B-to-B: On the Right Track
The most basic form of response tracking requires direct marketers to determine which promotions generate the most sales, orders or inquiries for lead generation. Tracking activity to the promotion that generated it has always been a challenge, especially for B-to-B marketers. The number and complexity of those challenges keeps increasing, but the payback is becoming even more attractive as the latest postage increase makes B-to-B print materials more costly. Fortunately, there are many options B-to-B marketers can use to gain insight into how different promotions perform.
A Complex Process
Business buyers range from purchasing agents at extremely large technical companies who place orders every day on behalf of engineers and scientists, to moms who order stationery and forms for their small, home-based businesses. What’s more, we also employ an impressive array of channels to reach prospects and customers, including direct mail, catalogs, e-mail, the Web, in-person sales calls, stores and kiosks, trade shows, and advertisements in technical journals. With the extensive use of the Web and e-mail, response tracking has become even more difficult. If a customer visits your Web site, but orders from your catalog, to what medium should you credit the order?
Unlike consumer product purchases, business product purchases often are a group-buying decision, especially for high-priced or technical products. People from different departments and levels often need to approve of the buying decision, so the person placing an order may not be the same person you initally contacted. Some businesses may even reorder from internal inventory or a SKU number printed on a product in the warehouse. They may not have a catalog or e-mail in hand.
These are some of the complications of one-step sales. However, many business products require a two- or three-step sale. In a multi-step sale, a prospective buyer is obtained through lead generation; if he or she qualifies as a potential lead, then a promotion is sent out to the individual based on that classification. In this case, the B-to-B direct marketer needs to track the response of inquiries as well as orders, and the conversion of these inquiries (or leads) into buyers.