10 Best Practices for B2B Performance Marketing Success

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  • 2/19/2021
    Fact check: Performance marketing strategies are not reserved for B2C brands. Directly attributing media spend dollars and tracking success down to specific display ads are tactics fully available to B2B businesses. If you’re a B2B marketer looking to modernize your tactics and better measure the impact of your marketing spend, you’ve come to the right place.
     
    The following tips, tricks and advice constitute our top 10 best practices for B2B performance marketing professionals. Buckle up, because we’re about to show you how to better leverage the data right under your nose, AND make you look amazing in front of your boss.
     

    1. Use UTMs and tracking URLs

    No matter the type of digital ad or related tactic, the ability to attribute your success to specific sources is part of the beauty of digital marketing. One of the most powerful tools for campaign analysis and optimization is the tracking URL.
     
    A tracking URL is a unique link generated for a specific campaign that differentiates which source your traffic originally came from. One page should have multiple tracking URLs, each representing a different source, like direct, referral, social media, email, display, etc. 
     
    the anatomy of a tracking URL
     
    Analyzing the performance of your tracking URLs provides valuable data that helps plan future action on the current campaign and campaigns to follow. For example, if most of your traffic is coming from organic social media and a very low percentage from display advertising, you’ll know it’s time to repurpose your language on social to revamp your display ad content, invest more money in display or cut efforts altogether. When it comes to modern B2B performance marketing, tracking URLs are no longer an option - they’re a necessity to success.
     

    2. Make use of personalization and segmentation

    We aren’t just talking email personalization tokens, here. Go beyond “Hi, {{FIRSTNAME}}” with a personalized messaging strategy to maximize the impact of your performance marketing tactics. 
     
    This is one of many strategies on this list that is seemingly reserved for B2C brands, but there’s no rule that says B2B companies can’t dig into their prospect’s intentions, goals and behaviors. One of the best tactics to try is marketing automation, which allows you to dynamically adapt  your content based on who views it. Start by segmenting your email lists. Let prospects opt in to the types of marketing messaging they want to receive rather than blasting your whole list with bottom-of-the-funnel sales content. 
     
    You can also use your CRM to segment even further based on demographics, behaviors and the buyer’s journey. Keep in mind the latter two are more important than the first. Just because many of your customers are males in their 50s doesn’t mean they’re all looking to purchase the same product or service at once.
     

    3. Measure omnichannel marketing with cross channel data

    It’s easy to slip each aspect of your marketing strategy into a silo without even realizing it. Even if you’re just one person making up an entire marketing department, you could find yourself focusing on social media one day, display the next, affiliates the next, etc. 
     
    Your customers aren’t receiving all their marketing messaging exclusively through LinkedIn. Chances are they’re receiving your emails, seeing your social media ads and even interacting with display ads. When marketing tactics are separated out, we tend to measure performance in a siloed view as well, causing us to lose sight of the bigger picture omnichannel marketing provides.
     
     
    multichannel marketing cloud
     
    Instead, use tracking URLs, heat mapping and Google Analytics together. For example, you can:
     
    • Reference your search data to refine display ad content.
    • Check that your web content aligns with your social media ad messaging. If a user clicks an ad, does the landing page and subsequent pathway through the site meet their expectations?
    • Track first touch points and compare them to conversions. Do you receive more sales through LinkedIn advertising, display ads or organic search?
     

    4. Avoid last-click attribution

    In a similar vein, omnichannel marketers should avoid the dreaded last-click attribution, where all credit for success is given to the interaction that led to a conversion. But knowing that someone clicked an email messaging and filled out your site’s “Get a Quote” form does not account for all the display ads, LinkedIn sponsored content and emails they interacted with leading up to this point. 
     
    avoiding last click attribution
     
    Last-click attribution gives way too much credit to “bottom of the funnel” touch points and leads many marketers to believe they should pour more marketing dollars into decision-stage strategies while completely avoiding the tactics that fill the top of the sales funnel in the first place.
     
    Seeing the conversion as a journey, not just as a single, isolated event, can dramatically improve campaign results and avoid being duped by the last-click trap. Use the same tools as point two, heat mapping, Google Analytics, cookies, etc. to understand which touch points led to success, then replicate this journey with lookalike audiences exhibiting the same behaviors. 
     

    5. Maintain brand protection

    This is more important now than perhaps ever in the history of the internet. It’s no longer an option to completely put your trust in the software platforms that distribute your ads. Instead, marketers need to take matters into their own hands to determine where their messaging ends up. There are two specific negative outcomes that should be avoided at all costs.
     
    1. Fraudulent clicks: Some sites appear to be successful, generating high ad clicks and views at first glance, but it is possible this success is the result of bots and inauthentic interactions designed only to rack up revenue for the site owner. Identify the sites that aren’t adding real value and remove them from your ad list ASAP.
     
    2. Funding misinformation: Your ads may also end up on sites that are funding politically motivated misinformation or encouraging unethical behaviors from readers. Some software platforms do make an effort to filter out these types of sites, but it’s ultimately up to you, the marketer, to make sure your ads aren’t contributing revenue to less-than-reputable sites.
     
