One of the clearest advantages we, as marketers in 2016, have over the traditional marketers of decades before is the ability to track online behavior. Through digital ad tracking and website tracking, we have the opportunity to understand quite a bit about our prospects and customers before a word is even spoken.
Of course, it’s never quite as easy as we’d like to measure our prospect’s journey in the era of big data. The technology is there, we just need to do a lot of things right to make sure our data is clean and actionable. Especially in the world of B2B marketing, because the customer journey can be long and complicated, proper conversion tracking is essential.
We’ll discuss a few mistakes B2B marketers need to avoid to ensure that they get the most out of their conversion data.
Mistake #1: Confusing conversions with leads
When talking about conversions, it’s important to understand what we’re talking about. In B2B marketing, there are multiple conversions in a customer’s journey. At the very minimum, there are the conversions from anonymous visitor to lead, lead to opportunity, and opportunity to customer.
If you’re using Google Analytics to track web conversions, a conversion can be so many different things. A conversion can be a click anywhere on the page, it can be time spent on a page, but most likely, when talking about B2B web conversions, it’s form fills.
Form fills are great. Somebody gave your company their contact information!
But it’s important to not confuse form fill conversions with leads.
Anyone can fill out a form. Because I’m a content marketer, my mom could fill out a form so that she could read an ebook that I wrote. It’s nice that she cares about my work, but she isn’t a lead.
Additionally, existing leads can fill out a form. A slightly unqualified visitor can fill out a form. These aren’t leads.
On one of our most visited landing pages, when we ran the metrics on an A/B test, we found that our conversion volume was over 7x the qualified lead volume, which is what we actually care about.
When figuring out how many leads your marketing has generated, be sure to apply the necessary filters to make sure you’re not confusing the two as the same thing.
Mistake #2: Using sloppy UTM parameters
UTM parameters have become one of the most useful tools for marketers -- paid media marketers in particular. UTM parameters are a simple way for marketers to understand how someone got to their website. It passes along information from the specific ad to the web analytics platform that contains the medium (e.g. search), channel (e.g. AdWords), campaign, content, and term for the ad.
If someone converts on your website, you want to know where they came from. UTM parameters contain this information. To track your ads with granularity, you want a unique UTM parameter for every ad, which means you could have anywhere from tens to thousands of unique UTM parameters. You can imagine how difficult it is to keep thousands of unique UTM parameters straight.
To ensure that you are understanding where your conversions are coming from, it’s important to use a consistent naming convention so that your UTM parameters are organized.
At Bizible, our paid media manager keeps a spreadsheet with every UTM parameter for every ad, and uses a specific and consistent formula to create new parameters for new ads.
Mistake #3: Double-counting conversions
B2B marketers are using more marketing channels than ever. According to the 2015 State of Pipeline Marketing Report, the majority of B2B marketers use more than 10 different channels. When you have such a diverse range of marketing channels, it’s easy to make the mistake of double-counting conversions.
Double-counting conversions happens when you rely on the native analytics for each marketing source. This means using Facebook Insights to measure conversions for Facebook ads, Google Analytics to measure conversions for AdWords ads, etc. Because Facebook Insights doesn’t communicate with Google Analytics or Twitter Analytics or LinkedIn Analytics, etc., the following scenario can happen:
If a visitor clicks on a Facebook ad on one day, and then clicks on an AdWords ad the next day, and then converts, both Facebook and AdWords will claim the conversion. When you roll up your conversion data, you will have two conversions for one form fill.
The remedy for this problem is centralized attribution.
When all of your conversion tracking is done centrally, it can take into account the contributions of multiple sources and attribute the proper conversion percentage for each source. So when your visitor fills out the form, perhaps Facebook gets 0.5 conversions and AdWords gets 0.5 conversions. This totals one conversion, which is what actually happened.
Mistake #4: Using single-touch attribution
Similar to mistake #3, to get an accurate picture of how your marketing channels are contributing to conversions, it’s important to use multi-touch attribution.
Using single-touch attribution is a B2B conversion tracking mistake because it oversimplifies how the B2B customer journey works.
In the Facebook and AdWords scenario I described earlier, a first-touch attribution model would have given 100% of the conversion credit to Facebook and AdWords would not get any credit. Conversely, with a last-touch (lead creation) attribution model, AdWords would have received 100% of the conversion credit and Facebook would not get any credit. Either way, one marketing channel is being overvalued while the other is being undervalued.
A multi-touch attribution model, on the other hand, gives credit to both marketing channels. As the journey gets more complicated -- and it usually will be for B2B journeys -- the specific multi-touch attribution model marketers choose becomes more important.
Mistake #5: Not connecting your conversions to the CRM
Finally, the last mistake is not tracking your conversions to downstream outcomes in your CRM. Tracking conversions alone isn’t enough. To see how your marketing is truly making an impact on the business, you have to see how your conversions go on to become customers, and this data is in the CRM.
Through full-funnel marketing attribution, marketers can connect their website conversions to downstream conversion, like opportunity creation and even revenue generation.
With proper conversion tracking at the top of the funnel and CRM integration at the bottom, marketers can gain insight into how their efforts are contributing to revenue and prove their value.
First, don’t confuse form fill conversions with leads. Using smart filters that remove existing leads and unqualified contacts, marketers can determine which conversions are truly meaningful leads.
Then, to make sure that you’re crediting the right source, it’s important to be careful and diligent with your UTM parameters.
Next, to make sure that conversion credit is applied accurately, use a centralized, multi-touch attribution model to give each marketing channel that influenced the conversion its deserved percentage of the conversion credit.
And finally, through full-funnel marketing attribution, marketers can gain full transparency into the funnel, and see how the conversions that they’ve properly tracked are turning into revenue.