Digital Display: B2B ABM vs B2C
One of the misconceptions we often run into is the idea that B2B display is just like B2C advertising, except in B2B we’re targeting accounts, whereas B2C targets individuals. And while that is true, the goals - and therefore measures of success - are quite different.
In B2C, the digital shopping cart has set the tone for measurement, the CTR (click-through rate) and CPA (cost per action) are everything as they are highly relevant to an immediate purchase action via ecommerce.
These are the first metrics cited when reporting on campaign performance and generally the way to tell if one campaign or set of ads (A/B testing) is outperforming another. And in the B2C world, it makes sense. Typically B2C advertising focuses on a single product or offer. The call to action is very specific; a discount, an offer, a limited time promotion.
In B2C this makes sense, transactions are largely simple, single-buyer motions that require comparatively little consideration. In B2C channels like display and video are meant to hit you at the point of consideration based on retargeting and contextual intent to present you with an immediate offer.
However in B2B it isn't that simple, most of our sales cycles are too complex to expect a single banner or video will encourage an immediate purchase decision. Our topics are also not as individually appealing, which means that we're less likely to break OTHER content engagements with our message and encourage an immediate click. Ultimately, this means the CTR and CPA, while useful measures, can't encompass the full objective for a digital awareness channel in ABM.
The strength of ABM digital awareness programs lies in their ability to continuously deliver exposure to specific target accounts and personas, creating brand and message visibility that helps encourage engagement with your brand’s other channels during the buyer’s journey.
In terms of measurable impact, these channels are primarily designed to drive brand awareness, associate your brand with a particular solution, and provide consistent air-cover for target accounts. This means, instead of focusing on the number of clicks, we need to be able to specifically measure the impact your display campaign is having on your target audience's awareness and association of your brand to the pain they're trying to solve.
Digital Display Becomes Digital Awareness
To measure impact, marketers can focus on a range of behavioral performance metrics to understand the different degrees to which a program is influencing a target account audience.
We’ve developed a framework of measurement that groups these digital awareness metrics by specific outcomes to understand the various levels of impact a program can have, and how well it is operating to deliver this impact. In addition, we’ve built the framework with three levels of sophistication and detail to help guide you in your measurement efforts based on your unique analytical needs and capabilities.
By grouping program metrics into several key categories, a program manager can quickly present an awareness program’s results in a digestible format that helps tell the story around a program’s different levels of influence and impact on a target audience. Each “metric set” contains detailed measures, grouped by:
- Exposure Metrics – Measures a campaign’s ability to reach the target account audience with first-stage content and deliver in-market awareness around a brand and its solutions.
- Engagement Metrics –Measures how account exposure has translated into brand-specific interaction, providing a view of the audience that has sought to connect deeper with the brand.
- Impact Metrics – Details the portion of accounts that have shown significant change in their brand-specific behaviors or measurable direct engagement since being exposed to the program.
- Influence Metrics – Highlights the potential influence and role the program has in an opportunity’s overall marketing mix.
- Operational Efficiency Metrics – Measures high-level program ROI
- Segment Analytics – Additional detailed analysis that can be performed to better understand a target audience’s unique profile and levels/types of engagement
When we take the focus off CTRs and start measuring how digital awareness campaigns are driving overall audience engagement (whether the target account clicked on the ad or not), we begin to see a more complete picture of how our awareness campaigns are impacting the business.
A great example to illustrate the point: Quorum Software launched a competitive takeout campaign offering users a 3-month free trial to entice them to switch from their outdated software to Quorum’s more modern solution. The ad (pictured) was well designed, had a strong call to action, and used research intent data to target accounts using competitive software. However, very few targeted accounts clicked on the ad, and even fewer actually took Quorum upon their trial offer.
The initial assessment was the campaign was a failure. However, looking beyond the CTR, Quorum discovered something interesting. The Engagement Rate (defined as % of targeted accounts that exhibited direct brand engagement after being exposed to program) was nearly half. And the Impact Rate (defined as % of reached accounts that exhibited measurable ‘lift’ against baseline engagement rates) was over a quarter.
From an audience impact standpoint, this meant nearly half of a sizeable audience of accounts wound up engaging with Quorum's brand, and over a quarter of them showed measurable lift in their engagement with the brand.
But there’s more...
Even more interesting, nearly 20% of this highly targeted program's engaged accounts were brand new to Quorum's brand, having never engaged before. They came to the website, consumed content, engaged sales, and of those new accounts, 20% became new deals in less than 2 months, netting a sizeable amount of new pipeline for the business.
The point of it all this is to say - in a B2B ABM world, if you're measuring success of digital channels by direct engagement metrics, you're likely missing the bigger picture for success. ABM is about the audience, and delivering the right mix to improve overall business results, and to do that, you need to make sure that audience is aware, educated and ready to engage before they are ready to convert.
If you’d like a copy of our Framework for Measuring Digital Awareness Program Performance with basic, intermediate, and advanced calculations, download it here and let us know what you think.