Every stage of the B2B buyer’s lifecycle is unique – not only to them but also to the type of business you’re engaged in. Your prospects and customers have their particular goals for what they’re trying to get during each step in the journey, and as a marketer, you’ve got your own idea of the best possible outcomes. That’s why identifying and tracking the metrics that matter most, throughout every stage of the customer lifecycle, is so important to your success.
In Rethinking the Role of Marketing, the recent report from Gleanster and Act-On, the results of the survey of B2B marketers highlighted a huge difference in the way top performing organizations meet the needs of their customers. The report found that the most successful marketing teams are taking full control of the customer lifecycle throughout every phase of the relationship, from initial awareness and acquisition to retention and expansion. Marketers at average firms, on the other hand, tended to focus on acquiring new leads and converting them into customers.
Read the full report from Gleanster and Act-On to learn more about what separates leading organizations from the rest, and find out how top companies are taking control of the full customer lifecycle with new metrics, technology, and a refined focus.
Clearly, the job of B2B marketers today is to not only understand every step in the buyer’s journey but also to gain visibility into how marketing, sales, and service teams are helping to move the prospect along, stage by stage, to purchase and beyond. In order to be successful at tracking and managing this journey, you need to find the right metrics for your business. With this reporting in place, you can identify the key drivers that move the process toward a sale – and a profitable lifetime relationship. You can focus your resources on what’s working and adjust or eliminate what’s not. And you can continually refine your approach to improve results over time.
In this series of blog posts, we’ll take a look at the five stages of the customer lifecycle in depth: attract, capture, nurture, convert, and expand, and determine the metrics you need to measure in each one.
Measuring Your Magnetism
In part one of this series, we’ll focus on the analytics of attraction, because that’s where the relationship begins. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Whether you’re making a new friend or trying to find new B2B customers, the attraction stage is key to success. It’s one of the reasons speed dating is so popular. Sometimes, the first minute you meet someone can tell you everything you need to know. And so it is with B2B marketers as they try to win the awareness of their prospects. That first moment, when you get them to take a look, is often the deciding factor as to whether or not you’ll be able to hook them, then reel them in.
Of course, there are many ways a new potential customer could find you – or that you can use to find them, wherever they may be. It’s important to understand the most likely channels so you can deliver the right content in each one at the perfect time. You need to have a good idea of what your customer is like, which type and size of company they work for, the kinds of problems they need to solve, why they might buy from you, and where they’ll search to get information. With this level of insight, you’ll be able to create a strong content creation and marketing plan.
How many people visit your site? How engaging is your content? How popular is your brand? These are the important questions you’ll need to answer when examining this stage of the customer lifecycle.
Now let’s take a look at the metrics you can measure during the attraction phase. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t (and probably couldn’t) measure every single one. Choose a primary metric to focus on and a couple of secondary metrics to track. Otherwise, you’ll be overloaded with information. And remember, you don’t want to just report and analyze trends, you’ll want to make sure the analysis is actionable.
- People visiting your website: Track the number of individuals visiting your website during the month. Take note of any trends in the demographics of your visitors, such as the sudden rise in traffic from a certain geographic location, for example.
- Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who enter your site and exit it on the same page – “bounce” – without visiting any other pages. This metric can be ambiguous, however. A high bounce rate could mean people found what they wanted quickly and left. Or it might mean they were looking for something else. User experience testing and surveys can supplement this information.
- Social media followers: For this metric, select a group of social media sites you are actively participating in and sum up the number of followers. Stick to the same sites as you track over time. Track how engaged these followers are with your brand.
- Social shares: Understand the number of shares in a given tracking period for each social media site you track.
- Content on your site: Look at how people engage with your blog posts, web pages, white papers, webinar descriptions and registration forms, data sheets, and so on. Track the number of downloads, views, and leads generated by each one.
- Media visibility: Understand the number of press releases that your PR department creates and distributes, as well as the number of stories picked up by blogs and media outlets.
- Number of events, webinars, and meetings: Note how many events your company has an active presence in during the time period; these could be virtual or real-world. Track how many leads you get from them.
- Google ranking: This is the most visible result of all your online activities. Pick a keyword or phrase that is most relevant to your business. Type that phrase into Google and see where your site ranks. If your SEO and content efforts are consistent and more successful than your competitor’s, your company’s position will probably rise over time.
- Search volume for brand: Use Google Trends to check the trend in searches for your brand, performed by people directly in the search engine. This can give you a general idea of your online brand awareness. Note that the values shown in Google Trends are dynamic; therefore, the individual values for a given month will keep changing, requiring historical updates.
When it comes to attracting attention and creating awareness, the key is to measure every activity that’s intended to increase your visibility and share of audience. What metrics do you track to measure the success of your awareness campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Be sure to download the eBook, The New Marketing Metrics for B2B, to get the customer lifecycle metrics for every stage of the journey, as well as a five-step plan to help you analyze your business process and continually improve the results of your marketing.