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The often-used adage, “if you can’t measure it, don’t do it” seems ludicrous. How could a b-to-b brand possibly measure every inflection point during a year-long sales cycle involving a buying committee of more than 10 members? What about emotional intangibles like “I just trust them more” or “I just didn’t like that sales guy?” For the data-driven marketer, these questions are simply immaterial, so long as they can quantify the primary impact of their efforts. 

Case in point: Rebecca Stone, VP of Marketing at LiveRamp, a San Francisco-based SaaS company that offers an identity resolution platform. During her five years at LiveRamp, she has helped grow revenue from $20 million to more than $300 million, carefully building a marketing engine that now drives about 60 percent of the sales pipeline. With an enormous tech stack that helps increase event attendance, post-event meetings and follow-up activities, Stone is striving for a 98 percent attribution model, one that would pretty much end any debate about marketing measurement. 

Events are a big part of your marketing. Can you give an overview?
We have a pretty extensive events program. We have two tentpole “Ramp Up” events. One in San Francisco is our biggest (about 3,500 people) and another big one in New York (about 1,500 people). Then we have a series of about 20 roadshows we call “Ramp Up on the Road” that go to various cities throughout the United States and the world. 

Talk a bit about how you get attendees to these events.
For our most recent Ramp Up, which was San Francisco, we had a target list of attendees who had gone in the past but had not registered for this year’s event. We really wanted to target them. That list wasn’t big enough, so we did a lookalike campaign targeting people who were our ideal prospects and targets. With that we added 50 to 100,000 [registrants] to our list. Targeting the combined list via digital ads, we were able get about a 30 percent lift in registrations.

After the events, how did you follow up with those people?
One of the great things is that the sales development team reports to me. They’re responsible for driving registrations and driving follow-ups from both attendees and registrations who are no-shows. What they found was that they were able to book meetings with attendees and even people who didn’t register or didn’t attend. And it was really from keeping our name top of mind, so that when a sales development rep was sending an e-mail to them or giving them a call, it felt warmer and more recognizable. That tone is hugely important.

How long is your buying cycle?
We have tracked that, from very first touchpoint to the first buy, to be anywhere from 18 to 24 months. It is very long. There are a lot of people involved in the buying decision, and so there are a lot of touchpoints that we have to get through before a purchase is made. There is a lot of education at the start, in the awareness stage about what we do, how we do it, how we can make your marketing better, and then moving through to why is this the right way to do it. In that first phase, we almost don’t talk about LiveRamp as much—it’s much more about pain points that the customer has, and things that we’re doing that other marketers aren’t doing to address similar pain points. 

Your CEO gave you the mandate to be as technically advanced as you could be. How big is your tech stack and how many people does it take to run it?
It’s quite big. Probably about 30 or 40 different technologies. And it’s segmented—the core is Marketo and Salesforce. And then we have a digital tech stack. We have a measurement tech stack. You also have to remember I have the sales development reps under me. There’s a big tech component to supporting that sales dev team. As far as running the stack, we have three core marketing ops team members. So, not too many, I think we could probably use one or two more eventually, but we also have a sales team that sits outside of our team and supports some of the sales development components of that tech stack. We also have two to three people who are day-to-day users, are Marketo certified and who are certified in a couple of our other programs. 

What are your key metrics?
Our core metric, the No. 1 that we track is “pipeline created.” So, in a quarter, what is that pipeline that has been created? Revenue is too late, but we know what the flow looks like to get to revenue. We have a number that says “Hey, we have to close about 30 to 40 percent of our open pipeline. We need to get “x” number in our pipeline to be able to know 3 to 6 months down the road what we’re going to get. And as far as what percentage of those opportunities are created by marketing, I’d say we generate about 60 percent of the overall pipeline. I’m actually going through that exercise of convincing our CFO about why they should continue to invest heavily in marketing, and that number is big there. 

So, there’s a big commitment to data tracking?
Absolutely. What’s been amazing is that in the last 18 months we’ve invested in a data lake via Looker. We have built our own in-house data lake, and we’re using Tableau as our visualization. We have an analyst who has been on full time for about six to nine months, and he has built some really cool models for how a dollar of marketing investment results in a dollar of revenue, and a dollar pipeline. We don’t know exactly how accurate it is, but he is convinced that it’s 98 percent, and he’s had that vetted by a couple external analytics people. That metric is sort of the Holy Grail of marketing attribution.

Do you have a few dos and a don’t in this area of metrics and measurement?
Sure. For starters, you have to be extremely focused on process and data, and you have to get that focus from everybody in the organization. You have to understand how your data is flowing. Where are the gaps? Insist that everybody, from the marketing assistant to the top salesperson, is following the process to record and keep all of the data. One don’t is: Don’t get too big of an appetite for what you can accomplish, because it is a very long journey. Set your sights toward a big thing. Figure out the small steps that you can take to get there. Don’t try to eat the elephant in one bite. And then the third thing is: Don’t get discouraged by the fact that nobody believes you. Keep at it, and be able to talk in numbers, and have those conversations with the finance side and with your sales organization and be really, really rigorous so that eventually, they too trust the data.