B2B Marketers Looking To Better Track Activity Across Buyer Stages, Channels & Campaigns

Published: June 27, 2018

As marketers are being increasingly tasked to tie their campaigns and other investments to top- and bottom-line results, B2B organizations such as MarcomCentral and MakerBot are looking beyond basic activity metrics to understand tracking activity at different stages of the buying funnel. In addition to validating marketing’s impact, this push for deeper insights aims to enhance content and messaging in those stages, enabling marketing teams to provide more relevant and contextual experiences that accelerate deals.

Industry research shows that there is still room for growth in funnel measurement strategies. Findings from the 2018 Marketing Measurement & Attribution Benchmark Survey show that more than half (55%) of B2B companies say their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse. The inability to track activity between specific buyer stages (48%) and measure impact across channels/campaigns (47%) are the biggest challenges for marketers looking to demonstrate marketing impact.

“People used to think it was just the ‘sales’ funnel,” said Kevin Joyce, CMO and VP of Strategy Services at The Pedowitz Group, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “But it’s not; it’s the ‘sales and marketing’ funnel. That top half of the funnel belongs to marketing. And yes, the sales team is going to source a significant amount of that funnel, but marketing is responsible for more and more of it now. Both sides have to recognize that and be accountable.”

Research from Demand Gen Report and Madison Logic shows that more than half (52%) of B2B marketers said that “extending marketing influence across the entire buyer journey” is a top ABM initiative for them. When asked what potential improvements could support a more consensus sale, respondents listed options such as:

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  • The ability to deliver messaging aligned to opportunity stage;
  • Deeper intelligence on the most engaged accounts;
  • The ability to identify contacts with target accounts;
  • Deeper intelligence on account-level areas of interest; and
  • The ability to measure marketing impact on deal size and time to close.

“[Multi-touch attribution] is the holy grail of the CMO,” said Jon Russo, Founder and CMO of the B2B Fusion Group and Board Member of the marketing operations association MOCCA. “You’ve got to have this right to gain full-funnel visibility.”

This feature will highlight how B2B organizations are continuing their efforts to refine funnel measurement tactics and gain a holistic view of how prospective customers are traversing the sales funnel. Other topics covered include how:

  • Companies take a data-driven content insight approach to proactively understand how prospects are consuming content — in real-time — throughout buying stages and across different channels;
  • Understanding campaign engagement is crucial for marketers to be able to pivot on the fly to meet buyer expectations; and
  • B2B businesses equip sales development reps with deeper insight into prospect engagement to accelerate conversations.

Companies Turn To Data Lakes To Overcome Data Silos

Whether it’s due to a lack of resources or lack of commitment to change, industry experts noted that data silos continue to plague B2B organizations.

“Sales processes may be measured differently than marketing’s processes,” said Russo. “You must be thoughtful about that in the initial setup of attribution models. Any sales reporting is happening in islands. You want all those islands connected to get that holistic view.”

Data lakes, or single data warehouses for businesses to store company data, are noted as a potential solution to this problem by breaking down the barriers between multiple solutions and providing users a single location to see the data they need to make informative business decisions.

“[B2B businesses] are trying to tie all that data together,” said Kerrie Wuenschel, Director of Analytics at R2integrated, a marketing technology and digital agency. “It’s really good for pulling data reports. In addition to data lakes, there are tech partners such as LiveRamp that are collecting data cross devices and creating profiles based on social. While you can store a lot of that data in your separate systems, it’s important to find the right way to connect across all the data sources.”

For example, MakerBot, a 3D printer manufacturer based in New York City, is using Amazon RedShift to house all its data, which it pulls from Marketo, Salesforce and its ERP solution. This positions the company to identify data inconsistencies and start to build attribution models on all the data from this single location.

“Now I have very good visibility into what channels are working,” said Forrest Leighton, VP of Marketing at MakerBot, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “And I can use it to make better decisions on our marketing spend and messaging in specific channels.”

Leighton added that having the company’s data all in one location is “also helping to better align sales and marketing, so we’re all striving for the same goals with the same data.”

Recent announcements in the tech landscape are following a similar approach to bring data into a single location for easier access. Google 360 and Salesforce have been working closely together to provide this solution to customers. Marketo also recently acquired Bizible, a marketing attribution platform.

“Those partnerships are driving to connect [data] within their own tools, instead of having to bring the data outside to a data warehouse,” said Wuenschel.

MarcomCentral Boosts MQLs 47% By Tying Campaigns To Buyer Stages With Intent

MarcomCentral, the marketing asset management technology company, utilizes a multi-touch attribution model to associate specific campaigns with specific stages in the funnel by tying intent actions back to the contact. In the first year that the company launched its multi-touch attribution model, MarcomCentral saw its MQLs increase by 47% by focusing more on the channels that elicit the most responses and conversions.

“To understand our buyers, we analyze every touch point, from anonymous to a won deal and beyond, including customer touch points,” said Sarah Mayer, Senior Marketing Operations Manager at MarcomCentral. “It all starts with data; we have to make sure our database is updated and clean so we can launch campaigns.”

