What’s the difference between KPIs and metrics? How can you leverage both to track, measure, and ultimately improve your company’s performance?
Basics | May 4
Elise Dopson on January 15, 2020 (last modified on February 13, 2020) • 19 minute read
We wanted to find out how real B2B companies do it–focusing on the KPIs they prioritize, company-wide.
In this guide, we’ll share 20 of the most important KPIs your B2B company should be tracking, including:
Click the links above to jump to a specific B2B KPI, or continue scrolling to read more about the metrics you should be keeping an eye on.
Want to know the most important marketing KPIs to track across all functions (i.e. content, SEO, email, social, etc.)? Check out the definitive list of marketing KPIs all marketers should be tracking according to 400+ marketing professionals.
Chances are, you’ve got Google Analytics installed on your website. Pulno‘s Agnieszka Cejrowska thinks it’s a great tool to use when “remembering that people browsing your site can be potential leads which in turn can transform to customers.”
Cejrowska explains: “Monitoring the traffic is a good way to learn how the customers land on your site and what they want from you, what exactly are they interested in.”
“Knowing that you can adjust your content and plan the marketing strategy to attract even more visitors – potential customers.”
According to Priya Kumari of Valasys Media, “click-through rate is one of the most important KPIs the marketers should put to use for measuring the success of their organic and offline SEO campaigns.”
“Click-through rate (CTR) is a KPI that not only substantiates if enough impressions are being served to the prospective clients but also makes sure that the traffic on the website is worthwhile for conversions to occur.”
“Unless the content on the website isn’t served to the relevant people, generating the requisite conversions and accomplishing the other core bottom-lines would become a daunting task,” Kumari adds.
*Editor’s note: Keep track of your organic CTR, alongside other key SEO metrics, with our Google Search Console dashboard. It will automatically pull your data without having to log into your account, and make it easy to share your B2B metrics company-wide:
“One important KPI we track across all of our marketing is how many customer signups did an activity generates,” writes REMITR‘s Sandeep Todi. “That is the end-goal of all our initiatives, and leads us to devise better ways of tracking what we do.”
Todi puts that into practise: “If we did an online or an offline campaign which does not have good attribution capability, we build that in if we’re doing it over a longer period, going beyond the immediate metrics (e.g., how many contacts did we make vs how many signups did it generate).”
Mitt Ray of Social Marketing Writing adds: “You can easily monitor this metric by setting up goals on Google Analytics. The average website has a conversion rate of about 1.95% and the top 10% of marketers convert at 4.77%.”
Powerphrase‘s Newaz Chowdhury agrees: “Tracking this is helpful because it tells you if your website is engaging to users. If people leave without taking action, then there’s something wrong.”
Ramey Miller’s team at Text Request also does this by measuring “the number of sales that come from each individual marketing effort.”
“This answer seems like an obvious one but, you need to dive deep into these KPIs and figure out what’s working, what you should do more of, what you can work on. It is also nice to see when the fruits of your efforts are working out.”
Plus, Jim Knapp of MediaSalesTrainer.com adds that “conversion rate (closes as a percent of qualified opportunities) as it expresses quite clearly a product/service-market fit.”
You know that you should be tracking your overall revenue. But Brian Koenig of Smile Marketing explains that you can do this by segmenting your data: “One example would be evaluating landing page conversions.”
“By setting up conversion goals on your landing pages, you can measure the number of leads a landing page generates, but also the key data that determines the page’s efficiency.”
Koenig continues: “For example, if the percentage of visitors converting on your landing page is a mere one percent, you know you have a conversion problem. You now need to reevaluate your page content and design.”
Robbie Richards adds that you can also segment this landing page traffic to show data from organic users, which “will give you insight into which content assets and topics are driving the most value for your business.”
“As an SEO agency that works primarily with B2B SaaS companies, one way we segment this KPI further is to break out the landing page reports by subfolder. For example, we’ll build tables with all the landing pages housed in the /solutions, /features and /blog subfolder so we can align the appropriate conversion goals to their respective content.”
“For example – within the /solutions and /features subfolders, we’ll show trial signups from organic traffic for each landing page, and how that is trending. Then, for the /blog subfolder, we might show newsletter signups from organic traffic for each landing page.”
“Finally, if we have access to CRM data, we’ll pull in the lead to opportunity to close numbers for the organic traffic channel. This helps close the loop,” Richards adds.
Foundation‘s Ross Simmonds also says that you should calculate the conversion rate for content marketing: “Every B2B marketer today is bought into the idea of creating more content. But oftentimes they struggle with capturing/tracking the ROI of these assets.”
