Building Your B2B Marketing Tech Stack

Digital marketing is exponentially more powerful today than the techniques used in the early days of the web. Unfortunately, with its expanded capabilities comes more complexity. There are more tools, techniques, and channels available than ever before and that can make it difficult to choose which software to use in the pursuit of your digital marketing goals.

This article outlines a basic framework for addressing this common B2B marketing issue. While we can’t recommend specific software tools universal for all businesses, the principles outlined here should get you well on your way to selecting your own set of software tools – commonly known as a “tech stack.”  

Our Approach to B2B Marketing Tech Stacks

We suggest clients and prospects select two different software tools to be the foundation of their marketing: one customer relationship management (CRM) tool, and one marketing automation tool. A CRM acts as a database of information on your past, present, and future customers as well as a communication log. A marketing automation tool allows you to automate specific marketing tasks across different channels, particularly email and social media.

Why these two specific tools? Here’s the breakdown: 

Core Element 1 of 2: CRM

The most basic version of a CRM is a digital business address book that also allows you to take notes. But in the last decade or so, CRM technology has come a long way. Today the decision about CRM is less about having one, and more about choosing the best one to integrate properly with the rest of your tech stack.

Today the decision about CRM is less about having one, and more about choosing the best one to integrate properly with the rest of your tech stack. Click To Tweet

Another reason we like CRMs is their importance for sales and marketing. The CRM tool acts as a “home base” for many sales reps. It’s one of the first things they check when their work begins (along with their email) and houses critical data that helps them be successful. In an optimal CRM situation, not only is this data used to help your sales team, but it can also be fed to the marketing department so they can use it to flesh out changes to buyer personas, campaign strategy, etc.

Consider our next core element regarding marketing data: a marketing automation platform.

Core Element 2 of 2: Automation Platform

While your CRM will probably be the home base for the sales team (or whoever is handling sales responsibilities at your company), your marketing automation platform will be the primary tool used by marketing. 

At its most fundamental level, a marketing automation platform does exactly what it sounds like: automates your marketing. Typically, it handles tasks that would be impossible or highly arduous for a person to complete manually, including things like:

  • Sending out emails to an entire subscriber list or segment of a list 
  • Indicating which campaign made a prospect aware of the company
  • Scoring leads to determine which ones are most likely to become customers
  • Gathering user data from email and website interactions to determine which elements of your marketing are most successful
  • Connecting all the other elements of your marketing (including a CRM) into one consistent resource your team can use

A few of the most common marketing automation tools include:

  • HubSpot, popular for small and medium-sized businesses and known for simple, intuitive user interfaces
  • Marketo, an automation software platform owned by Adobe that focuses on tracking user experiences and improving cross-channel engagement
  • Constant Contact, which focuses on engaging with small business clients who are interested in using email and SMS marketing

There are many different options depending on your budget and the kind of functionality you want. On which specific factors should you aim your focus? Here are a few tips to consider as you compare different marketing automations and CRM tools available for your company:

  • Your current workflow. The way you currently do things might favor selecting one particular automation tool or another. For example, if you’re already a Salesforce user, you’re probably much more likely to use Pardot instead of a similar tool. It’ll provide the least disruption to your current workflow, which saves money in the long run, even if it means selecting the more expensive option in the short term.
  • Budget. How much can you afford to spend on a new automation tool? Think about areas where you might be able to save money. HubSpot, for example, offers many different pricing options and bundles across its suite of products and services. By tailoring your purchase in this way, you can save money by eliminating services and features you don’t need.
  • Installation and setup. Essentially – how long does it take to go from purchase to being able to use the platform fully? While you might view this as a temporary concern, it’s still important. What if your sales and marketing teams cannot function at full capacity for weeks or even months while you are integrating new software into the company’s workflow? Decision-makers must determine if this kind of sacrifice is worth making for an automation or CRM platform.
  • Service and support. Once things are in place and your company can begin using the software, what happens if there is an issue or something stops working? This factor may not be obvious upfront, but it could be worth investing a little more in a higher-end option that provides better support to users.

Finally, remember that most of the major marketing automation platforms available will have their own CRM tool built-in. While it is possible to use separate tools for CRM and marketing automation, make sure they integrate well or it could create more work than necessary.

A Word on Google Analytics

No matter what kind of marketing automation platform or CRM you use, we also recommend incorporating Google Analytics into your stack. It’s one of the most popular and universally compatible tools around, especially for marketers who rely heavily on website-based interactions to generate leads. Most of the major automation platforms will easily be able to understand and integrate data from Google, which provides another valuable source for insights without complicating your current workflow.

Bringing It All Together

Marketing technology can feel complex, but it doesn’t need to be. The best way to cut through all of the noise and complexity in marketing automation and technology is to focus on your specific needs. Before you compare the various options available to meet your CRM and automation needs, a strong understanding of your target audience and how your business intends to market to them will make the search much easier.

Above all, keep things as simple as possible and as close to your current workflow as possible. Make sure to “close the loop” so that all of the different tools and platforms you use for marketing can work together to form a single, reliable set of data that will inform your strategy for attracting more leads and converting more of them to customers.

Want personalized help trying to figure out which of the many marketing software tools is best for your business? Take this quiz to see how FunnelEnvy can help ensure you’re choosing the digital marketing platforms that empower and improve your business.

By |2022-05-06T08:44:45-07:00May 16th, 2022|B2B|0 Comments

4 Simple Lead Form Optimization Tips

If your marketing campaigns were a military, lead forms would be the infantry. They are on the ground in the fight for more leads and conversions. Lead forms are the “tip of the spear” for a conversion campaign. If your forms aren’t in good shape, you’ll struggle to meet your marketing goals, putting a damper on revenue and constricting company growth. 

Some optimization steps are relatively easy to implement if you want to get your forms in better shape. Starting with this low-hanging fruit is a great way to refresh a campaign that was once successful but has stopped performing to its previous level or as a foundation for reviewing a new campaign before it’s finalized for launch.

Here are four easy strategies to improve your lead forms to increase conversions:

Minimize Friction

When you think about friction, you might imagine tires on a rough road or a marble sliding down a chute. In physics, friction is the resistance a surface encounters when moving over another surface. In a lead form, “friction” is anything that stops a user from filling out your form.

How do you minimize friction? Here are a few suggestions from HubSpot, with additional insights about each point:

  • Remove extra navigation on the page with your form. Having a standard navigation menu makes it too easy for someone to get distracted while they are trying to fill out your lead form. Even if they don’t, why give them the temptation? Most conversion forms have either no navigation menu options or a single link or button that takes users back to the home page or previous form.
     
  • Use precise language in your form. It’s a shame to put in all the work required to attract a lead to your website, only for that person to leave your page without converting because you used confusing language that they don’t understand. Make sure all parts of your writing are clear and concise, from the body copy on your website to the form fields themselves. When in doubt, it’s always best to use fewer short words than a longer, more complicated one. You can use an online tool like Hemingway to grade your page’s written content and ensure it’s understandable for the people visiting the site.
  • Make forms shorter whenever possible. There shouldn’t be a single unnecessary field that prospects need to fill out to complete your form, especially if they complete it to download a resource or schedule an appointment with someone on your team. 

There are many other great resources for conversion rate optimization online – check out sites like Shopify and CrazyEgg for more details about optimizing your forms and other conversion elements.

Use Multi-Step Forms

“Wait,” you might be thinking, “I thought I was supposed to keep my forms as short as possible! Doesn’t using multiple steps in a form contradict this idea?” It may seem that way at first glance. However, if you spend enough time marketing online, you’ll understand that some forms must be completed fully – there’s no way of getting around it. A common example in the ecommerce world is a customer information form that includes payment and shipping information. Another example might be setting an appointment to meet with someone on your team. You wouldn’t want the location or timing of the appointment lost because of an error or oversight on your form.

If you spend enough time marketing online, you’ll understand that some forms must be completed fully Click To Tweet

If you must present page visitors with a lengthy form, the best thing to do is break it up into multiple parts so that it doesn’t feel like a massive trudge to get through. Continuing with the example of an ecommerce transaction, you’ll typically see these form pages broken up by the various phases of the transaction: purchase info, shipping info, customer name, address, etc. This split makes it much more bearable to get through instead of having all of these forms presented simultaneously.   

