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8 min read

Measuring the ROI of field marketing

Field marketing

B2B field marketing is all about getting in front of your customers. The average B2B sales cycle can be three to six months so creating the opportunity to meet, talk to, and get to know your customer before they make a purchase decision is crucial in speeding up that process.

Field marketing can often be the tipping point in the demand journey where a deal either accelerates or decelerates. It’s a point when sales is able to speak with leads that marketing has spent months acquiring, nurturing, and providing feedback on quality.

Those conversations are pivotal to both sides' understanding if 1) marketing is acquiring and providing the right personas to sales and 2) sales is able to deliver the core value message of the product or service in a way that resonates with the customer.

Without field marketing, demand generation is an empty, impersonalized process that is solely reliant on digital channels to find, acquire, convert, and retain customers.

According to McKinsey & Company, B2B marketers who use a combination of digital and in-person experiences are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to become primary suppliers than those who use only one channel.

Field marketing is the connective function that brings together the digital marketing world with the human elements of sales. When I first joined Chrome Enterprise to build out the demand team, the entire demand function was siloed: campaigns, field, website, social, etc. were all separate teams.

It ultimately comes down to ROI, and understanding the ROI of field marketing can be hard to track. But if you have the right data architecture in place, and you're focused on the right KPIs, it becomes a lot easier.

With these two elements in place, your team will shift from reactively reporting on the performance of field marketing to proactively measuring ROI and optimizing your field marketing.

What is the data architecture you need to operate best-in-class field marketing?

Your field marketing should have a strategy, goals, and KPIs – and be measurable. In today’s highly connected digital world, having a measurable strategy comes down to your data analytics infrastructure.

I ran a demand team of 10 people for a year without proper data infrastructure. It then took over six months, with lots of bumps and bruises, to implement proper data infrastructure. I’m now reaping the benefits of that work.

If I could go back in time, I’d put 50% of my demand budget into building out a top-of-the-line data architecture, tooling, and infrastructure before I grew too quickly.

Proper data infrastructure allows you and your team to:

  • Centralize data from a variety of sources: Marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, event management systems, budget tools, and more.
  • Cleanse and normalize data: Properly functioning data pipelines that feed into a central platform that is mapping and connecting the data on shared attributes (often in a data warehouse).
  • Segment data: The ability to prompt the data warehouse and extract defined target audiences that can be leveraged in field marketing campaign outreach.
  • Analyze data: Easily measure the success of your field marketing campaigns and identify areas for optimization.

Once your infrastructure is in order, define the KPIs you’re going to track weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually based on the strategy you are choosing to deploy. These KPIs will eventually become the foundational data for your ROI model.

Set strategy and goals, then KPIs

Here are three common ways to approach field marketing strategy that we’ll use as a basis for our ROI discussion:

  1. Drive awareness and visibility to your product or services.
  2. Generate demand through leads and MQLs from your top accounts (e.g. ABM).
  3. Accelerate the sales process and increase deal velocity.

The KPIs you measure will differ based on your company’s strategy but your KPIs should allow you to report on overall performance and effectiveness of field marketing, as well as provide insights into opportunities to make improvements. Choose KPIs with that framework in mind, there’s no right or wrong way.

Field marketing KPIs for measuring brand awareness

An example of measuring brand awareness through field marketing is using brand lift studies. Brand lift studies are a type of market research tactic that measures the impact of marketing activity on brand awareness, perception, consideration, or intent to purchase.

In the case of field marketing, a brand lift study can be used to measure the effectiveness of a trade show, an industry conference, a customer roundtable, or a workshop on its ability to improve a metric like awareness, perception, or consideration.

To conduct a brand lift study for a field marketing activity, you’d typically need to:

  1. Identify a control group and a test group. The control group could be people who are not attending the conference, while the test group could be people who are attending the conference.
  2. Survey the control group and the test group before and after the field marketing activity. The survey would ask questions about whether the person is aware of your brand, has an opinion of your brand, or has ever considered your brand.
  3. Compare the results of the two surveys to measure the impact of that activity. For example, compare the results of brand awareness between the control group and the test group to see if an event had an impact.

Surveys can be complex and time-consuming so an easy way to do this is through an online survey you send to both groups before and after the event.

The KPIs you can track with a brand lift study include:

  • Ad recall: The percentage of people who remember seeing your brand at your field activities.
  • Brand awareness: The percentage of people who are aware of your brand.
  • Brand perception: The percentage of people who have a positive opinion of your brand.
  • Brand consideration: The percentage of people who are considering buying from your brand.
  • Purchase intent: The percentage of people who are likely to purchase from your brand.

Each of these metrics can be used to track macro-level changes between your brand and your audience and prove or disprove the effectiveness of your field marketing in positively influencing those metrics.

Field marketing KPIs for generating demand

Generating demand through field marketing is going to create new opportunities to measure ROI. Where measuring brand awareness is more about tracking macro shifts in your customer’s perception of your brand, measuring demand is all about moving customers toward purchase decisions.

A more precise way to target your field marketing is through Account Based Marketing (ABM). ABM allows you to select the specific accounts you want to reach, the personas you want to engage with, and segments within those personas you plan on customizing your message and approach to.

