The B2B customer journey is more complicated today than ever before. With more channels to engage with, and more devices to engage on, tracking the customer journey is no simple task. Between offline channels like industry conferences and prospect dinners, and the multitude of online channels (search, social, display, referral, email, etc.), accurately capturing the complete journey requires a number of technologies and integrations.

What Does Today’s B2B Customer Journey Look Like?

Looking at our attribution data, our closed-won customers engaged with us 36 times on average before deciding to make the purchase. And with so much information at every buyer’s fingertips, Forrester says that 90% of the B2B buying process happens before the customer ever reaches out to a salesperson.

Here’s what a B2B customer journey may look like. Notice that we didn’t say “typical” — with so many different ways to go through the buyer funnel, hardly any journey is typical.

A marketing manager is going to attend a marketing conference in a week, and decides to check out which companies are going to be in attendance ahead of time. He navigates to your website and maybe checks out a blog post or two. When the conference rolls around, he drops by your booth, chats with your sales reps and scans his badge, making him a lead. A week later, he sees your company name pop up in a Twitter chat and it occurs to him that he saw you at the conference. But then the chat goes on and he forgets that he was going to check out your website again. The next day he sees one of your ads on LinkedIn, remembers that he was going to search your company the day before and types in your company name on Google, where he proceeds to navigate to an ebook and downloads it. At this point, a sales rep reaches out and schedules a demo for the following week. After a few weeks of swapping emails and answering questions, he brings his boss, the VP of Marketing, into the conversation. After a few more emails and phone calls she agrees to start a trial.

Suffice it to say, there is a lot of consumer data to track and make sense of. Just in this hypothetical journey, there was a handful of touchpoints, both online and offline, and multiple people were involved in making the purchase. It’s the role of marketers and marketing data to make sense of this.

Measuring the Customer Journey: Marketing Data

Gone are the Mad Men days of marketing, where creativity and intuition completely overruled metrics and data. Now, they must work hand-in-hand. This is especially true in B2B marketing. With so much competition and tight marketing budgets, marketers are under tremendous amounts of pressure to demonstrate measurable results — data to prove that marketing is doing its job and getting better every day.

How marketing does this traditionally falls into two categories: activity metrics and engagement metrics.

Activity Metrics

When it is the marketing team’s turn to give an update to the company, how often do you hear something like this: “We published 15 articles, sponsored two events, contributed to a webinar, and launched three new paid media campaigns this month.”

These are activity metrics. And all too often, this is all that the marketing team brings to the table.

When that is all you can report, you lose a lot of credibility in the organization. That’s because, while interesting, these activities are all on the cost side of the equation — they don’t say anything about contributing to the success of the company.

Activity metrics are good to know internally. They keep the marketing team organized and up to date with what everyone is doing. But what the company really wants to know is the success of these activities, the results. This brings us to the second category of marketing metrics.

Engagement Metrics

Ok, so you’ve moved beyond activity metrics and want to show the results of your activities. Did people read your 15 articles? How many people did you talk to at your two events? Did any prospects follow up after attending the webinar? And, are the new paid media campaigns effective?

All of these questions can be answered with engagement metrics: views, clicks, likes, comments, time on site, click- through-rates (CTRs), etc. — anything up to and including converting anonymous visitors (online and offline) into leads.

However, engagement metrics only measure the top and middle of the funnel. Once a visitor fills out a form and becomes a lead, they typically go through a “qualifying” process. Is their company big enough (or small enough) to be a legitimate prospect? Do they use the tools necessary for your solution to make an impact? Do they have the problems that your product solves? If you’re selling enterprise software, an employee of a three-person startup can fill out a form and download your ebook, but that doesn’t make them a potential customer.

As soon as a visitor turns into a qualified lead, they are passed to the sales team. They are no longer under the domain of the marketing team, and therefore, no more marketing metrics are tracked through the remainder of the funnel.

Engagement metrics are a good step along the way to reporting marketing outcomes, but they don’t quite make it all the way. After all, you can’t keep the lights on and pay employees with leads.

When marketers prioritize achieving engagement metrics — things that measure the top and middle of the funnel — they optimize for marketing itself, not the ultimate outcome of marketing, which is customers and revenue. This data, however, is held on the sales side.

Measuring the Customer Journey: Sales Data

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