B2B organizations, like B2C, need to do in-depth analysis of their web traffic. How can Google Analytics be used for B2B marketing effectively? Find out here.
Most of your Google Analytics reports are relevant for B2C companies. Even in Google’s literature, it’s hard to find a lot of information concerning B2B companies and their audiences.
It may seem Google Analytics is meant for B2C.
This is due to several reasons.
B2B companies depend less on websites to bring customers than B2C. They also have longer sales cycles and usually higher deal values, making it important to provide a personal experience to the buyer.
This is why a dedicated sales team works well for B2B audiences.
So, a website may seem less important for B2B.
But contrary to the popular belief, website can be extremely useful for B2B companies too.
B2B companies take different forms.
A law firm that provides such services as incorporation and trademarking for businesses may charge relatively less and may even publish standardized service pricing on their website.
On the other hand, an IT company that provides bespoke software solutions for an industry vertical can never have pricing information on their website. They create deals by direct interactions with prospects and through RFP responses. Such deals may go into millions of dollars and involve teams of resources.
B2B companies also fall into product sector and services sector, and as you would think there are major differences between them as well.
A product company may use pricing tables and landing pages to attract customers. Look at business products by Google, SAP, or Microsoft. They have landing pages with outright pricing information.
Services companies on the other hand rarely give pricing data. Instead, they depend on brand identity, customer testimonials, personal engagement, and the presence of a superstar CEO who can drive sales.
A third category has also emerged as a result of cloud computing revolution. It’s the “as-a-service” category, where products, platforms, and infrastructure are provided on a subscription basis.
For instance, look at Adobe’s strategy of selling subscription to its products–Creative Cloud as a Service. It’s the hazy middle ground of product and services marketing.
Also, this is not exclusively B2B, but B2C as well. Besides businesses, Adobe sells to a fair number of consumers as well–designers, photographers, videographers, and YouTube stars.
So, full-fledged digital marketing campaigns are extremely important for B2B. And an analytics application such as Google Analytics can help you track the data.
According to the 2018 CMO Survey by Deloitte et al, B2B companies put digital marketing higher than traditional marketing strategies. Spends are set to increase this year.
The Survey identifies that B2B product companies will spend 9.2% of their entire firm budget on digital marketing, while B2B services companies will spend 8.9%.
Content (inbound) marketing is a key area in which B2B companies will invest.
Emarketer found the following to be the most critical content strategies to build engagement and bring sales for B2B organizations.
The first two are key for product companies.
Then comes the video which will be effective for both product and services companies in the B2B space.
Either way, B2B companies will spend more on inbound marketing to make an impact.
Data plays a major role in inbound marketing. You need to track everything around your website, app, and social media properties.
Digital and web analytics allows you to gather critical insights from your data and make the right business decisions.
In order to understand the performance of your digital content, use Google Analytics on your website and your app properties.
Let’s look at ways in which Google Analytics will be helpful for B2B companies.
The buyer persona is more important for B2B organizations than B2C.
This is because most B2B organizations have offerings tailored to specific verticals. So they need to understand their customers at a much deeper level.
Market positioning is much more effective with a well-conceived buyer persona.
The buyer persona is a virtual being that epitomizes your ideal customer.
For instance, check out the following.
Matt, 35 years old, is the owner of an IT consulting company in Philadelphia. He makes well over $600,000 a year from his business. His interests include skiing, traveling, and collection of historic artefacts. He wears trendy business casuals and owns a Prius. He is married without children, and his wife is a financial analyst.
Most businesses do not go deep into the creation of a buyer persona. But the more information you are able to glean from a customer, the better.
How do you collect all these information? Through surveys, direct customer interviews, or feedback campaigns on your website.
After you develop your buyer persona using these tactics as well as from the CRM and social media, you need to ensure that your buyers are actually visiting your website. Use Google Analytics to find out.
Go to Audience->Demographics to get some key insights into your visitors. The important demographics of your users, their age and gender, can be found here.