    Once you’ve identified the sites you don’t want included in your distribution, you can focus your ad dollars on the sites that add value and selectively target the audience you want to reach.
     

    6. Implement iterative strategies

    Always remember two things: One, you have ultimate control over the content and messaging you release into the world. And two, you should never settle for “good enough.” An iterative approach to your performance marketing strategy means you are always tweaking your efforts for the best possible performance. And remember, you’ll never get there. You can always do better, we promise.
     
    the iterative design process
    In marketing, nothing is stagnant. Either your audience is moving through different stages in their career or to different jobs, or simply the season is changing and your product or service is moving in and out of relevancy. We as marketers love the idea of going viral, but you can’t base your company’s revenue for the next 10 years off one popular tweet. 
     
    We recommend using approximately 10% of your budget for A/B testing within ad channels. This protects your profit while giving you room to experiment. Change up your headlines, ad format, creative or the landing pages where ads lead. Keep track of what you’re testing in relation to your ultimate goals and track successes and failures. The rinse and repeat part of marketing isn’t always fun, but it’s the best way to ensure you’re never comfortable and always working to improve.
     

    7. Synergize data and creativity

    If you’re continuing to iterate, but aren’t seeing significant success with your changes, try using data and creative together for better decision making. There are two sides to this coin.
     
    One, using data to drive your creative efforts. Analyze the creative-based ads with visuals that perform best using pre-selected KPIs. Based on your goals, what gaps exist in performance? How can you tweak your creative to fill those gaps and increase ad performance?
     
    And two, using creativity to generate new data. Humans are visual creatures and creative drives results. If a video-based display ad for a product is performing exceptionally well, but users are not responding to text-based display ads advertising the same thing, step back and analyze what’s working in your video. Can you change up your ad language based on the tone and visuals provided by the video? Should you reduce your text-based ad budget and increase your video ad budget? After viewing the video and clicking through, what pathway do users most often take on your site?
     

    8. Seek out affiliate relationships

    This is yet another aspect of B2B performance marketing that is often dismissed as a tactic solely available to B2C brands. But au contraire, it’s 100% possible to create a B2B affiliate program that generates conversions and builds positive relationships with your audience. 
     
    First off, there are two routes you can go when building B2B affiliate marketing strategies. One, you can go the traditional route of seeking out bloggers and influencers who specialize in your industry and recruiting them to promote your product. This may mean making a sponsored post or providing their special affiliate code (HELLO, TRACKING URLS!) to drive sales using a discount. And if you’re throwing your hands in the air saying “Where am I going to find someone to partner with when my company makes seals for industrial machinery?!” Trust us. There is an affiliate for everything.

    B2B affiliate marketing workflow
     
    The second route is through partnerships with other businesses instead of individuals. Seek out distributors and companies that use your product or sell it and pitch a deal. In exchange for a cut of sales, they will promote your product with website backlinks, videos, social media posts, etc. This is still a type of B2B performance marketing because you can use tracking URLs to measure where sales came from and the direct impact of the partnership.
     

    9. Go beyond LinkedIn

    There’s nothing wrong with LinkedIn. If a B2B business comes to us looking for social media assistance, LinkedIn is always the first place we start with organic posts and advertising. But just because a construction manager goes home for the day doesn’t mean they cease to be a construction manager. With the right combination of messaging and creative, it’s fully possible to target them for work-based advertising when they’re scrolling through Facebook at 9 p.m.
     
    Just because everyone else is using the big social media platforms as part of their strategy doesn’t mean you have to stick to them, either. Take time to understand even smaller, niche forums and sites that you can use for affiliate marketing and social media advertising efforts. Sometimes getting granular is the best way to increase your ROI.
     

    10. Update ROI tracking

    Speaking of ROI, you’re probably tracking it wrong, or at least inefficiently. If you’re doubling down on a new performance marketing-based strategy, your reporting and measurements of success should reflect this as well.
     
    How are you currently measuring success? To what extent do organic or hard-to-measure efforts factor into your KPIs? If your goals center on attributing dollars to specific actions and making use of the nine best practices above, your reporting should center on these things, too.
     
    Your reporting shouldn’t be siloed out either. Instead of measuring social media efforts on one page, then moving onto display ad success on the next, try reorganizing your measurements based on your goals. For example, instead of reporting on your goal to “Increase social media ad impressions by 10%,” consider reporting on this, then adding a goal to “Increase top of funnel site visitors by 20%” and factoring in social media ads as just one part of the bigger picture.
     
    Have these 10 best practices got your mind swimming with ideas? Not sure where to start? thunder::tech is an integrated marketing agency specializing in ongoing performance marketing efforts. 
     
    Drop us a line and we’ll customize these tips and ideas to your business and give you a better idea of what performance marketing can do for your bottom line. Click here to reach out. 
     
    About the author::Mike Ulanski is a Digital Marketing Strategist at thunder::tech, where he's responsible for driving a variety of paid & organic efforts. When not online, he enjoys adventuring with his dog & listening to live music. 
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