The pressure has never been greater on marketers in the industrial sector to demonstrate results from their marketing programs. Yet many marketers aren’t able to measure ROI or don’t know how to begin. These seven strategies will help you. Not all of them may apply to your organization or situation, so pick the ones that make the most sense and use them. Soon you’ll gain a solid approach to measuring marketing ROI.
1. Shift the marketing conversation
Whether you are the executive making financial and budget decisions, or reporting to one who is, you need to reframe the marketing conversation. For example, rather than focusing measurement on marketing “activity,” focus on marketing “results.” Rather than presenting in terms of “defending” your marketing budget and having executives look at marketing as a “cost center,” advocate to alter perceptions so that marketing is considered an “investment in revenue and profitability.” This strategy may represent only an attitude or culture change, but it should definitely help in your efforts.
2. Design measurable programs
You’ve heard the cliché that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. It’s only a cliché because it expresses a universal truth. By committing only to measurable programs, you are laying the foundation for determining ROI. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable. You can track impressions, clicks, inquiries, conversions, time on page, length of view, and more.
3. Choose measurements that matter
Focus on those measurements that can give you valuable insight leading to decisions that will improve your marketing program. Here are some measurements that matter:
- The three V’s: Volume, Value, and Velocity. Volume is the count of leads or deals delivered by a marketing program. Value is how much that lead is worth; a program might not deliver a high volume of leads, but can still be a strong program because those leads produce a higher amount of sales. Velocity considers how fast a lead converts to a sale.
- Cost per inquiry. Measure, but beware of deceptive results. For example, a program may have a high cost per inquiry but deliver highly qualified prospects and more sales. On the other hand, a program that delivers a low cost per inquiry might look good but not result in sales.
- Brand awareness. Brand awareness is the fuel that powers other marketing programs and can help prospects accelerate through their buy cycle because they are familiar (and presumably comfortable) with your company and its reputation. Good measurements of brand awareness include how much of your target audience you get in front of, the frequency of being in front of them, and cost per branding tactic.
4. Meet the needs of financially-focused executives
Many of the metrics that marketers track—impressions, clicks, video views, engagement opportunities, and so on—may not interest financially-focused C-level executives. Their interest is in revenue, growth, and net contribution. If you need to demonstrate ROI to an executive team, you should think in terms of financial outcomes, which are the most challenging to measure in marketing.
If a sale occurs quickly after initial contact, or if you are using only a limited number of marketing channels, it may be apparent what program generated the engagement opportunity that led to the sale, making financial ROI easier to measure. But it’s not always this easy. The industrial buy cycle can be long and complex, involve multiple decision makers, and include many marketing touch points. So when the sale finally occurs, which marketing program(s) get the credit? Most likely, all of the touch points contributed to the sale.
Some financial-based measurement strategies include assigning all credit for a sale to the first, or last, touch point. This approach is an easy one to take, but also serious flaws. It can make otherwise effective marketing programs that helped contribute to the sale look bad, or weak marketing programs that may have been the first or last touch look better than they are. Another approach is to track all touch points for a customer and assign them a weight, then calculate a percentage contribution to each touch point.
5. Demonstrate ROI for early stages of buy cycle
Although many customers don’t initiate contact with a vendor until later in their buy cycle, you can still demonstrate ROI of marketing programs that supports customers in the earlier buy cycle stages.
For example, web page views, clicks, content downloads, video views, webinar attendance, and mentions or shares on social media can all be tracked and tied to your marketing efforts. These important metrics measure customer awareness, interest, and engagement with your brand, products, and services. If you perform well in these measurements and show improvement over time, then you can reasonably assume your marketing is helping customers through their early stage buy cycle, and you are increasing opportunities to be on their list in later consideration and purchase stages.
6. Assign responsibility to ensure success
A person or a team should be assigned responsibility for measuring ROI. This includes tracking contacts and inquiries through the marketing and sales funnel, knowing the status of any contact or inquiry at any given time, and tracking all marketing touch points for any given customer or prospect. This is critical information as it is the only way you accurately measure the quality of your engagement opportunities, effectiveness of marketing programs, and the return you achieve.
