Engagement Rate In B2B Marketing: To Track Or Not To Track (And What To Replace It With)

Engagement Rate In B2B Marketing: To Track Or Not To Track (And What To Replace It With)

This fragile, volatile metric makes promises it cannot keep: the social media user engages with your brand and has positive interactions that can actually turn into brand awareness and equity, an acquisition and brand loyalty. The two words that comprise it mix emotion with math and, therefore, it seems it encompasses both worlds. Reactions/interactions are divided by reach. Simple enough, no?

I think not. Especially for industries where the immediate emotion does not lead to a connection with the brand or a direct sale. Emotion is SO easy to trigger sometimes, SO easy to light up like a fire in a pile of hay. Unlike fire, though, it is SO easy to extinguish. Instead of water, you just let time do the trick. Because unless you constantly feed the emotion, feed the reaction with more and more content, it will die off. Just like fire without oxygen.

Don’t get me wrong. Even after 10+ years in social media marketing, I still get that ego boost when the content I created gets validated online, But I find myself even more engaged when someone I follow and admire comments on one of my posts and said he found value in my article.

Unfortunately, some people and execs only stop at the ego boost. It’s so easy to not go beyond this metric that promises a lot but delivers less and less in this digital environment. It can be a good starting point, yes, provided you are willing to always fuel that fire and can build the behind the scene infrastructure that can not only demonstrate its value to the marketing team and the financial leadership for businesses whose life cycle is longer than, say, a couple of days/minutes.

I’ve had rants on why I don’t trust this metric for B2B businesses for a couple of years so I thought I’d write down the reasons why and what I’d replace it with. Provide the solution along with the problem, right? Come for the rant, stay for the solution, maybe? Let’s go.

Engagement rate: Why It’s Not A Valuable (Read Actionable) Metric for B2B Brands

1: Hard to pull across channels, makes it difficult to have a streamlined definition.

Take video views. Facebook got into a big mess about it and paid $40M to advertisers affected by them lying about video views (with some of those advertisers went out of business because they made decisions on just that one metric). Nowadays, a Facebook/Instagram + IGTV/LinkedIn video view takes 3 seconds while IG Reels/TikToks it’s just one impression and Youtube counts a view after 30-seconds of continuous viewing. You tell me what definition you’d like to use across channels.

It’s he same with engagement. LinkedIn tracks engagement in a different way than Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.

Of course, you can create an engagement-calculated metric and try to leverage it across platforms. I dare you to try that with a company that is not digital savvy whose execs will ask you why the engagement numbers don’t add up to the likes on the update on the page.

2: Not consistent through time. Spoiler alert: bots/fake accounts

Anecdote time: you look at engagements throughout time and divide it by reach to get to that golden formula. Easy, right? But what if you had to pull that exact same data 3 months later and, low and behold, you got different numbers?

At a closer look, you’d probably see that on specific pieces of content the engagements were…negative. Been there, done that. Fake accounts, the horror! Don’t trust me? Then trust Statista data on Facebook

In the first quarter of 2022, Facebook took action on 1.6 billion fake accounts.


3: Raises one big challenge: how do you translate it into business value? Something that C-level execs can understand and relate to?

So your content got you a 70% engagement rate like some ad agencies might have you believe (despite all common sense and industry reports). Looks good on a slide, but can you bring it to the CFO who approves budgets? He might not understand why you need more budget next year unless you translate that engagement rate into brand equity. Can you? If yes, please show me how you do that trick.

What To Replace Engagement Rate With For B2B Brands

Version 1: Brand Usefulness, but keep it simple. Make your content useful and track ONLY that.

I propose you track that: how many shares/sends/reposts/saves/landing page clicks did you get on the content? Keep it organic for a week and then include it in an ongoing paid campaign – check 2). If you have a smaller paid budget, but can produce a lot of valuable content, make it a point to only include those pieces of content that performed above benchmarks (I hope you know your brand’s benchmarks!). For the ones that did not, reshape and recycle, there is no shame in it as long as you craft it from a different angle or give it another format – turn videos into infographics/reels/LinkedIn articles or documents. Your creativity and/or resources are the limit!

Definition: Usefulness=shares+sends+reposts+saves+landing page clicks (feel free to add/edit this to showcase an interaction you translate as this person found our content valuable

Why: drives earned media, and if the content is crafted well, it positions your brand as an opinion leader in its field. Not to mentions, it is highly actionable – you WILL create all of your content with that one purpose – to become useful.

How to communicate it: as the reply to the question how useful are we to our customers?

Version 2. Brand recall/brand lift.

Youtube does it. LinkedIn does it. Facebook does it. I believe even Twitter does it. (Not sure about Tiktok, but, common, let’s be 100% honest, are you ready for all of that for a B2B brand? )

Craft your brand study well and do it across channels. Build those sweet retargeting audiences from these audiences and then use them in MoFu campaigns (Middle of the Funnel, yes, another acronym, but at least this one sounds funny, right?). Measure if retargeting increases the MQLs, SQLs and pipeline. Calculate it in $$$. That you can bring to your CFO and he will take you to the bank (or increase your Pcard limit so you can scale it!)

