It is a long, winding and usually bumpy path that B2B customers walk before they finally pull out their credit card or their PO number. In some industries, sales cycles are more epic than Peter Jackson film trilogies.
Your next sale will almost certainly interact with your website, blog(s), social presence and other digital marketing efforts — especially if you have the right content in place — multiple times before making a purchasing decision.
Depending on your industry, much of that process may even occur before they reach out to your salesperson. According to a widely quoted CEB / Google research study from 2011-12, “on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete“. Although sales teams should be cautious not to draw the wrong conclusions from such a statistic, it does emphasize the importance of marketing in sales conversions.
But how do you measure it? Now more than ever, marketers need to demonstrate ROI, and that means painting a picture of how their efforts contribute to sales. This is a paint-by-numbers exercise, but you have to decide which metrics matter. Tracking actual sales conversions is important, of course, but it’s not the only thing. In fact, understanding what led to the sale, if replicable, can be more valuable.
There are many types of conversions that could occur along your buyers’ journeys, depending on your business goals. It’s important to set up these goals in Google Analytics and other tools, and measure what occurs at each step.
10 conversion goals to track
- Social subscriptions — Sure, it’s nice when posts get favourited and retweeted but converting the casually aware into committed followers is a first step to longer term engagement and expands your opportunity to present relevant, compelling content that draws them in.
- Blog subscriptions — Although this similar to social networks in that subscriptions do not mean active engagement, it does signal a slightly higher level of interest from your audience to regularly read content you generate.
- Email marketing subscriptions — Oh, to gain access to the inbox of your target audience! For some marketers, this is like the Holy Grail. But convincing a potential customer (or an existing one) to give up their email address is only the first step — next you have to measure the rate at which you’re able to get them to first open and then click through on the content and offers you deliver.
- Content views — Do your social followers click through to read the content you offer? At what frequency? This is a type of conversion, from social browser to content consumer, and indicates the degree to which you really have their attention. With careful tracking, you can also begin to recognize patterns in what topics resonate, and which don’t.
- Web engagement — How many pages do visitors access on your site? How much time do they spend? Page Visits and Time on Site can help inform how effectively you are converting visitors. However, you should exercise some caution in how you define these goals. If a visitor cannot find what they’re looking for, and randomly clicks all over your site, that’s not a postive signal. Also, browser tabs do get left open if a user is distracted or moves off your site. But if your goal is to engage them in your content, Time On Site at the right pages may be a KPI to consider.
- Watch a product video — Landing on a webpage is one thing; spending time with even a short video indicates a deeper level of interest in what you have to offer. It is another small step toward making the sale that you can measure, but don’t forget to include a call-to-action that you can track and associate with that video so you know how it converts.
- Downloadable content — How well does your site (and other marketing efforts) convert visitors to downloading more substantial content like product specs, white papers, needs assessments or buying guides? Depending on how you target the topics to different buying stages, these types of content consumption can be important mileposts in the customer’s journey, transitioning from awareness to interest or even signal a stronger consideration to purchase. The more valuable the content, the more you can gate it behind a lead generation form.
- Event registrations — It’s a good sign when visitors want to spend time with your experts, whether in virtual summits or at in-person conferences, especially if they actually attend (remember to track this too). It’s another opportunity to capture more details about them as a potential lead.
- Contact forms — At some B2B organizations, this may be as close to an actual sales conversion that a digital marketing team can measure, but even if you have an ecommerce comonent to your site, it’s a win when a relatively anonymous visitor requests one-to-one contact.
- Live chat sessions — Not all B2B companies have the staff for online chat features, nor are all online chat sessions sales related, but they have the benefit of generating digital metrics that can be tied into the digital buyers’ journey. Just be sure to set up that you can capture why a visitor is requesting the chat, and whether it has to do with a potential sales inquiry.
By building a digital strategy that connects your relevant touchpoints together, you can then track and benchmark the conversion rates between each stage, right up to actual sales.
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