How do you measure and communicate progress for your analyst relations program, when it can sometimes take a couple years to see results?
This is a great question and top of mind for me right now.
For your executives, their primary goal may be to get into a Forrester Wave or Magic Quadrant. Yes, that would be the ultimate win, but it can be a long game AND there are many other ways to measure success over the life of a program.
There are two buckets of goals to measure success:
Drive awareness, pipeline, deal acceleration of your solution (outbound): I measure this through research mentions and perception audit.
Analysts publish regular vendor guides. These are not evaluative but are important because 1) these usually precede a Wave or MQ, so you need to be in them if that's your ultimate goal and 2) serve as great validation and awareness for potential buyers. Forrester has Tech Tides, New Tech, and Now Techs, while Gartner has Market Guides, Hype Cycles, Competitive Landscapes, and Cool Vendors. Analysts also publish best practice research that can include relevant, referenceable case studies that you share with them.
Perception audits are annual surveys that ask analysts how they perceive the strength of your solution, relative to competitive set, and if they have referred you in client inquiries. I like to include quantitative scoring and qualitative insights (verbatims). This gives you a great benchmark on progress over time of your analyst relations program.
- Drive insights for go-to-market activities and product strategy (inbound): This ones gets a little less love when your executives care most about a Wave or MQ. However, it's important to communicate impact here if you're leveraging analysts to drive insights back into your organization. I measure this through impact on GTM initiatives or product strategy, e.g. any tangible recommendations that the GTM or product team has acted on. At my organization, we've used analysts to help identify buying signals, understand buyer challenges, validate industry and initiative messaging, confirm our point of view on "where we fit," review our RFP template, review white papers, host roundtables and webinars, and much more!
You can and should also share activities (# of briefings, # of inquiries, # of doc inquiries), but those just help you communicate how much time and resources are required to support above OKRs.
Quarterly or biannual is a good cadence for a formal executive readout. I also share research mentions on Slack and in company all hands as they occur to get the entire company excited about our traction and give the field another proof point for prospecting.
Analyst relations programs are best run as a partnership between PR/Comms teams and PMM. The PR and Comms teams will be helpful in driving longer term thinking and time horizons. How do we start to influence the narrative in the market today for the future, how do we position the company today for where we want to be in 3-5 years, those type of questions. For PMM, the value is in getting feedback on how you’re positioning products for buyers today, and driving awareness especially for enterprise buyers (CxOs) with the analyst community on what you have to offer. The best way to really do it is to make sure that key executive stakeholders from the C-suite to your head of product are all involved in either shaping or presenting analyst briefings. When drafting press releases, the comms team should be utilizing analyst quotes as available to include in coverage, and over time, using analyst reports as a source of validation for your positioning (as well as highlighting message pull thru) will hopefully serve as a measurable source of demand generation in your pipeline.
Great question. First of all, make sure you set expectations up-front that results will take a while to see.
Overall count the incremental wins, and show the milestones your crossing as a way to share that progress. Have a great conversation with an analyst where they told you a key piece of insight? Share that amongst your executives and PMM team.
Also, make sure you -- or your executive team -- are regularly talking with analysts. If you're responsible for AR, or have an AR team, you should be meeting with various analysts (not just the core group who drive reports!) regularly. As you have company momentum news such as funding, crossing a customer threshold milestone, going public, or product launches, ensure you share that with them and get their input.
Analyst Relations is very much a marathon and not a sprint -- so embrace that, get to know your core analysts, talk with them very regularly, keep them updated, and report all that progress internally.
First, establish the goals for your analyst relations program. Think beyond the placement of your company in a 'Magic Quadrant' or 'Wave' type of report, and identify additional KPI's, such as:
- number of mentions in analyst reports
- increased number of customer inquiries
- increase in analyst reports about your market or category
The right metrics will depend on your company's stage (pre-seed, early stage, pre-IPO, etc.) and goals for the AR program. Make sure to communicate the goal and the KPI's to executive stakeholders and send our a summary report every quarter.