Get Realistic about B2B Social Attribution

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Most B2B sales cycles are very long; I’ve even worked with some B2B companies where the average sales cycle was 9+ months. When a potential customer is looking to invest in a million dollar piece of equipment or $100,000 enterprise software system it’s usually not a decision they take likely. The odds of a B2B lead coming to your site for the first time and converting right away are slim to none (I’d wager none). A potential customer is going to want to research their options, talk with your sales team, and maybe test out the product. They’ll probably also have to run your product by someone else. Even the final decision makers need someone to sign off on the budget, right? That’s why you can’t look at your B2B social attribution metrics in a silo.

Measuring B2B social attribution means looking at all your social channels and online touch points and seeing which ones convert the best, how many leads are generated and what percentage of those leads turn into final sales. The problem that many B2B companies run into is that they are looking for a one-to-one attribution rate. One email should equal X leads. One blog post should drive X visitors. One white paper should get X downloads and so forth. Unfortunately for B2B marketers, B2B social attribution doesn’t really work like that. One touch point isn’t usually enough to close the deal.

A main goal of your online marketing efforts should be to create as many touch points as possible with your target audience, especially when you are targeting a B2B audience. For instance, let’s say someone was searching for “full service SEO” and saw the Brick Marketing organic listing in the SERPs. Maybe they click on that result, maybe they don’t. Assuming they do and come to the company site, do I really expect that visitor to pick up the phone and hire my company right then and there? Not really. But let’s say they dig through the site a bit and ultimately find their way to this blog. After reading a few posts maybe they decide to sign up for the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter and follow the company on Twitter. Every time they get a new newsletter that creates another touch point for them to interact with my company. Every Tweet they see has the potential to drive them back to the blog and over to the site—all of those efforts slowly add up overtime until eventually they fill out the lead form. It wasn’t a solitary Tweet that drove them to convert; it was a culmination of efforts over time.

That’s the tricky part with B2B social attribution. So many companies are looking to see an immediate return from their social and content marketing efforts that they forget that it takes time and consistency to connect with B2B buyers. For instance, I used to work with a B2B company that sold industrial equipment and they didn’t want to bother with social media because, as the owner put it, their customers just aren’t interested in following an industrial equipment company. And while that may be true, that doesn’t mean you can’t craft your social media message to get people interested. B2B marketers often feel like they aren’t as interesting as their B2C counterparts, so why would anyone want to pay attention to them. But since you are in business there has to be at least a few people who care, right?

Convincing someone to buy a $250,000 piece of industrial equipment isn’t like convincing a hungry diner to check out your pizza joint. And even then, how many reviews do you read before you pick a pizza place to order dinner from? B2C social attribution isn’t all that simple either! But remember, B2B social attribution is not a one-to-one thing and requires long term investment and multiple touch points that add up over time, pushing your target audience a little farther down the buying cycle each time.

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