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Most B2B e-commerce businesses rely on advertising to bring in potential customers—and, in the case of retargeting, to remind past customers of recently viewed items.

Every e-commerce business should follow some basic principles if they are to navigate advertising waters successfully. This article examines five common mistakes B2B e-commerce companies make when measuring the return on advertising spend (ROAS), and it offers various ways to avoid those mistakes.

1. Not Setting Up End-to-End Attribution

The unique piece to B2B e-commerce is that a large percentage of customers contact and buy in bulk. Those people come through as "leads" when they fill out a form, but if revenue isn't entered and passed back after their bulk purchase, it's not "tracked"—and more important, the purchase is not passed back to our engines and Google Analytics. When that happens, we miss some of our biggest orders and don't use them for insights and automated bidding.

Nowadays, customer data pass-through is allowed in Google, Bing, Facebook, and Google Analytics. The solution is to pass the customer data back to our marketing channels and Google Analytics in real-time.

2. Incorrect Cookie Lengths

In the typical B2C e-commerce purchasing cycle, most purchasers will purchase within 30 days (unless it involves more expensive, larger items, such as high-end couches). For B2B e-commerce, the purchasing cycles are usually longer—even for smaller items; the people in charge of purchasing do research, and they are given certain periods when they can purchase.

The default cookie length is 30 days, which is usually too short for B2B e-commerce. You'll want to change it to 90 days wherever possible.

3. Double- or Triple-Dipping Your Revenue

Often, e-commerce businesses will use multiple marketing agencies to manage various channels. One agency will run the email campaign, and another will cover social media, for example. But agency separation becomes problematic when the agencies measure ROAS with data from different platforms. Each platform has its own data and may not reflect the overall picture accurately.

For example, if a person engages with a Google ad, engages with a Facebook ad, then returns to Google and makes a purchase, both platforms will report a conversion. But in reality the customer made only one purchase.

Only through CMS tools or Google Analytics last-touch attributions can e-commerce businesses correctly count purchases.

4. Blaming Poor Sales on Marketing

For some B2B industries, all sales happen offline instead of online. When that happens, Marketing's sole job is to push more qualified leads at better ROAS. It is a salesperson's job to close the sales based on internal sales processes (or lack thereof). The company will often blame poor sales on Marketing when in fact the blame lies with a poor sales process or ineffective salespeople (or both).

The solution to that problem is to use the correct KPI for Marketing: cost per lead.

5. Not Giving Marketing Credit for Offline Sales

Even with an end-to-end attribution setup that can track a sale all the way from lead to a purchase, many companies treat their offline sales as an entirely different channel. As a consequence, Marketing isn't given credit for big purchases—which, as you can guess, means that Marketing is given less budget, decisions are based on bad data, and revenue is left on the table.

The solution is to make sure all revenue is pushed into one source of truth, and credit is given where credit is due: Marketing.

6. Focusing on Last-Click Attribution Only

We already mentioned that a bad measurement design hampers ROAS measurement. One such design is an exclusive focus on last clicks, which means you ignore the rest of the funnel (which will almost always be multichannel).

It is impossible to gauge the effects of running any cross-channel marketing program with last-touch attribution because you are left blind to how the different components of campaigns contribute to success. Of course, as a result, B2B e-commerce marketers risk under-investing or over-investing in different ways of advertising.

A solution is to use Google Analytics' Multichannel Funnels Tool.

* * *

Technology allows B2B e-commerce businesses to measure ROAS in many ways. It also enables marketers to measure their advertising effectiveness and improve their campaigns; but, at the same time, it increases the likelihood of costly mistakes.

Marketers should set up end-to-end attribution and track all sales, both online and offline. It's now possible and recommended to pass back all data available to all marketing channels. And depending on the length of the sales cycle, marketers might want to change their cookie lengths to 90 days, give credit to Marketing for all offline purchases, and focus on multifunnel purchases.

More Resources on B2B E-Commerce

How to Meet B2B Buyers' E-Commerce Expectations

Tips for Improving the B2B E-Commerce Experience

Five Tips for Tackling B2B E-Commerce Without Amazon

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B2B E-Commerce: Six Common Return-on-Ad-Spend Measurement Mistakes

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image of Darwin Liu

Darwin Liu is the founder and CEO of X Agency, an integrated digital marketing agency of growth engineers.

LinkedIn: Darwin Liu