Include Social Proof

As you know, people are social animals. We are conditioned to do things others do so we remain members of our tribe. Millions of years ago, expulsion from your tribe due to non-conforming beliefs or actions meant you had to try to survive on your own in the wilderness. Though most of us no longer live in tribes, people still have a natural tendency to trust and value the actions of others.

That’s why social proof is so valuable in modern marketing. Buyers in the B2B space tend to be less swayed by social proof than consumers, but even the most rational, logic-driven purchasers can still be persuaded to purchase if they know others have done the same. It’s particularly beneficial to get testimonials or social proof from people who are respected figures in a field. Placing social proof on your forms is a great technique for quelling those last-minute uncertainties about finishing.   

Consider Form Alternatives

At FunnelEnvy, we appreciate the classic elements of marketing that have worked consistently over the years. But we’re also big believers in looking forward and embracing cutting-edge technology. We suggest considering whether or not you even need to have a form to generate conversions at a sufficient rate. There are a few different options for replacing a form, but the most popular one comes to us thanks to AI and predictive language technology: chatbots.

Chatbots have grown increasingly common over the last decade – you’ve probably seen or interacted with one recently. The premise is that instead of filling out a standardized form, users can get customized assistance for their specific questions or challenges. Although this option isn’t feasible for everyone, some companies might even supplement an automated chatbot with a live customer service agent. But with interactivity and personalization looking like critical pillars of the next generation of marketing, it’s worth considering an automated chat program to replace a form. 

According to Forrester, over 40% of American adults believe it’s important for retail companies to offer live chat. And while that statistic may be mostly regarding B2C purchases, the way someone likes to make a purchase in their personal life probably translates to how they prefer to make purchases professionally.

Besides a chatbot, other options for replacing a form might include an interactive calendar or another widget that allows a user to schedule an appointment or call. In many cases, these options are simply a more advanced version of a form – but they’re still worth considering to improve your conversion rate.

Final Thoughts on Form Optimization

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel to improve your marketing performance. By making the simple adjustments above, you can get more page visitors to fill out your forms and move to the next stage of your funnel, which ultimately drives revenue and growth for the entire business.

If you’d like some input on optimizing your lead forms or any other part of your conversion funnel, fill out this quick questionnaire to learn more about how we might be able to help.

By |2022-04-20T12:40:33-07:00May 2nd, 2022|Conversion Rate Optimization|0 Comments

Know Your Numbers: The Top Metrics for B2B Inbound Marketing

Numbers are key in any kind of marketing. While some people may want to operate their campaigns using a preferred method or channel, only actual data can show whether or not decisions are successful. 

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion among marketers today about what numbers are the most important to track. The huge expansion of the marketing technology sphere over the last decade has led to the creation of all kinds of statistics that may or may not be relevant to your business.

A handful of metrics should matter most for B2B marketers, though. The data you generate from tracking the below numbers will provide the most insight into your marketing efforts and how well they’re performing.

Qualified Leads

A qualified lead is someone vetted as a valid potential customer. Generally speaking, there are two levels of leads generated by marketing activity:

  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are prospective customers who have shown some interest in your online marketing. Here, the most common examples include someone signing up for your email newsletter or filling out a form to download a longer lead magnet such as an eBook or white paper.
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are the next step beyond an MQL. An SQL is vetted by someone on either the marketing or sales team as a legitimate prospect that is able to purchase what your company is offering. For example, a lead who has exchanged a few emails with someone at your company might be qualified to move from an MQL to an SQL.

To qualify leads, you can refer back to the classic BANT framework: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. If you’re using the BANT formula to qualify a lead, make sure you apply it to the specific person with whom you’re dealing. Just because the company you’re talking to has a need for your offering and can afford it doesn’t mean your contact has the authority to seal the deal.

If you’re using the BANT formula to qualify a lead, make sure you apply it to the specific person with whom you’re dealing. Click To Tweet

Pipeline Size

The size of your pipeline is defined as the number of active deals you have going on at any given time, in any stage of the sales process – from the newest leads to that one major deal your team has been working on for weeks. Your pipeline size is a dollar amount that adds up the total value of all the potential business you might be able to win in the short and mid-term future. Don’t forget to include existing clients that make repeat purchases every month or quarter – though it’s important not to rely too heavily on this type of business.

Knowing your pipeline size can help for a few reasons. First, it enables you to understand whether or not you’re doing enough marketing. A too-small pipeline could indicate that the marketing you’re creating isn’t compelling enough to generate interest in your product or service. How big should your pipeline be? You will hear anecdotal advice and rules of thumb ranging anywhere from 1.5 to 5 times your sales targets. The truth is that your pipeline goals will vary dramatically depending on what you’re selling. It’s impossible to create a one-size-fits-all ratio – instead, you should experiment and see what pipeline size to sales ratio strikes the best balance between growth and overwhelm for your team. 

Another helpful pipeline-related metric to track is your pipeline velocity. To calculate your pipeline velocity, multiply your number of deals by average deal size by win percentage, then divide the resulting number by the number of days in your sales cycle.

Metrics for marketing

Source: HubSpot

Your sales pipeline velocity tells you how many deals you are closing and how much revenue is moving through the pipeline each day. A higher velocity is obviously better. If your velocity isn’t where you want it, consider the factors slowing down deals from closing.

Meetings Set

Meetings are an essential part of sales metrics because they represent a significant transition point in the customer journey. To use an analogy from the dating world: it’s like going from having someone’s phone number and exchanging a few texts or phone calls to meeting up with them in real life. Things may or may not work out, but taking that step represents a level of commitment that doesn’t happen with everyone.

Meetings help you understand how often your people are getting in front of qualified customers. Tracking your meetings to leads ratio can help you identify the quality of your leads. If you’re getting lots of engagement with your marketing materials but aren’t setting that many meetings, it could be an issue with the kind of people you’re attracting. On the other hand, if you’re scheduling several meetings, but they aren’t resulting in closed business, it may be a good time to revisit some of your sales processes or refresh your team on best practices.

Customer Acquisition Cost

Customer acquisition cost (or CAC) is a relatively simple metric, but it can reveal a lot about your sales and marketing processes. To calculate your CAC, simply divide the total amount of money spent on all marketing activities by the number of clients generated. For a simple example, if your annual marketing budget is $100,000 and you were able to bring in 200 new customers from that marketing, your CAC is $500. 

Once you’ve determined your CAC, an easy way to evaluate the efficiency of your marketing is to compare it to your average customer lifetime value (LTV). Without knowing your LTV, it’s challenging to understand whether or not your CAC is where you want it. Continuing the example above: if an average customer will spend $1,250 with the company, a $500 CAC is excellent. That means you’re getting back roughly $2.50 in revenue for every $1 spent acquiring a customer.

On the other hand, say your LTV is only $250. Then, you have a problem because you’re spending $1 to bring $0.50 worth of business. Again, this is a straightforward example with round numbers for easy calculation. Still, these numbers will help you understand how to apply your CAC within the broader context of your marketing operations.    

Conclusion: Only Trust the [Right] Numbers

One thing we aren’t lacking in digital marketing is beliefs on how things should be done. It’s easy to sit around and theorize or talk about what we think might work for B2B marketing.

But the reality is that metrics are the only way to know which ideas are genuinely effective and which are just nice theories to talk about in meetings. Every company will have a slightly different perspective on where their numbers should be and what they should be looking for as they review marketing data. When it comes to metrics, remember to pick the right numbers to track and follow them consistently to gain a comprehensive picture of your marketing and its effectiveness.

Do you need some help filtering through all the marketing data you have to identify what matters? Or maybe you aren’t even sure where to start collecting data and want guidance from a specialist. Fill out this short quiz to learn more about how the conversion rate optimization experts at FunnelEnvy may be able to help.

By |2022-04-05T04:19:03-07:00April 18th, 2022|Analytics|0 Comments

Beyond SEO: Why Generating Traffic Isn’t Enough

Search engine optimization is a widely-promoted marketing discipline in part because of how impressive it looks to generate traffic increases. For marketing sites that rack up four or even five figures in unique views per month, it can be easy to get caught up in those numbers and focus on meeting certain milestones or a specific month-over-month growth rate.