“Thus, I think every B2B marketer needs to track assisted conversions as a part of their key performance indicators. It will show them whether or not assets being developed are resulting in conversion or if they’re simply falling flat.”
Dylan Zsigray explains how the team at Kiwi Creative do this: “With our gated content, we utilize landing pages to track individual content performance and to provide a clear pathway for lead conversion. An important KPI that spawns from this is the performance of each landing page.”
“For example, are readers converting by accessing gated content? Are they scrolling down the whole page? Is the bounce rate higher on some gated content pieces than others? All of these questions steer optimization for our landing pages and form a foundation for future marketing strategies.”
Zsigray continues: “If a specific piece of content is under-performing, then the industry may not be looking for that type of information and our energy ought to be focused elsewhere.”
“For our team at Eater Creative, one of our most important KPIs is contact form conversion,” writes Benjamin Surman.
“We deal with a lot of restaurants and even just as many vendors in the restaurant business. We have built our form to capture enough accurate information upfront to provide powerful insight into prospective clients.”
“This data can then help us continuously improve our internal lead ranking system based on multiple metrics, which means getting prospects to a client status much faster,” Surman adds.
But according to T3‘s Jordann Wilson, “every B2B company should be tracking the success of their phone calls in addition to online forms, ecommerce purchases, etc.”
“For our B2B clients, we typically see a 3:1 ratio for lead generation through the phone. With longer sales cycles, customers have an expectation of speaking to a representative before making a large purchase. Having tools to attribute valuable phone calls back to paid media is crucial for growth.”
Wilson explains: “With tools like Marchex, you can go a step further to listen to calls and identify common customer questions that can help guide content recommendations and advertising copy.”
“When I’m looking at B2B marketing metrics, particularly for digital, I always look at visitor-to-lead (aka session-to-contact) rate as a KPI… but I particularly like to look at VTL by source,” writes ImpulseCreative‘s Juli Durante.
“I find marketers are often looking at VTL in general, but forget that different traffic sources should convert at lower rates than others.”
“For example, if you are sending a lot of emails, you may have a lower average VTL rate – email communications generally go out to contacts already in your database.”
Durante continues: “Tracking VTL by source can tell a marketer where to focus conversion rate optimization opportunities and the always-coveted “low hanging fruit.” It can also help you see where your efforts are paying off. Is that new PPC landing page contributing to your conversions? Check that VTL!”
TradeWheel‘s Anosha Imran agrees: “Website visitors are potential sales leads. Tracking this is important to determine the performance. It can be tracked using an analytics tool that gives you valuable insight into the origin of the traffic. It also shines a light on SEO practices that brought the most visitors.”
Jarie Bolander of JSY PR & Marketing thinks: “All B2B marketers should track email newsletter signups.”
“This is a leading indicator of how well your messaging is resonating with folks that find you via search or other means,” Bolander adds, hence why their team thinks the email sign-up conversion rate is a KPI that B2B marketers need to monitor.
“In B2B marketing, leads is our most important KPI,” writes Selby‘s Stan Tan. “We need to work together with our sales team to close that lead. Marketing alone isn’t enough to close a lead in B2B.”
Unlike Tan’s team, we found that the majority of B2B KPIs are structured for specific departments, rather than company-wide:
Tan continues: “B2B deals range from the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes even millions and you aren’t going to get that lead to buy your $100,000 product over a shopping cart. Hence, lead is our #1 metric we measure.”
Danyal Effendi of PureVPN agrees: “Leads drive sales; the greater the number of leads the higher the chance of big sales number.”
Romain Chiaramonte of Wild At Heart agrees: “Clearly, it’s mandatory to track number of leads per day, and, score of each page per lead in order to only focus efforts (SEO) towards these key pages. B2B is all about results and 1 new customer can easily reimburse marketing cost.”
You know how many leads you’re getting.
“We find it crucial to include the source of each lead we capture,” writes Clayton Arnold of NRI Industrial Sales. “This way we can get a full view of our marketing campaigns to determine what approaches are working or which ones need further tweaking.”
Stephen Taylor of WISER Systems agrees: “Of all the metrics and KPIs that marketers can track here, the most reliable one for marketing attribution models is typically the conversion rate of those leads by leads generation source.”
“This helps a) quantify many of the actual costs to acquire customers, and b) show more clearly what is and isn’t working at the leads generation level.”
Increasing the quality of a lead is a top priority for 68% of B2B professionals.