"Field marketing and ABM can be a powerful duo in generating pipeline. Working together, they can identify highly active accounts that are not engaging with sales who would be great targets for personalized hosted events or larger shows."
Rick Simbeck, founder of GTMlabs.co

A few KPIs for measuring demand through ABM and field marketing include:

  • Leads: The number of leads and/or contacts generated by field marketing activities such as events, webinars, and customer roundtables.
  • MQLs: The percentage of leads that have met your lead scoring threshold and are ready to be passed on to the sales team.
  • SQLs: The percentage of MQLs that are converted into a status of qualified in your CRM. SQLs have usually been BANT qualified by a sales team and it’s perceived that there is opportunity at that account.
  • Open opportunities: Where an SQL becomes a deal on that account. This usually begins as Stage 0 and progresses to Stage 4. This is the best indication that your field marketing efforts are generating pipeline and potential revenue.

These KPIs are going to provide the signals you need to determine whether your field marketing is having a positive impact on the marketing and sales funnel. Be careful not to subjectively elevate vanity metrics like leads.

Generating lots of leads is great for your database but unless you have the conversion data to back up that leads will convert to customers, look further down the funnel towards a KPI like SQLs that has a stronger propensity to turn into revenue.

I shifted my entire approach towards SQLs in 2023 and never looked back. An SQL is the point in the journey where marketing and sales are forced to agree on the definition of the word qualified. Focusing on SQLs allowed us to set achievable goals, better forecast performance, and troubleshoot issues to find optimizations.

Field marketing KPIs for sales acceleration

One of the reasons you likely invested in field marketing in the first place is because of its ability to accelerate sales deals. Field marketing, being in person, has a way of taking theoretical demand and turning them into real business opportunities through real-life conversations.

“I would recommend drilling into the amount of responses (including both positive and negative intent) to sales emails post-event. You can gain feedback on the quality of the leads and the messaging being used quickly by partnering with your Sales Development, Account Executive, & Customer Success teams and iterate your strategy accordingly.”
Jessica Brown, Demand Generation Expert for high growth B2B SaaS companies including OneLogin, OpenSpace, Reflektive, & RollWorks

You want to be sure you can measure this effect, so here are a handful of KPIs you can use to track whether those in-person conversations are truly having an impact on the sales process.

  • MQL to SQL conversion rate: Think of this metric as a feedback loop from sales. The stronger this rate, the better indication that your field marketing is finding the right buyer and the right company. A low SQL rate indicates that the personas you’re targeting are potentially not the right fit.
  • New customers (logos): These are the new logos you acquired from field marketing. Usually, a new customer is defined as having completed account signup, and contracting, and has begun using the product.
  • Win rate: From all the opportunities opened, how many became customers? Field marketing can improve this metric, especially if you’re tracking multi-level attribution of several field marketing activities along the purchase journey.
  • Deal velocity: This is how quickly new opportunities are becoming customers. Being able to prove that your field marketing activities speed up the sales process and get customers to buy faster is the holy grail.

Bringing it all together with an ROI model

At this point, we’ve talked about three ways to measure the effectiveness of your field marketing but you still need one final process to bring this data together and tell the ultimate story of ROI to your leadership team.

The basic equation you will want to use is:

(Total revenue generated by field marketing - total field expenses) / total field marketing expenses

It’s important to note that you’ll need an agreed-upon attribution model to be able to measure the total revenue generated by field marketing. Many companies use an influenced attribution process which is a looser definition and assumes that any account that engaged with field marketing was therefore influenced in their purchase decision.

A more accurate approach is having a multi-touch attribution model that applies specific weighting to each field marketing activity depending on when that engagement happened, who engaged, and behavior change as a result of that engagement.

The more precise you can be in measuring the direct impact of field marketing on the KPIs above the more accurate your ROI number will be.

Let’s build out the model using some sample data:

  • Total field marketing expenses: $1.5M
  • Total SQLs generated: 250
  • SQL conversion rate: 78%
  • Projected new customers: 195
  • ACV: $20.5K
  • Total forecasted revenue: $4M

Total revenue

Total expenses

ROI

$4M

$1.5M

1.6X                                   


The total expenses are calculated by looking at the complete investment in field marketing during a specific time period. The SQL number is used to determine what sales activity was sourced by field marketing. If you don’t have customer data yet, that’s ok.

You can project the number of new customers based on historical SQL to the closed/won conversion rate. Let’s use a rate of 78%. We now have the projected number of customers we expect to generate from field marketing. Now, apply the average customer value to the projected new customer number to determine the revenue forecast.

Take these numbers and plug them into the simple ROI equation, and bam, you just figured out the ROI of your field marketing. This number can be compared to other marketing programs and it can also be improved by fine-tuning the various metrics that are listed above through optimizations to your field marketing activities.

Final thoughts

Measuring the ROI of field marketing certainly isn’t easy, but it is essential to ensure that your field marketing efforts are effectively contributing to the bottom line. By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to track the right metrics, calculate ROI, and make necessary optimizations to improve your field marketing.

Written by:

Steve Armenti

Steve Armenti

Steve is a seasoned marketing leader with more than 15 years of experience in demand and growth - having worked with companies like Google, IBM, HP, Samsung, and Verizon.

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Measuring the ROI of field marketing