In B-to-B marketing, relationships can be complex. Some contacts buy, while other contacts only influence a purchase decision. Sales often take months to complete, and must go through a multiple step process. Individuals work in teams at a company location, and that location may be part of a larger corporation.
Useful and necessary marketing and communication efforts are required to support the entire selling process, but many of those communications cannot be tracked on their own. They might be directed at influencers, or might occur very early in a selling process that may or may not be complete months later.
Faced with such complexity, B-to-B marketers often take a tactical, one communication at a time approach. This not only can contribute to misleading results (if results can be tracked at all), it also can distract marketers from seeing the overall picture.
Rather than marketers looking at the tactics they intend to deploy and assembling those tactics into a strategy, it should be the other way around. Marketers should decide on their strategy first and then assemble their tactics to fit that strategy.
To a great extent, the success of any strategy is based on customer behavior, the business environment and the tools at our disposal. “Good guessers” tend not to get far in data-driven marketing. Knowing where you are, where you have been and what has been working is crucial to developing strategy that is likely to succeed.
Many marketers are good at tracking customer behavior and building an offer or promotion around it. Unfortunately, they often have a more difficult time turning those behaviors into an overall strategy.
The key challenge in tracking and measuring success in B-to-B is that success requires many steps. Unlike consumer marketing, where an offer is sent out and consumers either buy or they don’t, a B-to-B offer may not result in a sale. A B-to-B contact may turn into the next meeting, a request for a sample or an additional contact name. All of which can be useful, measurable and valuable, if tracked properly.