4 Tips Aimed at Defending Digital Marketing’s Value

For B2B marketing, it isn’t always as easy to quantify success as we would like, even with the near-infinite measurability of digital marketing. Here are ideas for defending your digital marketing’s value.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker’s famous quip may be less true today than it was when he said it — we have so many ways to track and assess advertising and marketing performance. And yet, those same tools — largely digital tools — have also created unrealistic expectations for many marketers. This especially true for B2B marketers for whom sales aren’t consummated after a website click.

So we’re left in a state where the data available to us (and boy, there’s a lot of data!) doesn’t tell the whole story. This can often put marketers at a disadvantage when talking to the C-suite crowd.

Their interest is in profit and loss. Clicks, likes, and follows aren’t a currency they care about.

The question is, what can you do as a marketer to demonstrate the value your team’s work delivers?

Tie Digital Marketing to Business Outcomes

Begin by admitting that you can’t rely on process metrics alone – the clicks, likes, and follows I mentioned above. You must tie your work to business metrics. Ideally, that’s profit, but you can also demonstrate a positive return if your work impacts other key performance indicators, like revenue, cost savings, lead quality, or lead volume.

Admit to Marketing’s Uncertainties

Get your peers and upper management to buy into the fact that nearly all B2B marketing includes some amount of uncertainty. As noted earlier, our sales are more complex and there’s rarely a “Buy” button for prospects to click after consuming a piece of your content or connecting with you via social media.

Make Metrics Work for You

For many of us, this is the holy grail. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy.

You may have to work backward by, for example, diving into your CRM data to examine the profiles of converted prospects.

  • How much content have they consumed?
  • Where have they interacted with you on social media?
  • Are they email subscribers?
  • Have they attended industry events at which your executives have presented?

This won’t necessarily paint a causal effect, but can help you make the case that your marketing work is making a difference.

Seek Ongoing Incremental Improvement

Though this again will require metrics data that can be hard to establish with confidence, it’s worth tracking your progress any way you can. For example, is the percentage of converted leads who began their relationship with your firm via the website increasing or decreasing, compared to other methods? If you don’t know, can you create the tools you need to gather this information?

Ideally, we’d all spend 100% of our resources on reaching and converting our ideal prospects. But don’t shy away from investing in the systems that will let you do so more consistently, and with more accountability.

How to Employ Segmentation to Improve Your Content Marketing

Evaluating your content marketing specifically for each audience segment will yield insights that a program-wide analysis won’t capture. Audience segmentation isn’t just good for reaching the right people with the right message. Done well, it can help you learn more about your audience.

Audience segmentation isn’t just good for reaching the right people with the right message. Done well, it can help you learn more about your audience. And learn more about how better to meet their needs.Your content marketing should be a part of that process.

  • First, if you are’t creating content specifically for different audience segments, please start doing so now.
  • Second, if you aren’t creating your audience segments based on their attributes and behavior, that’s another change you should make immediately. (“People who buy Product A from us” is not an effective audience segment.)

Assuming you do have useful audience segmentation in place, here’s how you can use it to learn more about your audience.

All Content Is Not Created Equal

Begin by evaluating your content marketing efforts on their own. Identify the 20% of your content that performs best and the 20% that performs worst. (We’ll come back to those bottom-of-the-barrel content elements in a bit.)

Your evaluation can be based on key performance metrics, running the gamut from page views to revenue generated. But you should include a range of process metrics and outcomes metrics.

We define process metrics as those data points, like page views, time on page, CTRs, etc., that can provide valuable insight into your audience’s interests, but don’t measure actual business performance. Outcomes metrics are those that relate to revenue generation, lead quality, lead volume, and so on.

You may be tempted to lean more heavily on outcomes metrics, if you have them. They are clearly more important in the long run. Page likes don’t pay the bills, after all. But our goal is to evaluate the health and effectiveness of our entire content marketing program. So, understanding how well we’re doing with early-stage prospects is important. The data points from early funnel activity are almost always going to be process oriented — content consumption, measures of engagement, micro-conversion numbers.

Cross-Referencing Your Results

With your raw performance information in-hand, look at these numbers again — broken down by audience segment. Here’s where you’ll see real value. If you can identify what content is resonating best with each audience segment, you can tailor programs to those audience segments, based on what they’re most interested in.

Rather than simply trying to double down on your best-performing content, you can provide content that performs best for each audience segment.

What About Your Underperforming Content?

You may also find that, rather than eliminating your less effective content, you can tailor it to a specific audience segment and have it perform much more effectively. This will likely require a deeper dive into whether any of the laggards are weak overall, despite being strong in one particular area.

Some of this work may require updates to your coding or your analytics reporting. Discuss what that investment is going to be with your tech team. Chances are, costs will be recouped quickly.

Once you get the hang of this approach, you’ll see benefits beyond your immediate results. This kind of deeper dive into your analytics data can help you evaluate information from disparate parts of your marketing efforts and yield insights that can impact your broader marketing effectiveness.