We’ve said it before but it bears repeating: running successful digital marketing efforts for B2B is one of the most challenging undertakings for a marketer. One aspect that makes it so challenging is that B2B digital marketing usually requires a different marketing stack than e-commerce.
Unfortunately, marketers are also increasingly running into the growing obfuscation and fragmentation of data as we discussed in the biggest trends article late last year.
For a B2B business, this creates a new set of unique challenges to identify opportunities to grow in an efficient manner, especially when marketing is likely to be operating in multiple channels with various corresponding campaigns and ad sets.
In many cases it’s cumbersome to figure out what type of platforms the business needs without becoming too expensive and which platform to choose, particularly when the business is in growth mode.
So let’s look at the types of platforms that help B2B marketers reach the next level when it comes to reporting and targeting, and we’ll give specific recommendations regarding which platforms we’ve found most helpful.
When running marketing at a small scale, a business can use Excel or Google Sheets and stitch data from different sources together. It’s a difficult task, but doable.
That will only go so far, however. As a business grows, the immense amounts of data will slow down processes and require more and more customizations that will bog down the team. At that point, data warehouses and/or CDPs will need to be the solution.
As an added bonus, data warehouses are more secure and provide new opportunities to analyze data that the team was not capable of doing before.
Part of growing a business is the expansion into more and different marketing channels. The problem is, the more channels, the harder it is to discern the credit for generating new business that each one should get. Attribution is not a new problem, as John Wanamaker (1838-1922) famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
At a smaller scale, a business can use GA4 to decide which channels are performing most effectively, but GA4 has deficiencies:
- It only tells you what happened after someone entered the site
- Reporting a multi-click attribution is not user-friendly
- B2B reporting with multiple sales steps is essentially impossible
- GA4 lacks channels’ front-end data like spend
Attribution platforms are designed to help solve at least some of the issues, especially when it comes to click attribution and using machine learning. Most attribution platforms also have deficiencies, mostly because there is no perfect solution to solve “attribution.” The main two issues we’ve run with attribution platforms:
- Most attribution platforms are solely designed for e-commerce, not for B2B
- Attribution platforms struggle with “impression-based attribution” i.e. How do you measure the impact of a social or display platform that gets views on ads, but not many clicks?
For the first issue, fortunately there is an attribution platform called Dream Data that we found is specifically geared for B2B. Additionally, while a bit more complex to set up, an attribution platform like Wicked Reports can work on B2B although it is designed for e-commerce.
Word of caution for B2Bs who want to use an attribution platform:
- Ensure you have enough positive signals per month (recommend +100)
- Your lead to positive signal (MQL, SQL, or sale) length of time should be no more than 10-14 days
Whether you use an attribution platform or not, we always recommend utilizing a match market test for testing new channels or large expansion campaigns that will be hard to measure direct response.
As with e-commerce businesses, B2Bs’ relationship with incoming site visitors often require communication and answering questions as early as possible in real-time to increase the bottom line. All too often we find B2Bs undervalue calls and chats instead of using them as engagement signals to help marketers optimize channels.
Calls and chat tracking software will not only report and connect to your other data platforms to deliver the right signals, it will also allow you to review recordings and chat specifics and analyze the data to help train the sales team. Call Rail is a tool we’ve worked with in the past that is easily installed and user-friendly.
Automated Tools to Connect Platforms and Share Data
The proliferation of channels, need for heightened insights, and growing privacy legislation is forcing B2B businesses to consider tools they never used before to automate processes and transfer and evaluate data without human interaction.
Actions like uploading customer lists automatically to channels, uploading conversion actions from a CRM directly to a platform on a daily basis, and creating new audience groups and targets are all recommended as part of marketing tech.
Here are some recommended tools to use:
SaaS and other B2B companies will often use demo sign-ups as the first step in a sales opportunity. The problem? There are so many tools and providers and everyone is trying to get a demo lead call. For most software searchers, booking a demo might be a step too soon too fast. The solution? Invest in a tool that can demo your platform without booking a call/demo with sales (that should come as the next step).
No matter which tools they start with, small B2Bs using a limited number of marketing channels and campaigns can continue to rely on platform data and stitch reporting data together manually; however, as the business grows, so does the need to decrease wasted spend and time used to analyze and increase efficiencies. While marketing tech additions initially carry higher costs to the business, the long-term benefits of the right tools provide positive ROI.
Contact us to talk about your marketing tech challenges and how our (un)Common approach can help!
Want to learn more? Read more about the impact of walled gardens on digital marketing, see which B2B segments have recently seen remarkable digital marketing results, and check out how coordinating our team’s SEO and PPC efforts for a B2B construction company led to a 1000+% increase in ROI.