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End the Nonsense: B2B Marketers Need to Measure What Matters

End the Nonsense: B2B Marketers Need to Measure What Matters

By Jason Burby, President/Americas, POSSIBLE (unit of WPP)

Have you ever heard a major brand cite a successful campaign that yielded only 1,300 downloads? We’re far more used to hearing about millions of page views, hundreds of thousands of followers, and zillions of impressions. 1,300 is spare change these days.

Or maybe not. My colleague Shane Atchison and I take a dim view of views for views’ sake, and instead, contend that we should all measure what really matters. 1,300 quality connections to potential B2B partners beats 70 million generic impressions any day.

That’s why we first advocate setting goals, both for your company as a whole and for every effort you undertake. You should then select metrics that support those goals and ladder up to success. Those metrics can be gaudy or humble on the surface—it doesn’t matter so long as they indicate a real impact. Finally you undertake activities to reach your goals

To see how this can work, let’s look at two B2B campaigns that had minimal reach -- but major results:

A few years ago GE’s energy and healthcare divisions were doing great work but felt they weren’t connecting to the larger scientific community. This mattered, because if they could impress people with their thought leadership and generate conversations around their challenges, others might join in and suggest solutions. Some might even become employees. In other words, GE needed to engage a small but influential audience of likeminded people.

To do so, it launched a highly targeted LinkedIn campaign. Using InMail and sponsored content, it sought out people who had specific job titles related to research the company was doing. In the end, only 1,300 of them responded, but many joined the conversation and helped GE build up its communities on LinkedIn. 1,300 may be a small raw number, but it represented a coveted audience that could have a big impact over time.

A similar example comes from Adobe. Obviously, the company has a great creative brand, but in 2013 it wanted to increase awareness and understanding of its world class marketing and data solutions. But not everyone buys such solutions. The audience that really mattered was small: marketing decision makers. So Adobe used LinkedIn to target select job titles with sponsored content ranging from amusing videos to serious thought-leadership pieces.

Did it work? It seems so. After engaging with the campaign, people were 50% more likely to see Adobe as a leader in the field; and 79% more likely to say that the company could help them optimize their marketing spend. Not bad considering the audience.

This isn’t to say, of course, that all B2B marketers should look at LinkedIn—or think small. Instead, you should establish a clear goal for any effort you do, and pursue tactics that actually support it. When it comes to marketing, size doesn’t always matter. If something works, that can be enough.

Jason Burby is President/Americas of POSSIBLE, a global digital marketing agency and unit of WPP, and coauthor with CEO Shane Atchison of DOES IT WORK? 10 Principles for Delivering True Business Value in Digital Marketing (McGraw-Hill; May 1, 2015), offering new measures of accountability and effectiveness.


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