Telling the Whole Story: Why You Should Track All 4 Steps of Your Buyer’s Journey

Telling the Whole Story: Why You Should Track All 4 Steps of Your Buyer’s Journey

To learn more about web tracking and the updated buyer’s journey, download our new ebook.

As B2B marketers, we can’t just look at the beginning or end of our customer journey in a vacuum—this doesn’t tell us the full story of that journey, or offer any real insights into how we can work to improve it.

When looking at the full lifecycle of a customer, there are four distinct and measurable steps to a digital buyer’s journey:

  1. The anonymous touch: The digital channel through which a lead finds you originally—before he becomes known to your organization (ie. AdWords, paid social, organic search, etc.).
  2. The first touch: Where your lead first becomes known to you by filling out a form for an offer such as an ebook download, webinar, and so on. This new lead has now entered your database.
  3. The middle touch(es): The identified touches between the first and last touch point, where a lead interacts with your content or other offers (ie. events, demo requests, etc.). There are often many middle touches.
  4. The last touch: The final place where a lead interacts with your brand before converting into an opportunity or closed deal.

Many marketers track just the first touch and last touch, because the anonymous touch and middle touches are more complicated to track. And some marketers don’t track any of these touches at all. However, the only way to truly measure marketing’s impact within a business is by tracking all four. Because you can’t understand the whole picture without looking at everything that led to the end result.

Problems with Tracking the Anonymous Touch


Before the advent of new tracking technology, the anonymous touch wasn’t measurable, so the journey began at the first touch—as soon as a lead made him or herself known on your website by filling out a form. But that often doesn’t track each and every activity that helped deliver pipeline and revenue. Where did a prospect discover your brand? What piece of content attracted him or her? These are questions that the first touch can’t always answer, but that an anonymous touch can. Think about it—as a buyer, how many Facebook ads, Google searches, blog posts, or web pages do you look at before you actually fill out a form on a company website? Most likely, you do a ton of initial research before you make yourself known. Because these touches are so difficult to track, the marketer is often blind to what is moving you through the funnel.

The story isn’t complete until every touch is captured. And, if you don’t have the whole story, you can’t prove—without a doubt—marketing’s impact on pipeline and revenue.

Download our latest ebook to learn more about how you can track the entire buyer’s journey, from anonymous to last touch.

Top Digital Trends for 2017: What We Learned at MarketingProfs’ Virtual Event

Top Digital Trends for 2017: What We Learned at MarketingProfs’ Virtual Event

Mike Corak’s session at MarketingProfs’ “Marketing Trends for 2017” virtual event centered around the big digital trends that he predicts will emerge or grow this year.

The team, here at BrightFunnel, enjoyed Mike’s session for many reasons—A) It helped our marketing team understand where we should direct our focus this year if we want to stay on-trend, and B) it confirmed something that we already knew: campaign optimization is the way of the future.

So, what does that mean for us marketers?

Before we dig in, here is a quick summary list of Corak’s top trends for digital marketing in 2017:

 

  1. Customer Experience is Still #1: Building stronger relationships by understanding and prioritizing users’ needs.
  2. Mobile Maturity: Investing in mobile-first experiences, mobile-friendly landing pages, and mobile-friendly media.
  3. Content Quality Over Quantity: Measuring content results and doing more of what’s performing well.
  4. What if Google isn’t #1?: Optimizing paid search and social strategies to ensure your content is being seen.
  5. Local Digital Marketing: Locally targeting media in all channels, and localizing emails and content.
  6. Staffing Scrappy: Hiring math majors, journalists, good communicators, empathizers, and people who pay attention to detail and work quickly.
  7. Future Planning: Experimenting and trying out new trends (such as customer digital assistants and immersive experiences) as they emerge.

While they’re all interesting predictions, a few of them really stood out to us: Corak’s focus on enhancing the customer experience, improving the quality of the content you produce, optimizing paid digital channels, and experimenting with emerging trends and technologies. All of these trends have this in common: if you can figure out how to better allocate your budget based on past results, you’ll see more success and earn more praise down the line.

Unfortunately, as B2B marketers in a data-driven culture, our activities are often questioned, our budgets often slashed, and our teams and technologies often insecure. Unlike other departments whose activities are easily quantified (such as sales, for instance), marketing’s activities are more difficult to track and measure in the context of the entire buyer’s journey. And if we can’t prove the ultimate ROI of the content, channels, and campaigns that we’re investing in, it leaves room at the executive decision table for doubt. Because of this, we have to optimize our efforts to enjoy the highest returns, and the best way to optimize is to measure what we’ve done before to see what has worked best—and then do more of that.

This is how we can apply this to the four trends we singled out above:

How do we enhance our customers’ experiences with our products and brands?

According to Corak, customer experience is the most important thing to think about as a marketer in the digital age. When thinking about how to optimize that experience, he suggests that you first capture your customer marketing data, then look at your analytics to see if you’re meeting their needs (and what you’re meeting their needs with), and, finally, apply what you learn to future efforts so that you can continuously improve upon your tactics.

