6 mistakes in B2B e-commerce measurement

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Most B2B e-commerce businesses rely on advertising to attract potential customers and, in the case of retargeting, to remind former customers of recently viewed items.

Every e-commerce business must follow certain basic principles if it is to successfully navigate the advertising waters. This article examines five common mistakes that B2B e-commerce companies make when measuring return on ad spend (ROAS), and offers some ways to avoid these mistakes.

1. Not setting up end-to-end attribution

The peculiarity of B2B e-commerce is that a large percentage of customers contact and buy in bulk. These people show up as “leads” when they fill out a form, but if earnings aren’t captured and returned after they buy in bulk, they aren’t “tracked” and, more importantly, the purchase isn’t sent back to our engines and Google Analytics. When this happens, we miss some of our biggest orders and don’t use them for automated information and bidding.

Nowadays, the transmission of customer data is permitted in Google, Bing, Facebook and Google Analytics. The solution is to feed customer data to our marketing channels and Google Analytics in real time.

2. Incorrect cookie lengths

In the typical B2C e-commerce buying cycle, most buyers will buy within 30 days (unless they are more expensive and bulky items, such as high-end sofas). For B2B e-commerce, purchase cycles are generally longer, even for small items; the purchasing managers do research, and they are given certain periods during which they can buy.

The default cookie duration is 30 days, which is generally too short for B2B e-commerce. You will want to change it to 90 days whenever possible.

3. Double or triple your income

Often, e-commerce businesses use multiple marketing agencies to manage various channels. One agency will run the email campaign and another will cover social media, for example. But separating agencies becomes problematic when agencies measure ROAS with data from different platforms. Each platform has its own data and may not accurately reflect the overall picture.

For example, if someone interacts with a Google ad, interacts with a Facebook ad, and then returns to Google and makes a purchase, both platforms will report a conversion. But in reality, the customer only made one purchase.

Only CMS tools or last-minute attributions from Google Analytics allow e-commerce businesses to properly account for purchases.

4. Blaming poor sales on marketing

For some B2B industries, all sales take place offline rather than online. When this happens, the marketing’s only job is to push more qualified leads with better ROAS. It’s a salesperson’s job to close sales based on internal sales processes (or lack thereof). The company will often blame poor sales on marketing when in fact the blame lies with a poor sales process or ineffective salespeople (or both).

The solution to this problem is to use the right KPI for marketing: cost per lead.

5. Not giving marketing credit for offline sales

Even with an end-to-end attribution setup that can track a sale from lead to purchase, many businesses treat their offline sales as an entirely different channel. As a result, marketing doesn’t get credit for large purchases, which as you might guess means marketing gets less budget, decisions are based on bad data, and revenue is left on the table.

The solution is to ensure that all revenue is directed to a single source of truth, and that credit is given where the credit is due: marketing.

6. Focus only on last-click attribution

We have already mentioned that poor measurement design hampers ROAS measurement. One of these designs focuses exclusively on the final clicks, which means you ignore the rest of the funnel (which will almost always be multi-channel).

It’s impossible to gauge the effects of running a cross-channel marketing program with last touch attribution because you don’t know how the different components of the campaigns contribute to success. Of course, as a result, B2B e-commerce marketers risk underinvesting or overinvesting in different ways to advertise.

One solution is to use the Google Analytics multi-channel funnels tool.

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Technology allows B2B e-commerce companies to measure ROAS in several ways. It also allows marketers to measure their advertising effectiveness and improve their campaigns; but, at the same time, it increases the likelihood of costly mistakes.

Marketers need to set up end-to-end attribution and track all sales, online and offline. It is now possible and recommended to forward all available data to all marketing channels. And depending on the length of the sales cycle, marketers may want to change their cookie duration to 90 days, give marketing credit for all offline purchases, and focus on multi-funnel purchases.

More B2B e-commerce resources

How to meet B2B buyers’ e-commerce expectations

Tips to improve the B2B e-commerce experience

Five tips for tackling B2B e-commerce without Amazon

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