How to set up a Google Analytics account for B2B marketing?
People in office building

Written by Bartek Bezemer

About the author
I want you to get more out of your online marketing by helping you learn from the greats and give you practical tips.

May 3, 2020

Optimizing your B2B website can be a challenging feat. The amount of visitors to your website is lower than for B2C websites and you don’t make direct sales most of the time. You live and breathe for generating leads that you nurture with your sales department. But how to set up your Google Analytics account for success when you’re targeting other businesses? 

I remember dealing with accounts which were not built for growth. There was no dedicated online marketer who had thought about how to properly use Google Analytics for different scenarios, one of them being gathering leads. No thank you pages, no Google Analytics on every page, forms sealed within iFrames and untrackable because they were built in Ajax. My online marketer life was a nightmare. How could I do my job without proper data?

The difference between B2C and B2B 

There are a few factors you need to be aware of before you start implementing or setting up your Google Analytics account, namely the difference between consumers and businesses. The buyer journey of a consumer is often shorter and more focused, with less people involved. Obviously your mileage may vary. Big purchases such as household appliances of several hundreds of dollars, cars or pc’s have an extensive research phase with multiple people involved. 

In recent years B2B-marketing has been moving more towards B2C. You can see this in the way chat functions are integrated on B2B websites, whereas before this was solely reserved to e-commerce websites. Tools such as Trustpilot are also finding their way into the B2B-market. Some B2B-websites radiate towards price transparency, which was exclusive to B2C companies. But the core principle remains, business buyers are more prone to comparing and need all the ammunition they can get to internally sell their choices. 

Preparing your Google Analytics implementation 

Most buying decisions won’t be made on your website when you sell niche products that can only be purchased through quotations. Think of products such as digital asset management, social media monitoring, customer service or finance solutions. Even SaaS products won’t necessarily be bought straight away. For those that do, we’ll come to that later in the post. 

In the first scenario we’ll look at B2B companies who sell products indirectly and are in the game of gathering leads. There are a few essential steps necessary to make sure all your pages are properly tracked in Google Analytics and you can measure your successes. 

You need the following elements in place:

A thank you page behind every form
We’ll use thank you pages to redirect our forms so we can measure successful form requests or leads through ‘goals’. Without the thank you page, goal implementation in Google Analytics will become a very difficult endeavor. We don’t even want to consider that scenario. 

No indexation of thank you pages
A lot of CMS will index pages by default, which is a blessing, but make sure your thank you page will not be picked up by search engines, as organic traffic can throw your results off course. Thank you pages for successful completed actions only. I suspect the amount of traffic to an indexed thank you page will virtually be non existent, but we want to be rather safe than sorry.   

No Ajax forms or iFrames
Is this still a thing? If you have those, please get them out of your website today. Using those will severely limit your measurement capabilities for tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar. If you have them and there is a valid business reason, consult with your developer how to insert Google Analytics into iFrames. 

A Google Analytics implementation on every page with Google Tag Manager
To make sure all steps of the buying journey are measured,  I always recommend using a Google Tag Manager setup as it will make future implementations such as Hotjar or Facebook Pixels much easier. Google Tag Manager has become a lot more user friendly when it comes down to implementing different measurement tools. Google Analytics is supported by default. You can check whether a page has a Google Analytics instance through the Google Tag Assistant chrome extension, a must have tool for every seasoned online marketer. 

Creating a Google Ads account
A Google Ads account will help you build custom audiences that can be used to upsell to higher funnel conversions. Custom audiences are best made in Google Analytics as they can house more variables than Google Ads does, such as goal completions, amount of pages visited, new or returning visitors, bounce rate etc. 

Calculating your Customer Lifetime value
Knowing how much a channel is worth investing in makes a lot more sense when you know how much you earn from a customer. This feature is especially handy when your focus is gathering leads and not making direct sales. Without direct sales you’ll need other guides to determine what conversions are necessary to meet your targets. 