7. Make decisions to drive improvements
Don’t just measure something because you can. Measure only what you can act upon to improve the performance of your marketing program. Each measurement should help you expand your understanding of how to make the program better and align it with your company’s strategic objectives. With every measurement, always ask: Why am I tracking this? What decisions will I be able to make? How will this help our program improve?
This post on measuring ROI was partially excerpted from “Taking a Strategic Approach to Digital Media.” This complimentary white paper also details ways to develop an effective digital media strategy and create a budget for digital marketing, as well as how to solve the challenge of measuring marketing ROI in this digital era. Download your copy today.
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It’s time to take off the gloves and get tough with your 2014 marketing planning. That means taking a hard look at your media choices and drilling down to find out what really works and what doesn’t. Last month, in Part One of this annual two-part series, we posed six questions you should ask about your marketing efforts. You can access the article here. This month, we give you six criteria to evaluate your media choices to help you choose the right channels to meet your goals and objectives.
You have many choices about where to spend your marketing dollars. Digital channels. Traditional channels. Some combination of the two. It almost makes you long for the days of being limited to trade publications and printed directories. However, those channels have reached their twilight years.
Today industrial professionals are online looking to discover products, services, and suppliers. In a recent IHS GlobalSpec survey, 81 percent of engineering, technical and industrial professionals reported spending three or more hours a week on the Internet for work-related purposes, with more than 31 percent indicating the spend nine or more hours a week online.
But before you allocate your marketing budget for 2014, hold each of your media choices up to the light of these six criteria:
1. Reach. At its foundation, effective marketing is about reaching as many of your target audience as you can: long reach, right people, right time. Do you know how many people you’re reaching with your marketing programs? Are they the people who will specify, recommend, and purchase your products and services? Also, consider this often overlooked question: do you reach your target audience at the right time, when they are actively looking for products and services?
More than 70 percent of engineers use the Internet to obtain product specifications, and more than 80 percent are online to find components, equipment, services, and suppliers. Online catalogs and searchable databases of datasheets and product pricing and availability, like Datasheets360.com, help you effectively reach active searchers.
2. Frequency. It’s the digital era. It’s a global economy. Who knows when engineers might engage in a quest to discover products and suppliers? The answer is anytime, all the time. Which means your target audience must be able to find you 24/7. Channels that offer continuous frequency include your company website, search engines, and online catalogs. Compare that to print directories that are typically published once a year or an annual tradeshow.
3. Timing. Don’t underestimate the importance of timing in your marketing programs. Timing is about making a connection with your prospects when they are proactively seeking products and services. In other words, hooking them when they’re hungry. There are many good channels for connecting with active searchers, including your company website, online catalogs, webinars, and online events. Print catalogs and print directories will help you reach active searchers, but you’ll miss out on reach, frequency, and the ability to measure ROI.
4. Return. ROI can be complex to measure, but it’s often smart to start by answering a simple question: For the marketing dollars you spend, what kind of return to you get in terms of brand awareness and engagement opportunities? For example, programs such as webinars tend to have high return because prospects have proactively registered for the event, which already indicates their interest. Inquiries on your website from existing customers also offer high return; it’s lower for new customers. Searchable online catalogs tend to deliver good engagement opportunities because only your target audience would be using them, as opposed to general search engines.
5. Contacts and Inquiries. Do your marketing channels deliver contacts and inquiries in real time or is there a lag between prospects expressing interest and you finding out about it, leading to stale data? Also, do you get contact information for individuals and do you know their expressed area of interest? Work with media partners and choose channels that provide real time contact information containing useful data. This will get you that much closer to a qualified prospect from the beginning.
6. Branding. Branding and awareness are key components in the marketing equation. A highly visible brand helps build trust with customers and can reduce the time between inquiry and closing a sale because your brand is already recognized by prospects. Your company website, along with webinars and other online events and e-newsletter advertisements, offer solid branding opportunities.
A final recommendation as you prepare for 2014: Get a complimentary copy of the IHS GlobalSpec 2014 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit. This valuable and trusted resource will help you make the most of your marketing budget and choose the optimal channels to reach your goals and objectives. Download your copy today.
