One of the beautiful things about digital B2B marketing is the ability to attribute behavior and engagement for prospects across a variety of channels that may be included in our marketing mix. Where things get a bit sticky is determining how attribution figures into revenue generation. For a simple transactional sale, this may be easier as sales cycles are shorter and less clicks are usually required. But, for a complex sale, attribution becomes a bigger challenge.
The mandate for B2B marketers today is to prove that their online marketing programs are contributing to downstream revenues. Determining how attribution is used can vary those results by quite a bit.
Take the example that Adobe uncovered in their recent report, Why Marketers Aren't Giving Social the Recognition it Deserves. [PDF] The difference for retail companies that applied first-click attribution over last-click attribution is 88% higher using fist-click. The report contends that social media is used earlier in the buy cycle to generate awareness and engagement and that applying the credit to whatever the shopper clicks on last, right before purchase, discounts the role social media plays in driving revenues.
This is a great example to start with. Sure, retail is more transactional in the example, but if you think about the number of clicks involved in a complex B2B marketing-to-sales process, using either first or last click to determine ROI will definitely reduce the value of a lot of elements in play during the buyer's journey.
This is why a content marketing strategy is so important. It's also why technology and analytics are so darn valuable.
Think about your marketing mix for a minute. Let's say you are using the following geared to address the priorities of a specific target market (persona):
- Nurturing programs (series of emails with links to content assets mapped to stages of the buy cycle)
- White papers
- ROI Calculator
If the prevailing trend is for a buyer to either visit the demo or the calculator prior to initiating contact with sales, it may be that tools like those get more credit than they deserve when reporting on ROI.
Or, because registrations for webinars are directly attributable, it may be thought that they payoff handsomely for lead generation when the reality could be that without your Twitter promotion, your webinar registration would have been 40% lower.
What's needed is to consider all of the conversion or transition points for your marketing programs and measure ROI based on what they are designed to accomplish in concert.
Every content asset and marketing mix element needs to have a goal for a conversion within the buying journey that contributes to the overall revenue generation process. The ability to string these conversions together and show how each contributed to achieving the end result determines the ROI of the strategy, not each individual component as a standalone tactic.
Getting to this type of ROI analysis takes hard work, focus and technology. But it's what makes the world of eMarketing and digital strategy so dang compelling.
It all starts with shifting the way we've always thought about and done it in the past.