Getting your privacy ready from the get go
It’s easy to forget your visitors’ privacy when you’re focused on running a business. When in the EU, or more recently California, it’s mandatory you adhere to the privacy regulations. The first steps to take are: turn off Google products and services, benchmarking, technical support and Account specialists. This will ensure your data is not shared with third parties. Include a cookie notification and opt-in. If you use WordPress there are a bunch of plugins that manage this for you. You can find these sections in the Admin section of Google Analytics.

Goal completions in Google Analytics

Most B2B-companies will be lead centered, meaning you aren’t focussed on direct sales through your website. Leads range far and wide, but the most common ones in the B2B realm are: 

  • Request for quotation 
  • Download whitepaper
  • Download a brochure
  • Request a demo 
  • Request a trial
  • Request appointment
  • Sign-up for newsletter

Each one is a valuable element of the marketing and sales process as they generate new business and act as a thermometer for the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. For Google Analytics it is important you make sure every one of these forms has a central endpoint. In this case it will be a dedicated thank you page, which we’ve mentioned earlier on, that will serve as goal tracking in Google Analytics. Do not redirect all your forms to one thank you page. You won’t be able to distinguish the different conversions (e.g. the request for quote should not redirect to the same thank you page as the whitepaper). Goals can be found in the admin section of the property, where in a free account you can have up to 20 goals. Pick your goals wisely, because before you know it, you will have used them all. 

A thank you page is nothing more than a static page, with a descriptive, non-dynamic, url so you can easily find it in Google Analytics. A good url would be /thank-you or /thank-you/contact-form. A bad url would be /id-1236 or /session1753. Make sure these requirements are properly briefed to your web developer if you are not managing your own website. The importance of a thank you page cannot be understated. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where thank you pages do not exist, as I had to encounter multiple times over the years. 

To enrich your goals, it’s advisable you assign a value to your goals. This can be done in the same menu when creating a goal. Giving value to a goal is especially handy when you don’t have an e-commerce environment attached to your website. Imagine you are selling propulsion systems for small drone devices, very niche I know, but those will not be purchased online. Yet they do represent a certain value, may it be the lowest price you sell them for.

Even more likely is that the request for a quote is the end of the marketing funnel and a lot of steps have been taken before getting to this stage, such as visiting a page about the product, visiting the contact page, downloading a whitepaper, downloading the product brochure and eventually requesting a quote. Each can be set up as a goal, but with a different weight of importance for the sales team. 

Pick your goals wisely, because before you know it, you will have used them all.

Let’s take the propulsion system as an example again and give each separate goal a value; step one would be visiting the product page, which we give a value of 10. Followed by visiting the contact page, which we will give a value of 15. Download brochure is worth 30, downloading a whitepaper 50 and requesting a quote will be assigned a value of 100. This will help you identify which goals are most important within the lead nurturing funnel and help you dedicate the appropriate budget to your online campaigns. 

Another approach for goal values is assigning the cost per lead. A cost per lead can be calculated as follows: cost per lead = cost per ad spend / amount of leads. This is a very simplistic version and can be enriched with all kinds of different metrics such as salary per sales employee, travel costs etc. 

These calculations can be a pain to determine as a finance employee will assign a completely different cost structure than a sales person or a marketing employee. Stick to basics when setting up your account and, when having enough data, refine your cost per lead. 

You can make paths mandatory for goals. That means they are only measured when previous steps are being completed. Like visiting the home, then the product page, the contact page and the pricing page. I tend to not use this feature as the path to purchase is to be dispersed across the target audience. And when every goal counts, it’s a shame you miss completions. 

Enable demographics reports through Advertising features

Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but not all features are enabled by default. An interesting report that can help you better understand your customers is the Demographics reports. Enabling this report tells you which age and gender your visitors are, which interests your visitors may have in each step of the buying phase. In some countries household income can also be unlocked for advertising purposes. 

