Online B2B sellers must sort through reams of data on customer activity across multiple selling channels to see how well they’re reaching goals like driving sales and cutting costs. Forrester Research offers tips on how to do that.

So much data on B2B customers—and so hard to put it all to use.

But maybe not as hard it seems.

Managers at businesses selling to other businesses online, Forrester Research Inc. says in the report, “Get Your B2B eCommerce Metrics Right,” face several formidable challenges in trying to measure how well they’re doing at digital commerce, including:

  • Collecting and managing data from multiple sources;
  • Recruiting analysts able to put that data to good use;
  • Setting and attaining such goals as driving sales, cutting the costs to acquire and serve customers, and building customer loyalty.

The report, written by senior analyst for B2B e-commerce John Bruno and other Forrester analysts, provides a list of 30 key metrics that Forrester produced to align with particular goals.

For driving sales, for example, the report advises companies to measure profitability across three metrics: profitability per order, per customer, and per customer segment. By measuring the total annual revenue in each metric and subtracting the total annual cost for each, a company can understand how to better target marketing spend in each area.

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Forrester also notes that, while most online companies will track such online metrics as web sales, average order value and conversion rates, they should also track where possible online sales influenced by offline activities like print ads, and offline sales influenced by online content.

Among the report’s other recommendations are measuring the effect on costs of any changes in the number of customer service calls following an increase in the number of orders customers place through self-service e-commerce.

Forrester also advises B2B companies to conduct an ongoing review of operations to identify metrics they need to track, and to ensure that all personnel involved in metrics management are using the same method of tracking metrics against stated objectives.

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