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Specification sheets and technical drawings are still very much alive as marketing tools in the industrial sector, but they’re no longer the only content marketers must produce, or even the most important content.
Product specifications and data sheets support the later stages of the industrial buy cycle, when engineers are ready to make their final purchase decisions. Examining spec sheets is like buyers dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to make sure a product they’re considering is the best fit for their needs. In the earlier stages of the buy cycle—needs analysis, research, consideration, evaluation—engineers require a different type of content. They’re looking for best practices, tips, new technologies, and industry trends.
Marketers are investing in content creation
According to the article “Content sparks buying cycle: Marketing to engineers now focuses on digital channels, communities,” which recently appeared in BtoB Magazine, vertical industry marketers are now focusing on new types of content, including thought leadership, community engagement, how-to videos and more. While marketers may already have some of this content available on their websites, they also may need to invest in creating new content and using more channels to distribute it.
Many industrial marketers are already focused on content creation. Results from the IHS GlobalSpec survey Trends in Industrial Marketing 2013 show that 51 percent of industrial marketers are spending more on content creation this year than they did last year. Content-focused videos (58 percent) and webinars (49 percent) are seeing increases as well. In addition, creating and distributing content will play a major role in marketing plans over the next five years, placing second in importance only to focusing on customers.
Creating content is not a simple matter. You need writing, design and production resources, but you also must understand engineers and their buy cycle, and then create content that matches their needs. Engineers don’t like to be marketed to and they don’t like sales pitches. What they want is useful information that is relevant to their jobs and the problems they are trying to solve.
Useful information might be why one technology is superior to another, or why one approach to solving a problem is faster and better than others. But what engineers want are facts and expertise, not hype. The company that produces this type of solid, relevant content will elevate its brand and attract more potential buyers.
Digital is the way to distribute content
Engineers are extremely busy today. They no longer have time for browsing print magazines. Few of them can take time away from the office to attend tradeshows and walk the aisles. Instead, when they have a need for information they immediately go online to find it.
Marketers who distribute their content across multiple digital channels are creating the best opportunities to connect with engineers and other technical professionals. Digital channels such as exhibiting at online industry events and advertising in e-newsletters that are product or technology specific allow marketers to get highly-focused content into the hands of their target audience. Interpower, a manufacturer of power system components, uses this strategy and exhibits regularly at online events. Not only can they connect with their audience, but product specialists and technical experts in the company who might not be available to travel to an in-person event can often be available to answer customer questions online. Read: “How Interpower builds its pipeline through virtual events.”
Tradeshows continue to be a popular traditional channel to distribute content, while websites, online directories, e-mail marketing, and Internet banner advertising are experiencing growth on the digital side. Social media is a good fit for content delivery as well—65 percent of industrial marketers who use social media channels use them to distribute content. Many companies are also building online communities for customers to engage in discussions and answer questions.
We all keep hearing that content is king because it does rule. Make sure you have plans in 2014 to create and distribute good content that will help your customers navigate their buy cycle.
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Email remains a popular and proven marketing tool for connecting with your target audience. Seventy-four percent of industrial marketers are using email marketing to internal lists as a marketing tactic in 2013, making it the most widely-used marketing tactic, as reported in the 2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing survey.
These emails primarily take the form of a regular e-newsletter or a concentrated email campaign to push products or promote content (white papers, webinars, etc.). That’s a good use of this channel as industrial professionals respond to email. But did you know there are other ways, beyond traditional marketing, that your company can use email to help distribute your message, build your brand, and strengthen customer relationships?
As a marketer, you should work with each of these groups to help achieve overall company goals and objectives:
1. Emails from the sales team
You should already have in place a process for transitioning sales-ready leads from the marketing department to sales. But just because a lead belongs to sales now, it doesn’t mean that marketing ends. Every email that a salesperson sends to a customer or prospect is an opportunity to nurture a lead, polish your brand image, and put your company in a strong position to win business.
Make sure your sales team has easy access to marketing content they might want to offer to customers and prospects in their one-on-one emails. A good strategy is to distribute to the sales team a list of links to marketing content, categorized by type and purpose of content, as well as copy that can be used to describe the benefits of viewing or downloading the content. Your salesperson can simply copy this text and the link into an email. With the sales people using the same or similar messaging as the marketing team, you can help reinforce your branding.
Another opportunity is to work with sales people to develop an email signature line that includes links to relevant content or highlights the latest important news. This signature line—with content and links following the salesperson’s contact information—can be updated on a regular basis and distributed to your sales team. Also, don’t forget to include links to your social pages in signatures lines, or a link to your online catalog.
2. Emails from customer service/tech support
Your support teams have regular contact with customers, which provides another excellent opportunity for marketing to get involved. Your customer service teams should have access to the same messaging and links to content that the sales team has at its disposal, and you can also help with signature lines as well.
Customer service emails are also a great way to ask customers questions about your products and services. You can include a poll question right in the email, or invite your customers to take a survey to measure satisfaction or generate product “wish-lists.” Be sure to offer some type of modest incentive for completing the survey, anything from a coffee card to a discount on their next purchase.
3. Automated emails as follow-ups
Whether you use a third-party email marketing service or have an internal email marketing solution, you should have the capability to send automated emails to customers and prospects when they perform an action, such as submitting a form on your website. Signing up for your newsletter, downloading a white paper or other content, registering for a webinar—all of these are opportunities to send something more effective than a generic thank you email.
You can tailor your response depending on the context of the submitted form. Give new e-newsletter subscribers links to past newsletters or articles about your company. Provide links to popular pages. Put contact information in these emails in case a prospect wants to speak with someone right away. If a customer downloads a white paper on a specific topic, offer them descriptions and links to other related content. If they sign up for a webinar, show them the way to past webinars they can view on demand.
The point is to not waste any of your email communications. Every touch point is an opportunity to improve relationships and do better than your competitors. Customers will remember what company is most helpful to them—make sure it’s your company.
How are you using email beyond the marketing department? What tips and ideas about using email would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
It’s the digital age. Engineers and other industrial professionals are spending more time online than ever before. They use a variety of digital resources to perform work-related tasks, transforming their buy cycle and, in turn, challenging traditional marketing and sales processes for suppliers and manufacturers. This phenomenon, often called the Digital Disruption, has ushered in a new digital era and a mandate for suppliers to develop an effective digital media strategy.
The Digital Disruption is fully explored in the new IHS GlobalSpec white paper: “A Strategic Approach to Digital Media: How to Develop a Budget, Create a Strategy and Measure ROI.”
The majority of industrial marketers already use digital channels to connect with customers and prospects. However, their efforts do not always generate desired results. Only 35 percent of industrial marketers are satisfied or very satisfied with their online marketing efforts, according to the research report “2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing.”
1. Take a multichannel approach
The main reason there is so much room for improvement is that many marketers think of digital as a single tactic. They are not taking a holistic or strategic approach to digital marketing. Just as “traditional” (print advertising, trade shows, direct mail, etc.) was never a single marketing channel, “digital” is also a broad term encompassing many online marketing strategies and tactics.
Because industrial professionals have many digital tools and sources of information at their disposal—from general search engines to specialized search, from industry websites to supplier websites, from online events to e-newsletters, digital catalogs, social media and more—suppliers must deploy a multichannel digital marketing program to be successful.
Of course, you can’t be everywhere, but you can make strategic decisions about where to allocate your resources. You should focus on the channels that:
1. Your target audience prefers
2. Align with your goals and objectives
3. Match your customers’ buy cycle behavior
One point to consider: Many industrial buyers do not initiate contact with a vendor until they have completed the early stages of their buy cycle and are close to a purchase decision. Therefore, it’s important to build and maintain brand visibility and awareness as part of your multichannel approach, so you can be discovered by customers at all times during their research.
2. Create a digital media budget
The first step in creating a budget for digital media is to consider reallocating resources from marketing programs that have performed poorly or are difficult to measure into digital channels that your target audience is using.
Industrial marketers are making the shift to digital, some faster than others. Fifty-four percent of manufacturers report they are spending more for online marketing in 2013 than in 2012. However, half of companies are devoting at least 36 percent of their overall marketing budget to online media and only 30 percent are devoting the majority of their marketing budget to digital efforts. With a target audience that has already made the shift to online resources, industrial marketers have to ask themselves if they are committing enough budget and resources to reach and engage their customers and prospects through digital channels.
3. Meeting the Challenge of Measuring Marketing ROI
Many marketers swallow hard when the discussion turns to measuring marketing ROI, and there’s no question that this measurement is a challenge. At the same time, there’s no doubt that marketers need to be more accountable.
Here are several ways to get started measuring ROI:
1. Commit only to measurable programs. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable. You can track impressions, clicks, inquiries, conversions, time on page, length of view, and more.
2. Focus on those measurements that provide valuable insight leading to decisions that will improve your marketing program. These include the volume of engagement opportunities, the value of a lead in terms of revenue it helps to generate, the speed with which a lead converts, cost per inquiry, and brand awareness (such as reach and exposure numbers).
3. The industrial buy cycle can involve multiple decision makers and include many marketing touch points. It’s not easy to determine which touch point(s) contributed to a sale, even for companies using sophisticated marketing automation software and having the benefit of tight integration and communication among sales and marketing to share data and insights. Most likely, all touch points contribute to a sale. You may need to assign a weighting to different tactics to help measure ROI.
The white paper, “A Strategic Approach to Digital Media,” includes four additional tips for measuring ROI. Plus recommendations on developing a multichannel marketing approach and reallocating your budget to the digital side. It’s a valuable resource for every marketer. Download your complimentary copy.
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You might be so busy keeping your marketing machine rolling you didn’t notice it’s time to plan for 2014. By developing a plan now, you can begin next year in a strong competitive position, with your programs in place and budgets approved, instead of scrambling to make decisions and feeling behind from the beginning.
A good way to start 2014 marketing planning is to ask questions about what you’ve been doing this year and how your strategy might change for next year.
Are you still using the same media channels as two or three years ago?
This is the digital era, and industrial professionals have shifted online to search for and source products, vendors and services. Consider what your audience is doing: Forty-six percent of industrial professionals visit 10 or more work-related websites in a week, while 23 percent visit 20 or more sites. Eighty-four percent use the Internet to find components, equipment, services and suppliers. Other heavy uses include comparing products across suppliers, obtaining product specifications, and finding pricing information.
Best answer: We are putting resources into digital channels to avoid missing opportunity and being left behind.
Do you know how to reach your audience online?
The top four resources that industrial professionals use to find what they are looking for are digital: general search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and GlobalSpec.com.
At the same time, tradeshows are no longer a top way to learn about new products, technologies and suppliers. The majority of engineers (51 percent) did not attend an in-person tradeshow in 2012, and only four percent attended four or more tradeshows. In terms of subscriptions, engineers and related professionals subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications, such as e-newsletters, versus 1.8 printed trade magazines, a difference of more than three-fold.
Best answer: The best way for us to connect with our target audience and generate engagement opportunities is through the digital channels our customers use to actively search for products, services and suppliers and the online platforms where they go to read news and seek analysis and insight.
Are you using only one or two media channels in your marketing?
Because your customers are online have many digital resources at their disposal, they have more choices of products and vendors and more individualized preferences in terms of which information sources they prefer to use.
Suppliers who have a presence only on one or two channels will likely go unnoticed by potential customers. Instead, diversify your marketing investments across multiple channels to connect with customers and provide the service and consistency they expect. Evidence is mounting that multichannel marketing is producing the desired results for marketers, and that developing a multichannel digital strategy with multiple customer touchpoints is key to success.
Best answer: We will allocate investments across a relevant mix of digital channels to produce the best marketing results.
Are your brand, products and message discoverable by your target audience at all times?
Even when your audience does not have an immediate and pressing need that drives them to begin a work-related search, you still want to be in front of them because they could be a potential customer. This is where branding, visibility, and awareness initiatives come become important.
To meet branding and awareness goals, consider adding these programs in 2014: advertising in industry- and product-focused e-newsletters, hosting a webinar for a highly targeted audience, or using banner ads to maintain a highly visible presence on industry websites.
