Article 11 Reasons Why Measuring B2B Conversion Rates Is (Nearly) Impossible

As a marketer the question you probably hate the most from executive management is "What is our MQL-to-Opportunity conversion rate?"

Why is this question so frustrating? It's a simple question and you should be able to answer it, but it's actually extremely complex. Why? Let's dig in.

Why #1: Many MQLs on an Account

Let's start with an example... You have 5 MQLs from the same Account. You are able to qualify and create an opportunity with one of the MQLs. What is your conversion rate? 1/5 = 20%? Or 1/1 = 100%?

In B2B we sell to Accounts NOT Leads, so MQL-to-Opportunity conversion is the wrong metric. We really should be measuring MQA-to-Opportunity conversion rates where MQA means "Marketing Qualified Account."

Our MQA-to-Opportunity conversion rate is 100%.

Why #2: Timing of Opportunity Creation

Another example... Your SDR cold calls a prospect and opens an opportunity. The next day the same prospect visits your website and becomes an "MQL."

Should this MQL count?

No. Since the opportunity was already created, this "MQL" should not be counted when measuring top-of-funnel conversion rates.

However, marketing should attribute this activity to helping accelerate the opportunity, just not sourcing the opportunity.

Why #3: "Re-MQLing"

Example" You have a prospect that becomes an MQL on October 15th, 2017. You set an "MQL Date" field to 10/15/2017 and pass the prospect to sales. Sales is unsuccessful in booking a meeting. On February 1st, 2018 the same prospect comes back to your website.

What do you do?

  • You already counted this prospect towards your Q4 2017 MQL goal, do you count them again?
  • Do you update the "MQL Date" from 10/15/2017 to 02/01/2018? But this will skew all you historical conversion rates.
  • What is the right time period to wait before you can "Re-MQL" a prospect? 30" 60" 90 days?

See how this is getting complex quickly?

Why #4: Timing of Account Stage

Example" An account is an existing customer, but a net new prospect at the Account engages and qualifies to become an MQL – do you count it?

No, since there is no potential for a new opportunity. But what if the net new prospect is part of a different buying committee that represents a net new opportunity? Then yes, it should count, but how do you actually track and measure all this?

Why #5: Orphaned Leads

If you're using Salesforce and not automating lead-to-account matching and/or converting all leads into contacts/accounts, you're probably counting "MQLs" that are at existing pipeline accounts or customer accounts and not even realizing it. These "MQL" should really be filtered out of your reporting.

In the end it means your overstating your MQLs and understating your conversion rates.

Why #6: Many Opportunities on an Account

Example" you have 10 MQLs at an Account. That same Account has 5 Opportunities.

How do you know which MQLs, if any, influenced the 5 Opportunities?

Why #7: Multi-Touch Attribution

Example" a prospect does the following:

  1. 12/15/2017 attends a trade show
  2. 1/15/2018 attends a webinar
  3. 2/15/2018 requests a demo

On 2/16/2018 an opportunity is created for $90,000.

Here's how you'd break out attribution based on various models:

Attribution by Activity

And based on the timing of the activities, here's where you'd attribute marketing sourced pipeline:

Attribution by Quarter

There's no right or wrong attribution model. However, if you're only using one model you probably have a drastically distorted view of how your marketing is actually performing.

Why #8: Account Types

In order to get an accurate conversion rate only end-user prospects should be counted. This means technology partners, resellers, analysts, vendors, competitors, and internal employees need to be filtered out of all reporting.

Why #9: Outside of TAM

Similar to Account Types, what if you have a well defined Total Addressable Market (TAM) and sales won't even engage with prospects outside of your TAM.

Do you count those prospects in your top-of-funnel conversion metrics? No, they need to be filtered out.

Why #10: Drilling into Conversion Rates

What if you want to drill into your data by campaign, campaign type, industry, region, specific date ranges, or other ways? Can this easily be done?

Why #11: Historical Data

Typically your CMO or CEO comes to you and says, "Give me marketing performance and conversion rates for the last 2 years."

  • What if you haven't been methodically tracking it in the past, what do you do?
  • What if your underlying data or definitions change? Can you update the historical information so you have an apples-to-apples comparison going forward? Or have you been tracking everything in Excel?

So, how do you solve all these challenges?

If you're using Saleforce and any of the popular marketing automation solutions (Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, Eloqua, etc), I have good news.

We've solved all 11 challenges (and more) with Attribution.

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Ready to take the next step? Request a demo today.

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