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I recently had the pleasure of speaking at SMX West. I focused on my journey from paid media manager to VP of Marketing and how focusing on the outcome of my work along with optimizing for experiences helped my trajectory. I hope you enjoy this blog version of the presentation!

Search engine marketing (SEM) was the original demand generation channel. It was the first digital media channel that made sense for B2B because of its scale and somewhat-OK targeting capabilities (for B2B at least).

However, it’s always been a B2C channel first. Lately there’s been an explosion—or resurgence depending on how you look at it—of B2B-specific channels like ABM, direct mail, and outbound sales development.

That’s left a few paid media managers feeling a little forgotten. I have a secret for you. It’s easy to fix and it starts with goals. Call me controversial, but I think B2B SEM is not about lead generation. It’s about growing your company.

The best metric for B2B SEM is revenue and ROI. Pure and simple. It’s the way everyone else thinks about performance—from sales to success, to finance, and especially to the CEO. You’ll need B2B attribution software to help you, but once you adopt this mindset, it becomes relevant again. You start to think about the entire funnel from awareness to close.

We ran an analysis on our own marketing and found that the average deal had 167 marketing touchpoints. That’s right, 167 touchpoints. If you are measuring and optimizing for leads only, you are only thinking about one very specific touchpoint. In our case we’d be ignoring more than 99% of the other touchpoints in the customer journey. These 166 other touchpoints are unique opportunities to serve campaigns and offers to prospects and drive more value from SEM.

SEM and paid social drive 19 percent of our leads. But they drive 30 percent of our revenue.  By just changing the way we think about this channel we’re driving 55 percent more value for the organization.

how to measure the impact of SEM

How did we do it?

One major shift we made—in addition to considering the entire funnel—was realizing that content is content! Because we use our own attribution product, we promote ungated content and are able to track performance to revenue. No longer do we need to force a form in very situation in order to justify the channel’s existence.

form based content vs omni format content b2b marketing

Most companies think about content as what can be put behind a form, e.g. PDFs and webinars, and we call this “form-based content.” We take an omni-format content approach which of course includes form-based content. Taking this view helps us create the right experience for the potential customer and unlocks new/more ways to impact the business.

However, some content lends itself to a section of the funnel better than others. For example, case studies are better conversion content to close a deal than to generate awareness. Generally, here’s where content lands in our funnel:

omni format conten for b2b marketing

To recap, shift towards viewing the full-funnel impact of your efforts. You’ll drive more value than you are today and unlock some really interesting campaign opportunities to help you get a bigger seat at the revenue table. Good luck!