Guest post: Eoghan Henn on Universal Analytics in B2B Online Marketing (Part II)

A week ago we shared with you the first part of Eoghan Henn’s piece on Universal Analytics in B2B Online Marketing, where is was looking into the first three stages of the B2B Marketing circle: 

  • Definition and delimitation of “B2B online marketing”: online sales vs. lead generation
  • Challenges for web analysts in B2B online marketing
  • Use lead management tools to track conversion from lead to customer

We know you’ve been anticipating the second part of this great blog post, so without any further ado, here it is! This week Eoghan is leading us on a journey into the last four stages of the B2B Marketing circle:

  • Tracking of inbound phone calls: an important factor in the online path-to-purchase for B2B companies
  • Trilateral exchange of data between Google Analytics, call data and lead management
  • Analysis of the collected data: multi-channel ROI reporting with Google Analytics
  • Web analytics for B2B companies: conclusion and outlook

Please don’t forget that both Eoghan and ourselves would love to hear your thoughts – do not hesitate to leave your comments in the form below!

Universal Analytics in B2B Online Marketing, Pt. II by Eoghan Henn
Tracking of inbound phone calls: an important factor in the online path-to-purchase for B2B companies

Many B2B companies display phone numbers very prominently on their websites alongside their yard-long contact forms. Their online marketing activities often give very poor results according to their reporting. Marketers’ gut feeling is that many of the inbound phone calls the business is receiving come from the online marketing efforts, but lack of measurability makes it total guesswork.

Historically, the obvious solution for metrics-driven marketers has been to remove the inbound call opportunity from the website, to ensure maximum measurability. Hence, by removing one line in your HTML code, you close the preferred call-to-action among many of your online visitors. Should that really be an option here? The online path-to-purchase is not linear, customers more and more often jump from online to offline. Many of your visitors want to talk to you to make their decision, and they want to do this when it suits them, not when it suits you. Others find it more convenient that you choose when to talk to them, so they complete the call back form. Online chat with a sales representative is also popular, but should only be used if you have staffed it properly.

That being said, it’s smarter to make how to contact you a choice for the visitor, not your choice. Inbound phone calls used to create a huge headache for anyone doing web analytics, since these events weren’t captured by our favourite tools like Google Analytics and its peers. Visitors who chose to talk to companies as part of the path-to-purchase were treated as drop offs by these standard analytics tools. Therefore even if you document this sale in your lead management tool, you will not be able to connect it with the online visitor journey that was behind that sale. Hence, there is no way to attribute the sale back to your online marketing efforts. But happily enough, there is technology available to capture all contact events today, not just the completed online forms.

Call tracking providers such as Freespee, that are able to serve each visitor with a unique phone number, have the remedy for this pain. From the visitor perspective, there is no difference in the user experience. They simply see a phone number being displayed that they can choose to call in case they want a consultation. In the background, however, things happen that are amazingly interesting from a web analytics perspective. If the visitor chooses to call you, it will be possible to associate the inbound phone call with a visitor and his path-to-purchase.

If you work with a call tracking technology that already supports Universal Analytics, you will have the possibility to associate the inbound phone call with Google’s visitor protocols, meaning that inbound phone calls can be treated on an equal basis with completed contact forms.

Trilateral exchange of data between Google Analytics, call data and lead management.

Now that you are capturing inbound phone calls on an equal basis with completed contact forms, the inbound phone calls data is pushed into Google Analytics making sure all contact events are captured and attributed to the correct visitor. But to close the cycle, the call tracking tool also needs to push data into your lead management tool, and have a lead record created that is associated with a Google visitor protocol.

When you receive an inbound call, the call tracking software captures the information that Google Analytics needs to recognise the visitor when it receives a sales data feed. This information also has to be pushed into the lead management tool where the lead can be taken through the entire sales cycle until it ends with a successful sale. After successful completion, your lead management tool can now, as described in part 1 of this article, send an event with a sales value to Google Analytics, which in turn can be associated with the call and the previous site visits of the user.

Analysis of the collected data: multi-channel sales reporting with Google Analytics

In the closed loop described above​​, the important questions an online B2B marketer should be asking himself can be answered. The discovery and research process in the B2B sector often results in a potential customer visiting your web site several times through various channels, before the first personal contact is made. Now you can centralise your collection of web data, contacts and sales ​​in Google Analytics. You get a holistic view and meaningful multi-channel reports available for you in Google Universal Analytics. The data that you possess can, for example, provide answers to the following questions:

–                How is our corporate blog contributing to our sales?
–                What are the results of our tireless activities on Linkedin?
–                Did our April newsletter in which we announced our newest product lead to more sales?
–                What’s the ROI on our AdWords spend? Can we make more sales with more AdWords budget?
–                Is our SEO budget carrying its part of the total online revenue?
–                What areas of my website play an important role in the purchase decision and could be further optimised or better advertised to drive more sales?

These and many other questions can now be answered with the help of the data collected in Google Analytics. Thus, past campaigns can be better evaluated and future actions and budgets can be planned in a more data-driven way.

Web analytics for B2B companies: conclusion and outlook

The new technical possibilities that Universal Analytics offers provide relatively simple and affordable solutions for B2B companies to take a huge step forward in their online marketing activities. Using Google Analytics, call tracking and data automation with a lead management tool will provide the important insights you have lacked. Maybe you will learn that your online marketing is generating far more sales than you currently see in your reports. By acting on these new insights, you will be able to grow your business.

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