The problem with having such a strong emphasis on traffic and visitors is it ignores the part of your customer journey that’s equally (if not more) important: converting all those visitors into paying clients. As impressive as it may seem when SEO helps increase monthly views by 50% or allows a page to rack up thousands of additional visits, traffic generation is meaningless unless it leads to a positive increase in revenue.

Understanding Visitor Intent

Ignoring those who accidentally visit your site, are just researching, or have no intention of buying your product or services, every person who lands on your page is at a particular step in their purchasing process. Their current place in the process will govern their intent.

According to McKinsey, there are six specific customer journeys that B2B marketers should be most concerned with: identifying products or services that meet a need, selecting a supplier for an initial purchase, co-developing products with a supplier, dealing with an unexpected event, using and servicing a product, and reordering familiar products or services.

You can break down these individual journeys into sub-steps that take a prospect from start to finish. As you evaluate elements of your website and marketing campaigns, remember to view them through the scope of these steps.

For example, the first part of identifying products or services that meet a need is knowing what’s out there. A B2B company can ensure its brand is identified during this step in several ways, from in-person promotion to search engine optimization based on relevant keywords. The specific methods you use to meet prospects at this point in the journey aren’t as important as addressing the consumer where they are without attempting to push them along the journey faster. Make sure to map your marketing efforts to these steps to maximize results.

Consider Your Conversion Rate

Besides the amount of traffic you generate, you’ll want to consider your conversion rate. While conversion rate is impacted by traffic generation, it’s a separate metric that helps you understand both your marketing efficiency and the quality of your traffic.

HubSpot provides a simple explanation for calculating conversion rate: divide the number of conversions by the total number of visitors, then multiply by 100 for a percentage. If you receive 500 visitors and 25 of them convert, you have a 5% conversion rate.

While conversion rate is impacted by traffic generation, it’s a separate metric that helps you understand both your marketing efficiency and the quality of your traffic. Click To Tweet

How do you go about improving your conversion rate? It varies greatly depending on what you’re selling, but there are a few general places you can start:

  • Blog. Posts on your site should be informative and well-written. If your blog is a thinly-veiled digital sales pamphlet for your products or services, prospects will catch on quickly and stop reading your posts for objective information and advice.
  • Forms and buttons. Experiment with different colors, fonts, sizes, etc., until you find one that works best to encourage visitors.
     
  • Social proof. This category is broad, so you may want to test several different elements. Consider testimonials, client interviews, security badges, and other indicators that you are a trustworthy vendor.
  • Facilitating communication. One critical element of marketing for B2B purchasers is a way to get in touch with an actual person from the vendors they’re considering. If the form you’re optimizing is designed for this purpose, remember to let users know they’ll be able to schedule a call or meeting with a real person. 

Again, these are a few recommendations based on the general principles of B2B marketing. You should adapt and apply them in a way that makes sense for your specific brand and the audience for which you’ve designed it.

Segment Your Site Effectively

Once you’ve spent some time analyzing visitor intent, you can start to work on addressing the top needs of the most relevant traffic that visits your website.

In a B2B purchasing context, one of the things prospects will seek most is education. This is particularly true for newer clients who may not have been through several purchasing cycles like industry veterans. One of the most common ways companies provide relevant education to prospects is through consistent blog updates, where they can share news and developments that matter to buyers. This can also be accomplished through a longer-form medium, like reports, white papers, ebooks, etc. 

Product demos and tests are other considerations – especially for software companies. Before committing a significant amount of their budget to a tool or application, buyers will want to see what it looks like while in use – possibly even use it themselves. 

The desire for a test run in the world of SaaS startups facilitated the creation of the “freemium” pricing model. Users are given free access to a limited version of the tool or product, eventually encouraging them to move to a paid plan. B2B freemium models are typically more complex and dynamic – they might involve multiple meetings or presentations and test runs.

For best results, treat these segments like any other conversion element on your website and consistently work on optimizing them. Do prospects seem more receptive to learning from short-form blog posts on your site or longer white papers emailed to them directly? When people accessing your page are looking to connect with someone, is it better to list the phone number or create a pop-in window that allows users to click to schedule a call?

These are the kinds of questions you need to ask constantly instead of solely focusing on attracting traffic that may or may not be interested in your offering.

Final Thoughts on Traffic vs. Conversions

Nothing written here is intended to minimize the importance of generating traffic for successful B2B marketing optimization. Without visitors on your site, you’ll struggle to meet your marketing and sales targets, even if you have a finely-tuned digital experience that helps your prospects deal with all their relevant issues and concerns.

Focusing on traffic and SEO only becomes a problem when it takes away from other crucial parts of your marketing plan. Ignoring everything that happens after someone lands on your site will decrease your conversion rate in the long run. Even if you generate more traffic with this approach, it’ll likely be little more than a vanity metric if your site doesn’t help visitors meet their goals.

As a provider of services or products for other businesses, failing to improve your conversion rate by optimizing your on-site experience can lead to severe problems meeting growth and revenue targets. If you’re looking for help from a team of conversion rate optimization specialists with experience making funnels more efficient and improving marketing efforts, fill out this brief questionnaire so we can learn more about how best to serve your needs.

By |2022-03-22T12:59:15-07:00April 4th, 2022|Conversion Rate Optimization|0 Comments

Getting the Most Out of Paid Media Spend in 2022

For marketers looking to reach a specific audience quickly, few methods can achieve results like paid advertising. By the year 2023, video ad spending on social networks in the U.S. is projected to surpass $28 billion, according to HootSuite. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are considered supremely valuable by corporate marketers looking to quickly get in front of the right people – even if they haven’t addressed that audience previously. Paid ads have also been a boon for small local businesses, targeting their campaigns only within a given geographic region.

However, marketers have seen the price of ads on major social platforms – particularly Facebook and Instagram – increase in recent years. Part of this is a result of the pandemic of 2020, which caused an initial reduction in paid media prices due to reduced spending that later corrected after advertisers realized the new importance of digital reach. Additional pressure on Facebook ads has come as a result of high-profile moves by Apple to restrict tracking and cookies on its devices, a shift popular with many consumers but problematic for advertisers and their networks. Executives at Meta said Apple’s privacy changes alone could cost the company $10 billion in revenue.

The increased competitiveness in the world of paid ads is why it’s more important than ever before to maximize return on ad spend (ROAS). We’ll cover some tips to optimize your paid media lead generation campaigns in this post.

Evaluate the Conversion Experience First

When looking to improve the performance of their paid ads, many marketers make the mistake of bringing in more leads. But in many cases, a higher quantity of traffic doesn’t always translate to a higher quantity of leads. Even if it does, that doesn’t always mean the leads will be of good quality. 

Before you dump more ad money into reaching a wider audience, consider the elements of the conversion experience at every step of the campaign. This includes:

  • Form fields
  • Button design and placement
  • Form and button copy
  • Multimedia elements
  • Social proof 

Even the smallest tweak might have an unexpectedly large impact on your conversion rate. Remember to perform proper A/B testing on each of these elements so that you can use accurate and relevant data to understand what your audience wants.

Before you dump more ad money into reaching a wider audience, consider the elements of the conversion experience at every step of the campaign. Click To Tweet

Use Closed-Loop Analytics

Another common mistake we see made by marketers is evaluating prospects’ actions in a vacuum. They think only about how someone engages with one specific set of social media or video advertisements. The problem with this approach is it ignores all of the other behaviors in different parts of their customer journey. This data is ripe to be used in the creation of more effective marketing. Gaining a full picture of prospect behavior is especially important in the B2B space, where buyers have many different agendas and priorities to consider as they evaluate purchasing options. 

To avoid this shallow view of the prospect, it’s important to “close the loop” with your marketing. That means you should integrate all the tools you use in your marketing to share data – even if they aren’t directly involved in the campaign where this data is being applied.