 

How do we make sure that our content quality is improving, and that our audiences are engaging with the assets we publish?

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that content marketing is a huge priority for a lot of companies in 2017. In a Smart Insights survey, referenced by Corak during his presentation, 20.3% of marketers rated content marketing as their top digital marketing technique for 2017. But in order to break through the noise and develop better instead of just more content, Corak suggests auditing your existing assets and looking at how well they’ve performed. If you continue to measure your content’s performance, you’ll be able to ensure your quality is improving, and then do more of what has brought you the most success.

 

How do we make sure that we’re spending intelligently on digital ads and social campaigns?

Digital marketing efforts are some of the hardest to optimize because they are some of the hardest to measure in terms of revenue. But Corak says that it’s definitely worth the investment, as paid search and social channels are now just as important as SEO. To avoid overspending on channels that aren’t delivering pipeline and revenue for their businesses, marketers need to measure these organic and paid digital channels, and then make the appropriate allocation decisions based on what they see.

 

How do we make sure we see returns on the investments we make in flashy new technologies?

Emerging technologies can offer a chance for excellent ROI, but they can also run the risk of falling flat with prospects. Corak suggests that marketers save a little bit of their budget to try new things, and while we agree with him on this, we also suggest—as with all marketing tactics—that they continue to measure every single activity they invest in so that they can get the most bang for their budget buck.

Optimization and smarter spending are a crucial part of the digital marketing landscape in 2017. By investing in a solid plan to track, measure, and intelligently plan your efforts, you’ll be setting yourself up for a successful year across channels, content, customers, and beyond.

Introducing BrightFunnel’s Web Tracking: How to Measure the Updated Buyer’s Journey

Introducing BrightFunnel’s Web Tracking: How to Measure the Updated Buyer’s Journey

When it comes to measuring marketing activities, web tracking is the final frontier.

With web tracking—the ability to see how an anonymous lead came to a website before making herself known with a form-fill—marketers gain the ability to look at every touch throughout an entire customer journey, from click-through to close.

Why does this matter? If you don’t know where those leads are coming from, you can’t track the entire buyer’s journey. Which means that without web tracking, you’re flying one quarter blind.

How can you make better decisions about what to do next if you don’t know what happened first?

The Updated Buyer’s Journey

Up until new advances in web tracking, if you wanted to look back to see where a lead came from, you could only go as far back as the first form-fill. If someone clicked on a Google ad or a Twitter post to get to your webinar, but then changed her mind and didn’t come back to your site for weeks, you certainly wouldn’t know that your ad was effective. You would only find out who she was once she filled out the form to register, or download a white paper, or request a demo.

That original touch was unknown.

Now, the buyer’s journey is made up of four distinct stages:

  1. Original Touch: The digital channel through which a lead finds you originally
  2. First Touch: Where your lead first becomes known to you by filling out a form for an offer.
  3. Middle Touch(es): The identified touches between the first and last touch point, where a lead interacts with your content or other offers.
  4. Last Touch: The final place where a lead interacts with your brand before converting into an opportunity.

If you’re starting at the first touch, you’re not seeing everything. Same applies if you’re tracking just one of the four stages. You can only get an accurate view of the entire updated buyer’s journey if you’re tracking the original to the last touch, and everything in-between.

How It Used to Be

Before the original touch was measurable with web tracking, digital marketing efforts could be measured by click-through rates, but there was no way to tie those click-throughs to pipeline or revenue later on when a buyer converted. This was problematic for digital marketers because a) they couldn’t prove the end results of their work, and b) they couldn’t allocate budget based on ROI. They couldn’t connect all of the dots to see which digital channel were bringing in the most successes.

Pre-web tracking, marketers knew where their leads ended up, but couldn’t tell how they got there. And this left a giant gaping hole in the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

There just had to be a better way!

Turns out, there is.

The Way of the Future

With the advent of new web tracking technologies, it is now possible to track digital channels to see where leads are finding you initially.

By measuring these digital channels, such as search, social, and direct-to-site traffic, you can tie the whole buyer’s journey together and start making better decisions about where to allocate your digital spend. You’ll also be able to prove, without a doubt, how your digital marketing efforts are helping to source pipeline and revenue.

Web Tracking with BrightFunnel

By tracking via direct integration (like with AdWords, for example), UTM parameters, or referral URL mapping, BrightFunnel can help you figure out how your leads are originally finding you and which types of content are attracting them in those channels. Not only that, but you can also connect all of your leads back at the account level.

With all of this new information available at your fingertips, you’ll be well-equipped to report on your past successes and plan for more wins ahead.

Interested in learning more? Sign up for a demo today!

10 Resolutions for Data-Driven Marketers

10 Resolutions for Data-Driven Marketers

As 2016 (FINALLY) comes to an end, us marketers now look forward to the upcoming year with renewed hope, refreshed expectations, and revitalized goals. The slate is clean again—we can dust off the residue from quarters past, and use what we’ve learned to move ahead with more speed, precision, and know-how.