That’s why Shaye Smith of The Center for Sales Strategy thinks it’s an important B2B KPI: “Are the leads coming in considered “quality,” and specifically sales qualified, for our sales team?”
“The revenue that is generated from these leads is also helpful in analyzing and assessing the lead scoring over time,” Smith adds.
“Every B2B marketer should be tracking leads and differentiating between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs),” Lauren Walter of Search Optimisim thinks.
“This KPI is particularly relevant for B2B marketers over B2C marketers because their sales cycles tend to be longer and purchasing decisions tend to be more complex. This leads to a more involved buyer’s journey, requiring more tracking along the way.”
Walter explains: “An MQL has taken some action to indicate they are more likely to become a customer, such as visiting your website or downloading a whitepaper. But they aren’t yet at the decision stage. This means they should be targeted by your marketing team, but they aren’t high enough priority to be handed off to your sales team.”
(Ron Sela adds: “MQLs are contacts who have identified themselves to be sales-ready and are deeply engaged with your offering as compared to usual leads.”
“For instance, contacts who have downloaded your brochure can be considered to be MQLs if they satisfy the criteria of your target audience, including target industry, business size, specific vertical, or revenue.”)
Walter continues: “An SQL, on the other hand, is already in the buying cycle and ready to become a customer. They may have visited your website multiple times, viewed your pricing page, and requested a demo or filled out a contact form. These leads should be the highest priority and receive direct follow-up from your sales team.”
“By tracking both MQLs and SQLs, your company can make the most of its data on leads and act accordingly,” Walter says.
Nichole Turner of Chief Martech Officer adds that tracking SQLS “is extremely important to know because this is the handoff between marketing and sales.”
“If sales accept your lead as sales qualified, then I feel marketing has done their job. After that, it’s up to sales to close the deal. This is a great metric to show the value of your campaigns and to gauge whether or not they are not only creating leads, but the right leads.”
However, Nick Nelson of TopRank Marketing says: “I prefer not to think in terms of MQL/SQL, as this distinction can be divisive. Instead, collectively agree on a shared definition of a “qualified lead” and then assess how effectively they’re moving through your funnel.”
“Optimizing around this will benefit your business tremendously — sales waste less time chasing futile leads while strengthening the relationship with marketing due to improved alignment.”
“Changing focus from how many prospects are in your pipeline to what percentage of prospects are converting is a key element in a generalized shift from quantity to quality,” Nelson summarizes.
“Measuring the performance of qualified leads is our north star KPI here, and [Tilt Metrics] recommend it for other B2B marketers,” according to Brandyn Morelli.
“If we know our close rate from lead to client, and we know how many projects we need to close per quarter, we can easily tell if we’re on track based off of our qualified lead figures. Looking upstream, if we’re not hitting our KPI’s on qualified leads we know that we need to generate more traffic through more content and/or paid ads.”
Morelli mentions that they use this B2B KPI to monitor how many leads their team needs to close per quarter. That’s the second-most common frequency for reviewing and adjusting the importance of a metric:
“Pipeline velocity is an important metric to measure the success of marketing campaigns,” says Vishal Srivastava of Trainedge Consulting.
“Pipeline velocity measures the time it takes for a prospect to move from lead to customer. It’s important because it tells you how well you manage your funnel and nurture the leads.”
Alice Donoghue of TheAppLabb thinks “every company can define what a “step” in their sales process entails.”
“What this KPI essentially shows is how quickly and easily a potential customer can slide through the sales pipe. It shows how well laid-out your funnel is. And, it reveals if you’re relying too much on high-touch customer service (your salespeople or CEO having to fight tooth and nail for every close).”
Donoghue continues: “A lot of B2B businesses fall into the trap where, through lack of branding or market positioning, they spend way too long explaining their benefits to each new customer. This goes to show that the customer isn’t receiving a clear message of what product/service you offer and what they stand to gain, right when they encounter your brand.”
“Tightening your messaging, having consistently branded collateral, and providing as much information as possible at the beginning of the funnel will help improve this KPI.”
“By working at this KPI, you’ll be able to better quantify the effectiveness of your marketing department, and also save your salespeople a ton of work, Donaghue says.
William Chin-Fook of Pickfu agrees: “During the buying cycle – if you end up having a lead drop off during the conversion funnel, that is counted as a loss. Whereas if you convert that lead – it’s counted as a win!”
“The reason that this is important is due to its impact on your conversion funnel. A win/loss analysis is at the core of any B2B marketing or sales team since it could potentially show you deficiencies in your sales pipeline, which you can then remedy and hopefully generate more revenue,” Chin-Fook summarizes.
