I started making a Halloween costume for my daughter in August. Back then, she told me she wanted to be Cinderella. So I immediately went online to find a tutorial on how to sew a Cinderella dress.
I made custom measurements, picked out supplies at the fabric store, and then cut and sewed the costume. It was a very challenging project but I was happy with the outcome. This costume would grow with my daughter and never fall apart due to how it was constructed. When it was finally ready to try on a month later she immediately took it off and declared that she wanted to be a lionfish-mermaid instead. Despite my toil, my investment in time and money, despite my care to give my daughter exactly what she wanted, what she needed, she was not happy.
Much like B2B marketers must react in real-time these days, three year olds live in the moment. Cinderella was what she wanted in August, but by the time she got it in September her interests had shifted. She is growing at a very fast rate – not just in size, but in her understanding of the world we live in.
Would I be better off taking another month to craft her mermaid costume or should I offer her something off the shelf, something discounted, something that might fall apart before we even get to Halloween but will be what she needs in the moment? Something I can easily swap out if later in October she changes her mind again? If I want my customer to be happy — yes, that is exactly what I should offer if she were my customer.
B2B Marketers know what they want when it comes to Analytics
Their Cinderella costume is a closed loop from their marketing activity through to sales and retention efforts. But building those types of systems is often time consuming and expensive. The utility and actionability of the data that comes out of them requires constant tweaking. The data quality assurance needs constant vigilance. And it doesn’t help marketers, on the days after a big marketing launch, to know if they’ve made a splash – particularly when budgets are limited. You truly need a fairy godmother to pull these integrated analytics projects off in a scalable and usable way.
If closed loop analytics is a haute couture Cinderella costume, then the many opportunities to be data driven without requiring a large investment, particularly in social media, are a prêt-à-porter mermaid costume.
In Social Media, Understand Who you are Speaking At, To and With
We segment social conversations in terms of:
- “speaking at” – a post that goes out to all followers
- “speaking to” – a re-posting of something that someone else posted
- “speaking with” – a post that references someone active in the social media channel – perhaps commenting on something they posted or asking them a question
Klout has gotten a lot of flack for it’s black box approach to measuring influence, but I still like the tool and tools like it, as a first step in deciding who to talk at, to and with in social media. After determining the criteria such as “references widgets in their conversations” or “mentions company X in their personal description” tools like Klout will return a list of people who can then be manually qualified in terms of what they do in real life:
- Where they work
- Their connection to your industry
- Their likelihood to be a customer now or in the future
- Their likelihood to be connected to a customer now or in the future
You can start to follow people in social media who have a real life connection to your industry and products. Monitor their conversations to learn what your customers care about. And use this information to form a content strategy that doesn’t just broadcast, but also listens to actual people who you can build business relationships with.
Here are a couple other ways I’ve seen analytics swimmingly incorporated into B2B marketing programs without needing a fairy godmother:
1) Understand your Customers’ Success
There are many stories of review sites and social buying sites having a big impact on small businesses in particular. Those small businesses may be your customers as many small businesses don’t know where to get started in social media. If you are a B2B with a strong marketing arm you are likely in a position to teach your customers how to use and measure the impact of social media on their business.
Teach them to regularly record their social media follower counts and to survey their customers on if they used social media to find them. These simple metrics can quickly help your customers grasp the impact of social media on their business. It can also help you build good will with more people who work for your customer (the ones who work with you otherwise may not be the ones who handle marketing) and be a catalyst for a relevant network of companies and customers that you can engage with in social media (this was the outcome from a webinar project we did for a client to train 3,000 of their customers on how to use and measure social media).
2) Understand Seasonality
Use social listening tools, like Sysomos, and website organic traffic going back a couple of years to establish a seasonal baseline for when your audience is seeking out information about your product or service. Look at seasonality in terms of volume (traffic and conversations) as well as engagement metrics (interaction rates). Then invest your effort and money to speak at, to and with your audience in social media when the problem your product or service solves is top of mind.
The August CMO report showed that B2B product companies have a smaller percent of their budget in marketing than B2C product companies but spend more of their marketing budget on marketing analytics. However, the same report showed that spending more on marketing analytics didn’t translate into being more data driven and the number of marketing projects using marketing analytics has decreased over the last two years. Analytics projects are plagued by many issues including infrastructure and data quality that can be insurmountable despite the size of your marketing analytics budgets.
Building out the closed loop analytics systems is critical for businesses to compete, but due to the level of effort and cost, methods like I shared above must be embraced to create a culture of analytics within any organization. B2B marketers need insights in real-time to be effective.