, particularly if your partner does make an optimization adjustment to an ongoing campaign. No black boxes.
Real-time Progress Reports
Some marketers want to see campaign progress in real time; others are happy to wait for a weekly report. In selecting a demand generation partner, be sure they offer a reporting dashboard as well as weekly status reports / check-ins.
This is where you close the loop on campaign optimization. At the close of a campaign, you and your partner should do a full review of what worked and what didn’t, and plan for your next campaign accordingly. You may make a few adjustments in your ICP marketing persona, or you may find a behavioral trigger that helps you identify a whole new audience. Your market is always evolving, and so should your strategy.
Optimization Never Ends
Demand generation is as much a mindset as it is an activity. You always need to be analyzing the data and campaign response to find the audiences, tactics and patterns that create the best ROI on your B2B marketing budget. Finding a partner with the data and expertise to help drive optimization is a critical step toward driving engagement with your best customers.