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Lead Attribution & the Customer Journey (Part 1)

2 May

Use the Data Available to You to See the Whole Picture

Lead Generation

CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Digital Marketing Director

Lead attribution and the customer journey. Yes, these are two of the most commonly used buzzwords in digital marketing right now. This is not a lazy blog post to latch onto what others are saying and to give you a fluffy, rosy version of how you should be considering both the customer journey and lead attribution to make your digital marketing drive results 10x over what you got last year. This blog is to make sure we’re all on the same page and using the data available to us to help make these topics attainable and realistic before we get too “pie in the sky” with our conceptual thinking.

But first, we must answer this question: what is lead attribution? Lead attribution is the practice of giving credit to the source who provided the lead. For example, if you are running a PPC campaign in Google AdWords and that person comes to a landing page on our site and completes the form, then they are a conversion—consequently, that lead gets attributed to PPC via AdWords.

This example sounds like typical and solid tracking; however, it could also be short-sighted when we’re talking about “last-click attribution.” By counting this lead as a lead specifically for AdWords PPC, we’re potentially not considering the other potential ways the user might have found us—and the other ways they interacted with our content before coming back. In this case, PPC is getting the credit.

The customer journey can be defined as the process a user takes to go from their initial step in researching, all the way to the point of conversion. If we’re using the Google AdWords PPC landing page form completion example noted above, then we’re also talking about how that same individual (yes, they’re a person, despite all of our “persona talk” about site visitors and users) ultimately decides to fill out a form, which is recorded as a conversion.

The challenge in all of this is that we don’t often work to connect the dots to attribute a lead to all the channels that had a role in the conversion— not just the one that received the last click. It can be tricky as it often isn’t linear or very trackable; however, that doesn’t let us off the hook. We have some data at our fingertips that helps us start the process of working toward building a system. If you have Google Analytics, then you have a tool that has two reports you should start looking at as your first step.

The first report in Google Analytics to get familiar with is the Multi-Channel Funnels Overview under the Conversions section. If you have conversion goals set up in your account, then you’ll have data in this report by default.

You can use the checkboxes to update the Venn diagram to mix and match, so you can understand how the different channels were involved in user journeys that ultimately led to a conversion. You can also see how many total assisted conversions there were.

The second report to take a look at is the Assisted Conversions report (also under the Conversions section in Google Analytics).

There’s a lot more you can do in this report. At a basic level, it shows a breakdown of assisted conversions, which are channels that were part of a user journey but didn’t get the last click or direct conversion at the end of the journey. If you have values set for your conversion goals or have eCommerce tracking on in Google Analytics then you also can see dollar values for each channel, which can be incredibly helpful in measuring the cost of your efforts against revenue generated. You can customize the data in this report by changing the number of days in the window prior to conversion as well as look at the value of first interaction versus last click.

Bonus: If you want to take another step and get into more advanced territory, take a look at the Attribution Model Comparison report in Google Analytics. There are some fun ways to compare models and see how the data and your perspective on conversions might change. We’ll get into this and go deeper with the next post in this series.

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IBS 2016: Innovation Starts at the End of the Channel

4 Feb

Why I’m Demanding a Disruption in Building Products Development

Trendsetters

It seems like every meeting I have been in over the last few months has the same common theme. When asking any building materials manufacturer what they want to be famous for, the one word I hear over and over is “innovation,” or being an “innovator,” or being “innovative.”

No matter the iteration of the word, they’re saying the same thing: they want to come to market with products that chart the path for the industry. The question is: what is anybody doing to really accomplish that? Just stating the word does not change the product development process or disrupt the industry with new and truly innovative products.

That’s why while I was at the 2016 International Builders’ Shower (IBS) and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), I was delighted to run across a company doing exactly that. Cosentino® is a building products company that develops stunning quartz and stone options for kitchen and bathroom surfaces. One of their products, Silestone®, is a beautiful high-end surface made of 94% quartz.