We believe Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for digital marketing because of its universal nature. It may not be as sophisticated as newer tools, but it’s compatible with so many different kinds of marketing tech that it can be a valuable foundation for your stack. It’s also reliable – there’s no concern about the company folding overnight and leaving clients high and dry.

For best results, consider going beyond just linking Google Analytics to your marketing tools and connecting everything you possibly can, from your eCommerce platforms to your CRM, your website CMS, and other tools. It won’t be possible to integrate everything, but the more data you can share, the better you’ll be able to calibrate paid media and other marketing campaigns.

Remember, closing the loop isn’t always just about data. Bringing together your sales and marketing teams to compare notes on what does and doesn’t work is a great way to ensure that your company’s approach to business development isn’t being harmed by the “silo” effect – where different departments don’t communicate. The collective efforts of sales and marketing teams looking to improve the selling process are sometimes referred to as sales enablement. For more on sales enablement, check out this helpful guide from HubSpot.

Test Ad Creative

One of the final considerations for maximizing your paid media spend is ad creative. We typically advise our clients to consider other elements of their campaigns first, especially if the creative in question has been successful in the past. But if you’ve looked elsewhere and felt that the ad could use a refresh, changing its visual elements and text may be a wise choice.

The ad’s creative elements are particularly easy to evaluate through A/B testing. It’s relatively simple to break down the ad into different components, change each one, and see which one offers the most impact. The typical elements of a paid ad include a main image, some ad copy, a headline, and a call-to-action button. Check out the below example from Shopify:

Paid media spend

In this example, elements you might evaluate through A/B testing include the text (currently describing Google algorithm updates), the button CTA, the image, and the title next to the button. Isolating each of these elements could help you determine which version works the best. Until you’ve run experiments on each different part of the ad, it’s impossible to tell what needs to be improved and what should stay the same for optimal performance. You may not need to perform testing this extensively for every ad in your campaign, but it can help troubleshoot those that fail to perform or see performance levels drop off significantly.

Final Thoughts on Optimizing Paid Media in 2022

One of the big challenges of paid advertising for B2B companies is the nature of the transaction. Business purchases tend to be larger, more complex, and take more time to evaluate than a consumer buying something for personal use at home. B2B buyers often don’t have sole authority the way consumers do, and many are naturally suspicious of companies that use traditional sales tactics or ad campaigns with promises that seem too good to be true.

That doesn’t mean paid ad campaigns can’t be effective for B2B marketers, though. You can still attract people to your brand by promoting informative content assets or other tools that provide actual value to your audience. The advertising landscape is more competitive than ever before, which is why it’s vital to maximize the dollars invested into paid placements. By fine-tuning your conversion experience, sharing data, and thoroughly A/B testing, you can give your business a much better chance at using paid media to bring in leads that will drive the continued growth of the organization.

By |2022-03-09T10:26:47-08:00March 21st, 2022|Analytics|0 Comments

Using Content in Your B2B Funnel

In 2022, the importance of content in B2B marketing is well-understood. According to HubSpot’s 2021 edition of their annual marketing report, over 80% of B2B marketers actively use content marketing in their strategy.

Understanding that content works isn’t typically the big challenge for B2B marketers. The challenging part is creating the right content and serving it to prospects at the right stage in their customer journey. Many well-meaning marketers have been unsuccessful with their content marketing efforts simply because they failed to calibrate their efforts towards the right audience properly.

In this article, we’ll talk more about the importance of aligning content with your customer journey and some general tips on getting started.

Understanding User Intent Throughout the Funnel

The best thing you can do to make content successful is to make it helpful. And before you can create useful content, you have to know what kind of help site visitors are trying to find. There’s a massive difference between what might help someone who is still trying to pinpoint their exact needs and what might help someone ready to buy and shopping around for the best price.

Typically, B2B marketing content can be divided into three categories: top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.

Prospects at the top of the funnel may not even be aware they have an issue. They may or may not be actively shopping for a solution to some kind of challenge in their workplace. Sharing knowledge and education is key here – a hard sell will turn off prospects at the top of the funnel since they may not even be ready to start shopping for the kind of solution you offer.

In the middle of the funnel, people are aware of an issue and are researching potential remedies but may not have settled on one particular solution. They’ve learned a bit about their challenge but still need more information. However, they are ready to start absorbing information about a solution they might purchase – whether that’s a piece of software, a service, or another type of product that fits their needs. Content still shouldn’t be overly sales-y, but it can start to point users toward a product or service that can help. One example of helpful mid-funnel content is comparing different solutions to explain features and differences.

At the bottom of the funnel, prospects are well-educated and have a strong understanding of the problems they are facing. They might even have some experience making a similar kind of purchase in the past. In this stage, the most significant concerns are regarding price and logistics – how much will they be paying, and how will the payments work? How will the installation of the product or software work? If your content can ease these logistical concerns, it will be valuable to those reading it. This kind of content is typically highly targeted to fit buyers’ needs at this stage of the journey.

What Kind of Content Should You Create?

Another more sophisticated question marketers ask about their content marketing campaigns is the ideal content they should create. There are a few classic examples in today’s B2B content marketing era:

  • Blog posts you’d regularly publish on your company website. These typically cover a handful of topics that people at the company know best, often tied into the business offering.
  • Explainer videos you publish on YouTube or a company’s website or blog. These are great for helping to break down advanced concepts into more digestible pieces.
  • Infographics combine text and graphic education in a slick visual package. They’re great for social media and are easily shareable. These factors make them great for when buyers need to send information to others within their company or share to their own feeds.

These are just a few common kinds of content. Others include podcasts, interviews, emails, and white papers. What kind is ideal for your business? There’s no right or wrong answer. The best way to find out is to create a few different types and run experiments to see which ones resonate the best with your audience. Speaking of experiments…

Support Iteration of Content Plans with Data

It’s easy to plan your content in a vacuum and make assumptions about what will work best. This is especially true of seasoned veterans of a specific industry who have spent years or even decades addressing customers’ needs. However, this strategy is often a recipe for content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience.

It may take longer, but changing one variable per experiment is the only way to truly zero in on your best type of content. Click To Tweet

A much better way to approach planning, creating, and distributing your marketing content is through testing and experimentation. If you’re starting from scratch, create three or four types of content covering different topics and see which one performs best.

Remember, the key here is to change one variable at a time to understand which factors drive results. It may take longer, but changing one variable per experiment is the only way to truly zero in on your best type of content.

Always Optimize for Value

At the end of the day, B2B marketing comes down to the amount of value you can provide for the people consuming your content and may be interested in your offer. This isn’t always the same as B2C marketing, where you can use techniques that play to people’s emotions and human desires. B2B content marketing needs to have a sharp focus on helping people achieve their professional goals.

But to do that, you must first understand those goals. In other words: if you want to master content, you first need to become a master of your target audience’s desires. Meeting these desires is the overarching goal of everything you do: every piece of content, social media post created, and email sent out to your list should be with the intent of adding value and helping your audience overcome challenges.

It’s not enough to simply produce content and push it out, hoping it will work with the desired effects. You must take the time to study the results, think about what they mean, and then work on adjusting your content plan based on your interpretation of that data. Increasing your pace of production might help, but it might also lead to a lot of spinning wheels and wasted effort by your content team.

Instead of blindly reaching around to hit what works for your audience, take a more calculated B2B content marketing approach. Match your content to user intent based on where they are in the funnel, take time to understand what they want from content and pay close attention to your analytics. Use that data to determine which kinds of content you should expand on and which kinds you may want to scrap.

If you need help with conversion rate optimization (CRO) or any other part of your B2B funnel, fill out this quick form to see how we can best help you optimize your marketing.

By |2022-02-23T09:56:43-08:00March 7th, 2022|The Funnel|0 Comments

Optimizing Campaigns & Websites by Integrating Offline Conversions into Google Analytics

Integrating offline conversions into Google Analytics can help you optimize your campaigns and website experiences. This is something that we commonly do for our customers when we’re optimizing their inbound funnels. In this post I’m going to go into some of the details about how it actually works.

