Dark Social is B2B Marketing's Secret Weapon

The majority of B2B buying happens in places where attribution software can't track: Dark Social.

If you’re waiting for intent data to start marketing to your buyers, you’re way too late. By the time you see intent data, the majority of their buying process has already been completed.

Too often, marketers think they’re being data-driven but in reality are letting their attribution software lead their strategy in the wrong directions. The most important touch-points in a B2B buyer’s journey actually happen in places that can’t be tracked.

 

Dark Social Visual

When you see an intent signal, your buyer has already talked to their peers about what strategies they’re implementing and what products they’re using. They’ve set their business priorities, decided what features are most important to them and most likely have already selected a preferred vendor, or at least have been recommended one by trusted peers. They completed these critical, major steps of their buying process in Dark Social - the places where there’s no tracking and no intent data.

These places include:

  • Communities & Groups (Slack groups/channels, Facebook groups, Discord, etc.)
  • Content Platforms (Apple podcast, Spotify, YouTube, etc.)
  • Social Platforms (LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, etc.)
  • Direct Word of Mouth (DMs, text messages, Zoom calls, etc.)
  • 3rd Party Events & Meetups (VC/PE groups, etc.)

If you’re not allocating resources to Dark Social, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to make an early impact with your buyers. Because the reality is - the current state of marketing measurement is inadequate. It’s not fully representative of how modern B2B buying actually happens. It's too heavily reliant on technology that solely measures the visible touch-points in a buying journey. The most important touch-points in Dark Social can’t be tracked by your attribution software. If you want to know how your buyers are discovering you, it's imperative to collect both qualitative and quantitative insights from your buyers' journeys.

There are ways to measure attribution qualitatively. You can ask your customers what made them choose you, run a win/loss analysis, push surveys, or put a “how did you hear about us” free response field on your demo request form.

Once you change how you measure marketing, what you optimize for, and how you think about attribution, it opens up an incredible amount of opportunities for B2B companies. Investing resources into Dark Social is crucial to making an early impression with your buyers. These are the places where you build and dominate categories and create demand.