But what makes this product so innovative is not just the advanced bacteriostatic technology or its incredible resistance and durability, or even its numerous designs; it’s the way Cosentino develops those designs.

Through the support of their Silestone Trendspotters, a diverse group of top designers from across the country, Cosentino creates new looks every year inspired by some of the most cutting-edge and forthcoming designs in the market. How do they accomplish this? Cosentino goes straight to the other end of the channel to talk to the people using their product (and, presumably, their competitors’ products), and then gets their insights to develop a product that will set the course for tomorrow’s trends.

Let’s be clear: these designers aren’t just choosing colors. Manufacturers everywhere bring in a designer or two to pick out colors; that’s nothing new. The Trendspotters is a team of designers from all different places across the country, from different points in their careers (some veterans, some up-and-comers), from different styles and backgrounds, from different philosophies and clienteles.

Cosentino made a bold move in picking them, flying them to Italy, and turning them loose to work with engineers, product developers, and others on the manufacturing team to create a product they collectively thought reflected where design is headed. The magic of this is in how fearless Cosentino was in being open to the opportunity of what could be made when this diverse team of forward-thinkers got access to their resources, intelligence, and the inspiration of Italy.

Here are two of the new looks from the Etchings collections created this year by the Trendspotters:

  • Ink EtchInk: This jet black design is a classic, clean, and simple showstopper in most decor. By complementing the boldness of the Etchings design with a timeless shade, homeowners can feel confident their choice won’t go out of style any time soon.
  • AquaTint EtchAquatint: Look familiar? Our Art Director, Stephanie Voss, wrote a blog last year about how calming blue hues like Pantone’s Serenity will influence the building products industry in 2016. Proof pudding.

This approach to product development and design is brilliant precisely because it seems so obvious—but it’s not. Not everyone in building products is doing this. In fact, a lot of manufacturers either base their designs on focus group input or simply create designs based on studies published through standard trade outlets. Both options have their place, but are also inherently reactive—not always the best option for companies who seek to be innovative.

But who better to tell building products manufacturers at the top of the channel where design is going than some of the top designers in the country? By using these designers’ “on the ground” knowledge, Cosentino’s Silestone product is poised to set the tone for other designers and consumers in the coming years.

It takes time, energy, patience, investment, and courage to utilize an approach like this—an approach that empowers someone outside of your company to not only influence product design, but to create it. But that is true innovation. It’s listening, it’s using resources, it’s collaborating, and it’s understanding the channel on every level and using those insights to better your product and better the entire industry. Using focus groups and studies is also necessary for understanding today’s trends, but setting tomorrow’s requires further channel insights—exactly what Cosentino is doing with its Trendspotters.

I’m certain that this new line is going to be a hit, but I’m even more certain that the process will open the building products world to even more innovative creations.

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Palate Cleanser: Why Building Products Marketing Matters

24 Nov

Now More Than Ever, Marketing Still Matters to the Bottom Line

Bruce Case

Those of us who have been in the building products industry for many years know that when times get tough, marketing can be one of the first things to get cut. The simple, undeniable truth is that B2B marketing is often underrated, and sometimes under-appreciated—but still effective and important to sales strategy in 2016 and beyond.

I recently came across a video from the 2015 Remodeling Leadership Summit and Big50 Awards ceremony, in which Bruce Case, the President/CEO of Case Remodeling, discusses the importance of marketing to his business. It’s a simple little palate cleanser, but worth watching. Here are a few quotes I pulled if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing:

“The marketing plan is the lifeblood of the business…[yet] a lot of people are tempted to cut that expense. But then that begins the ‘death spiral’ because the calls stop. In today’s world of social and digital marketing, you can do it in creative and less expensive ways.”

  • On the importance of marketing.

“What we’re really trying to do is drive people to our website, use the website, get people educated, and then get them come to us.”

“We need to look to where we’re going to be in five years. With Houzz and Porch, things are going to be vastly different in five years. And it’s trying to figure out how we’re going to be in the wave, not in front of the wave so the wave crashes over. Look at other industries. Taxis were bowled over by Uber in a short time.”