So, what do I mean by offline conversions? If you’re doing demand or lead generation you’re capturing those leads onsite, typically through a form or  a chatbot. As you know that’s only a small part of the much larger funnel, most of which happens offline. Your Marketing Qualified Leads, Sales Qualified Leads, opportunity stages, closed won revenue. Those are all captured offline – and can think of them as offline goal conversions.

In addition to being offline, you also have the distinction, if you’re in B2B, of having individual offline conversions, like qualified leads versus account or company level conversions, like opportunities or revenue.

demand generation funnel

This can also exist in the e-commerce world, especially if you’re in B2B. You might be selling products on your site but also have volume based quote functionality where larger buyers are initiating quotes online and the quote generation and order capture is actually taking place offline.

The biggest optimization mistake that we have seen over the years is using the wrong success metric. And if you’re only measuring online goals, clicks and leads, that can lead to inefficient spend in your paid media campaigns and wasted activity and low quality leads from your website experimentation and optimization.

A solution on the paid media side is ultimately being able to adjust your bids based on those offline conversions. And for your website, assessing the results of experiments and making decisions based on those down funnel conversions.

channel optimization

Google Analytics is often the source of this analysis and decision making. By default Google Analytics is only tracking individual onsite activity. How traffic gets to the site, the bounce rates, page views, etc. Even the goal conversions typically stop at the form completion (on-site).

Google Analytics is great at digesting paid media campaign information website activity, and linking to ad platforms like Google Ads. But the majority of your offline conversion information is happening in different systems. Marketing automation platforms, CRM, or maybe a quote and order management solution.

To solve this we need to integrate those directly into Google Analytics. By doing so we can actually see those offline conversions, like marketing, qualified leads, opportunities, revenue as goals directly in Google Analytics and even evaluate the performance of campaigns, channels, landing pages, everything else in Google Analytics by down funnel goals like closed won revenue.

Backend integration to GA

offline goals in GA 2022-02-07

So here are the main requirements to accomplish this integration:

  1. Understand the important identifiers that Google Analytics uses and store them in your backend platforms.
  2. Capture those offline conversions from those backend systems.
  3. Translating them into the identities and events that Google Analytics expects.
  4. Send  hits to Google Analytics via the offline API known as the Measurement Protocol.

full GA integration

Let’s start by understanding the identifiers that Google Analytics uses.

Here, I’m going focus on Universal Analytics. GA4 (Google Analytics 4) is still being rolled out as at the time of this post. A lot of the concepts in GA4 are very different. So we’re still very focused on Universal Analytics.

First off, Universal Analytics has a Tracking ID. This identifies the account and property that you’re going to be sending hits to. If you log into the Google Analytics interface, you’ll be able to see that Tracking ID. You can also retrieve it using JavaScript from the browser.

The second identifier that we care about is the Client ID. This identifies a device or browser. It’s automatically set by the Google Analytics script, persisted in a cookie on the browser and has a predefined structure.

GA tracking id client id

The final identifier is the User ID. This is less commonly used in these use cases. But it is important to understand because this lets you identify an individual user on the site. Unlike the prior two IDs, this is actually set by a site owner, typically post authentication, where the user might be logging in with multiple devices, to identify an individual user and as such it has no predefined structure.

Importantly, when you send offline hits to Google Analytics, you need to include the Tracking ID and either the Client ID or the User ID. So the approach that we’re going to take is to store these identifiers alongside the lead in your backend solution.

And really, there are two options here. If you only care about individual goals and you only care about the Google Analytics tracking, you can store that Google Analytics Tracking ID and Client ID directly in your backend platform.

The second option, which we use at FunnelEnvy and gives us a little bit more flexibility across different implementations and other identifiers that we have to track is to actually capture those GA identifiers, the Tracking ID and Client ID in the browser, and associate them with another Visitor ID that we set as a cookie. Then we store that single ID, that Visitor ID in the backend platform and translate it when we’re setting those hits to GA.

To actually send them to the backend platform, you can populate the IDs that you’re going to use as hidden input fields on the form. When the lead submits that form, the GA identifiers will be saved in your backend platform.

This is relatively straight forward to do in platforms like Salesforce, Marketo or HubSpot, in which you can create custom fields or properties in that backend platform. And then populate with hidden fields in the forms using JavaScript. We commonly do this using Google Tag Manager.

storing GA identifiers in backend

The second step then is capturing the offline conversions that are happening in those backend platforms. The first thing you have to do is identify the offline goals that you care about. If you’re doing demand generation, it’s typically marketing, qualified leads or sales qualified leads at an individual level.

New opportunities closed won revenue, are very common, and if you’re generating offline orders, the generation of the quote or the order itself.

The most common way that we actually capture these offline conversions is triggering a webhook from the source platform for each offline conversion. A webhook is simply an HTTP request that’s made to our system.

Again, these webhooks will have to include the Google Analytics IDs that you’re storing on the backend, or the visitor ID, if you’re taking that approach. And importantly, where you do have an amount, like an opportunity value, a closed won value, an order value, you want to include that because you’ll be able to send that as well to Google Analytics in either the event or order that you’ll be submitting.

Now you can configure webhooks very simply in a variety of these solutions. HubSpot has workflows with webhooks, Marketo natively supports webhooks. In Salesforce, you can code webhooks in Apex or use an application like the Hooked app to visually create workflows and webhooks. Now for some reason you can’t create a webhook as an alternative you can poll through the API or directly from a database.

webhook options hubspot, marketo, salesforce

Once you’ve captured the offline conversions, you’re going toto translate those into the format and the identities that Google Analytics understands. If you’re storing the Google Analytics Tracking ID and Client ID directly in the backend, and you only care about those individual goal conversions, that you don’t really need to do any identity translation. The identity is encapsulated within that Tracking ID and Client ID.

If, however, you are storing the visitor ID then you’ll translate that into the relevant Google Analytics IDs. And if you are tracking account level goals, like opportunities, deals, or revenue at an account level, then you’re going to need to translate your account to all of the contacts that you have available. To do this you’re probably going to need to pull some kind of account to contact mapping from your CRM.

The following diagram illustrates this. For an individual goal, like MQL, you can web hook that directly from the CRM into Google Analytics. Just get the Tracking ID and Client ID and send that on a one-to-one basis to Google Analytics. But if you are sending an account level goal, there’s another step involved of pulling the account to contact or individual mapping, then translating account identifiers into contact IDs, and then into Google Analytics Tracking IDs so that you can send those offline hits to Google Analytics.

individual vs account goals

What you’re really going to want to do is identify all of those offline conversions and then map those to the types of hits that you’ll be sending to Google Analytics through the Measurement Protocol. You’ll want to identify the type, whether that’s account or individual.

Typically for demand generation type of scenarios we use events as the hit type whereas for e-commerce we use orders. As part of this mapping you can identify the relevant fields in those hits and make sure you’re accounting for all of them, including the value, which can be either an actual value coming from the offline conversion or predicted value if you can do that.

map offline conversions

The final step is actually sending those hits to Google Analytics. So for this again, we’re going to use the Google Analytics Measurement Protocol. This is an offline API to be able to send hits directly to the GA servers over HTTP. Now Google Analytics includes a pretty helpful tool that allows you to build and test those offline Measurement Protocol hits.

measurement protocol hit builder examples

So here you can see an example of an event and the event structure that’s sent to Google Analytics. As well as an enhanced e-commerce purchase example that you might use for an offline e-commerce order.

If you are sending event hits, then you’ll want to create a goal of type event so that the goal is triggered on the offline event hit that you’re sending to GA. And if you are sending an event value along with that measurement protocol hit, you’ll want to set the goal value as the event value.

GA goal setup

Unfortunately the measurement protocol has been abused over the years by bots. In the view settings Google Analytics has the ability to block bots. We’ve seen that if you leave the IP address blank, and don’t set an IP address on that Measurement Protocol hit you’re more likely to get that traffic blocked as bot traffic. So we typically recommend setting the IP address of the hit to the same visitor IP that initiated the prior session (that submitted the form), and send that along with your Measurement Protocol hit.

The other thing that you can do that’s really helpful is set a custom dimension along with those measurement protocol hits. One example is to send the buyer stage. So if the visitor is an MQL, if they have an active opportunity, send that as along as a dimension to Google Analytics so you can further segment that traffic and understand what they’re doing on site.

