A billion impressions, thousands of clicks, a 25 percent open rate, and hundreds of media placements don’t mean anything if they don’t serve business or sales objectives: membership signups, enterprise software installations, etc.
In other words, the only metrics that matter are sales.
Single-channel metrics do matter, but they need to be accurate, and they need to be part of a marketing plan that prioritizes sales, utilizing multiple channels in concert to achieve that overarching objective. The problem is that single-channel vendors, by the nature of the dynamic with their clients, are biased. They’re not deliberately misleading, but they will always favor their channel. Their aim, in addition to producing results, is to prove the utility of their channel to justify their retainer, which can have a negative overall impact on their client’s business. For example, if a display vendor is tasked solely with driving a certain number of impressions, they may pursue that goal at the expense of driving sales.
A channel-agnostic vendor, by contrast, is more effective at producing and capturing the metrics that matter because they don’t have a disproportionate stake in any one channel. It doesn’t matter to them if advertising, sales, email marketing, trade shows, analyst relations, or any permutation of those channels creates a recipe for success. Playing channel favorites doesn’t work with this business model, since there’s a vested interest in the overall success of a client’s business. As such, marketing will always be oriented toward driving sales.
Linking channel metrics to B-to-B sales is complicated but critical to marketing success.
The average consumer has a linear purchasing path, but a b-to-b company has a circuitous purchasing trajectory with several decision-makers at different levels having a hand in the eventual purchase, usually culminating in an RFP. That means b-to-b marketers must track many decision-makers across many channels at different stages of the purchasing decision in order to understand how different channels – or different combinations of those channels – influence that purchasing decision.
It’s a formidable undertaking because there are fewer purchases in the b-to-b space producing smaller data sets on which to model purchasing behaviors. That means that the marketing mix for a b-to-b company is extraordinarily specific and distinctive. It’s hard to get that right, which is why most default to the piecemeal, channel-specific approach. With meticulous tracking and targeting, however, and by linking channel metrics to decision-makers and, ultimately, sales, a b-to-b company will enjoy clarified market differentiation and sustained long-term growth.