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Navigating Bias in B2B Marketing Event Scoring 

Posted December 18, 2023

Just as engineers fine-tune their tools to ensure accuracy and reliability, marketers must calibrate their event scoring to avoid biases. Unchecked biases are like misalignments in a delicate apparatus, leading to inaccurate readings and misguided strategies. Diligently adjusting event scoring to account for these biases ensures you gather data-driven insights that accurately reflect the nuanced dynamics of customer interactions. Precision in your marketing strategies will allow you to navigate the B2B landscape with greater confidence and clarity.

The Basics: Capturing Events/Touchpoints on a Digital Timeline

To construct representations of a buyer’s journey, businesses capture every click, download, or interaction online from prospective customers across a series of systems like marketing automation platforms and Google Analytics. Any interaction a user has with your brand’s digital assets, such as website visits or social media engagements, are digital touches. Specific inbound activities that signify a higher level of engagement or interest, like when a member of a buying committee downloads a whitepaper or registers for a webinar, are classified as events. 

When scoring marketing events, look out for potential biases in your system. The presence of bias in event scoring will not only affect the accuracy of your models but also have far-reaching implications on decision-making processes within an organization. Incomplete data sets can skew the understanding of engagement and potentially lead to misguided marketing strategies and decisions that won’t fully align with the actual customer journey and their true level of interest. Ultimately, biased scoring can lead to misallocated resources and missed opportunities. Recognizing and mitigating these biases is critical for efficiency and effectiveness in marketing operations.

Where the Biases Lie

Biases in event scoring can take many forms. A frequent cause of bias is an overemphasis on digital interactions at the expense of offline events, skewing customer engagement and interest data throughout the sales funnel. For a 360-degree view of customer engagement, it’s crucial to just as meticulously calibrate offline events, like trade show attendances and in-person meetings, in concert with online events. Building a robust event-scoring framework is foundational to understanding the full scope of interactions. When you capture every nuanced touchpoint, from digital clicks to in-person engagements, you can evaluate events individually and collectively to develop a holistic view and discern the impact on achieving specific business goals. 

As we move towards more sophisticated models, it’s crucial to understand the limitations of traditional systems and the need for more nuanced approaches. Engagement platforms commonly offer tools for scoring customer interactions, with their algorithms assigning scores to various events, such as email opens and website visits. However, these algorithms can inadvertently incorporate biases, often prioritizing certain types of interactions over others, which may not accurately reflect their actual importance in the customer journey.

Your team can also fall into the trap of making the same mistakes as embedded algorithms by developing a scoring system based on marketing assumptions. Teams may reflexively assign more value to form fills than page visits and more value to page visits than clicks without discerning the actual value or impact of each touch or event.

And, the perennial issue? Data is messy. This is commonly evident in scenarios where marketing automation platforms mistakenly identify a single individual in a buyer’s group as multiple campaign members due to variations in their email address, resulting in a disjointed and unclear model of their journey.

Fine-Tuning Event Scoring to Prevent Bias

The key ways to effectively limit bias in event scoring are to use a more inclusive set of data points, regularly review and adjust scoring criteria, and make sure the scoring model aligns with the overall objectives of the marketing and sales departments. 

Adopting a holistic approach to scoring requires a shift in perspective, particularly in terms of event frequencies. Traditional models often give undue weight to more frequent, low-effort interactions like web clicks. To mitigate this bias, it’s beneficial to consider the relative frequencies of different types of events and balance the dominance of particular activities in the scoring model. This approach helps create a better-adjusted representation of a prospect’s engagement levels across various types of interactions. 

You can further refine the scoring process by transitioning from quantifying events to analyzing ratios of success. By evaluating the frequency of different event types in successful buyer journeys, you can assign scores that more accurately reflect their likelihood of leading to a desired outcome. This shift towards ratio-based scoring aids in overcoming human biases inherent in traditional quantity-based models, guaranteeing a more comprehensive approach to event scoring in digital marketing.

To make it more likely that your sales and marketing teams trust and adopt your DIY scoring system, you can optimize it to snuff out biases and make it more aligned to successful outcomes by taking these steps: 

  1. Analyze Successful Buyer Journeys: Start by zooming in on 10 successful buyer journeys to identify what activities are typically involved in successful conversions. Look for patterns and metrics in these journeys, such as the number of web page visits or specific actions like attending webinars or demos.
  2. Assign Relative Scores to Different Activities: Based on the patterns you identify, assign relative scores to different activities; the more frequently an activity shows up in successful journeys, the higher the score it might warrant. Use your analysis to establish a scoring scale (e.g., 1 point for basic interactions, 100 for critical actions).
  3. Align the Marketing and Sales Teams’ Perspectives: To make sure your scoring model meets marketing and sales needs, reflects organizational goals, and resonates with daily decision-making processes, seek both teams’ input on what constitutes a successful customer journey and the most meaningful outcomes. 
  4. Recalibrate and Adjust the Model: Continuously reevaluate and refine your scoring model, anchoring adjustments and understanding key insights derived from successful buyer journeys. Guide the process with ongoing feedback from both sales and marketing teams, validating that the model evolves to mirror emerging patterns and insights.

 

For a DIY model, we recommend keeping it simple. But if your organization has the bandwidth, there’s a lot of room for refining a scoring system to cater to the dynamic nature of the buyer’s journey. When you segment the funnel and adjust the scoring criteria accordingly, it becomes clear that the significance of distinct events can vary greatly depending on the stage. Setting different success criteria at each stage, such as focusing on MQA or contact creation, allows for a deeper analysis of each event’s contribution to the journey. With this granular detail, you can determine when to place more emphasis on specific events and how to score them more precisely at different stages. 

As the landscape of B2B marketing continues to evolve, so must your approaches to understanding and engaging with customers. Through persistent collaboration between marketing and sales, much like the synergy in a well-oiled machine, you can strive for a meticulous and impartial scoring system. 

Don’t have the appetite to go it alone, but crave deeper insights from the funnel? Reach out to CaliberMind for more personalized guidance.