And then finally you can backdate hits, but only up to four hours reliably using the queue time parameter. What that practically means is you can’t expect to send hits days or weeks in the past, you need to be pretty on top of it and this process needs to be running relatively frequently because you can really only backdate those hits by four hours.

I want to spend a little bit of time talking about attribution. By default, the measurement protocol hits that are going to be sent are, will attributed to the direct channel in a new session. The default reporting in Google Analytics uses the last click non-direct attribution model for reporting.

Practically, what that means is that when that conversion comes over offline from the Measurement Protocol, it’s going to be in a new session. But the conversion will actually be attributed to the prior non-direct channel.

So to visualize this that let’s say we have a visitor coming along, hitting the site, viewing a few pages and then submitting a form, and that visitor came in from a paid search ad. When we send over the offline conversion, that’s going to generate a new session which by default it will be attributed to the direct channel. So the conversion is actually going to be attributed to the prior session’s (paid search).

offline conversion attribution in GA

I want to wrap this up with some final thoughts. To be able to track these offline conversions and associate them to marketing campaigns, as well as website experience, you don’t need an entirely new tech stack. You can use Google Analytics in the same way that you have. You just have to integrate the data into it.

As I mentioned the number one mistake that we see when doing optimization of any kind is picking the wrong success metric. And without measuring these meaningful outcomes, optimization experimentation, things like segmentation and personalization are really just vanity exercises.

With these offline conversions, however, you can optimize your bidding through your ad platform, for example, by linking Google Analytics and Google Ads and triggering goal conversions that occur from offline events. And you can optimize your experiences, most importantly, your offers and your form experiences that are most likely to have an impact on those down funnel KPIs.

Finally, if you do have a long sales cycle and a relatively low volume of revenue conversions, you can take this a step further. You can actually take a more frequent, upstream conversion and use a predictive model to predict revenue and optimize faster. As we see from the table below, more frequent conversions (a higher number of conversions in a certain time period), in Google Ads will actually allow the algorithm to optimize faster. So sending along a predicted revenue value with your MQLs can allow that algorithm to optimize traffic much faster, while those down-funnel actual closed won revenue conversions are coming in.

google ads impact of conversion volume

By |2022-02-07T15:05:30-08:00February 7th, 2022|Analytics, The Funnel, B2B|0 Comments

Optimizing the Account Based Revenue Funnel

Transcript

Let’s assume that you’re targeting B2B companies and you built out your account list. And if you have a heavy ABM strategy, those accounts probably represent the vast majority of your potential revenue. So how do you go about converting that opportunity into conversations and qualified pipeline? Generally it all boils down to some combination of inbound and outbound funnels; but what if you’re not getting them to convert?

Just because you’re doing ABM doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll magically alleviate the common B2B funnel problems, such as low conversion rates, qualified pipeline, high customer acquisition costs and low quality leads.

When you’re facing this, it’s very easy to be critical of the factors that are under your control, like messaging, campaigns or list building. But it’s also very often the case that there are factors outside of your control. Most notably buyer behavior. It’s relatively well known that the buyer journey in B2B is long, especially for net new customers. And it’s only getting longer.

long buyer journey

There are a lot of frameworks that try to describe buyer behavior, and they all look something like this.

buying stages

This is what we and the experts out there think buyers are doing when they’re going through a purchase decision.

I think that’s a somewhat limited view. Let’s zoom out a little bit to understand our buyers over a longer period of time, not just when they happen to be looking for products or services. The reality is that outside of this relatively short buying window, they’re not thinking about you at all. In fact, they’re likely doing other stuff like executing projects, managing their teams, or, after they’ve actually made a purchase decision, implementing the solutions that they selected with no immediate need to find another one.

If you think about this in terms of actual purchase intent of the buyer, it’s usually quite low for anything that has a significant price tag associated with it.

buying window

Usually we only see it shift dramatically within that buying window. This doesn’t mean that you completely ignore accounts that are outside of the buying window, but it does suggest that you’re more likely to see buying motions within it when they have higher purchase intent.

Of course, an important point here is that unlike account selection, campaigns offers purchase intent is largely outside of your control. It starts when buyers become aware of a problem or solution and it progresses from there. So your goal is to engage them in a conversation as early in that process as possible.

What’s the value of the purchase intent within the buying window? Let’s do some funnel math to solve for it. The expected value of an account at any point in time can be modeled as the revenue expected from that account, either on an LTV or annual contract value basis multiplied by the probability of conversion at that point in time.

From our experience the probability of conversion to opportunity is largely determined by the customer’s purchase intent and the offer that you put in front of them. What if you could allocate more budget and therefore create higher impact offers to those high in 10 accounts that are within the buying window?

expected value and targeting

There are several ways to model this, but here’s one approach. In it we assume some percentage of the total accounts that you’re targeting are in the buying window at any point in time, that you have a fixed budget for acquisition and you’ve established an average cost to generate an opportunity from your accounts.

high intent targeting model

If you’re distributing that budget evenly across all of your target accounts, irrespective of their intent (known as the spray and pray model), then you have less total budget available for those high in 10 accounts. If however, you’re able to focus and optimize, so that 80% of your budget is focused on the high intent accounts and 20% on the rest, then you’re able to actually generate eight times more opportunities from accounts that are in that buying window because of the higher spend.

Of course this assumes that there’s a correlation between the budget you can spend per account and the conversion rate, which in this case is a sales conversation. Now, typically that involves higher touch and more expensive plays like high touch outreach, personalization, increased PPC bids or direct mail.

conversion rate optimized

But if you are confident that you can generate more conversions at high intent accounts by focusing your budget and spend, the next step is being able to identify when an account starts showing intent. To understand this, we can think about all the various activities buyers go through when they go through your purchase stages. That could be everything from internal activities, like recruiting and fundraising and coming to your website, engaging with your content ads and outbound campaigns and actually filling out forms and piloting solutions.

buying signals

All of these are signals that can be captured and tracked by different sources from third parties to analytics and marketing automation platforms. And although intent data is often discussed as something you buy exclusively from a third party, recognize that most of these are first party data sources often siloed away. General intent is useful, but it’s actually more important to establish an intent for your specific product or service.

signal sources

Our recommendation is before you run out and buy expensive third party intent data, make sure you’re fully taking advantage of your first party data sources that can help you try and triangulate buyer intent. The final point here is even if we’re running ABM campaigns, the traditional conversion points, when a customer fills out a form on your website or schedules meeting from an outbound campaign, can be way too late in the journey. Any sales rep is going to tell you that the earlier they can engage that account, who’s entering the buying window, the better they can control the conversation. And if you don’t do that, your competitors sure will.

So if we’re not waiting for prospects to fill out forms, how do we identify them? Well, your website is probably your most important source of intelligence and you own it. Knowing who’s coming to it, how they got there and what content they’re consuming can tell you a lot about their purchase intent. So one way you can identify so-called anonymous visitors before they fill out a form is through what we call reverse IP.

Let’s walk through how it works. Every website visitor coming to your site requests pages from the site, and with that sends their IP address. That’s the key. Now various services, including AccountMatch by FunnelEnvy can turn that IP address into an account record. And that account record contains various firmographic attributes like the company website, industry number of employees, revenue ranges, and potentially even the technologies that they’re using.

reverse ip with account match

AccountMatch isn’t the only solution out there. There are plenty of other services that also provide the same capability. The important point is that record can be pushed back to your webpage and also to various analytics tools, your CRMs, Zapier or anyone else that needs to go. So again, account match determines firmographic or account level attributes based on that visitor’s IP address. Here’s a couple of things you should know about them. First off, as I mentioned, they work for anonymous visitors, and don’t rely on someone filling out a form on your site.

They will not match a hundred percent of traffic. Match rates typically vary around 10 to 30%. It can vary significantly based on the nature of the traffic coming to your site. The good news is that for larger organizations with known IP blocks, you tend to see much higher, effective match rates. That’s good because most of the time in our high value target accounts, tend to be comprised of larger organizations. Finally, some of the providers tend to be better at real time responses and it allows for not just intelligence, but also targeting and personalization on your website.