The company uses its own marketing asset management tool to personalize the content, launch the campaign and then measure the touch points associated with the campaign. MarcomCentral then uses Bizible and InsightSquared to analyze if the content is more relevant for top-of-the-funnel lead generation, middle-of-the-funnel opportunity nurturing or bottom-of-the-funnel commitments, by aggregating those touch points and giving attribution percentages to the appropriate campaigns.

“We can then tie ROI back to each campaign, and specifically each channel, based on the type of attribution model we’re following,” said Mayer.

Engagement data is the crux of the company’s attribution measurement, according to Mayer. “We measure the interactions with every campaign so that we can not only give credit to the appropriate teams, but we’re able to then put ROI back into the channels that have touch points connected to our bottom line.

“The engagement data makes up the touch points, and the touch points make up the funnel,” added Mayer.

Mayer attributes a deeper level of insight into campaign engagement to the company’s multi-touch attribution model. “We’re now able to see that on average, eight to 12 touches happen before the prospect even reaches out to us,” said Mayer. “By harnessing that information, we can build out more robust campaigns using those channels.”

Mayer and her team see an additional 10 touches that happen on average throughout the opportunity process and are positioned to optimize the corresponding campaigns for middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel asset creation.

“We can then create those assets in MarcomCentral and distribute them to the sales teams to speed up the sales process and gather quality prospects using the channels that convert best for us,” said Mayer. “We wouldn’t be able to see any of this without a multi-touch attribution tool.”

Marketers Mapping Campaigns, Data To The Funnel For Clearer View Of Customer Journey

Industry experts attribute a lack of full-funnel measurement expertise to the variety of bad habits picked up throughout the years during early adoption of marketing automation and CRM. Poor lead management processes trip up funnel measurement efforts before the task is even addressed.

“If [marketers] don’t have a defined lead management process from the get-go, it’ll just be garbage-in, garbage-out,” said Joyce. “The second thing is to have good data collection. If I want to have an attribution model for media spend, for example, I need to collect data all the way from the media spend to when the buyer becomes known. Then it has to all roll into the CRM where funnel reporting takes place.”

Understanding the touch points and the execution process requires mapping data to different aspects of the buying journey. This varies from organization to organization, and experts agree that alignment on this data mapping positions companies to align internally on the metrics that matter.

“Data mapping tends to be done manually,” said Wuenschel. “It’s more of a high-level understanding of different personas, what channels we’re executing on and what stage they are in.”

Understanding engagement data also positions marketing teams to tie specific engagement to aspects of the buying funnel. Having clear alignment on what engagement constitutes a prospect in the early awareness stage versus the decision phase, for example, enables marketing teams to pivot messaging to that prospect.

“We’re able to identify certain point values based on interactions they’ve had with us on different campaigns,” said Wuenschel. “That way, we can categorize what stage of the funnel they are in. They can be automatically positioned into a different part of the process.”

MakerBot, for example, brought an outside consulting firm in to gauge processes — everything from KPI definitions to understanding how data flows through its tech systems. This included taking a step back and reconsidering KPIs, what constitutes an opportunity and where data is stored.

“If you’re setting KPIs up, you must be aligned on the fundamentals,” said Leighton. “Marketing should be responsible for qualifying leads. Also, look at the definition of a customer. How do we look at first touch, how do we look at last touch and how do we make sure those things are consistent with the data capture? Once we have that foundation, you can build attribution models.”

B2B Orgs Shifting To Buyer-Centric View Of The Funnel

The B2B funnel has been commonplace in the community for quite some time. However, the funnel was primarily viewed from the sales perspective. Ultimately, the shift to buyer-centricity within B2B organizations, as well as shifts in expectations from marketing teams, requires companies to approach funnel measurement through a new lens.

“You want to have a buying journey view of the funnel,” said Joyce. “By looking at the lead management funnel from this perspective, you can align content to what stage the buyer is in based on their engagement.”

This shift also comes with the changing expectations of buyers as they research purchase decisions. Pivoting measurement and attribution models based on the changing buyer can be tedious, but it’s a necessity to better funnel measurement, industry experts noted.

“As we focus more on the buyer and leading towards personalization,” said Wuenschel. “Your lead scoring needs to be dynamic as you gain more information on the buyer and start trying to make relevant experiences for them.”

While buyers can stay anonymous to vendors for much longer than in the past, experts noted that the engagement data that can be obtained from anonymous visitors can ultimately be tied to prospects positioning marketers to have a firm grasp of where buyers are in their journey before engaging with them.

“The buying journey and selling journey started at the same time back in the day,” said Joyce. “Nowadays, you’ll see that 60% to 80% of the buying journey is over before they want to talk to sales. The scenario now is that they will touch our digital properties anonymously roughly 10 times before becoming known. It’s not just counting net-new leads anymore, its also about counting net-new engagement with unknown prospects.”

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