So we all know that analyzing data can help grow your business; the caveat is that it only works if you know what you need to measure. I think it’s important to set your goals first and tie trackable metrics to each step, rather than gathering all the data you possibly can and then trying to decide what to do with it. It sounds so simple but so many people rush to track everything and then get overwhelmed with the data, unable to make any decisions based upon what they’ve found.

Our goal is to increase sales to startups, specifically by increasing the number of purchase campaigns and giveaway campaigns completed each week. So we’ve been tracking data that will help us monitor those specific actions. However I’m finding that data in the B2B marketing environment can be particularly tricky to gather and interpret. For example:

  1. Purchasing decisions are usually made by a bunch of people together. So finding a correlation between an individual’s unique marketing exposure and the purchase decision of the group is hard.
  2. Sales cycles tend to be longer. Which means that months could go between the time someone sees a marketing message then makes a purchase, which makes it difficult to figure out the cause and effect over time.
  3. Because of generally longer sales cycles, decision makers tend to get exposed to a number of different marketing messages before making a purchase- so it’s a challenge to tell which specific message promoted them to buy.
  4. And the sales force tends to play a big role in closing (or not closing) the deals which makes it challenging to observe the direct impact of marketing on the B2B revenue.
Thus far the only solution I’ve read about that makes the waters a little less murky is to create a brand-tracking survey and then match it to your sales. That way you can see what happens to a customer’s purchases for those who say they like key brand attributes more after having seen an ad. As a result you can see the correlation between someone seeing an ad and someone changing their perceptions and then buying more. (Check out Sexy Little Numbers to learn more about this method.)

If you’re targeting a B2B market as well, how have you overcome these problems in the past? I’d love to know!