Reasons you might want to use the audience report:

  • If you are targeting young professionals for your recruitment firm you want to make sure you indeed attract younger audiences. Having this data may help you better determine whether you are using the right platforms or you need to adjust your media strategy.
  • If you know your in-market audience visits a lot of news websites, you want to further narrow down where your ads are served and don’t waste money on websites where your target audience does not consider purchasing your products.
  • If you are selling specialized hosting hardware,  you want to know which gender your user is and what websites they are visiting to better target them in your advertising.  

As said, this feature is not enabled by default, because it will track more data from your website visitors, which requires a cookie-consent. The demographics reports will use profiling or extract data submitted in the Google account of the user who is visiting your website. The advertising features report can be enabled in the admin section of Google Analytics in the account and property section. Under the property you can enable this feature. 

Setting up audiences for Google Ads remarketing

An online B2B-marketing strategy is nothing without remarketing. This is done for a multitude of reasons, but the most relevant one is that a lot of B2B-purchases have a longer purchase cycle than consumers do. 

This varies from product to product, but a buying decision for businesses takes more steps and can stretch over multiple days, weeks or even months. To be considered during the consideration phase it’s important you stay on top of mind with your customer. For optimal remarketing audiences, it’s important you have implemented the goals we’ve mentioned earlier, although they are not mandatory for remarketing. 

You can use the following Google Analytics audiences for usage in Google Ads. These are not predefined:

  • Completed a registration for trial
  • Downloaded a whitepaper
  • Downloaded a product brochure
  • Visited the product page
  • Visited the home page
  • Visited an event page
  • Visited at least 10 pages on your website

With those audiences you can use the following remarketing messages:

  • Completed a registration for trial
    • Remarketing to buy your product or request a quote.
  • Downloaded a whitepaper
    • Remarketing to sign-up for a trial if they haven’t already.
  • Download a product brochure
    • Remarketing to sign-up for a trial or download a whitepaper.
  • Visited the product page
    • Remarketing to download a whitepaper or register a webinar. 
  • Visited the home page
    • Remarketing to visit the product page.
  • Visited an event page
    • Remarketing to purchase tickets.
  • Visited at least 10 pages on your website
    • Remarketing to sign-up for a trial or download a brochure.

Note that an audience can use a multitude of requirements. You can create an audience of users who’ve completed a sign-up for a trial, have downloaded a whitepaper and visited at least 5 pages on your website. These are very useful if you want to create very specific audiences, but this methodology can severely limit the audience size if you don’t pull in thousands of new users to your website every week who can meet those requirements. You should start working from broad to narrow audiences and figure out which get the most conversions. It’s also important that you import the conversions into Google Ads, or else they won’t count for your conversions and you’ll never learn which banners or texts work best. 

Gathering website data and Do-it-yourself B2B services

It’s very tempting to directly optimize your website, but it’s important you first let data flow into your Google Analytics account. This is especially true for instances which are only a few days old and I suspect that your traffic volumes will need some development as well, because you’ll be installing Google Analytics in the beginning of your website’s conception. For a beginning, low traffic account, I recommend first collecting a month’s worth of traffic before you begin to deep dive into all the different reports of your account. 

In the above examples we’ve looked at how you can set up Google Analytics for when you are gathering leads, but when you are directly selling to businesses. In another more detailed post I go into depth about how to use the E-commerce report to increase revenue. I provide examples from the Google Merchandise store, where I walk you through the different steps you can take to analyse your ecommerce results. I’ve also created another post where you can read how you can implement Google Analytics as a SaaS company, such as creating different goals for greater detail. 

Summary 

In this post we’ve looked at how you can implement Google Analytics on your website for B2B success. The core principle for success of your analytics account depends on how well you can define the different goals that are needed to grow your business. Without a clear definition of your objectives, you don’t know how to use the different reports for optimization. You’ll just be collecting data without function. Generating leads also means measuring different micro conversions as well, such as newsletter subscriptions and page visits. All the smaller goals lead to the overarching goal which differs from business to business. 

Why Starbucks launched the Starbucks Reserve franchise

Starbucks rose to number 37 on the Forbes list of most valuable brands. Why did this corporate behemoth decide to launch its Reserve Roastery...

You may also like

Share This