In 2020, B2B digital marketing spend surpassed $8 billion and accounted for 11.3% of company budgets, on average. Although those numbers are expected to grow in 2021, only 1 out of 5 B2B brands are successfully tracking the ROI of their paid media campaigns.

Marketing attribution has always been challenging for businesses with multiple touchpoints in the customer journey. For some B2B companies, that journey often happens across devices, and it can last anywhere from weeks to months. Some major software engineering companies go through RFP processes for a year before they actually earn any revenue.

When the buying process is that long and you run PPC campaigns that don't immediately generate sales at the time your leads convert, how can you know the true value of your digital marketing spend?

Closed-loop attribution is the answer.

Regardless of its niche or vertical, no B2B company will grow and boost conversions without a complete picture of its users' interactions at every touchpoint—from the first click to the final contract. It might take a little more work, but closing the loop is the surest way to open up the possibilities of dominating in paid search.

What Closed-Loop Analytics Tell You

Closed-loop analytics, also known as closed-loop marketing, is the process of comparing data between two or more analytics tools. In the case of PPC campaigns, that means closing the loop between your Google Analytics data and the data captured by your sales team in your CRM.

The most common mistake B2B companies make with Google Ads and Facebook Ads is failing to close the loop prior to launching their campaigns. They invest significant amounts of money into digital advertising platforms, but make it impossible to quantify which channels deliver the most value.

Let's say your B2B business spends $5,000 in Google Ads to get 100 clicks. Here is some information you might want to have about those visitors:

  • What exactly did they do when they came to your website?
  • Which ad, keyword, or content marketing item pushed them into the funnel?
  • Did they execute any micro-conversions, such as clicking into certain high-value landing pages or starting a live chat?
  • How many of the visitors who filled out a submission form actually became customers?
  • Which of those customers generated the most revenue for your brand?

Closed-loop analytics will give you the answers to those questions, and that knowledge will help to optimize your future PPC campaigns so that you drive the most qualified traffic to your website and improve the overall ROI of your digital marketing budget.

Why Google Analytics Is Not Enough to Measure the Success of Your PPC Campaigns

Too many B2B companies rely solely on Google Analytics to measure the success of their campaigns. E-commerce companies are able to do so because when something on their website converts, they know the revenue amount immediately.

B2B companies, however, can't rely on that same analytics model. Here's why:

  • Google Analytics tracks visitors only from initial website landing to lead conversion.
  • The basic conversion options in Google Analytics are not sufficient for tracking longer sales cycles.
  • Google Ads will provide Google Click IDs only for clicks that are younger than 30 days.
  • Anything over 30 days is wiped, and you can no longer obtain that digital marketing data.

Until Google makes it easier for companies with longer sales cycles to measure the value of their clicks, closed-loop analytics is essential.

In the past decade, digital marketing spend has moved toward strategies that provide a quantifiable return, and setting up closed-loop analytics on your campaigns can help your marketing team home-in on the most profitable digital channels.

Improving your analytics also allows opportunities for your marketing and sales teams to collaborate more closely to understand and improve upon the customer journey.

How to Set Up Closed-Loop Analytics

How you implement closed-loop analytics on your PPC campaigns will depend on your B2B's CRM and tag management system (TMS) platforms.

Your Google Analytics data is funneled into your CRM so your sales and marketing teams know exactly which PPC campaigns, keywords, ads, or landing pages bring in the most valuable clients, even if the user interacts with those sources months before the final contract.

Ideally, your sales team should be tracking when website visitors convert to leads—whether through a submission form or another CTA—and when those same leads become customers.

Here's an outline of how to set up closed-loop analytics:

  1. Add a script to your website that extracts users' Client ID when they submit a lead generation form (you can use Google Tag Manager).
  2. Customize the form to automatically send that Client ID to your CRM.
  3. Use CRM integrations or plugins to export your custom events (e.g., when leads become customers) back to Google Analytics.

If you're using Salesforce, you can track imported Salesforce milestones using Google Analytics event goals. Likewise, sales teams using HubSpot can push their HubSpot events to Google Analytics.

Once your CRM data is incorporated in your Google Analytics reporting, you will have a more holistic view of which PPC campaigns are the most successful. Redeploy the campaign settings or keyword targeting in future campaigns to keep bringing in qualified traffic and high-value leads for the long run.

The Biggest Value Proposition of Closed-Loop Analytics

For B2B companies, so much goes into the sales cycle; closed-loop analytics allows you to analyze and capitalize off each portion of it—even when there are big time gaps between the various stages of the sales process. Getting your marketing and sales teams and platforms to work together will provide the accurate measurements you need to refine your paid search campaigns and ensure that your investment is worth it.

More Resources on Closed-Loop Analytics

A Better Way to Gauge Sales Lift: Closed-Loop Measurement

Extending and Enhancing Closed-Loop Marketing via the Mobile Channel

Sales and Marketing Alignment: Seven Steps to Collaborative, Right-Time Revenue Optimization

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image of Manick Bhan

Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning SEO and digital marketing agency.

LinkedIn: Manick B.

Twitter: @madmanick