Definition: Brand lift is the measurement of how your marketing message uplifts your audience’s recognition of your brand. 

Why: outstood the test of time AND is actionable if done right. Caveat – you need your sweet time with this. Time and resources. And forces you to stand the fuck out as one smart handsome French guy keeps telling us.

How to communicate it: as one answer to the double jointed question how recognizable are our brand values and what business value does that bring?

3. Economic value

It’s just math, but it’s not for the ones faint of heart. My least favorite option, but in case of stubborn management, you can try to forge it.

You take the magic or the emotion out of the picture 100% and just focus on the numbers. You get yourself all the historical data and try to assign $$$ value to specific interactions. Use a regressional model, doomed to be fickle in the face of social platforms and economic changes. But, hey, we are doing our best to provide value, to answer that pesky question of why should anyone care (the answer is revenue, always!).

LinkedIn Elevate (legacy LinkedIn Employee Advocacy tool) had this interesting way of attributing value: $X/share. I’ve heard about it in other discussions. What if you could attribute $$$ value to an SM MQL? And then you’d go back from there and create an attribution model for each type of Social Media interaction. Avinash Kaushik’s legendary 2011 article (yes, 2011, you read that right!) details how you can try to forge this into existence.

Definition: you are on your own on this one. It depends A LOT on whether you sell your products online or not if your execs can get on board with such convoluted math if you do figure out a way to assign value to micro-interactions and what those truly are. And you find a way to communicate all of this data in a streamlined automated dashboard that anyone can get in the first 5 minutes of glancing at it.

My Favourite Pick, Brand Usefulness. Why?

  1. You can understand it and I dare to suggest most people could get it. Right?
  2. It helps build your brand in a relevant manner to both your potential customer and yourself.
  3. It tells you what content to produce and how and speaks volumes about how you bring value into people’s lives. (On this note, please, please check out Katelyn Bourgoin’s speech on why we actually buy things in both our personal and professional lives)
  4. It takes time and creativity and a true passion for valuable content. Not braggy, not gimmicky, one that has some utility in one’s life. And it takes courage and support from leadership as you WILL have to fend off all the stakeholders that claim that people on social are just dying to Learn More about them having a booth at an event in some other corner of the world they definitely cannot travel to in 2 hours.
  5. If done right, you can also layer in this step from Brand Uplift to help take it to your CFO and CCO and all the Os that care about $$$:

Build those sweet retargeting audiences from promoting this highly useful content to prospect audiences (or cold) and use them in MoFu campaigns to calculate how much more $$$ you generate by retargeting these already engaged audiences that your brand brought value to compared to targeting cold audiences.

Are you still with me? 1,658 words later the rant is over. Thank you for your time, I hope some of this helps you or inspires you to write your own. If you want to exchange ideas or tell me where I am wrong, let’s grab a lemonade together! On me! Just reach out at hello@oanaandreescu.com with the Subject line: Oana, want my lemonade! or, if you’re based in Romania, call me at 0799347308.

I got asked this question: what’s the most appropriate marketing mix?

I got asked this question: what’s the most appropriate marketing mix?

Is there one? A perfect everlasting marketing mix? I am afraid not. And also happy. Because that is why we, marketers, still have a job: we continue to test, test, and test in search of the most appropriate marketing mix, the one that drives better ROMI.

Audiences’ behavior change – platforms they are active on, motivations, messages they react to in the current context (the pandemic taught us as much!).

Marketing channels change, too. For example, right now influencer marketing in Russia changed dramatically because influencers lost access to the platforms they had built audiences on. I know these seem dramatic examples, but they are real. They are around us.

What I believe you can work with is a work frame to determine the most appropriate marketing mix for your own brand. Below are some of the steps I would take:

1)    Goals: what are our short-term goals? How about the long-term goals?

You might need to get 100 leads in the next 3 months for your business/department to stay alive. You might also need your brand to be top of mind and increase Share of Voice to 20% because you know there is one competitor that is claiming they are providing the same quality product/services you do. Each of these goals will guide your marketing mix in a different manner.

2)    Brand communication background: learn from what the brand or its competitors are doing. Do an audit and a competitor review to learn from history.

3)    Resources and deadlines: you need an understanding of what resources are available and the time constrictions. Here are a couple of questions you might ask yourself:

  • What people do you have working on your team? What are their strengths/weaknesses?
  • What is the available budget and target ROMI? If you have a smaller budget, that might instruct your marketing mix more than what industry case studies tell you it is best practice.

4)    Strategy: after you replied to all the questions above, you come up with a strategy and stick with it for at least 6 months if not more if brand-building goals are involved.

