Unlike e-commerce sites that rely on hard and fast revenue numbers, B2B websites pose a challenge when trying to determine how to measure and track positive user behavior.
B2B sites tend to have longer sales cycles than their e-commerce counterparts and the final sale may require many touches or micro conversions over a long-time period before you get a prospect to request a quote.
An analytics measurement plan can help you identify and build in conversion tracking for these micro conversions in Google Analytics. This gives you a better understanding of the critical touch points in a long sales cycle and how your B2B digital marketing tactics work together to drive the final sale.
What is a Measurement Plan?
Measurement plans were first championed by Avinash Kaushik, to help companies determine if their online marketing efforts are successful. According to Kaushik,
“The root cause of failure in most digital marketing campaigns is not the lack of creativity in the banner ad or TV spot or the sexiness of the website. It is not even (often) the people involved. It is quite simply the lack of structured thinking about what the real purpose of the campaign is and a lack of an objective set of measures with which to identify success or failure.”
He created the concept of a measurement plan to get internal business stakeholders to agree on the basic goals and objectives of their business and then develop relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure whether online marketing activities are positively impacting these objectives.
The measurement planning process also forces organizations to set KPI targets and think about the different segments they need to look at to effectively measure marketing performance.
Segments can range from different marketing channels, user types, or geographic regions and need to be built into reporting to effectively measure performance.
Why Create a Measurement Plan for a B2B Business?
B2C sites that sell products online can implement the e-commerce functionality in Google Analytics and get virtually all of the information they need to determine which channels and products are driving revenue.
B2B sites have a much more difficult time tracking conversions. The final contact point is usually a lead form, which is easy enough to capture in Google Analytics. However, it is the micro conversions like white paper and product spec sheet downloads, video plays, tradeshow and newsletter signups that generally drive the final request for quote.
A measurement plan can help you identify all these critical touch points so you can build them into your analytics tracking.
How to Create Your Measurement Plan
Process is important, but the key to success is getting your boss/client/partner to participate in the creation of the measurement plan. Instead of creating a plan and sending it to the decision maker, explain the measurement planning process and show them real-time results with other domains.
After the first draft, we work together to come up with the final version. At the end of the day, this helps them connect with the project which leads to better buy in and a feeling of ownership of the analytics project.
Use the following steps for creating a measurement plan and be patient. It often takes several drafts and requires patient persistence.
Step One: Define
Define the business objectives of your company or online business. These are high-level aims like increase sales, generate leads, or build your brand. It makes sense to distill down why your business exists in order to hash these out.
For our examples below, we used
- Generate Sales Leads
- Education and Awareness
- Build Brand
Step Two: Strategize
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This is where you identify the business goals or strategies you will use to meet your business objectives.
If you want to increase revenue, then a corresponding objective would be to generate more sales leads. If you’re your business objective is to build your brand, then the best way to achieve this might be to increase the number of monthly visits.
Step Three: Tracking Capabilities
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This step is where the magic happens. It allows you to start thinking about how you will measure goals and objectives in analytics.
What is possible to track? What is the best way to measure success when you are establishing your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? For example, if you want to measure lead generation, then you need to capture when people submit lead forms or click, submit contact emails, or click on call links.
Step Four: Targets
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Once you have your KPIs in place, then you want to establish feasible targets. This is the equivalent of setting up organizational goals. It helps to use historical data points when establishing these so you make sure you are not over-reaching as an organization.
Step Five: Segmentation
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Determine the appropriate segments to analyze in order to understand success or failure.
Traffic channels are usually relevant when you are doing online marketing. In the B2B space, it is also useful to look at how these channels work together.
If you use channels like organic or PPC, then it will be necessary to examine the conversion rates of different landing pages. If you target specific countries, then geographic regions are the segments you need to focus on.
Consider Migrating to GTM To Implement Your Conversion Tracking
Once you have your analytics measurement plan finalized it is time to start implementing tracking, so you can record each conversion in Google Analytics.
Over the past year, we have encouraged many of our clients to migrate to Google Tag Manager (GTM), which makes it significantly easier to add custom click events. Click events track things like PDF downloads, video plays, and lead submission forms.
GTM makes it easy to set up conversion tags, which can be tracked as Goals in Google Analytics.
Once all of these micro conversions are being tracked in Google Analytics, it’s easy to create custom reports and dashboards that allow you to analyze how and when these conversions are happening.
Break Implementation into Manageable Chunks
Another benefit to having a solid measurement plan is that it allows you to break implementation into manageable chunks.
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm the development team or the person tasked with implementing all these micro conversions in Tag Manager and Google Analytics.
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It is better to roll out your conversion tracking in phases, with each new piece of functionality thoroughly tested to make sure it is tracking properly.
Having a well-structured measurement plan facilitates implementation into manageable chunks. It may take longer, but you will have better and more accurate tracking if you roll it out in manageable pieces using a phased approach.
Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor
After completing several successful Web analytics implementations for B2B sites, I am convinced that the key to success starts with your measurement plan.
Getting a solid plan in place before you start implementation makes everything else go smoothly and allows you to set and manage expectations.
The best part of a project is when you come to the end of your implementation and look back at your measurement plan.
Tracking is now in place and you can see goals firing in Google Analytics.