The typical B2B buying cycle is anywhere from 3 to 12 months. It can be challenging to maintain appropriate touch points throughout a longer sales cycle in a way that will encourage a potential customer to convert, rather than slipping out of the funnel.
Utilizing analytics is a great way for companies to gain insight into customer and prospect behavior and make adjustments to their marketing strategy based on that insight. However, a long sales cycle requires analytics be used beyond simply connecting purchase to channel and adjusting the marketing mix accordingly.
A long term relationship isn’t that different than the relationship between B2B companies and their current and potential customers. A great partner understands how to listen and compromise based on feedback, and so do great marketers.
If you are wondering how to better use analytics in a long sales cycle, read on for 6 ways B2B marketing analytics is like a long term relationship.
#1 Listen to Your PartnerAnalytical data provides marketers with insight into current and potential customers habits across all stages of the buying cycle. If you haven’t already mapped your keywords do the following exercise:
- Run an export of all keyword queries (short and long tail), which have driven traffic to your site over the past 90 days.
- Map those keywords to stages in buying cycle.
Mining keywords from organic search and internal site search and mapping those keywords to the buying cycle is a great way to learn the pain points of customers and prospects.
#2 Give Them What They WantIf you want to maintain and grow a relationship, then give your partner what they want. So if customers are searching for ‘trouble shooting guide’, then create a troubleshooting guide and make it easy to find.
Mapping keywords to the buying cycle is only effective, if you then use the information from analytics to drive your content marketing strategy. Long tail queries are great material for blog posts, white papers and product guides.
#3 If It’s Working Keep Doing ItOnce you have identified what tactics are working, continue to monitor and refine. To further refine your strategy you can also:
- Use analytics to determine what content on your site is receiving the most clicks, downloads and page views.
- Confirm you have Google Analytics tracking code on all PDFs and add event tracking code to on page interactions like internal banners, video plays and social sharing buttons.
- Use this information lead your content strategy.
#4 Don’t Give the Last Gesture All the CreditCan you make a decision about marrying someone solely based on the proposal? Of course not! The wedding is 95% the culmination of all gestures leading up to the proposal, and maybe 5% based on how the proposal was executed.
Therefore, don’t attribute a website conversion just to the last click. Many analytics platforms track conversions back to only the source right before conversion. This may be problematic, especially in a long buying cycle.
In a 6 month time period, a prospect may initially gain awareness of your brand from a Facebook post shared by a friend, then check out your blog, download a white paper, receive an email, then finally search your brand name right before filling out a Demo Request form. In this scenario, conversion is attributed all to search, whereas Facebook was actually the prospect’s first click.
Focusing only on the last click can cause marketers to over or underestimate certain channels and allocated budgets. Some analytics platforms, such as Google Premium offer advanced attribution modeling which allows marketers to track the conversions more accurately through multiple touches, over longer periods of time.
#5 Small Things Make a Big DifferenceIn a relationship it’s the small, every day gestures that tend to mean the most.
For marketers, this means, don’t ignore the microconversions. Especially, when you are working with a long buying cycle, it is crucial for marketers to pay attention to all the microconversions which are happening on and off site. Like a white paper download, a Facebook comment, or a video view. All of these small conversions, leading up to the purchase or Demo Request, are meaningful interactions from your customers. Marketers should use analytics in order to monitor the channels driving those microconversions, as well as monitoring the microconversions to determine how they lead to the ultimate conversion.
#6 Sometimes You Have to Spend a Little MoneyIn the course of most long-term relationships, and possibly on Valentine’s Day, a little money is spent in order to let a person know you care.
For analytics, this means marketers may consider investing in a paid Analytics platform , such as Google Premium. This tool allows you to create customized attribution models taking into account time decay and position.
Measurement and analytics is a challenge that many B2B companies are faced with. Analytics is incredibly useful in terms of driving an effective content marketing strategy. However, it’s also potentially problematic when it comes to lead attribution.
Some of the best advice for utilizing analytics is to treat it like you are in it for the long haul. Use the data you have at your fingertips to improve your strategy, but realize that success can be attributed to the culmination of your efforts.
We want to hear from you! How have you been able to leverage analytics to manage a longer sales cycle? What techniques have worked, and which didn’t?
Image via Shutterstock.