One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Pitfalls of Web 2.0 for B2B

Marketing Metrics


This is Phil Fernandez writing, and this is my first posting as a “guest” on Jon’s Modern B2B Marketing blog.  Along with Jon I’m a co-founder of Marketo, and am the company’s CEO. I look forward to sharing some occasional commentary in this forum.

I’m just back from MarketingSherpa’s B2B Demand Generation Summit 2006 in San Francisco.  Overall it was a great show, with lots of interesting discussion about the need for metrics and accountability in B2B marketing, the need for systematic lead nurturing programs driven by the Marketing department, and the rapidly increasing importance of online marketing channels in B2B customer acquisition.

If you’ll pardon the rant, I’m also really bothered by one of the themes that had a lot of visibility at the MarketingSherpa Summit, which was the emerging importance of “Web 2.0” marketing channels in B2B.  By this I mean things like RSS feeds, blogs, Podcasts, video feeds, Wikis, etc. – technologies that foster two-way communication with customers and the rich sharing of community and content.

I’m not denying the importance of these new technologies to B2B marketing.  Every demand generation professional had better figure out how to use these tools effectively, and fast.  But I was really shocked and dumbfounded at the Summit during an otherwise-excellent presentation by Paul Dunay from BearingPoint titled, “Leveraging Podcasting, Videocasts & RSS for B-to-B Marketing,” in which he talked about some creative new programs he has recently launched using these technologies.

What were the results of BearingPoint’s creative Web 2.0 marketing programs?  What was their ROI?  We don’t know!  And this is why I was so shocked.  Right smack in the middle of this 2-day conference structured all around metrics, accountability, and the need for quantitative methods in marketing, we were told that we should all do Web 2.0 marketing for “influence”, “buzz”, and “engagement”, and that we didn’t need to measure the results because, gosh darn it, they were just so Web 2.0 new and cool.

No!  This line of thinking is pointed in exactly the wrong direction.  This is exactly why Marketing, in all too many companies, is seen as a discretionary cost center rather than an integral contributor to the revenue pipeline.  This is an echo of the days when Marketing could claim to be all about “image” and “awareness” and didn’t have to account for its impact on the bottom line.

As B2B marketers adopt these great new Web 2.0 technologies, you must not fall into this trap.  We can, and must, measure the quantitative impact and ROI of investments in blog marketing, Podcasts, and the like.  If they work, use ‘em.  If they don’t, then they have no place in your marketing budget.  And they can be measured.  For example, blogs are integral for link-building, and link building can be tied directly to organic search page rank, and rank ties to traffic, which ties to revenue.  Podcasts can include a unique call to action on a customized landing page, and the revenue created by lead conversions from such a page can be directly measured.

Are you using any of these Web 2.0 marketing techniques?  Are you measuring your results? I encourage readers to share their quantitative methods for measuring the results of these great new marketing tools.