“The most important KPI that B2B marketing professionals should track is actually a sales metric: close rate,” writes Jeremy Cross of Team Building Philadelphia.
“Generating leads is one thing, but you can get false positive like unqualified leads or even spam. When you optimize for qualified leads and then closed deals, you focus your efforts on marketing techniques and channels that generate actual profit.”
“If I have to pick just one KPI it’s revenue generated per dollar spent,” says Dave Davis of Beanstalk Internet Marketing.
“You do have to take a bit of a broad view of it as some marketing channels are for branding, and some take a bit of time to pick up like organic search but you need to set revenue-per-dollar-spent goals and expectations and monitor them closely, taking into consideration, of course, the assisted conversions.”
“It’s helpful because, at the end of the day, this is the metric that keeps a business afloat. My company doesn’t run on Facebook Likes or organic visitors… It runs on sales and conversions.”
Kevin D’Arcy of ThinkFuel Marketing summarizes: “At the end of the day, marketers have a responsibility to prove the effectiveness of their activities and take ownership of their budgets and goals.”
Do you run a B2B SaaS company?
Corey Haines of Refactoring Growth argues that “for SaaS and subscription-based businesses, recurring revenue is what makes the business sustainable and what every marketer should be ultimately striving to improve.”
“All leads, subscribers, website visitors, and customer signups should back into how it affects MRR.”
360quoteLLC‘s Melanie Musson thinks: “This indicator often gets lost behind growth and revenue, but it should be in the forefront.”
“Good customer service trends will help every other part of the business grow. If you see customer satisfaction decreasing, you can bet that the rest of your KPI will start decreasing soon.”
The team at Wyatt International argues that you can do this using sentiment–which Bethany Haller says “is an excellent KPI as it provides a reality check and makes you really think about the content you’re producing.”
“Tracking sentiment can be a real challenge, as there are several ways to do it. Whether it’s through a rule-based approach that incorporates Natural Language Processing (NLP), adopting an automatic approach that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to trawl through data, or a hybrid approach, there’s not a ‘one rule fits all’ approach.”
“However, tools such as Google Insights, Google Alerts, Talkwalker, Brandwatch, and Hootsuite Insights are excellent places to start,” Haller adds.
*Editor’s note: Do you know how happy your customers are with your product or service? Grab our Customer Success dashboard to see how many customers you’ve helped, support messages have been sent, and happiness percentage:
Jonathan Chan of Insane Growth thinks that CAC is one of the most important B2B metrics–but not in the way you might think: “B2B marketers need to also factor in the ‘time-cost’ of acquiring a client.”
“Too many marketers make the mistake of only considering the cost of their tools and/or PPC spend, and not the cost of the time that went into conceptualizing, preparing and executing their strategies and tactics.”
“Once you start factoring in the time-cost, marketers will have a more accurate gauge of how much work and effort is required of them to acquire a customer.”
Chan continues: “Reducing that overall CAC should always a top priority for all marketers as this affects macro-level business goals like revenue and profit. But it also affects micro-level goals such as increasing conversion rates and reducing customer churn.”
When we asked the team at The 5% Institute what B2B KPI is the most important, Khabeer Rockley said: “They should all track the lifetime value of a customer.”
“It’s important because it allows you to see how much you can potentially spend on acquiring a customer; even if it’ll initially mean you lose money on the front end.
Jacob Landis-Eigsti agrees: “Customer lifetime value is a crucial KPI for B2B marketing. You need to know the lifetime value of a customer so you can decide how much you’re able to spend to acquire a customer.
However, Landis-Eigsti argues that this metric can vary dramatically, based on your industry: “For a personal injury lawyer, acquiring a customer for $175 is incredible. For a coffee shop, it’s a disaster.”
“You should track customer lifetime value so you can see how much you’re able to spend to acquire new customers. But, you also want to actively work to improve this number. You can do this by increasing referrals, reducing churn, and adding more repeat business,” Landis-Eigsti says.
BuySellAds‘ Cole Heggie adds: “If you know what the lifetime value of your customers is, and find the main source of those with the highest lifetime value (that is, where to find them), you’ve created an ideal targeting persona: it could be as simple as focusing your efforts there to drive exponential revenue and growth.
The best part? JVT Media‘s Toni JV says: “This KPI also can give you ideas on how you could increase the lifetime value of a customer. “How can we offer even more value in the long term such that our customers want to work with us even longer?”
Tracking the performance of your B2B company doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think.
Add these B2B KPIs to your watch list, and start to see how your organization grows.
Basics | May 4
Basics | Sep 24 2019