For many B2B organizations, the primary goal of marketing websites is to generate as many qualified/sales-ready leads as possible. These sites generate leads that are stored in a CRM and/or a marketing automation tool, which often applies a lead score to the individual. The sales team uses lead scoring in many ways, including determining how aggressively to pursue a specific opportunity, while marketing folks use lead scoring to defend the value of their efforts.
Hold that thought on marketing and lead scoring…
If you haven’t yet heard, this year Google Analytics started to offer beta access to Universal Analytics. With Universal Analytics there are many notable improvements over the existing Google Analytics features. But one area that marketers should be very excited about is the 20 custom dimensions and 20 custom metrics. These new slots for the storage of persistent custom data give marketers an enhanced ability to create a visitor scoring (a.k.a. lead scoring) platform within their web analytics data.
With a healthy bit of skepticism, you may ask “What’s revolutionary about that?”
Marketing-run sites in the B2B arena are typically focused on two key areas: 1) acquire as much quality traffic as possible; and 2) convert as many visitors to leads as possible. These two areas of focus are typically the primary motivators for marketers as they make updates to the digital channel. Have you ever seen sites that ask you to fill out a lead form before you’ve learned anything about the product or the organization? This is because marketing is focused on getting you to the site and turning you into a lead – and that’s it. By the way, if you did what they wanted and filled out the lead form immediately, sales wouldn’t want to talk with you anyways – because you don’t know what the benefit of their product offering is (you would have a low lead score). Because of this, most sales teams actually only want to talk with less than 10 percent of the leads generated by the site. The majority of sales teams would rather have 10 solid leads (e.g., visitors who came to the site multiple times and visited multiple pages, watched videos, read case studies, etc.) than 100 mediocre leads (e.g., visitors who came to the site and filled out a lead form on the first page on their first visit).
In B2B marketing, prospects often visit the site multiple times (sometimes from multiple devices) before they ever fill out a lead form. According to Google, business buyers typically do 57 percent of their buying research before they even fill out a lead form or call an organization. What are they doing before the point of contact? They’re looking at your website again and again.
A marketing team should judge the success of the digital channel on its ability to create high-scoring visitors.
Using the custom dimensions in Universal Analytics, we can start to create an internal scoring system more intricate than Google Analytics would allow us with custom variables. From there, marketing’s primary goal could be to create as large an audience of visitors who are engaged in the digital channel and aware of the products, product benefits, and the organization. If marketing can become expert on making the majority of the visitors knowledgeable about the superiority of the organization’s products and services, then sales may want to talk with a higher percentage of the site visitors.
Below is an example of a scoring system for an organization that typically sees multiple visitors looking at the site across multiple visits before buying decisions are made (e.g., Cisco, Micron, Caterpillar, McKesson, IBM, Dow, Boeing, AIG, etc.) using custom dimensions and custom metrics.
- Product views/multiple product views. The simplest and possibly the most important action is getting visitors to view one or more of the product pages and multiple products. (Two points for each product page viewed and three points if they view a product page repeatedly over multiple visits.)
- Product drill-downs. Interested visitors should view as much product information as possible. Ideally they are clicking into detailed information such as features, specifications, comparisons, and support material. (Four points for each auxiliary product page view.)
- Downloads. White papers, research docs, best practice guides, case studies, and third-party product reviews encapsulated in a pretty PDF are the catnip of marketers looking to generate leads. Video views can be lumped into this group. (One point for the first download, two points for each subsequent download, and three points for any repeat downloads.)
- Non-branded search phrases. This is a huge area that marketers often ignore. If visitors get to your site by using a search phrase describing a general product need (e.g., warehouse sensors) or a general problem (e.g., network outage), that means that your site is catering to a broad audience. (Five points to each visitor who arrived via a non-branded phrase.)
- Branded search. While visitors arriving at your site from a branded search phrase already know your organization to a certain extent, it’s important that they remember the brand. (Three points to each visitor who arrived via a non-branded phrase.)
- Tool usage. Adding several tools on the site aimed at making the visitor’s experience easier and more informative (e.g., TCO calculators and ROI calculators) is typically a great way to discern the level of interest in a visitor. (Five points each time the visitor uses a tool. One point if she simply viewed the tool.)
- Repeat visits/number of visits. Getting visitors to come back for multiple visits is huge. Most B2B products and services carry a price tag and implementation cost that requires a lot of research before a decision can be made (or even before a budget is approved). (Number of visits times three for each subsequent visit.)
- Company name/service provider. Many organizations have a list of their top 10 to 100 ideal customers. If a visitor comes from one of these companies, she immediately gets an increment in score. (Seven points for a visit from a dream customer.)
- Number of visitors from the same company. For complex and/or expensive products it typically requires multiple visitors from the same company to view information on the site before a buy decision is made. For example, the first visit might be from a scout, followed by several influencers, a decision-maker, and then the final visits from some folks in the sourcing/legal departments. (Five points times the number of visitors from a specific company).
- High frequency. A visitor who checks out the same product three times in one week is probably going to move faster to a purchase decision than a visitor who reviews the product three times in one year. You will have to decide the desired frequency based on a typical buy-flow. (Seven points for a high-frequency visitor.)
- Multi-channel visits. Tracking visitors across multiple channels such as PC, mobile, email, and social can be difficult. It often requires some authentication. Sites have a challenging time getting visitors to fill out a lead form on their smartphone. But when you can track a visitor across channels, this should be considered a big deal for visitor scoring. The visitor is demonstrating a significant amount of interest. (Five points for each subsequent channel visit.)
As few marketing organizations focus on creating visitors with high scores, this is all theoretical. A marketing organization that focuses their digital efforts on a site that can create visitors with high visitor scores will typically bring higher value to their sales team and their company than one that just generates leads. It’s possible that a marketing organization that spends their time making the site engaging rather than acquiring traffic and forcing visitors to fill out lead forms may actually generate fewer leads. But the quality of those leads should be significantly higher and those leads should be easier to convert into customers. Consider an example from the B2C world: Apple.com uses its design and content to demonstrate the best features of the products at the expense of having an aggressive e-commerce site – which certainly hasn’t hurt e-commerce sales for the technology giant.
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