Note that age and gender of your visitors are not provided by Google Analytics by default. You need to enable them.
Go to your Google Analytics admin page and select your Property.
Here, scroll down to “Advertising Features” section and turn on “Enable Demographics and Interest Reports.”
B2B organizations find it extremely helpful to find the interest categories that their visitors belong to.
Google Analytics categorizes visitors into three categories based on their interests: Affinity Categories, In-Market Segments, and Other Categories.
This feature can also be enabled at Advertising Features.
Another key B2B customer information is their geographical location. It’s found in Audience->Geo->Location report of Google Analytics.
You can find the location of your visitors by continent, subcontinent, country, or city.
Take a look at the Image 1g.6 above showing the subcontinent-level location data of visitors.
What if you can find out exactly which companies your visitors belong to? It’s something B2B marketers would kill for.
This is where the network data comes into play.
While small companies still rely on generic ISPs (such as AT&T and Charter), big corporations have their own networks spanning globally.
Such network names are provided by GA on the Network report (Audience->Technology->Network).
Here, you can use regular expressions to select the names of some of the companies that you are targeting.
For instance, the Image 1g.7 below shows the Network report of a few top tech companies.
So, when you see visits from such specific network names, you know that someone from that company visited you from within the company network.
You can use this information for remarketing and targeted advertising campaigns as well.
In order to keep your buyer persona ready for analysis, create an advanced Google Analytics Segment that identifies your buyer.
You can add Segments to any GA report. At the top, you will see the “Add Segment” option. Click it and then click “+New Segment” to create a new Segment.
Select all the parameters to identify your target audience–age, sex, location, interests, etc.
The following Image 1g.8 shows the creation of a Google Analytics Segment.
If you have multiple target audiences, create multiple Segments to distinguish them; these Segments will be saved in the Segment library.
Content has become the buzzword of marketing. Quality content allows you to lure customers in rather than hunt for them.
Content marketing is akin to free higher education.
Look at reports, blog posts, whitepapers, and presentations from global organizations such as McKinsey & Co, Deloitte, Adobe, Microsoft, KPMG, Salesforce, etc.
They are all coming up with esoteric thought leadership and making it all available for free to everyone. This is quality content marketing.
Look at KPMG’s Growth Performance Indicators report for instance.
Such reports, whitepapers, and videos are a way for B2B companies to reach and engage their potential audience.
But how do you track the effectiveness of these content avenues? Using specific Google Analytics reports.
Do you have a landing page created for lead generation or selling? A landing page is a long page with quite a bit of content and a prominent CTA. Its statistics should tell you exactly how your landing page is performing.
B2B companies use all kinds of landing pages. For instance, products such as Splunk Cloud can be given as free trial to corporate customers. Here is the landing page of that.
You can also do demo pages, such as this Mouseflow demo page, where you can actually be amazed the product.
To analyze the performance of such landing pages, go to Behavior->Site Content->Landing Pages report in Google Analytics to track the Bounce Rate, Average Session Duration, and Pages/Session details for each landing page on your website.
B2B companies need reputed CEOs, EVPs, and sales leaders to champion their growth. Look at a few superstar CEOs of the world–Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Larry Ellison of Oracle, and Marc Benioff of Salesforce.
Every B2B company should invest in CEO marketing. Tracking the landing page statistics of the CEO is important for this.
Hope that you won’t have to host the CEO page for long. You know that success is achieved once Fortune and Forbes have their own pages for the CEO.
The Source/Medium report of Google Analytics can tell you exactly where your visitors are coming from. A good content marketing strategy should produce high volume of organic visits from search engines.
Go to Acquisition->All Traffic->Source/Medium. Here, look for organic search visits from various search engines. Also, check the social media visits to see how well your social campaigns are driving visitors.
This is a key metric that you want to see going up steadily. You can use an advanced filters to see specific Sources and Media.
You may have come across overpromising titles such as “Shark Tank Star Talks About His Multi-Million-Dollar Investment Secret.”
