In B2B marketing, there’s an ongoing battle between awareness advertising and demand generation.
Marketers know that cultivating a strong brand over time is just as important as generating demand, leads, and sales, but many teams struggle to prioritize each appropriately within their overall marketing strategy.
This is partly because there’s a tendency for performance-driven marketers to shy away from executing brand and awareness advertising. In demand gen initiatives, they feel confident in their ability to prove value—a (relatively) black and white look at what’s working, what isn’t, and how to prioritize efforts from there.
It’s a different game when it comes to branding and awareness.
The same metrics of success just don’t exist—it’s tough to compare things like impressions and clicks with MQLs and revenue. One is vague, and the other tangible. Until now.
Driven by our demand gen clients’ need to measure not only leads but awareness advertising as well, we’ve turned to one of our favorite data enrichment tools to measure what must be measured.
Testing Assumptions in Awareness Advertising
In the absence of data, decisions about awareness advertising often seem to rest on personal preferences or biases even among some of the strongest marketing teams. Consider this example:
Imagine being tasked with increasing awareness of your product among Fortune 1000 tech companies, but each member of your marketing team has their own ideas about the best channels to use.
One team member has had positive experiences with Twitter in the past
Another thinks Facebook is dead and is looking for the next best thing
The other prefers LinkedIn because they think it aligns the best for B2B
For an industry that claims to be data-driven, it’s shocking just how much personal bias still drives decisions around where to invest marketing dollars.
Demand gen marketers can make their cases using measurements of cost per lead, MQL, SQL, and so on, but when it comes to awareness, there isn’t a comparable measure of quality. You’re stuck with rudimentary measures like CPM, CPE, or CPC—all of which lack the ability to account for quality.
You inevitably face an inherent conflict—you could drive a lot of traffic at a low price, but remain concerned about the quality of that traffic. Conversely, more expensive traffic has an implied degree of quality, but a lack of proof to confirm this is true.
So do you blindly maximize the KPI of success, or do you succumb to the biases of the HiPPO (highest paid person's opinion)?
The good news is that you don’t have to rely on any of the above. As long as you know who you’re trying to build awareness with, you’re in luck.
Introducing: The Clearbit Qualified User
Across the board, the missing piece of awareness advertising is a measurement of whether or not the right people (your target audiences) are seeing your ads. Traditionally, arriving at this insight just hasn’t been possible.
But with a tool like Clearbit, we’re discovering that we can, in fact, gain insight and measurement around the types of audiences we’re reaching via brand ads. You can actually leverage this third-party data to gain an understanding of how many people (i.e., companies) who fit your ideal customer profile were exposed to your brand ads.
How Does it Work?
Within Google Analytics, ad clicks are matched with IP addresses and company names using Clearbit Reveal, giving you insight into which companies are clicking your ads. There are a number of company-based attributes tracked in Reveal that will help qualify users in the B2B space, including Employee Range, Industry Attributes, and Company Tags.
From there, you can take the ad costs of the platform (in this example Facebook and LinkedIn), and divide them by the number of visitors each platform drove who fall into your target audience.
The cost per Clearbit Qualified User essentially becomes a metric of whether or not you’re reaching people who matter significantly to your business; in other words, it’s a way to measure the effectiveness of reaching priority companies, providing a comparable metric of relative value for awareness efforts.
So if you’re an enterprise software company, knowing that your brand ads were seen by 5 potential Fortune 1000 buyers is vastly more valuable than thinking you may have reached them.
It’s measurable, meaningful, and best of all, optimizable.
But heed this warning: when we talk about optimization, we are not talking about chasing ever-cheaper engagement and clicks.
In the spirit of bringing a demand gen mindset to awareness advertising, we’re ultimately trying to drive down the metrics, or the “cost-pers.” Without this concept of a qualified user, you’re incentivizing yourself to simply go after the cheapest clicks (which is almost never the best traffic).
By implementing this concept of a Clearbit Qualified User, you can focus on actually driving down the cost of qualified users—a meaningful strategy because you know you’re working with the right people.
What Are the Downfalls?
We’ve covered the good, and here’s the bad: This isn’t a perfect method. The two main drawbacks are:
It doesn’t give value to qualified people seeing (but not clicking) your ad or content.
The Clearbit data is reliant on IP, so if a qualified user logs in from a mobile device, or at home, they aren’t going to be included in the qualified user group.
It’s worth noting these measurement challenges, though for our clients, it’s better than what else is out there to get this kind of insight.
Blog post by Andrew Breen, president of Outshine.