As marketing managers your job is to spend your budgets as wisely as possible. You are fund managers in a way, managing a portfolio of campaigns where you are looking to maximize your returns. And what exactly are you getting back in return for your spend? Is it clicks? Form fills? What conversion are you optimizing for?
Offline Conversion Business Models
Over the years I have worked with companies where the customer journey begins online but the final conversion happens offline. I would like to focus on this type of business model in this article. This is often prevalent in B2B but not limited to. Let me give you a couple of examples.
Education Lead Generation Example
I used to work at a lead gen company and our customers were online universities such as University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, and others. We would generate leads from multiple online channels and sell them to our customers. The universities would then call up these leads and try to get them to enroll at their university. For the universities the conversion that matters are enrolled students. This conversion happens offline over the phone.
B2B SaaS Example
Another example is B2B SaaS – think DOMO, Workfront, Pluralsight, InsideSales, etc. These product-offerings are not like buying a pair of shoes at the store – they are enterprise solutions that can cost upwards of $100k per year. These companies generate a fair amount of their prospects through online channels (Adwords, Linkedin, etc.). Dedicated sales reps will court these prospects over a period of time through various stages of qualification all the way until purchase hopefully. This entire process of course happens offline. For these companies the conversion that matters is the final purchase.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Now imagine you are a channel manager for one of the companies in the above examples. Let’s say you generated and sold the University of Phoenix 10,000 leads. All of this done at a killer CPL – the lowest you’ve had since you started working there. The next month the university comes back to you and says that only 2 of your 10,000 leads has enrolled with them and they are thinking about cutting your budget if you can’t deliver more enrollments. You don’t have visibility into the enrollment data. What should you do?
Same example applies at the B2B SaaS companies – let’s say you are an Adwords manager and once again you have your lowest CPL ever. But the sales team is complaining that less than 1% of these leads are actually qualified to be an opportunity. And once again you don’t have visibility into the CRM data. What should you do?
A Data-Driven World
I always tell everyone that I am not a marketer – but I am a marketer’s best friend. My specialty is data and analytics and today we live in a data-driven world where we can have access to data from many systems. You can have visibility into conversions that happen offline and tie them to their activity in the online platforms.
For the lead generation company we were able to set up a feedback loop with many of the large universities where they would pass us back an internal id of the enrolled students and we could use this to associate them with the marketing campaign they came from.
At the last B2B SaaS company I worked for we were able to pass a visitor id into the CRM whenever a prospect filled out a form. This enabled us to track the progress of that prospect in the CRM and know exactly if they had attended Dreamforce or clicked on one of our Linkedin ads, etc.
In both of these scenarios my teams were able to produce powerful reporting that showed cost, clicks and leads by campaign, keyword, etc. But that was not all: we also showed students enrolled (for the lead generation company) and deals closed (for the B2B SaaS company) and all of the associated “cost per” calculations.
When my teams delivered these tools to the channel managers they were always jumping for joy. The channel managers could now measure their true returns and optimize their portfolio.
Path To The Data-Driven World
Surprisingly enough I often come across companies, even large enterprises, that don’t have this type of visibility readily available. It should not be this way in today’s world. If you don’t have this at your company – you are not alone. I recommend that you talk to your BI or Analytics team to see what steps are needed to set this up.
If you do not have these teams available to help you, here are some things you can still do:
# 1. Create The Bridge. Make sure that you are passing some sort of identifier from your web analytics data into your CRM on the lead when the lead fills out a form and is ready to engage. This is far and away the most critical piece – if you don’t have the bridge then you will be stuck on one side or the other!
# 2. Talk To Your Google Rep. For Adwords advertisers who have Salesforce as a CRM you should beta test the Salesforce-Adwords integration. Your Google rep will refer you to someone on their implementation team to help you get set up. It will close the loop for you right within Adwords.
# 3. Export & Use Excel. With the bridge in place (#1) you can export conversion data from SFDC and match that up to your spend data exports from the ad platforms. As long as you know what columns to link the data on and if your data is not too big this can be a good solution. It never ceases to amaze me how many marketing managers are also strong at Excel.
At some point the CFO always comes over to the CMO and asks them to justify all of the marketing spend. And so to close I ask you this question: are you maximizing your returns?
Sam Fonoimoana Bio
Sam’s passion is using data to move the business forward and has helped various companies such as DOMO, Ancestry.com & Workfront. Sam has deep experience across multiple disciplines from Finance to Data Science to Marketing. Sam is the founder of Fahui – An Analytics Consulting Firm. Sam also gives back to the community through teaching Data & Analytics at BYU-Hawaii.
Analytics that makes a difference. Fahui partners with clients and prides itself on taking a business-approach to analytics. So many companies spend large amounts of time and money analyzing things that don’t drive the business forward. With tight collaboration with our clients, we laser-focus on the problems that are most valuable to solve and we go after it – with data.