Such titles are click traps. Why? More often than not the content fails to impress.
Do you have any such content on your website?
B2B organizations have a niche audience craving for technical and business-focused content. They have a pretty low tolerance for piffle.
To identify bad content, you need to analyze the performance of your blog posts and articles. Look for low engagement times, high bounce rates, lack of events (such as scrolling), etc.
Low engagement is an indicator of:
- Visitors not finding your content valuable
- Your content is not aligned to the title
- Your content is not insightful or engaging
The actions taken by your visitors on your site should be tracked at a granular level in order to understand whether your website is effective.
You need some Google Analytics Goals and Events for this.
Goals allow you to track conversions on your site. Goals can be anything that you want visitors to do: a whitepaper download, signup on a newsletter, or a purchase.
How do you find out whether visitors are signing up for your newsletter? You can define the newsletter signup as a Goal and track whether people are landing on the Goal’s “thank-you” page.
You have to be the GA admin to implement Goals. Go to the View section in the admin page and click “Goals.” You can have up to 20 Goals for every View in the standard version of GA.
Google Analytics provides various templates for your Goals:
- Account creation
- Callback request
- Live chat
- Software update
- Product/service comparison
- Adding to favorites
- Media play
- Social sharing
- Newsletter signup
In addition to these, you can create custom Goals as well.
Here is a basic implementation of a purchase Goal that uses a “thank-you” page as the destination to track the conversion.
Events on the other hand are actions that users take on your website.
For instance, if a visitor clicks a particular link, that click could be an Event.
By default Google Analytics doesn’t track various actions, such as clicks or scroll. You need to implement such Events and define the parameters to measure them.
I have published advanced implementations of Events such as the following:
- Clicks on specific links and buttons
- View of a YouTube video embedded on the site
- Mouse middle-clicks
- Scroll tracking
A third thing you need to understand is how your visitors are coursing through your website. Are they taking the right paths?
You may have set up certain paths that lead to conversions or desirable outcomes on your site. You can track whether your visitors take these paths with a special report known as “Behavior Flow.”
By default the report shows the Content Grouping defined on your Analytics setup. But you can change the view type to show users’ navigation based on Google Analytics’s automatic page grouping or Events.
As you see, Behavior Flow generates a user navigation visualization for your site. It shows entrances, drop-offs, and subsequent page views.
You can use it to highlight traffic through specific pages or paths. It’s highly intuitive and helps you devise plans for visitor retention.
Search queries are extremely important because they tell you the intents of your visitors. For B2B, the visitor intent is far more important.
B2B organizations have longer sales cycles, so they need to know every way of engaging their visitors.
Search queries also tell you which content on your website ranks on Google. Depending on the user engagement, you can tell whether your existing content needs augmenting.
But Google doesn’t divulge secure search queries anymore. It masks them with “not provided” or “not set” tags. But you can still make sense of such masked data.
Google Search Console report is a great way for you to get search keyword information. Link Google Search Console to Google Analytics and access the queries report right within GA.
But you can dig deeper than that.
Google Analytics also lets you track what your visitors are searching within your website, using the site’s search box.
To set up site search, go to your View settings from the admin panel and look for “Site Search Settings.” Turn it on and input your query parameter.
What is your query parameter? Well, it’s rather easy to find out. Just go to your website and do a site search. When the search results turn up, look at the URL. It should be something like this:
The “s” here is the query parameter. “Analytics” is the search query.
After you set this up, you can access the report from Behavior->Site Search->Search Terms.
It gives you a lot more information about your visitors’ intents.
While analyzing search queries, also look for brand search queries. These are the terms that include your brand name.
Keep a separate report on the brand searches. It will give you insight into how your reputation progresses. Ensure that your website is at the first place for all brand searches.
Along with content marketing drawing visitors into your digital properties, B2B organizations also do a lot of advertising. Digital advertisements are through Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) or LinkedIn.
