B2B marketers have very unique challenges when it comes to digital marketing:
- B2B companies have a niche target audience hence using merely demographics for media selection is simply not accurate enough.
- There are usually multiple stakeholders during the procurement process. Should we target procurement, end users, or executive decision makers?
- The sales cycle of B2B products can be extremely long. How do we catch and retain the customer’s interest along the procurement cycle?
- Most B2B companies separate marketing budgets into branding and demand generation, but with a heavy skew towards the latter. How do we measure the impact of branding campaigns on demand generation?
All these challenges force B2B marketers to be more accountable and ROI driven. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance that we effectively measure our media mix. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Measure the effectiveness of your media channels based on an integrated dataset
Data integration is the very foundation of demand generation measurement. The framework for integrated reporting that I recommend is as follows:
This report allows us to analyze media channels from ads being seen, to becoming a lead on the website, all the way to closing the deal. From this report, we can conduct a two-layer analysis. The first layer is to optimize CPL (cost per lead) based on website lead conversions by channel. Once we maximize the amount of leads from a channel, we can start the second layer of analysis to optimize the conversion rate from leads to sale. The second layer of analysis is especially important in China, because this would catch media vendors that may have provided fake leads without any intention to buy.
2. Focus first on effectiveness, then on efficiency metrics
Effectiveness is answering the question: “Are we doing the right things?” While efficiency is answering: “Are we doing that thing well?” Applying this to media channel evaluation, we’ve to first measure if the channel is effective in driving leads. Then we increase the efficiency by lowering the buying method (CPC/CPM). For example, let’s take a look at the below data:
The right approach is to focus first on channel effectiveness. In this case, media 1 generates a lot more leads than media 2. As a result, I will reduce the budget on media 2 or even wipe it from my media mix. But if we focus on the efficiency metric CPC first, I would still keep media 2 in the mix because it brings a lot of clicks for a very cheap price. However, the end goal is to generate leads, hence if we focused on efficiency first, then we would just be doing the wrong thing very well.
3. Connect the dots between branding and lead generation through attribution
Many B2B companies will have two separate departments and marketing budget. One focused on branding and the other on lead generation. The branding campaigns will usually focus on content or an event without a strong linkage to lead generation. From what I’ve seen, lead generation marketers rarely see the value of their branding counterparts. Because lead generation can be tied directly to business results while branding just eats up the budget without any concrete KPIs. But does that mean branding campaigns for B2B are entirely useless? This question can be answered through cookie mapping using tracking vendors. Even though we can’t compare the number of leads directly between branding and lead generation campaigns, we could at least measure the ad exposure or site visit from a branding campaign that resulted in a lead conversion later. For example:
Looking at the above sample data, we could track the number of ad exposures prior to conversion based on a fixed conversion cycle. Now the conversion cycle will vary depending on the product and should be set based on the average procurement/lead cycle for your industry.
4. Use multi-channel attribution models to measure your media mix
When measuring media channel effectiveness, many B2B marketers are strictly using a last touch attribution model. In this case, lower funnel tactics like SEM (search engine marketing) will get all the credit as well as most of the budget. For example:
If we look at the above customer behavior, the first few steps in the path to conversion are usually upper funnel tactics like Social or Display. But once consumers establish a clear need, they’ll usually convert through SEM. By using a last click model, we neglect the ads that initially prospected the consumer. Hence if we took the budget from upper funnel tactics and allocated them to SEM, then we’ll generally see a decline in the total amount of leads. Instead we should measure the impact of upper funnel display ads based on its ability to prospect new customers. To do this, other attribution methodologies like time decay can be tested to see if the media mix drives an incremental lift in total leads.