So one of our goals then is to be able to quantify the intent of any account by generating an intent score for each of those accounts. This obviously starts with our target account list or our TAL, which includes within it, the expected revenue for each account. To score these, what we need to be able to do is factor in the various different buying signals we reviewed on the earlier slide. We can model all of these as events, each of which has a source, a type and a score value associated with it.

event types

As you can see a source like the website can have different event types, with different scores associated with them. For example, filling out a blog page generally indicates less intent than viewing a pricing page or filling out a form. Similarly, you can model out all the various different types of events from multiple sources that are relevant to your buying journey. As far as the scores themselves, you can start by taking educated guess at them, using your analytics and attribution models as well as your intuition to guide you. If you do have submission volume, you can also take predictive machine learning, one to one approaches to generate scores as well. Once you are capturing events from your sources and you can tie them back to accounts, you sum those over a period of time to get an overall view and then normalize those across accounts to get a relative account score from zero to one.

To actually integrate those events and set things up correctly, you’ll need a database of some kind in the middle. This can be a traditional relational database, a customer data platform, or even your CRM if it’s flexible enough to accommodate this. You’re going to start by feeding it your TAM spreadsheet, which includes your accounts and expected revenue or a fit score. And then we’ll start integrating your website data. For this, we usually sync that reverse IP data as account data into Google analytics, and then send the relevant events over to the database. And then depending on your event sources, you can integrate all of them from outbound to your ads, third party data and your marketing automation platform into the same database. Finally, from that, you’d be able to run the queries, generate an account, prioritize report, showing both fit expected revenue as well as intent.

data architecture

What do we actually get from this report? So we take our expected revenue from our target account list and multiply that by the intent score from the events that we came up with, to arrive at a present day expected value. That is the value in today based on all of the events and the intent that that account is shown. If you establish a customer acquisition cost ratio target, maybe a third of the ACV, or if you can come up with one, then you can establish a present day budget that you can expand for each account for acquisition.

expected value and budget

So this is what that report could look like. Now, instead of a list of accounts that you spray and pray against you have. So what do we get from this report? Well, if we take our expected revenue from our account list and multiply that by the intent score, that score from zero to one, we can arrive at a present day, expected value per account.

accounts prioritized by value and budget

That’s the value of each account in the present day based on the behaviors and the intent that they’re showing. If you established a customer acquisition cost ratio target (or if you can come up with one) then you can establish a present day budget that you can spend for acquisition per account. So this is what that report could look like. So now instead of a list of accounts that you spray and pray against, you actually have a prioritized list that has both expected value and the budget that you can use to focus your SDRs and other high cost plays at your most valuable accounts, which means the one that have both high value and are demonstrating higher intent to purchase. So sort descending by budget or expected value and prioritize accordingly.

So with that only give us some takeaways. Account based revenue funnel optimization is largely an exercise in intent based prioritization. You want to adjust your goals for low intent, inbound and outbound impression. So if an account is not showing intent, you may not want to sell them right away. Instead, you may want to build brand awareness, positioning and use it as a vehicle to evaluate intent through content. For this to work, you obviously have to be able to develop higher touch plays, both outbound and inbound to take advantage of that increased budget. But don’t silo your channels, recognize that outbound, inbound impressions whether ads, your website or outbound on emails are all an impression that can be counted towards the overall intent score. And finally, you might come up with one score, but certainly you’re going to need to be able to test, measure and iterate on the model over time.

By |2021-09-29T22:47:42-07:00September 29th, 2021|Digital Marketing, The Funnel, B2B|0 Comments

Optimizing Conversational Marketing: A Data-Driven Deep Dive

Transcription

Hey everyone. I’m Arun from FunnelEnvy. I’m sure all of you are aware of conversational marketing and probably many of you have deployed chatbots on your own sites for lead capture and conversion. Now, I’ve been digging into some of the data around them myself and I wanted to share some more that I learned along the way along with some hypotheses on how you might be able to improve conversational marketing performance on your own funnel. So let’s get started. I wanted to establish some shared context first. Now, web chat on B2B and demand generation sites used to be used primarily for customer support, but increasingly whether it’s because of actual results or FOMO, you see the chat widgets all over the place as part of the revenue funnel.

chatbot

Let’s start with some shared context. Webchat on b2b & demand gen sites used to primarily be for customer support. Increasingly, whether it’s because of actual results or FOMO you see the chat widgets all over as part of the revenue funnel. Conversational marketing presents an alternative to the website funnel & forms to engage visitors in what is supposed to be a more human, interactive medium.

Does conversational marketing actually work?

The Google featured snippet here tells us that it’s the fastest and most effective way to guide prospects through the sales funnel and that it provides an authentic experience and real value for your customers. This is despite the fact that 99% of the time it’s a bot on the other side (and everyone knows it). 

Let’s start with the first customer, who uses Drift on their site. 

Customer Engagement with Drift

First up we’ve got a customer who uses Drift on their site. Now, we’re going to be looking at the engagement and conversion metrics based on the number of new visitors coming to the site over a certain time period and using the metrics that each platform sends to Google Analytics. Now, as you can see here, this site isn’t doing too well when it comes to chatbot engagement, less than half a percent of visitors are actually engaging with the Drift bot, but it’s doing even worse when you look at the email and phone number capture rates, less than a 10th of a percent. When you compare that to the form baseline, contact us form in this case, it’s certainly outperforming the chat experience.

Conversion with Qualified. 

When we look at another customer who happens to have Qualified, we see pretty similar results. In this case, again, we’re seeing a small fraction of visitors engage with the chatbot and of those that do, we see a pretty small percentage actually proceed to book a meeting or give their email address. Again, when we look at the form conversion rates, in this case, it’s a request a demo form, it significantly outperforms the qualified chatbot.

But of course, I’ve just been showing you top of the funnel numbers and this is demand generation. So it would be a mistake to only focus on the top of the funnel leads. So in the third example, let’s fit a customer that is Intercom and take a few steps further down the funnel. Now, the top of the phone numbers looks pretty similar. The baseline contacts us form outperforms the chatbot for lead conversion. However, in this case, we segment it by known leads and try to evaluate the effect of engagement with Intercom on the conversion to pipeline or opportunity. And what’s interesting here is we get about 10% of the 4,600 or so known leads engage with Intercom.

down funnel with intercom

So a small number of engaging with Intercom, but those that do convert to pipeline at a much higher rate than the leads that did not have any Intercom interaction. So what can we observe from all of this? Well, despite the fact that Drift used to tell us that forms are dead, from this data here, they clearly are. In the data that we looked at, the top of the funnel engagement with chat is relatively low on an absolute basis and the forms on the site, static web forms outperform chat for lead conversion. But both from the example that I showed you as well as conversations that I’ve had with other marketers, chatbots can have a significant impact lower in the funnel on lower-funnel leads and accounts and their conversion to the pipeline.

Observations

So how do we think about this? Well, like everything on your site experience is all about the friction for the visitor and the value that you’re providing. It’s important to recognize that conversational marketing and chat are a form of interruption marketing. The question you need to ask yourself, of course, is, is that interruption adding or removing friction from the buyer’s journey? So some ways to think about that in the context of your visitors are, what is the context of buying stage and intent of that visitor? What are they actually trying to accomplish in that session on your site? How does that impact and affect their behavior? And finally, what value will interrupt that experience with chat have on their experience and their objectives?

So we can make this a little bit more concrete by considering visitors at various stages of your funnel or buyer journey. Starting with that top-of-the-funnel visitor, they’re typically in an awareness stage with relatively low commercial intent. Now in this stage, visitors are first trying to figure out if what you are selling on your site is even relevant to them and then maybe educating themselves and seeing if they can trust you for a future commercial decision. Now, this type of behavior is characterized by passive content consumption, and introducing or interrupting that experience with chat is likely to increase their friction in that experience.

And let’s contrast that with a lower-funnel visitor that is in the consideration or decision stage that has greater commercial intent. Typically, they’re seeking answers to very specific questions on your site. And unlike passive consumption, they’re actively trying to answer that question, and then they’re doing some focused research. And if they can’t find it on your site, that introduces friction. So in this case, reaching out to chat can actually add value by alleviating that friction of not being able to find the answer to the question on your site and connect them either with a bot or with a salesperson.

