Open Enrollment | Subscribe to Target Marketing HERE
Connect
Follow us on
Advertisement
 
Ruth P. Stevens

Ruthless B-to-B Marketing

By Ruth P. Stevens

About Ruth

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at ruth@ruthstevens.com, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website, www.ruthstevens.com.

 

Mobile-First Marketing

Greg Hoy
Cross-Device Is the Cornerstone of Your Marketing Plan
Dec 17, 2014

As smartphones and tablets evolve, the bright lines that previously separated digital, print, TV, mobile and PC are now beginning...



The Integrated Email

Cyndie Shaffstall
5 Shades of Pop-Up Email Acquisition
Dec 15, 2014

As marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face is growing our marketing list at a rate higher than our...



The Data Athlete

Mike Ferranti
Data Athletes in Modern Organizations
Dec 16, 2014

Let's look at the ideas, insights and strategies for becoming what I have termed a "Data Athlete." This term has...



Muscle Marketing

Wendy Montes de Oca
Converting Your Social Media Triple-Fs: Friends, Followers and Fans
Dec 16, 2014

I've heard many gurus, marketers and publishers brag about their social media followers. They'll say things like, "Isn't it great...



Making Social Sell

Jeff Molander
5 LinkedIn Best Practices That Don't Work
Dec 12, 2014

Prediction: 95 percent of sales reps and distributors will invest time in LinkedIn best practices that fail to generate leads...



Direct Mail for the Modern Marketer

Summer Gould
QR Codes Can Make Your Direct Mail More Effective
Dec 11, 2014

Direct mail is an effective way to reach prospects and customers. But, we have to admit that both customers and...



Reinventing Direct

Gary Hennerberg
5 Numeric Speed Bumps to Higher Conversion
Dec 10, 2014

Ah, the holiday season. Your prospects are moving fast these days in an always-on world, with all the trimmings of...



Brand Matters

Andrea Syverson
Take Along, Share and Simplify: Essential Verbs to Enhance Your Brand Strategy in 2015, Part 2
Dec 9, 2014

Back in November, I shared with you two essential verbs to enhance your brand strategy: amaze and respect. Now I...



Marketing Sustainably

Chet Dalzell
‘Programmatic’ Goes the World - Media Buying Is Audience Buying
Dec 8, 2014

Direct marketers have long had a love affair with data-driven media buying. In the world of direct mail, for example,...



Big Data, Small Data, Clean Data, Messy Data

Stephen  H. Yu
Smart Data - Not Big Data
Dec 4, 2014

As a concerned data professional, I am already plotting an exit strategy from this Big Data hype. Because like any...



The Power Punch

Carolyn Goodman
Mergers and Acquisitions: A Challenge to Brand Loyalty
Dec 5, 2014

In the late 1990's, I discovered ShareBuilder—an easy way to buy stocks (and even fractions of a single stock) through...



IMM-Possible ROI

Stephanie Miller
Mastering the Complexities of Multichannel Digital Marketing
Dec 2, 2014

Integration is like the Holy Grail of marketing. Connecting the dots at the customer level, across channels, devices and owned...



Keeping Search Profitable

Amanda G. Watlington, Ph.D.
If Your Site Is Not Mobile-Friendly—Fix It Now!
Nov 25, 2014

If you rely on search to assist new users in finding your site, you must now make sure that your...



Here's What Counts

Chuck McLeester
How Do You Spell ROI?
Nov 20, 2014

Return on Investment: Everybody's talking about ROI, but not everyone agrees on what it is. Given the various ways that...



Marketing Nuggets

Michael Lowenstein
Marketing Success Is (Almost) All About the Data: Optimizing Customer Loyalty Behavior Initiatives
Oct 7, 2014

Much of what I've learned over the years about sales, marketing and customer service has to do with the critical...



Triple Venti Dolce Data...

Vince Pickett
Clue Me In, Please
Aug 21, 2013

So here we are, halfway through 2013. You, along with everyone, are still trying to find that magic formula to...



Who's Your Data?

Rio Longacre
Instagram: Does It Matter That It Will Make Money on Your Pics?
Dec 19, 2012

Instagram announced the company will soon begin using your content to sell targeted advertising products to the highest bidder. Does...



SEO & Content Marketing Revue

Heather Lloyd-Martin
5 Tips for Top Positioning (And Converting) Page Titles
Aug 11, 2010

Wondering about a SEO content strategy that offers the biggest impact in the shortest time? Try tweaking your page titles....



Yblog

Yory Wurmser
Privacy in the Age of Big Data
Jul 10, 2013

Consumers reveal more than ever before consciously through social media and, just as importantly, unconsciously through their behaviors. This data...



The Whole Magilla

Ken Magill
What Marketers Can Learn From Maine's Political Email Idiocy
Feb 24, 2012

It finally happened. Politicians' idiotic email practices had a measurable negative effect. "Maine Republican Party chairman Charlie Webster has admitted...