  • On why the building industry needs to always look ahead and innovate. As marketers, we will get pushback on this, but he’s right—it’s not enough for us to address current challenges; we have to be that much smarter and look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges as well. Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

Those were just a few of my favorite quotes from the video, but check out the whole clip here. (Don’t worry—it’s only about two minutes.)

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Proving B2B ROI Is Hard, But You’re Still Responsible for It

19 Nov

Don’t Ditch Lead Generation—Do Lead Generation Better

Marketing Strategy

As B2B marketers, how do we quantify the results of our work? How do we prove the effectiveness? The ROI. That’s the constant challenge we face, especially when it comes to the building industry, where we have to be that much smarter. The numbers prove it: 32% of B2B marketers can’t even name the digital marketing tactic that generates the most revenue for their company. (Elton wrote an article about that here.)

Nonetheless, the challenge of quantifying B2B marketing results does not absolve B2B marketers of the responsibility to provide them. I came across an article earlier this week that argues too many people are placing lead generation as their #1 measure of effectiveness when it comes to their content marketing, but because sales teams often do not use marketing qualified leads effectively, that might not be the best option. Instead, according to the article, engagement should be the most important measure of success.

They’re talking about a lot of the same things Elton and I have been discussing on Navigate-the-Channel regarding the buyer journey and the tools prospects need as they self-educate their way through the sales funnel—basically, the idea that buyers need good content at various stops through the buyer journey. Their argument, therefore, is that engagement rather than lead gen is the most important metric.

I don’t know how much I agree. The article fails to mention how one measures “engagement” vs. “lead gen” (Do we just measure web traffic? Social?) and how you justify the effectiveness of those results as a marketer.

My take: if we’re saying we need a different measure of effectiveness because sales teams are no longer utilizing our MQLs from lead generation efforts, maybe the question needs to become not how else we can measure effectiveness, but rather, how we can better incorporate the sales team in the early stages by working with them to develop a follow-up plan for what happens after the lead is generated. I’ve blogged about the importance of that here.

As B2B marketers, we have a responsibility to provide results; vague metrics might work in the B2C world, but B2B can’t afford not to know specifically where the money is going and whether or not every dollar is being put to good use. The simple truth is that, in B2B, marketing is often the first expense that gets cut. Delivering to results that can be measured is the single best way to prevent that from happening.

But don’t let that influence you—read the article yourself and see what you think.

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There’s a Word for Doing Something Just to Please Yourself…And It’s Not “Customer-Centric”

6 Nov

Content Marketing Must Be Customer-Centric, Not Company-Centric

You know what I just love? Reading content by a business about their business. In my time as a marketer, I’ve learned that most of the world’s best writing comes when the writer completely disregards the audience’s needs. If I can read an entire history of a company in whitepaper form, I feel like I’ve won the lotto. And I think most people feel the same.

Did you detect any sarcasm there? Because you should.

Self Centered

Here’s why: company-centric content sucks. You would think that enough B2B marketers would have figured that out by now and I wouldn’t have to state the obvious, but here I go: the only good content is content that solves a problem—not sells a product. (Customer-centric means “Help, don’t sell.”)

And yet, a recent survey by B2B Marketing and the UK-based agency Tomorrow People, found that only 38% of marketers consider their content to be “customer-centric.” Let’s think about that for a second, because that means a full 62% of marketers admit that they basically created content to please themselves. (I think there’s a word for that…)

And considering the survey is based on self-reporting, the problem could be even more widespread than the numbers indicate.

How many of us are ignoring our customers’ problems to talk our companies up via content marketing? It’s hard to know exactly, but here’s one thing that isn’t: as B2B marketers, we must start focusing on the Buyer 360—that specific combination of understanding your audience via Buyer Personas and understanding their challenges via the Buyer Journey—if we hope to make an impact with our content marketing efforts and close more sales.

For full findings from the study, read the article at Business2Community.

 

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