For example, one scenario: You are a brand with a 20% Share of Voice in the cybersecurity industry, target audiences seem to be interested in your products & services, but they do not trust you. Your top competitor has 45% SOV and has been on the market for a very long time.  You, on the other hand, have a team of 2 people working on marketing, one is a specialist in content marketing, the other in paid media.

Your approved strategy might be to invest in a brand campaign focused on building trust with the brand in the coming 6 months: increase SOV by 20% in the coming 6 months and increase NPR score by 5 ppt.

Your marketing mix might be the following:

  • Customer support/care: 20% of your budget. You need to hire a consultant or work with a specialist.
  • Content marketing: 40% of your budget. Work with your in-house specialist to create content for your top channels identified in the audit/competitor review stage. These might be: thought leadership content (brand blog & LinkedIn), cybersec publications and events, podcasts, etc
  • Syndication of content – 40% of your budget. The paid media specialist will work to make sure the best platforms are included in the paid media mix, in this case, it might be programmatic, social (LinkedIn & Twitter), podcast promotion
Social Media Tracking: How To Set Up LinkedIn And Twitter Website Tags And Share Audiences With Partners

Social Media Tracking: How To Set Up LinkedIn And Twitter Website Tags And Share Audiences With Partners

Facebook Conversion Pixel. Twitter Website Tag. LinkedIn Insight Tag.

Social media platforms have their own naming convention and their very own setup and way of doing things. I have gone through this a couple of times and have struggled with it. That is why I want to document this to maybe help you out. Let’s start with Twitter today,

Twitter Website Tag: How to Install It And Share Audiences

1. Log in to your Ad Account.

2. Go to Tools> Conversion tracking

3. Select View Code and Installation Instructions

4. Send the code to the web development team for them to install at the bottom of all your web pages.

5. Create Custom Audiences

Tools>Audiences>Create new conversion event>Create audience

You will then be prompted to choose between these types of audiences. Choose the right type and name your audience in an easy way to identify. If you are reading this articles, I somehow expect that you are interested in retargeting visitors of your website so you might want to choose that?

Once the audience is created your retargeting lists will start building and you are ready to leverage them in campaigns and also share them with partners so…move on to step #6!

6. Add your partner’s Twitter Handle as a Partner Audience Manager

First you need to click on your Ad Account Name (upper right corner) and select Edit access to account.

Then you just add the Twitter handle you want to grant access to your Custom Audiences to and make them (at least) Partner Audience Manager, if not more than just that.

The handle should now have access to Custom Audiences you built during step #5. They can view, create, modify, and delete Custom Audiences through the Twitter API. 

LinkedIn Insight Tag: How To Install It And Share Audiences

Step 1: Install The Insight Tag

Go to your ad account (I assume you already have one), go to Account Assets>Insight Tag> Install my Insight Tag.

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You then have to choose the way you want to install your tag.

  1. I will install the tag myself: you will copy the tag code yourself and paste the Insight Tag code below in your website’s global footer, right above the closing HTML <body> tag. Adding the tag to the footer will let you track conversions or retarget on any page across your whole site. You need to have access to your website code and be comfortable with editing it.
  2. I will send the tag to a developer: just as it reads, you send instructions to your developer and it will get done by someone writing code daily. Nice and easy.
  3. I will use a tag manager – does Google Tag Manager ring any bell? You can choose between different tag managers, starting with GTM, Tealium tag manager, Adobe tag manager, IBM, Ensighten tag manager, Floodlight tag manager. You choose the one that best fits your needs.

And there you have it: Your tag should send data as soon as it has been installed correctly on your website. For privacy purposes, Website Demographics and Website Audiences require 300 visitors or more to visit your page before you will see data.

Step 2: Create Custom Audiences

Go to Account Assets>Matched Audiences. Your next step is to decide what type of retargeting audience you want to create.

You can choose from:

  1. Company page – your page followers
  2. Event
  3. Lead gen form – people who opened a form you promoted, but did not fill it in
  4. Video – people who watched your videos,
  5. Website traffic – this is what we want for this exercise.

You will have to, of course, name your audience and decide what webpage traffic you want to retarget. You can insert multiple links and combine multiple links.

Let’s say you would like to retarget people who read your blog – then you would select starts with and type in something like www.mycompany.com/blog .

Or let’s take a different scenario: you have a campaign landing page you would like to retarget and offer the readers a discounted price. Instead of starts with you select equals and insert the landing page url.

Pretty straightforward, right? Now let’s see how you can share that retargeting audience with a partner, maybe another division in your company that runs paid advertising from their own ad account. Or maybe you want to share that audience with an agency you’ve contracted.

Step 3: How To Share Matched Audiences

Once again go to Account Assets>Matched Audiences and select the audience you want to share. Click on that top button Share a copy and enter the account name, ID, or URL of your partner in the next screen. You are done!