Digital marketing: How B2B marketers can use it to improve their performance against goals

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This post is the second in a series about how B2B marketers can use digital marketing to help them make the most of their resources online and off.  The series summarizes insights from an interview with Dave Wieneke, a Director of Digital Marketing who blogs at UsefulArts.us

The first post described how B2B marketers can set up digital signals to help them monitor marketing performance.  This post describes how B2B marketers can use digital marketing to determine what they need to do to improve marketing performance.

Start with market segmentation

Every market includes a number of constituencies-each with its own goals, priorities, and ways of pursuing their goals.  When you look at the entire market, it's hard to discern patterns.  The behavior of the various groups can cancel each other out and create a muddy picture.

Therefore, Dave recommends focusing on one segment at a time.  For example, you may want to focus on the prospects that helped you achieve your goals and try to figure out what distinguishes them from everyone else.

Identify the funnel by working backwards from the goal

One way to find out what distinguishes the members of the market segment that contacted the firm is by taking a look at the behavior that lead up to achievement of the goal.  To do this, B2B marketers examine the cookies that visitors set on Google.  These cookies collect information about the paths visitors take to reach websites and the frequency with which they visit.

Dave has helped B2B and B2C marketing teams start with the prospects that help them achieve their goals, and the work backwards to find where qualified prospects come from and what they do before becoming leads.

At Sokolove Law, to find the behaviors that lead up to the display of the "thank you" note, Dave's digital marketing team searched for other behaviors these prospects had in common.  In so doing, they determined that the behavior that was most likely to lead to filling out the form, was a visit to a page that shows how Sokolove Law helps clients recover financially from injuries.  Knowing which pages are important to getting leads then helped the firm improve its websites.

Other ways to determine if what you're doing is working

In this example, the behavior that had the greatest likelihood of helping the marketing team achieve its goal, was visitors' engagement with a particular piece of content.  In other cases, it could be any one of a number of behaviors.  Examples include the total number of pages qualified prospects viewed before achieving your goal, the time they spent on the site, and the path that brought them to the site.

There are many ways that web analytics can help marketers determine what's working.  Examples include comparing the traffic from social sources to the traffic from search, looking at the amount of time spent on one page versus another (does it make sense given the content of each?), or determining whether visitors who see a particular combination of campaigns are more likely to help the marketing department reach a goal than those who view only one.

Digital marketing can help marketers improve the efficiency and efficacy of their marketing campaigns

Once you learn what works, you can explore ways to increase the efficiency and efficacy of your marketing initiatives.  To improve efficacy, you'll want to explore ways to achieve your goals more often.

For example, you might try increasing your investment in the search terms that, you determined, were most likely to send the prospects that helped you achieve your goals to your site.  Or, you might try placing the marketing that you determined sent the prospects who achieved your goals to particular landing pages, to see if that increases your success rate.

Or, you might want to try to improve the efficiency of your campaigns by exploring ways that you can improve the return you're getting on your investments.  For example, you may want to see whether reducing the frequency of your direct mail campaigns affects performance-or if switching from direct mail to email makes hurts your performance against your goal.

The digital marketing paradox

In speaking with Dave, I came to realize that while digital marketing may complicate the lives of B2B marketers at small firms in the short run, it has the potential to free up resources in the long run.  Once they have data that demonstrates which marketing investments yield the greatest returns, B2B marketers may be able to justify eliminating some of the programs they're running today.

This post, and the first in the series address my original questions about where to focus and where to start.  In the next post, we'll look at Dave's four step methodology and attempt to address the questions about what investments small marketing departments that want to pursue digital marketing need to make immediately , how long it will take to get up to speed, and what it will take to remain competitive in the long run.

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