As marketing automation technology continues to evolve, many B2B marketers are still looking to perfect their strategies for segmentation and enhancing lead quality. As a result, many are honing their metrics to improve on these critical marketing tasks.
Nearly one third (62%) of B2B marketing executives state that improving their ability to measure and analyze marketing impact is one of their biggest demand generation priorities, according to the 2015 Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study.
However, it can be difficult for B2B marketers to identify what data is valuable when it comes to developing segmentation strategies and bolstering lead quality, according to Elle Woulfe, Director of Demand Generation at Lattice Engines.
"If B2B marketers have a way to gauge how content consumption equates to lead quality, it's important to figure out why that engagement matters," Woulfe said. "That way those insights can be used when building campaigns; the right patterns will be formed in a way so marketers can easily measure that engagement."
Be Strategic With Data Collection
Many B2B marketers rely on gated content to obtain data that is later used for segmentation. However, these forms do not give adequate insights into how that prospect consumed the piece of content.
"Of course, people can click on the content and download it, but are they actually reading the content," asked Heather Stokes, Senior Director of Demand Generation & Marketing Operations at Dyn, a cloud-based internet performance company that helps companies monitor and optimize online infrastructure, in an interview with Demand Gen Report." Once marketers are able to measure that engagement, they will be able to gain deeper insights into who is interested in their content and how they interact with the brand."
Lead segments in particular tend to focus on an individual piece of data, such as title or company size, according to Stokes. But this strategy is not always effective, as this data does not always take content consumption patterns into account. Leads are often segmented by persona, which may not be adequate, “but it's important to start segmenting somewhere — whether it's job title or even location."
Rand Fishkin, Founder and Wizard of Moz, an inbound marketing solutions provider specializing in search engine optimization, added: "One of the big mistakes I see is marketers asking for too much information, which turns leads off. B2B marketers are inadvertently clogging up the process early on. You can obtain latent data later by asking simple questions in a way that prospects are more likely to answer."
Fishkin noted that B2B marketers need to look at top-of-funnel metrics that highlight amplification, ongoing traffic and even page views and time spent on the site in order to properly gauge how content is being consumed at various stages of the buying cycle. This will help marketers create future content for specific segments, he explained.
Make The Connection To The Bottom Line
The insight gained from content metrics can be used enhance segments in real-time so messaging is always relevant and resonant within campaigns. However, senior management is focused on how content is affecting overall revenue.
"Content still tends to be measured based on basic tracking of engagement metrics, without good insight into the contribution to sales, revenue and profits," said Jim Lenskold, founder and President of The Lenskold Group.
Reliable measurement is based on accurate data, and a business commitment to managing and improving ROI is required to help close any data gaps, according to Lenskold. "Better content marketing measurements can then build confidence that high quality content influences higher sales conversion and increased customer value."
One of the primary factors for B2B marketers struggling with connecting content to the company's bottom line is because most segmentation approaches are static and then can become outdated quickly, according to Heidi Bullock, VP of Demand Generation at Marketo.
Bullock added: "If you can leverage marketing automation and marry explicit information with behavioral data, it becomes a lot more of a dynamic view of your buyer."
For example, Marketo engages targeted individuals with relevant content and personalized messaging. “We are continually running tests to get a better sense of what content resonates more with a particular segment,” Bullock said. "That data actually helps us validate or enrich the data we have on a segment.”
Measuring how content impacts revenue provides the data required to build a case for the types of content that need to be created, the amount, and the required investment, according to Bullock. "Without the revenue piece, it is too easy for your c-suite to see content as a cost rather than an investment that contributes to the bottom line."