2015 Marketing Planning Part 2: Measuring Return on Marketing Investment Reply

Financially focused executives are putting unprecedented pressure on industrial marketers to demonstrate return on marketing investment (ROMI) for their initiatives.

This pressure often leads marketers to examine each marketing program individually, asking questions such as: How many new customers did our webinar deliver? How much revenue did our e-newsletter ad produce?

Not only are these questions extremely difficult to answer in isolation, they may not be the best questions to be asking. The reason is it’s unlikely that any single campaign or tactic can be correlated on a one-to-one basis with a sale, especially in the industrial sector where the buy cycle can be long and complex.

Still, you need to demonstrate ROMI and should be making your marketing plans for 2015 with that in mind. Here are five tips to help you.

marketing planning

1. Understand the relationship between ROMI and the buy cycle
The industrial buy cycle consists of multiple stages, from needs assessment to comparison and evaluation, to a final purchasing decision. In most cases, buyers will interact with your brand and content multiple times through a variety of digital channels, often before they contact you, and each interaction and channel influences the buying decision.

For example, a prospective buyer might download a white paper, attend a webinar, watch a video, connect with you at an online event, search your online product catalog, and type your company name into a search engine—all before contacting your sales team. Each of these touch points are part of your broader marketing plan of creating brand awareness, building thought leadership and generating engagement opportunities. And all of them contribute to moving a prospective buyer closer to a sale. Therefore, it’s difficult to measure ROMI on any given tactic. However, you can measure relevant metrics for each tactic.

2. Commit to measurable programs
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Yes, it’s a cliché, but only because it expresses a universal truth. By committing only to measurable programs in your 2015 marketing plan, you are laying the foundation for determining ROMI. Fortunately, the best-performing programs today, and the channels technical professionals turn to most for work-related purposes, are digital media. And digital media by its nature is measurable. You can track impressions, clicks, inquiries, shares and likes, conversions, downloads, time on page, length of view and more.

3. Measure ROMI for early stages of the 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 efforts that support customers in the earlier buy cycle stages.

For example, web page accesses, 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 your measurements in these areas continue to increase over time, then you can assume your marketing is helping potential customers through the early stages of their buy cycle and contributing to the engagement opportunity when they do contact your sales team.

This type of ROI measurement is every bit as important as tying tactics to sales, because without effective marketing in the early buy cycle stages, you won’t gain nearly as many opportunities for your sales team.

4. Maximize your digital presence
Your products, solutions and brand need to be found in various places online in order to connect with technical professionals, all of whom have individual preferences for what digital media channels they prefer. Technical professionals have many options and visit multiple websites to discover new suppliers and learn about products during the course of their work. Allocating your marketing investments across a balanced mix of channels keeps you from missing potential engagement opportunities, plus you can compare performance across channels.

5. Don’t make the “last-click” assumption
The “last click” assumption attributes a sale to the last marketing touch point a customer has with your company before making a buying decision. This is a mistake because the buy cycle includes many touches that cumulatively add up to help achieve a sale. Today’s path through the buy cycle crosses multiple devices, platforms, sites, and user needs and behaviors. Last click ignores all the other marketing touch points and tactics that help drive a purchasing decision.

It’s better to take the position that multiple exposures to your brand, especially early in the buy cycle, will have a cumulative effect and will help a prospect think of your company as a preferred/considered brand, and therefore more likely to contact you at some point. While this makes the last marketing touch point relevant, other exposures to your brand can contribute just as much or even more to your success.

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How do you measure your marketing efforts in relation to the buy cycle? What advice would you give to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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