Online Video Marketing Deep Dive

Eve Grey
Are Your Videos Champions of Your Brand?
Feb 3, 2014

If you advertise in an ordinary way, it's safe to expect ordinary results. However, when you take the extreme and...



Think Mobility

Greg Hickman
‘I Can't Because, I Need ... ’
Oct 7, 2013

Does this sound like you? Have you ever set up a goal, but then realized (either quickly or too late)...



Denny Hatch's Blog

Denny Hatch
The Internet Can Make You a Chump—Forever!
Sep 25, 2010

Trouble is, the Internet is rife with misinformation and if you get caught advertently or inadvertently propagating this nonsense in...



The Thorny Question of Marketing Attribution: Does It Apply to B-to-B?

2
 
Have you noticed how marketers are focusing on attribution these days? "Which media channel is really driving the sale?" they ask. "What touch sequence is most productive?" "Where should we assign credit?" There is much confusion and gnashing of teeth on this subject.

But I say that in B-to-B, these are the junior questions, and just building blocks to the bigger issues. Sure, we business marketers want to know where to invest our precious dollars. But what we really want to know is: 1) How do my prospects buy, and how can I make their journey easier, faster, and more likely to result in a sale for my company? 2) What's the ROI on the sale, meaning how much sales and marketing investment do I need to close the piece of business?

I've been looking into this attribution discussion recently, and find it pretty frustrating. In the purely digital marketing world, marketing attribution analysis actually makes a lot of sense, and the various methods that are being talked about are worth looking at. To summarize, they boil down to 4 general techniques:

  1. First touch, last touch: This means all credit for the sale (or whatever is the desired outcome, like becoming a qualified lead) goes to the media channel that acquired the prospect (the first touch) OR the channel immediately before the outcome (the last touch). While many consumer marketers find last touch to make sense for attribution, in B-to-B it's more likely that marketers will be keeping close track of the first touch, since that is so useful for analyzing cold prospecting investment decisions.
  2. Weighting: All recorded touches are given some credit and weighted equally, or according to some reasonable factor like where they lie in the path to the sale. In B-to-B this method becomes problematic very quickly, since the sales cycle is so complex, involving a long series of touches to multiple contacts in a target account through multiple channels—many of them offline and difficult to capture in a database.
  3. Modeling: Statistical analysis of purchase patterns against touch sequences provides insight into the relative impact of each media channel, which can then be used for more reliable weighting. According to a 2010 Lenskold Group study, only 3 percent of business marketers are modeling for attribution. Even if they do, models tend to provide guidance only at a fairly high level, which doesn't much help with granular touch-sequence decision-making.
  4. Test and control: Hands down, the most reliable method of sorting out the impact of an isolated single variable. But it's well nigh impossible to execute across a multichannel, multitouch relationship.

Some very good work is being done on this subject by thoughtful and experienced B-to-B marketers. Have a look at the Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Analytics produced by Marketo's VP of Marketing Jon Miller, where he shares the attribution methods Marketo uses for its own marketing efforts. And the slides from a recent talk at SES by Rob Cataford, a very smart analyst at the San Diego agency BusinessOnline. I also appreciate the 5-step "pipeline influence" process outlined by Michael Brenner in his B2B Marketing Insider blog. And Target Marketing wrapped up its virtual conference on Integrated Marketing with a lively discussion on attribution, where I was pleased to be a member of the panel.

My conclusion: A successful B-to-B go-to-market process operates in so many media channels, with so many individual contacts and so many touches, performed by so many sales and marketing functions—internal and external—that worrying about which touch should get the credit is a relatively minor detail in the scheme of things. When B-to-B marketers seek to justify their investments and make better decisions, it's really about optimizing the entire process from initial contact to a sale.

I would argue that B-to-B marketers should put aside the question of credit-for-a-touch for every single marketing initiative. We know that a zillion touches are going to go into the selling process, and we have access to fairly sophisticated lead management systems that allow us to track an inquiry to a sale over time. In B-to-B, attribution analysis should be applied to two more important concerns:

  1. Gaining insight into the buyer's journey: Not for assigning credit to any particular touch, but for understanding how better to identify prospects, engage with them, build a relationship, fend off competitors and get the sale, faster. And when we say "buyer," this means an account, not an individual contact. We need to track-as best we can through web analytics as well as our CRM systems-the progression made by all parties involved in the purchase process.
  2. Evaluating and improving the cost of selling: Companies need to know how much investment is needed to close business, at the account level. Tracking marketing and sales expense by account, and then analyzing the data by product type, by industry and other variables—this is where attribution analysis can really add value in B-to-B.

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Companies Mentioned:

2

COMMENTS

Click here to leave a comment...
Comment *
Most Recent Comments: