Categories: Founder's Blog


Sam Bayer


Data-driven analysis in B2B

When it comes to achieving B2B ecommerce success, leaving well enough alone isn’t a winning strategy.  If you want to increase the value that you and your customers are deriving from your SAP Integrated B2B website, you need to understand who is coming to your website and what they’re doing there (we rely on Google Analytics to provide us with many of these insights).

In the B2B world, knowing who is coming to your website is trivial…they can only be a subset of the people that you’ve invited.

However, not all invited users are created equally.  They aren’t all given the same rights and privileges, and frankly you don’t care equally about what each of them are doing.

That’s why we weren’t too surprised when our clients asked us for a simple way to distinguish between their employees (salespeople, customer service representatives and administrators) and real customers in their Google Analytics reports.

Their reasoning was simple.  While the statistics they were getting from Google Analytics were showing an impressive overall return on investment, our clients were a little concerned that they didn’t know what percentage of those returns were coming from customers versus those that were coming from employees.  While improving employee productivity and morale was a nice side benefit to the B2B website project, our clients wanted to make sure that their primary targets, their customers, were the major beneficiaries of their investments.

To that end, we recently released a new feature to the b2b2dot0 service which passes information to Google Analytics that enables it to distinguish between External and Internal users on the website.  We then leverage Google Analytics “Advanced Segments” capability to overlay these E/I segments onto all of our reports.


Here is an example of a segmented Ecommerce Overview report for the period of Jan 9 thru Jan 17 for one of our clients.  The blue line represents the total revenue generated on the website by all visitors combined.  The orange line shows the revenue contribution from Internal users and the green line the revenue contribution from External users.

Without the ability to segment your users, you could be quite content (fat, dumb and happy) in knowing that you generated close to $850K in orders during this time period.  However, upon closer inspection, you learn that most of that revenue was generated by your employees, especially on January 13th (the red vertical line on the graph).

So what’s going on here?

Dig even deeper and you learn that while your employees are generating most of the revenue, it’s not because they are placing most of the orders (or transactions in Google terminology).  In fact, External users are placing practically twice the number of orders (597 to 290) as Internal users.  That’s probably a good thing.  Interestingly enough, the average value of those External orders is less than half the value of when Internal users place them ($354 to $1747).

It looks like during this time period, External users were using the site regularly (flat green line) to place simple orders of roughly 6 line items per order (divide External user’s Purchased Products by their Transactions).  However, Internal users (Sales Reps in this case) were jumping in to place the “more difficult”  orders.  They were averaging closer to 25 line items per order on their orders.

Is that a good thing?  That really depends on your business.

Is there any “Actionable Intelligence” here?  Absolutely!

Here are some of the questions I would investigate further:

  1. Why are our salespeople still handling these larger orders?  Is that the best use of their time?
  2. Why aren’t our customers entering in those orders on their own?  Don’t they know about our “Upload Shopping Cart” feature that prevents them from typing in 25 line items for each order?
  3. What happened on Jan 13?  Why did our revenue peak on that day?  Is that part of our “normal” business cycle?
  4. Is the fact that most of the website revenue is generated by Internal users a “fact of life”, or should we work to get more External users generating revenue?
  5. Are Internal users placing larger orders on behalf of customers because of total line item differences only, or are there other product related drivers?  Maybe our product catalog, and the presentation of product choices, should be improved?

Inquiring minds want to know.

The segmented data presented by Google Analytics is just that…data…albeit very interesting data.  It’s up to the inquiring mind to dig deeper, talk to Internal and External users and make the business decisions to change people’s behaviors…or not.

It’s now time to act intelligently.


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