Tools and strategy: Keys to B2B marketing analytics

B2B marketing analytics in the era of big data has taken on a more prominent role in today's business world. For B2B companies, there's a persistent need to understand what strategies work best when taking a look at existing campaigns and planning for new ones. Accordingly, the resultant data from historical campaigns and those currently running must be taken into account to develop more accurate key performance indicators and achievable objectives. 

But do those involved in B2B marketing put a high priority on analytics? What are the demands for measuring data in this context?

What do B2B marketers feel about analytics?
In general, those who have adopted the software and technology needed to carry out marketing analytics have found the investment worthwhile. In face, 97 percent of B2B marketers said that analytics have made their companies more successful than they were prior to using the software (1). Another 87 percent indicated they expected to invest more into the practice and technology in 2015.

If companies are capable of aggregating and analyzing large amounts of data, does that mean they want to collect more information? Probably not. In reality, B2B marketers are more interested in collecting specific kinds of data that's valuable to them in developing more effective campaigns. There's little need for accumulating data just for the sake of the practice or with the hope that there may be an extraneous correlation that isn't immediately visible. In other words, analytics must have a purpose.

Most B2B marketers want more of the data that's applicable to their business and campaigns, but they also need to be able to handle it. For instance, 86 percent of marketers have invested in analytics to see how buyers interact with their content marketing collateral. From this point, they're in a better position to determine which kind of content is more effective at specific points of the sales funnel.

What are the biggest challenges?
The fact that many B2B organizations have been able to boost performance doesn't mean it's been easy. There are still significant obstacles that businesses have to overcome to ensure they're getting the greatest benefit from all of that number-crunching. For instance, 54 percent of marketers indicated they haven't been able to successfully integrate various systems to gain insight into their campaigns (2). In many organizations, there are multiple platforms for business intelligence, customer relationship management and website analytics that remain separate from one another, and this practice creates data silos.

Why is this problem? Essentially, this leads to the next big issue: More than 4 in 10 marketers day they have concerns about data quality. When information isn't shared, the data can't be used to verify certain conclusions. For example, insights from Google analytics may tell a marketer how much time buyers spend on a specific landing page and conversion rates, but it's difficult to definitively say whether the design and call to action is effective unless this data is verified by buyers' direct feedback during discussions with sales representatives. As telling as quantitative data may be, there's also a need for qualitative information to back up any assertions.

What solutions lie ahead?
Because of the need for greater integration among all sources of data, one of the big potential ways to solve marketing analytics challenges is through data management. This includes taking a look at the type of data being collected, determining whether it's useful and trying to fill in any missing links in the data and objectives (3).

A central aspect of this solution is looking at the analytics tools a company uses to collect and analyze information. For instance, nearly two-thirds of marketers still depend on spreadsheets as their primary marketing analytics tool (2). The second most popular technology was a dashboard, which is a step up because it's likely more accessible to multiple employees from different departments. This helps explain why most B2B marketers look primary at some of the more broad metrics when analyzing site performance, including the number of visits, views and how long a user views a page. Surprisingly, only a little more than half of marketers track conversions. Again, this may be due to the depth of analytics tools available.

However, as B2B organizations push forward with their marketing strategies and analytics capabilities, there's likely going to be a need for even more granular measurements. For instance, there are situational variables that influence buyers as they research and interact with different companies (4). Understanding what these variables are will ultimately depend on a business having the capabilities of drilling down in their marketing campaigns to look at what strategies and components of each strategy have the largest impact on customer behavior.

As mentioned before, recognizing which variables have the greatest influence over buyers' decisions during different points in the sales cycle will require both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Accordingly, B2B marketers will have to move beyond merely the number of visitors to their site and take a deeper dive into their data.

1. "Do Analytics Matter for B2B Marketers?"
2. "Making Sense of B2B Marketing Analytics"
3. "Key success factors for implementing marketing analytics in 2015"
4. "4 B2B Marketing Trends To Plan For In 2015"

Sheila Kloefkorn (1031 Posts)

With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world’s largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.