Conversations shouldn’t be limited to chatbots

So how do we think about this to improve our conversational experiences? Well, first off, when we think about the top of the funnel, recognize that the concepts of conversational marketing don’t have to be limited to chatbots. They become synonymous with chatbots, but conversations are how we as humans engage with other humans and the traditional static website form which asks for all sorts of personal information upfront is daunting. And that’s why we see a lot of conversion drop-off. But we can adapt that form to be more conversational in nature, more interactive. And when we do that through our multi-step forms at FunnelEnvy and we’ve tested these, we average about 53% improvement in lead conversion.

Strategic Interruptions

This obviously is the added benefit of keeping the visitor on the site experience on the page and presenting less of an interruption than the chatbot. If you’re going to try this yourselves, we recommend leading with some easy-to-answer questions to establish both intent and conversion momentum. Typically two to three questions, initially not asking for personal information, making them very relevant to the visitor and also setting proper expectations along the way, both in terms of the steps that they have to go through and the outcome when they fill out that form.

Strategic Interruptions

Now, when you do choose to interrupt with chat, do it strategically, don’t settle for the standard out-of-the-box transcripts that you get, welcome to our site, do you have any questions? You can be very effective with the chat by understanding and answering and handling common or, and specific questions or objections from that visitor. If you can identify visitors with specific intent and a common example is if they’re on the pricing page lingering there, they usually have a specific question and are close to making a decision. You can very effectively intercept them, interrupt them with chat and answer those questions, or even connect them to a sales person to get them over the line.

Of course, they don’t have to be on a specific page. You can use data to identify known leads, target accounts, even use real-time predictive scoring to identify those high-value, high intent visitors and answer their questions and get them in front of a salesperson faster. One thing to think about might be to reduce the interruption by have them opt into that chat experience through an online and onsite CTA.

Key Takeaways

First off, know your own numbers. I presented some examples from what I observed, but certainly, you should know your own chat and conversational marketing engagement and conversion rates, not just at the top of the funnel, but all the way through by buyer stage and to opportunity and revenue.

Secondly, recognize that forms aren’t dead. And you can apply those same interactive conversational marketing principles outside of your chatbot and to your onsite experience. When you do choose to interrupt, do it strategically, check, and be very effective to handle common questions and intercept those high-value, lower-funnel leads and accounts.

And finally, recognize that not everyone is going to engage with chat even further down the funnel. So there are ways to use the investment in chat to improve your onsite experience. You can do that by studying your chat transcripts, understanding the common questions, objections that your visitors have, and testing different site experiences to better meet those.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of targeting lower funnel visitors with chat, you can also use that to personalize the site experience and change your offers and content to better meet the expectations and needs of your lower funnel visitors. So with that, I want to thank you for listening today.

Customer Journey Analytics Optimizes Demand Generation Marketing

To do it successfully, you need visibility into every step of your customers’ journeys and the means to track and analyze their data to understand what motivates them now and in the future. But how do you do that? Fortunately, customer journey analytics provides valuable insights into your visitors’ behavioral patterns and preferences throughout their entire customer journey. These insights allow you to create enhanced customer experiences that motivate visitors to reach the endpoint in your sales funnel.

What exactly is customer journey analytics, and how can you use it to optimize your lead generation marketing strategies? Let’s find out.

What Is Customer Journey Analytics?

As the name suggests, customer journey analytics is an application that explicitly analyzes customer journeys. This application involves tracking and analyzing the way your customers use various channels to interact with your brand. It analyzes all channels — used currently and in the future — that your customers touch directly.

These channels could include:

  • Channels with human interaction, such as call centers
  • Two-way interaction channels, such as display advertising
  • Channels that are fully automated, such as mobile devices or websites
  • Third-party operated channels, such as independent retail stores
  • Channels that offer live customer assistance, such as joint site navigation or live chat

Why Do I Need Customer Journey Analytics?

Even as customers’ journeys have grown increasingly complex, today’s customers expect their business interactions with your brand — across multiple channels — to be on par with CX leaders such as Amazon and Google. If your customers’ journeys aren’t seamless every step of the way, they will become dissatisfied and quickly move on to a competitor. Conversely, studies show that positive customer experiences drive revenue growth.

Studies also show that investment in customer feedback management isn’t enough to improve your CX levels. This failure is attributed to the fact that feedback is generally only requested at points along the journey. Unfortunately, this means that only some of the customer journey is captured, misrepresenting your customers’ overall experiences.

This incomplete data reduces your ability to gain a complete picture and accurate insights into your marketing strategy performance. It also leaves you at a disadvantage for enhancing customers’ experiences and tying customer experiences to tangible business outcomes.

Customer journey analytics is the bridge between your customers’ behaviors and your business outcomes. A customer journey analytics program enables your business to track, measure and improve customer experiences across several touchpoints and time periods, encompassing the entire customer journey.

Leveraging customer journey analytics enables demand generation marketing leaders to answer complex questions, such as:

  1. What causes our customers’ behaviors?
  2. What past interactions or journeys have our customers undertaken that led them here?
  3. What paths do our customers take on their journeys?
  4. What are the most likely outcomes for each customer or journey?
  5. How will these journeys and outcomes impact our business outcomes?
  6. What are our customers’ goals?
  7. How do their goals align with our business goals?
  8. How do we add value for each customer and enhance their customer experience?

What Are the Benefits of Customer Journey Analytics?

Customer journey analytics is a vital ingredient in an effective customer journey management program. It is the piece that analyzes comprehensive data and generates actionable insights. The insights gained from this type of customer management program are valuable for both customers and businesses alike. Here’s how.

Optimized Customer Experiences

The insights gained through effective analyses of your customers’ journeys enable you to optimize each step along the way for a seamless overall experience.

Ongoing Measurable Performance Results

In addition, ongoing analytics allow you to continuously measure demand generation marketing initiatives’ performance across multiple channels and define the appropriate KPIs to measure each journey.

Data Analyses From Numerous Channels and Timeframes

When you look at customers’ journeys across several channels and timeframes, authentic pain points become evident. Identifying these pain points enables you to take action and positively impact your customers’ journeys.

How Can I Optimize Customer Journey Analytics?

Customer journey analytics is typically optimized by leaders in customer service, analytics, marketing and CX. These leaders adopt customer journey analytics platforms to improve their demand generation marketing strategies and performance measurement capabilities.

These teams optimize customer journey analytics to:

  • Amass customer journey data
  • Resolve multi-channel customer identities
  • Analyze innumerable interactions throughout countless cross-channel journeys
  • Identify CX pain points and their root causes
  • Verify potential customer journey enhancements
  • Quantify CX investments’ ROI

Customer Journey Mapping vs. Customer Journey Analytics

As a demand generation marketer, you may already implement customer journey mapping and feel that it provides the same insights as customer journey analytics. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While journey mapping focuses on qualitative insights, customer journey analytics is more quantitative and incorporates a much larger scope.

Static Snapshots vs. Continuous Detail

Journey mapping provides only static snapshots of some of your customers’ journeys and lacks the required detail to represent the multitude of your customers and their unique behaviors.

Static vs. Time-Based Data

Customer journey analytics is driven by time-based data, allowing you to see how customers’ journeys change over time. The ability to continuously measure complex multi-channel customer journeys and touchpoints along journeys help marketers predict customer journey successes.

Trial and Error vs. Real-Time Testing

Without visibility to up-to-date data on each interaction along the customer journey, businesses are left to experiment with new enhancements on the entire customer journey. Not only does this potentially waste time and resources, it means marketers will be waiting for aggregated results that don’t pinpoint where the issues are.

Customer journey analytics provides marketers with the visibility to see how customers respond to improvements along several touchpoints and time periods. In addition, this application enables marketers to test and track the success of customer experience interaction improvements in real-time.

Powered by machine learning and AI, customer journey analytics enables marketers to identify pain points along the entire customer journey that negatively impact CX. These insights allow data-driven businesses to prioritize opportunities for customer journey optimization and drive revenue growth.

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