B2B companies that deal in custom solutions for niche clientele may find Google Ads campaigns less rewarding due to brutal competition, low search volumes, and exorbitant CPC.
Still, ROI from Google Ads is not that terrible according to the AdWords Industry Benchmark 2017 by Bizible.
As with every digital strategy, targeting is key. You need to ensure that you are not bidding on worthless, generic keywords or targeting unimportant locations.
Ensure your campaigns are driving users to take action on your landing pages.
B2B organizations enjoy wildly higher average deal sizes than B2C. For instance, Amazon’s average product price is $26.86. B2B deal sizes on the other hand go up to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
The CPC for Google Ads campaigns for B2B, hence, will be much higher. Couple that with the extreme competition, and B2B firms need to pay through the nose for each conversion.
Because deal size tends to be high, B2B companies can actually pay high for the keywords known to convert.
To analyze the performance of your search ads, link Google Ads and Google Analytics.
Once you link them, you can view your entire campaign data on Google Analytics.
Go to Acquisition->Google Ads to find the reports.
When you read the Source/Medium report in Acquisition->All Traffic, you get to see the Sources and Media from which the visits originated. The report is immensely insightful.
But the “(direct)/(none)” row represents the data that Google Analytics couldn’t find.
For instance, a visit could be from one of your email newsletters. Somebody may have clicked a newsletter link to land your website, but Google is unable to track the click due to the security settings in place.
You don’t want to miss this data. It’s a huge chunk as you can see in the above Image 1g.k.
How do you ensure that the Source and Medium are tracked for maximum number of visits?
You could tag the URLs (such as the one in your newsletter or one you share on Facebook) with certain parameters to explicitly mention the Source and the Medium.
These parameters are known as UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) parameters . Adding of the UTM parameters will not have any effect on the destination URL. It only gives additional information to Google Analytics.
There are 5 UTM parameters you can add to a URL. An example link with parameters is below.
The above URL modifies the home page of ZoomOwl to add the Source as “Facebook,” Medium as “Social Media,” and Campaign as “Special Promo.”
Here are the five UTM parameters for custom campaigns.
utm_source: This identifies the Source of traffic.
utm_medium: This identifies the Medium that generated the traffic.
utm_campaign: Here, you can put the name of your Campaign. It gives you more information to Google Analytics about the traffic source.
utm_term: This can be used to add any paid search keywords to your URL.
utm_content: Do you want to add any more additional details to the URL? You can do so with the utm_content parameter. For instance, if you have two CTAs on your newsletter that point to the same page, you can distinguish them by changing utm_content.
You shouldn’t sweat over the tagging of your URLs. You can do it easily with Google’s URL builder.
You need to build custom Dashboards in order to get a snapshot of your B2B traffic analytics.
You can create one with all the critical B2B data you are tracking, such as Goals, Events, Segment-wise landing page performance, and ad campaign widgets.
With custom Segments already defined for your target buyers, you can have a granular look at your custom Dashboard.
The Image 1g.l above shows a custom B2B Dashboard I have set up.
Add the B2B Segments to the dashboard to get a more granular view.
If you are the Google Analytics admin, you can create Dashboards at Customization->Dashboards. You can create the Dashboard from either the Blank Canvas or the Starter Dashboard. The latter lets you start with a default Dashboard with popular widgets.
Data is extremely important for successful marketing. Without it, you will be completely blind as to the direction of your progress. Maybe you are going backward. How could you even tell?
But having just a web analytics application won’t be enough for most B2B organizations. They need to do some advanced implementations.
B2B companies are spending as high as 9.2% of their entire firm budget on digital marketing.
That’s a lot of money, and you need to ensure that it’s not wasted. Use advanced Google Analytics techniques to extract every meaningful insight from your digital properties.
Lenin VJ Nair
Lenin Nair has years of experience in marketing for software and technology domains. He is a certified specialist in marketing and enjoys exploring new ways to market products and services for small and medium businesses. He enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and ideating. He holds an MBA in marketing and a bachelor's degree in IT.