Let’s face it: we’re drowning in data. Demand generation and marketing professionals are doing their best to piece together B2B customer journeys, looking for the touchpoints beyond the tip of the iceberg that landed them that one deal.
What worked? What didn’t? What needs to be scaled down? Scaled up? Cut out entirely?
Was it that Facebook ad? The blogpost everyone on your team put so much effort into? Or did that last phone call seal the deal, because your salesperson is a rockstar?
In short: which marketing channels should get the credit for closing a deal? Can you
really trust the numbers? And how can you repeat success once you’ve identified it, and stop wasting money on the content and campaigns that don’t work?
This is where you want to take a close, hard look at B2B attribution, and stop relying on tools made for B2C scenarios.
In this article, we’ll cover the following so you can set your B2B business up for repeated success with attribution:
The difference between B2B and B2C growth, and the costly consequences of using B2C tools for B2B scenarios
Going from generic to specific data and taking charge of your own data
Using attribution models the right way and setting up realistic expectations
The difference between B2B and B2C growth
B2B customer journeys often involve lengthy timelines, multiple teams, and multiple stakeholders, making it harder and quite complicated to accurately attribute the right credit to the channels and touchpoints that tipped the scales in your favor.
B2C tends to be more straightforward, because you can (mostly) attribute conversion to a single touchpoint in your customer’s journey. More often than not, the first or last interaction did the trick, which is why single-touch attribution models work quite well for B2C scenarios.
Of course, some B2C journeys can be a little more complex than that, but overall, it’s a little easier to maintain the overview than for the B2B counterpart.
Many cooks in the kitchen
So what is it about B2B customer journeys that make it so hard to correctly capture data and attribute credit?
First of all, B2B may stand for “business to business”, but a business still consists of people at the end of the day. Business is one group of people talking to another group of people.
In other words, you’re not selling to an individual; you’re selling to an
account, consisting of many stakeholders with many opinions and busy schedules.
This creates an abundance of interactions that occur at different points over a long period of time.
The more cooks in the kitchen, the longer it tends to take for a decision to be made.
The fun for a B2B company doesn’t end there. Not only are you dealing with a lot of different stakeholders and team members, you’re also trying to tackle a lot of data sets in vastly different systems: your Facebook ads, your Google ads, your cold calls, your marketing emails, your blog posts…
The list goes on and on.
Stitching together all that data can be a pain in the you-know-what, and you still can’t be sure it’s giving you answers you can fully trust in the end.
B2C tools aren’t built for B2B challenges
Because the tools that contain and present your data (e.g.
and/or Facebook Attribution) are heavily focused on B2C attribution, giving you a skewed view of conversion and customer journeys.
It’s like trying to open a can with a dull knife. It’ll work, but it’ll be messy, take a long time, and won’t give you the result you’re looking for.
Let’s break it down even further.
Here are the three reasons why B2C tools don’t work for B2B scenarios:
from a customer’s first visit, to conversion, to revenue. Most CRM systems don’t hold onto cookies for long enough to be able to provide informative data.
If you’re a B2B company, you’re usually looking at customer journeys that span from 3-12 months. B2C data tends to be based on much smaller windows of time, making most B2C tools and data useless for B2B purposes.
2. Multiple stakeholders
B2B journeys usually involve
. It’s not as simple as one company selling to one individual.
And if you’re only tracking the person with the proverbial money bag, you’re only seeing a tiny part of a much larger story.
If you can’t accurately track what happened before, you can’t correctly scale activities up or down based on the part they played in the conversion. In other words, where did the demand originate?
3. Team effort
Your salesperson might be a rockstar, but they shouldn’t be given all the credit for when a conversion happens. There’s probably an entire team who put in time and effort to make that sale happen. Not to mention the fact that each team has ownership of different touchpoints and data within the journey.
Demand gen has their high-performing Google Ads, Marketing might have some killer blog posts and webinars, Product might offer a great tutorial for a trial, Customer Success slays the game with their onboarding tips and tricks.
Who knows, maybe it’s that one support agent who convinces a potential customer of the value of your product.
The point is, you don’t only want to know what touchpoints perform best. You also want to uncover and celebrate all the contributions of your team.
Going from generic to specific data and taking charge of your own data
Great, so it’s obvious you need to shift from a B2C toolset (and mindset) to a B2B one.
But where do you even start?
Yes, it can feel absolutely overwhelming. That’s why people tend to stick with their B2C tools to begin with.
It’s what they know. A lot of other companies seem to be doing the same. And your team likely spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make your B2C tools work for your B2B setup. It’s not perfect, but it will do.
Yes, it might do for now. But what happens when you have to confidently and accurately show where your revenue is coming from? When all your low-hanging fruit has been picked? All your fires have been doused? And your CMO asks you what activities to scale, and which ones to kill?
Step 1? Accept the following:
Ad platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or some stitched together B2C setup will never be able to provide you with the answers you need to prove how much revenue you were able to drive and which specific touchpoints impacted that revenue.
To build or to buy
That’s why you need to start storing, cleaning, and understanding your own data.
You can either decide to do this yourself (
) or have an attribution tool or platform help you (buy).
Either way, you’re going to want to start implementing
behavioral tracking on-sit
e. On top of that, you need to find and integrate all relevant data from your CRM, all your ads, and any commercial data that’s stored in Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success tools.
It’s a tall order, but you’re also trying to solve a complex problem.
What you’re trying to do is connect the dots between interactions and users. Imagine if you could somehow identify all anonymous users, and know exactly what interaction belonged to them? You could start honing in on what made them convert, what touchpoints need a little TLC, and which ones need to be axed.
No more guesswork, no more gut feelings. An actual roadmap to repeated success and revenue.
Who wouldn’t want that?!
As close to the truth as you can be
Attribution isn’t the answer to all your prayers, and it can only reveal so much of the iceberg under the water’s surface. Some parts of the customer journey simply can’t be mapped and digitally reflected.
That doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t go through a digital transformation. Quite the contrary!
It may not be perfect, but attribution will still be the closest you’re ever going to get to the truth when it comes to your B2B dataset. And once you store and clean your own data, the real fun begins: you get to dig in and find out what
actually drives your revenue.
No more generalizing the journey based on data filtered through a B2C tool.
The same user
actually clicked on that ad, actually read that blog post, actually had that phone call, and so on.
And once you have that in place, you can start to assign value to each touchpoint with your
attribution model of choice
, and measure where you need to dial things up or down to increase revenue.
So, no, attribution isn’t perfect.
But neither is sailing in the dark and running aground because you’re using a B2C compass for B2B waters.
B2B attribution can help you assign value and give credit where credit is due.
You attribute revenue to all your campaigns and channels, so you know which to retire, and which to invest a lot more time and effort into for repeated success.
And it can’t be stressed enough: B2B growth is different from B2C growth, and B2C tools are not equipped to handle the complexity of B2B buyer journeys.
B2B companies have to multiply all their challenges tenfold because of lengthy timelines (3-12 months!), multiple stakeholders, and an abundance of data that resembles a ball of hopelessly tangled yarn on the best of days.
With attribution, you reclaim ownership of that data, allowing you to make sense of your revenue creation.
And, in the end, you’ll end up basing your decisions on more than what you can see floating above the water’s surface.