It’s hard to look forward without first looking back to figure out what to do differently this time around. And since resolutions just come with the New Year’s territory, we’ve outlined 10 good ones to help data-driven marketers get a head start and step up their game in 2017.

  1. Track and measure everything throughout a deal’s journey. The steps your leads take towards the dotted line will tell you how to plan for more success in the future.
  2. Develop an ABM strategy that works. Define and locate your target accounts, get to know their internal decision-makers’ biggest challenges, and then decide where and how to target them. From there, continue to track results and refine your strategy.
  3. Look at more than leads. Yes, generating leads is important—but so is generating pipeline and revenue. Start understanding where and how your team influences deals throughout the entire funnel.
  4. Instead of crying over spilled milk, learn from it. If a campaign failed last year, take a step back to figure out where you went wrong so that you can make more informed decisions—and see more success—as you move forward.
  5. Play hardball with budget by proving what you’ve delivered for the business. Definitively show marketing’s impact, ROI, and direct contributions to pipeline and revenue, and whoever holds the purse strings won’t be able to say no.
  6. Listen to your fans, your foes, and your customers. Their words will help determine your future strategies and focal points.
  7. Don’t underestimate your value to the business. Find out which metrics you can track to show how you contribute to the bigger picture, and then pull the right reports so that you earn the respect and praise you deserve.
  8. Measure everything. Once you’ve collected all the data in one place, use it to make more informed decisions around upcoming events, content, social media, ABM strategies, paid programs, and more.
  9. Celebrate every win as a team. Big or small, individual or collective, every success matters—track progress, gather results, and don’t forget to stop and appreciate the accomplishments.
  10. Have fun! Be creative, give yourself room to fail and grow, and don’t take it all so seriously.

Let’s raise a glass to 2017 being your biggest, brightest, and most successful year yet. Happy New Year!

The CMO’s Holiday Wishlist: 5 Suggestions for Stressed-Out Execs

The CMO’s Holiday Wishlist: 5 Suggestions for Stressed-Out Execs

It’s that time of year again—twinkling lights, roaring fireplaces, hot chocolate, and stressed out executives. What would the tail end of December be without your CMO pulling his hair out while he agonizes over EOY reports and planning? Between trying to hit projected Q4 numbers, gathering big-picture metrics for the C-suite, and efficiently allocating budget for next year, there’s not a lot of time left to enjoy the holiday cheer.

While the end of the year may feel like the end of the world to your CMO or Marketing VP, there are ways to simplify these activities and alleviate the season’s biggest pressures. Below, we’ve compiled a short-n-sweet holiday wishlist for any marketing exec looking to kick off the new year with a little less stress (and a little more hair):

1. Marketing’s ROI

If there’s a sole metric that emboldens marketers across the board, it’s ROI. It proves what the team has delivered for the business, gives everyone a clear view of what he or she has accomplished, and helps managers and execs make more well-informed decisions about what to plan next. If your CMO can easily derive marketing’s ROI, he can prepare for high level metrics meetings without breaking a sweat.

2. A team that pulls its own reports from one place

If Demand Gen Dave, Content Carrie, and Marketing Ops Marvin can quantitatively show the successes or missteps of their individual campaigns, the CMO or VP only has to worry about compiling and delivering higher level reports and analysis. And if all the team’s reports are easily accessible and located in the same place, putting it all together to present the bigger picture becomes a piece of cake.

3. Reliable projections made from reliable metrics

By making sure all across-the-team metrics are up-to-date, accurate, and robust, your CMO will have an easier time predicting what the business can expect from your team in the quarters ahead. When it comes to next quarter’s campaign results and upcoming budgeting priorities, reliable data means reliable projections—and that means a more satisfied CEO and Board of Directors, and a more confident marketing executive.

4. An excellent relationship with sales

It’s no secret that marketing and sales teams can have contentious relationships. It takes frequent meetings and the right metrics to instill a sense of trust and camaraderie between the two teams—and that’s not always the simplest feat. But if your CMO can definitively demonstrate the role that marketing plays in the sales process—and vice versa—then everyone has a reason to come together and celebrate mutual wins.

5. A rock-solid ABM plan

While most of today’s B2B marketers are busy developing and deploying account-based marketing strategies for their businesses, a lot of them struggle to come up with truly effective plans. CMOs who can pinpoint, measure, and analyze their biggest campaign successes are better equipped to develop strategies that perform well. By digging into the tactics that have worked best in the past, marketing execs can set themselves up for less uncertainty and stress in the future.

By crossing these items off their wishlists, marketing executives can ensure peace of mind this holiday season—and a much happier new year.

Learn more about how you can simplify reporting now and throughout the year by watching Effective Metrics from CMO to Specialist or downloading The B2B Marketer’s Guide to Tactical Reporting.