Dark social has been around for as long as marketing attribution has existed. In simple words Dark Social refers to the key touch points in a buyer’s journey that are impossible to measure or capture through our attribution/analytics software like Google Analytics or CRMs.
Although unmeasurable, but these touch points are the highest impact touch points which either trigger buying journeys or help buyers reach a conclusion on the buying decision.
Let’s get into the details:
The closest thing to understand Dark Socials is perhaps the concept of “Word of mouth”.B2B businesses love and thrive on word of mouth.
This word of mouth is generally a result of some form of marketing whether it is 1 on 1 communication with someone, doing networking or a referral from an existing client.
Winning this kind of business although great from a revenue standpoint, causes a major marketing and strategy challenge for companies which are doing omni channel digital marketing. Because attribution software is unable to capture the ACTUAL source of the deal.
Another problem is if you are not aware of this phenomenon you fail to consider it when building your strategy, meaning you’re often not getting the best possible strategy or even worse, a totally wrong strategy.
When a buyer is coming to you to buy chances are they have already researched you in these dark social channels. These channels help them decide the vendor, priorities, price expectations and service expectations.
Let’s look at what are dark social channels:
Once 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 happens. It's too heavily reliant on technology that solely measures the visible touchpoints in a buying journey. 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 number 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.