Best answer: Our company will maintain a digital presence on those channels that allow us to be “discovered” at all times.
Are you allocating enough of your budget to digital media?
Most suppliers will continue to use a mix of traditional and digital media in their marketing efforts with companies shifting more and more of their budget to online channels. Fifty-four percent report they are spending more online in 2013 than they did in 2012. Expect this trend to continue as suppliers realize online channels deliver the best results. However, just half of companies are devoting at least 36 percent of their overall marketing budget online, and only 30 percent are committing the majority of their marketing budget to online efforts. Is this enough? While industrial professionals have shifted work-related tasks to online channels (also known as the “Digital Disruption”), suppliers have only incrementally shifted their marketing
Best answer: We acknowledge that the Digital Disruption has transformed the way our target audience works and how we need to reach and connect with them. We are recalibrating our budget and resources and continuing to shift a greater percentage of our marketing budget to online programs.
Are you able to measure the results of your marketing efforts?
Marketers are under intense pressure to demonstrate ROI on their marketing programs. But you can only begin calculating ROI if you are using measurable marketing programs. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable.
You may not always be able to calculate ROI by tying a sale to a specific program, especially in complex sales situations requiring multiple customer touchpoints. But you can track which touch points your customers use and gain a sense of how your overall marketing mix is contributing to revenue growth for your company.
Best answer. We plan to use measurable marketing programs and identify the key metrics that match up to our goals and objectives.
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Industrial marketers know the importance of being found online on GlobalSpec.com, Datasheets360.com, search engine results pages, and other resources when potential customers search for relevant products and services.
These searches tend to be based on customer needs. They are related to early and middle stages of the buy cycle: needs awareness, research and comparison and evaluation. Customers are motivated because they have a problem to solve and are searching for suppliers, products, and services that can help solve the problem.
That’s why marketers invest in online catalogs, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click marketing programs—to rise to the top for relevant searches and increase opportunities to engage with customers and prospects.
But search isn’t the only aspect of digital media that’s important to marketers, because search isn’t the only work-related activity industrial professionals do online. They also spend significant amounts of time reading news, keeping up with industry trends, learning about the latest technologies, seeking out educational opportunities and more. It’s during these work-related activities that their customers are performing when suppliers and manufacturers need to be “discovered.” Even though your audience many not have an immediate and pressing need, you still want to be in front of them because they could be a potential customer.
Allocating some of your budget to the discovery aspect of marketing will help raise the visibility and awareness of your products and services among potential customers. Your brand will become recognized by and familiar to potential customers, so that when they do perform a targeted search and your company, products and services appear, they will be more likely to choose you because industrial professionals—like anyone else—want to do business with a company they know and has a positive reputation in the industry. In this way, search and discovery work hand-in-hand.
Here are ideas for pumping up the discovery side of your marketing program. And all of them are easy to implement with the right media partner and to track in terms of impressions, clicks, and conversions:
- E-newsletter advertisements: Engineers and related professionals subscribe to an average of 5.8 digital publications making newsletters a primary information source for work purposes. Look for opt-in e-newsletters focused on your industry or product area. Be sure to study audience demographics and profiles to make sure you are reaching the right people.
- Online events and webinars: Nearly two-thirds of industrial professionals said they attended at least one webinar or online event last year. Twenty-six percent went to four or more. Exhibiting at an online event is a great way to build thought leadership and distribute content such as white papers, articles, videos and case studies.
- Industry websites: Maintaining a presence on targeted industry websites (such as Electronics360.com) keeps you in front of potential customers while they are performing work-related tasks. Engineers spend time on sites reading recent news and learning about the latest technologies, as well as searching for products and services that meet their needs.
- Banner ads: Banner ads that appear across a network of targeted industrial sites offer you broad and deep exposure to potential customers who might otherwise not know about your company or are hard to reach. Your banner ads can link back to your website, online catalog, or any other online destination that is useful to your target audience and meets your marketing goals and objectives.
Search AND Discovery—both are important to your marketing success. When planning for 2014, be sure to allocate marketing budget to both types of programs.
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