How B2B Engagement Drives Revenue

Evidence that Engagement with Marketing Drives Business Results in B2B Relationships

Despite the widespread increase in the volume of companies’ engagement activities, there has been very little data about the effectiveness of these efforts in driving financial outcomes for businesses … until now.

Northwestern University Medill Spiegel Research Center, with the assistance of Deloitte, conducted research into how—and to what degree—engagement affects sales in B2B relationships.

Video: Predicting Business Outcomes with Deloitte's Engagement Index

Jonathan Copulsky, former Chief Marketing Officer and Principal of Deloitte, sits down with Ed Malthouse, Research Director of  Medill Spiegel Research Center, to discuss the financial impact of the Spiegel client engagement index tool’s usage within B2B markets.

Justifying Investments in B2B Engagement

Our analysis found that engagement is a powerful predictor of sales opportunities and wins. The research also looked at all of the different variables that determine the degree to which various types of engagement influence purchase decisions.

Questions We Address

  • Does engagement with content marketing and other forms of client interaction drive sales?
  • Is volume of engagement a reliable predictor of sales opportunities and wins?
  • Which types of engagement—by platform and by topic—have the greatest impact on sales?
  • Does in-person engagement have a greater impact on revenue than digital engagement?
  • Does the optimal mix of engagement vary by enterprise and by industry?

Insights into How B2B Engagement Drives Revenue

Volume of Engagement Is a Powerful Predictor of Sales Opportunities

Our research found that as digital engagement across an enterprise increases, the number of sales opportunities associated with that enterprise increases as well. This direct relationship occurs whether the engagement occurred via attending a webinar or other digital event, or by engaging with articles or other forms of firm-generated content on a branded website.
Graph that shows impact of digital engagement on sales opportunities. It shows Digital Events rising and digital content remaining flat.

Digital Engagement Drives Future Sales Opportunities

While investments in generating engagement are proven to have a direct impact on revenue, the payoff doesn’t occur only in the near term. In many cases, engagement activity continues paying dividends a year or more down the road. We found this to be the case when looking at digital engagement specifically.

Graph that shows digital engagement today leads to more sales opportunities next year

Each Client Has Unique Engagement Patterns and Behaviors

We found that no two clients are alike in how they respond to engagement opportunities. Each client has a unique “engagement DNA,” which determines the most effective form(s) of engagement—by topic and platform—for that client.

This chart shows how two clients exhibited markedly different engagement behaviors across different plastofrms. Company B had significantly higher attendance for events and webcasts than Company A, so one might assume that Company B is simply "more engaged" than Company A. But when you look at website engagement, Company A's engagement more than doubled Company B's.

A Look at the Client Engagement Index

The Client Engagement Index allows for the assessment of the health of each client relationship based on real-time data. The index’s dashboard highlights opportunities, for example, to initiate sales conversations about topics that clients have shown growing interest in or to tweak outreach efforts for clients that have shown waning levels of engagement.

Two graphs. First one shows account-engement with websites rising and dropping, but rising overall.. Second graph shows industry average rising and dropping over time..

Dive Deeper into Spiegel’s Retail Marketing Research

To learn more about Spiegel and Deloitte’s research into how engagement affects sales in B2B relationships, as well as to learn about our recommendations for B2B marketers to consider in light of these findings, we invite you to explore our full library of content on the subject.

Published Research on B2B Engagement

The results and insights from Spiegel’ research into how engagement influences sales activity for B2B companies have been published in the following journals, presentations, and articles:

Journal Publications

Academic Presentations

  • Wang, R., Uzunoglu, E., Malthouse, E.C., Viswanathan, V., Collinger, T. (2017). Optimizing Content Marketing to Engage B2B Service-Provider Clients. Paper accepted for presentation at the Frontiers in Service Conference, New York City.
  • Viswanathan, V. (2014). The Effect of Social Influence on the Speed of Adoption of B2B Loyalty Programs. Paper presented at the EMAC 2014 Conference, Valencia, Spain.


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