How to Prove ROI in Digital Marketing by Tracking Advertising Effectiveness the Smart Way
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Secrets to measuring B2B marketing ROI (and proving it to your boss)

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” -John Wanamaker

If you’re marketing online for your B2B company, it’s normal to have trouble proving advertising effectiveness, especially if you’re testing multiple new efforts (Facebook, LinkedIn, SEO, email automation, etc.).

Some of our clients come to us as established businesses with tons of cash flow and need help measuring B2B marketing ROI in digital marketing.

You’re correct when you think these platforms are confusing, overwhelming, and hard to integrate.

Advertising legends of the past have recommended completely pulling away from an advertising platform for a period of time or promoting a message that says, “If you see this, write  to us and we’ll give you $5.”

This tests that platform to discover if it makes any difference to your bottom line. The kicker? It usually doesn’t at all. You’ll be surprised at the lack of difference.

Other than these extreme methods, technological innovations they didn’t predict have emerged to help you make sense of the madness in an easier way.

With a boss breathing down your neck demanding undeniable proof of B2B marketing ROI, it’s more important than ever to deliver accurate numbers. When it comes to tracking advertising effectiveness, there are a few secrets we use to make everything easy and seamless for our clients.

This is part two of our series on measuring the impact of advertising. Let’s get started…

Start with Great Marketing Campaign Tracking

99% of the time, the problem with data inaccuracy is that something is not fully tracked (or


Make sure you track all important metrics accurately. This includes having proper attribution so you know where leads came from online.

At WebMechanix, we have an all-star development team with years of experience that can do all this for you. The technical components can get complicated and mistakes can be made. But a professional can make sure those don’t happen.

Ensure Closed-Loop Data

Having closed-loop data means making sure everything is set up to be tracked and reported properly.

To have closed-loop data, you should be able to tell where every lead goes and what they do. This includes knowing:

  • What they downloaded
  • Which webinar they watched
  • How engaged and interested they are

In B2B, it also means having it set up so the salesperson gets notified at the right time and knows who to call.

Rooting Out The Culprit(s) Behind Bad B2B Tracking and Attribution

Narrowing down the root cause of inaccurate tracking can be a great benefit in the long run.

Without closed-loop data, a lot of things can go wrong. Here are some  signs that your close-looped tracking isn’t in place:

  • Tracking is not operating properly
  • All the code necessary to track a part of the conversion or tagging process isn’t implemented properly
  • A salesperson did not mark leads properly because he was too lazy or skipped it to get more calls in

Phone call tracking is another area that usually doesn’t get tracked well. The lead might have found you through an AdWords ad,  went to your web form, saw your phone number, wrote it down, and called you offline elsewhere.

You have no way of knowing if the call came directly from an offline event (like a billboard) or was actually influenced by an online ad without proper tracking.

We use the call tracking platform, CallRail, to fix this issue. This web-based software creates phone numbers you can display on the web that can be tracked and attributed properly to your digital efforts.

Keep in mind that this method requires sacrificing your old number. One of our clients has a business that is over 100 years old and wants to use the proprietary phone number he’s always used. But if we did, we would not be able to differentiate phone leads that came from offline or online efforts.

Integrate Your CRM

Once tracking is in place, any CRM, (i.e., Salesforce or HubSpot), does the rest for you – but you need to make sure tracking is properly set up first.

To have a well-integrated CRM, you want to have everything talking to each other. One critical part of this in the B2B industry is making sure the marketing process is synced with what happens in the sales process.

A good CRM creates a system that connects the communication between the marketing and sales teams. Make sure the Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are properly marked when they turn into Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). The accuracy of the MQL to SQL conversion process is vital.

Pay Respect to the Sales Team

The sales team is a really important part of the B2B tracking process. Make sure you coordinate effectively. In particular, pay attention to the differences every industry or business will have.

Every company often has its own proprietary label for marketing leads in their CRM. It may be called something like “Marketing originated bookings.”

Make sure the right one is marked and tracked accordingly.

If it’s not marked properly, leads won’t be attributed properly.

Since companies use different CRM’s (sometimes proprietary or custom-build), attribution is everything.

It’s important to triple-check that your sales team knows how to navigate and use it from front to back.

If leads are not marked correctly, the marketing team won’t get credit or know what’s generating the most revenue. This results in horrible closed-loop data, which can result in wasteful inefficiencies — such as the marketing team focusing on the wrong category of leads with their budget.

How to Make Sure the Sales Team Does Their Part

The standard sales team often see marking leads as a hassle and skip the process or don’t do it all the time like they should. So how do you make sure all leads are always marked correctly?

First, we highly recommend having a dedicated sales representative who oversees and checks for this.

Second, incentivize them to mark leads properly. Small rewards, contests, and praise (monetary or not) can go a long way.

If you can’t afford any incentives or new hires, train your team and show them the value of marking your leads correctly so they actually do it. Explain how this process can ultimately lead to them closing more sales (better communication = better marketing performance = better and more leads for the sales team to close).

Have Proper Tagging

Just because every platform is synced together doesn’t mean data is reporting properly. You have to make sure leads and events are being tagged and tracked correctly.

To do this, we suggest you have standard processes to set everything up. This includes making sure you:

  • Use proper UTM’s (URL tracking) for links
  • Make sure event and goal tracking actually fire
  • Implement tracking on relevant URLs or button clicks

Proper tagging helps automate clean online attribution (from sources like social, webinars, AdWords PPC, etc.).

Proving Online vs. Offline B2B ROI

Proving to your boss your online versus offline return on investment is one of the most important categorizations you can start with.

It’s simple B2B marketing measurement to categorize efforts by a broader bucket to see what’s working.

So how?

The methods mentioned previously will help but one tactic we want to highlight are UTM tags.

By having specific details in your UTM’s, you can identify specifically which channel, and even which specific ad or piece of content, they came from. You can create a UTM template or use a free tool so you don’t have to write it from scratch each time.

Simply having all your online efforts labeled properly will, by process of elimination, allow you to label your offline efforts. You can tell your boss, “Here’s my online revenue. Therefore, the rest is offline. We used UTM’s and call tracking to track, attribute, and prove everything.”

Bringing it all together: How to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising

With proper tracking and reporting, a closed-loop data system will help you tremendously when it comes to measuring B2B marketing ROI. Without a closed-loop, accurate marketing data analysis isn’t possible.

UTM’s and call tracking are a key part of automating tracking and having accurate, specific data attribution, especially for larger companies.

For B2B businesses, we recommend having a working CRM platform and lead-tagging process that has been set up and tested.

Finally, when presenting the data to your decision maker, we recommend using Google Analytics Dashboards or Google Data Studio for effective reporting. We love Data Studio because it lets you create visually beautiful and easy-to-understand reports that pull in real-time data which can be filtered dynamically in the report for free.

What’s your #1 frustration with making sense of all the data?

Let us know in the comments below and we’ll see if we can help.

Read about Measuring Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

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About the writer
William Chou
William Chou
William Chou has years of experience in the world of corporate digital marketing. He is proficient in SEO, paid media, email marketing, and copywriting.

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