Demystify the B2B Buyer’s Journey with Influence Reporting

With Influence Reporting, marketers become more attuned to buyer readiness and what earns it. Here is what to keep in mind before you begin.

The B2B Buyer’s journey can seem mysterious in today’s digital age, where buyers are empowered with a wealth of information and options to inform and guide their decision making. Modern marketers, tasked with the goal of influencing prospects toward a closed deal, may be perplexed when it comes to determining what actually works when running complex campaigns across a variety of channels.

Marketing teams – though armed with an endless array of tools and metrics at their disposal – are often disconnected from the revenue outcomes of their efforts. Which emails, conversations, and content influenced your buyer before making a decision? Was it a whitepaper that built that essential feeling of trust, or was it a webinar? Where did momentum start to build, stall, or stop altogether?

Influence reporting takes the guesswork out of understanding the B2B buyer journey, broadly capturing interactions across all marketing campaigns. It maps interconnected emails, conversations, and pieces of content to explore how each contributes to the complete buyer journey and allows marketers to better understand what drives buyer interest and trust—and what moves it forward.

Through Influence Reporting, marketers find out which flow of tactics work best—both quantifiably and qualitatively—and codify that flow to make it repeatable.

How is Influence Reporting Different from Attribution Reporting?

Attribution reporting might be considered the first step in connecting marketing efforts with revenue outcomes. It can provide big-picture metrics on Marketing ROI, confirming whether or not a particular campaign or piece of content played a role in converting prospects and/or deals. While undoubtedly effective, it is limited to exclusively reporting on tactics that source or convert leads.

Influence Reporting identifies the cumulative moments across marketing and sales channels, content, and interactions that shepherd a prospect to the tipping point of a deal. Influence Reporting gives marketers insight to make sound investment decisions, rather than pointing to a single touchpoint that led to the capture or conversion of a lead.

Influence Reporting shows us what reinforces the trust that facilitates a sale, and directs us how to best spend our energy, budget, and creativity. It can say This content / interaction / moment seems to trigger funnel movement or conversion—but these other investments build 90% of the trust, doing all the perhaps-unseen labour that leads to tipping points. When we understand causation, we can repeat it.

Bring Your Marketing Campaigns into Full View

Gauging the success of your marketing campaign without having the complete picture  may obscure its cumulative impact. A trade show, for example, might collect a mass of email addresses that may (or may not) convert into deals—thereby appearing to be an effective revenue driver. Another piece of content, however, such as a whitepaper or an ROI calculator, may actually be more influential to your buyer as they delve deeper into consideration. 

Leaning on Attribution Reporting alone, we may conclude we should pour more money into trade shows. But if we cut webinar or whitepaper budgets to make more of a splash at conventions, we diminish the kind of high-value substance that tips decisions over into converted leads and deals. 

Ultimately, we want to elevate marketing reporting to get beyond knowing only what helps close deals. We want to understand what opens the door to opportunities that close. It’s an important distinction that isn’t just about isolating a one-time trigger point, but rather gaining a full view of the nature of positive momentum and how it accumulates for top line wins. Let’s examine the key questions that Influence Reporting seeks to answer, above and beyond what Attribution Reporting provides:

Attribution Reporting vs Influence Reporting

Making Sense of Influence Reporting

Now that we know what Influence Reporting means, let’s focus on how to analyze data to gain meaningful insights.

1| Understand all your B2B brand and buyer interactions.

To create the best brand experience for your prospects, it’s important to understand the pressure points of your buyer interactions in conjunction with your buyer profiles. Mapping out the full trajectory of your brand’s influence from the perspective of different personas is essential to driving good marketing strategy.

From first brand exposure to a closed deal, your B2B buyer will likely engage in a process of research and consultation. Knowing what information they access at any given point en route to having that first conversation with a rep – whitepapers, webinars, websites, social media, or syndicated content – will help you build more of those interactions.

2| Keep an open mind when it comes to interpreting the results.

Avoid falling into the trap of making assumptions about what influence reporting will reveal. It’s easy to find what you are expecting to see, but the actual reality may be quite different from your expectations. Keeping an open mind will help you focus on what actually works so your marketing team can optimize its efforts in meaningful ways.

Influence reporting validates what works across the buyer journey beyond simple tactics. What you learn may surprise you— and if you’re open to hearing the  truth of what works, you’ll be on the path to blowing success wide-open.

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3|  Take a Structured Approach to your Data.

Without direction, it’s easy to drown in the data obtained in the process of influence reporting. Avoid feeling overwhelmed by framing what you know about the buyer journey in digestible stages and applying what you observe from the data to enrich your understanding of those stages. 

Before you start analyzing the results of Influence Reporting, consider how you might structure the eventual data to deliver the best possible insight—think in terms of KPIs, reports, and hypotheses. 

When data is collected in an organized fashion, it flows with instant context. What stage is the activity mapped to in the buyer journey? What are the key activities per stage that push people into the sales funnel?

4| Classify Your Data According to Buyer Role and Journeys.

Different offerings, geographies, verticals, or audiences often have completely distinct marketing and sales funnels. For example, an electronics manufacturer sells to many unique verticals with unique needs—with corporate, industrial, and consumer applications.

Buyers within each of those verticals will engage in vastly different ways. Use metadata as a uniquely-focused lens on each, giving you the ability to mass-target based on what you see.

Marketing = Influencing

With Influence Reporting, we become much more sensitive to the signs of buyer readiness and get better at proactively responding to them, incorporating buyer journey insight into campaign and content strategy. We gain nuance in our understanding of not only marketing performance, but the rhythm of influence across the buyer journey.

For B2B marketers, the most fulfilling work is all about creating magnetism. We prefer people to self-identify as our ideal customers and then find themselves drawn to our brand when they seek a product or service that will make their organization more efficient or profitable. Whatever the need, we want people to think of us first—and find our brand exceedingly helpful in providing content that helps them navigate their purchase, and then ready to engage a conversation. That’s the ideal. That’s influence.

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