The Beginner’s Guide to B2B Marketing Attribution

B2B selling sounds simple. It’s about one business selling to another. But things got complicated. With big data, social media, the ability to buy Instagram likes and more ways than ever before to communicate B2B marketing and selling is not for the faint of heart.

In order to perform at your best you have to understand the journey every customer will follow. It’s represented in both an online and offline capacity, which is part of the reason why it’s so difficult to grasp.

The Primary Use

This is where attribution data comes in. Its primary use is to better understand the process the customer will go through. Once a business understands its target audience in this way, it can begin to make decisions that make that journey smoother.

For most companies, the average number of touch points before a purchase is actually made will reach double figures. This tends to vary based on the specific industry, though. For example, a company selling office refurbishment services will have more touch points than a company selling stationary.

Most attribution data suggests that 90% of the decision has been made before your marketing team ever speaks directly to a customer.

What a Customer Journey May Look Like

Take note that there is no such thing as a typical customer journey. This particular example is just one of hundreds that a customer may go through. As always, it depends on what tactics an organization employs and the industry they happen to be operating in.

  • An employee attends a marketing conference and researches the companies that are going to be attending ahead of time. He investigates every company by visiting their websites and looking at some blog posts.
  • At the conference he visits some booths, speaks to some people, and exchanges business cards.
  • A week later the marketing team discovers a person mentioning your company on Twitter. You get talking and the company remembers that they were going to look at your website.
  • They forget and only an ad on LinkedIn reminds them to visit your web platform, which they do by searching for your name on Google.
  • The business gains your email and you begin swapping messages and exchanging phone calls.
  • Only then does a trial begin that may or may not lead to a purchase.

Now you can see why the customer journey is so complicated. It consists of both online and offline methods of discovery. There could be more steps or fewer steps. This is where marketing attribution comes in and this is why you need to start tracking and understanding the buying processes from the point of view of the customer.

Measuring Marketing Data

B2B marketing attribution splits data into two metrics. Activity and engagement metrics are two separate things, and the latter is rarely mentioned, which is why many B2B companies are not reaching their potential.

First of all, activity metrics are what you are doing. This is where you may mention the number of articles you published and how many events you sponsored. This is what most marketing teams come up with. They are forms of cost. You are paying for them. Anyone can look these up and they don’t need you to help them do it.

While good internally, they don’t tell you enough about the customer journey. At this point it’s time to look closer at engagement metrics.

Let’s say that Company A published 10 articles last month. They have reported these to the boss, but that doesn’t say anything about how effective they were. Smart companies will ask for more. How many people actually read those articles? Which articles were the most popular? What are the results like from month-to-month?

Engagement represents the process before a company enters the qualifying process. That’s where your company will weigh up whether a business is a worthwhile lead to follow or not. You will use this data to determine the likelihood of a sale and whether you can meet the needs of that customer.

Only then are they going to be passed on to the sales team.

What’s the Takeaway?

B2B marketing attribution is about measuring the customer’s journey and discovering what works and what doesn’t. When 74% of B2B leads cost over $50 each you have to get this right. You have to go from activity metrics and switch to engagement metrics, before moving on to the qualifying process. Along the way you are going to have a lot of numbers and it’s vital that you take them into account.

How do you use B2B marketing attribution?