More and more industrial and B2B marketers now view customer engagement as the key to driving incremental sales and revenues. However, accurately defining and measuring customer engagement in complex business or industrial sales is still elusive.
The most simplistic approach to evaluating customer engagement is to measure conversion rates. For an eCommerce site that is easy, it is typically the value of transaction per visit. However, it is not so simple to measure customer engagement in situations with long sales cycles that’s commonplace with manufacturers, sellers of technical products and B2B consultative solution providers. I have written about this problem in my previous post, “The Disconnect Between B2B Content Marketing and Customer Engagement.”
Some B2B marketers are using more sophisticated ROI measurement tools to track activities over the entire life cycle of a lead. For example, at Sopheon, a software provider, measures qualified leads by their source, their region, volume per region, the speed of aging, movement through the sales cycle and other metrics.
These metrics are all linked to 10 stages in Sopheon’s sales process. This way the company can see exactly where the leads are coming from, how old they are, where they are in the process, which account executive is handling them and where leads typically fall out.
To add a new twist to a thorny problem, I read a very interesting quote from Avinash Kaushik, the man who literally wrote the book on Web Analytics 2.0, he said, “Engagement is not a metric, it’s an excuse.”
His take is that customer engagement is qualitative which he calls a “heart” metric and that we are trying to quantify it with “head” data. In other words, think long and hard before jumping into the deep end of customer engagement. You can read his entire blog post here.
What happens if you have neither the budget nor the resources for sophisticated metrics? The good news is that you can use a free tool like Google Analytics to get a very good handle on your customer engagement. The trick is to learn how to use all its power.
Defining B2B Customer Engagement
Forrester Research has proposed a definition of customer engagement that makes a lot of sense to me. According to them, “customer engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence that an individual has with a brand over time.”
In essence, to measure customer engagement accurately, we need to track four components — involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence. Let’s see how Google Analytics can help you do just that.
Involvement: Measured by tracking traffic to your site or your blog, Pageviews, bounce rates and time on site. These statistics are easily and readily available from your dashboard in Google Analytics.
Interaction: You can measure this by tracking what visitors do after they get to a page. It is measured by using Event Tracking in Google Analytics. For example, you can track how many times site visitors clicked on the play button for a video on a particular page. You could do the same thing with the number of downloads of a PDF document from your site.
Intimacy: This is measured by looking at the search terms used to find your site. In Google Analytics look at Traffic Sources > Keywords. To gauge intimacy, you want to see how many site visitors found you by your brand name and not any keywords. Another measure of intimacy is the number of direct visitors as compared to referred visitors. Bigger the number, the better is your name recognition. If you have a blog, look at the number of comments left by your readers.
Influence: This is a measure of the likelihood of a person recommending your company or brand. With the rising popularity of social media in B2B marketing, it is now more a method of tracking your friends or fans on Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Twitter. Google Analytics is not specifically set up to measure social media activity but you can modify it by adding a free plugin like Social Media Metrics. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to add Google Analytics to your Facebook Fan Page from the Social Media Examiner.
Customer Segmentation using Google Analytics
You can use Google Analytics for very sophisticated customer segmentation. This is a little more involved than I can explain in this blog post. Let me instead direct you to an excellent blog post by Dave Chaffey where he has explained his ten recommended advanced segments for Google Analytics.
Measuring customer engagement in complex industrial and B2B marketing is very important but it doesn’t have to be expensive and resource-intensive. Google Analytics may be all the power you need. I don’t mean to suggest that you should ignore other channels of customer engagement such as your email opens, click-throughs, landing page hits, webinar sign-ups and Contact Us forms.