Why You Should Take Time for a Mid-Year Marketing Checkup Reply

Believe it or not, you’ve been executing your 2017 marketing plan for six months. How’s it going? Whether you’re floundering or charging full steam ahead, we recommend you perform a mid-year marketing checkup.

A mid-year checkup will help you take steps to keep your marketing plan healthy and on course. You’ll discover what’s working, what’s not, and what you can do to improve results (there’s always opportunity for improvement). This post offers you several ways to approach the checkup and how to take action based on what you find.

Analyze Quantitative Data

If measurable marketing objectives are part of your plan, you can compare a snapshot of current marketing data against those benchmarks. Gather up reports from your online media partners, social platforms, and web analytics programs, as well as your in house reporting tools. Take a good look at your click-through rates on e-newsletter ads, attendees and engagement opportunities from webinars, video views and time spent viewing videos, and white paper downloads.

Are you halfway to your goals? Are there any surprises—pleasant or unpleasant?

A challenge arises if you didn’t set up measurable goals at the beginning of the year, are using programs that are difficult to measure, or established only general objectives such as “increase brand awareness in our target markets” or “generate leads for sales” or “increase customer satisfaction.”

If this is your situation, take time now to determine what metrics are important, re-allocate resources to measurable programs, and commit to tracking performance for the remainder of the year.

Collect Qualitative Data

Talk to sales people about their volume and quality of engagement opportunities. Ask if they have any feedback on your marketing programs. Ask if any of their customers have said anything (positive or negative) about your company’s marketing presence or messaging.

Speak to customer service managers to find out what customers are saying. Ask your company’s executives what they’re hearing in the market. Perhaps the best strategy would be talking to a few customers or prospects and asking them what they find engaging about your market presence.

If you work with partners or distributors, make sure you check in with them. Are they aware of your marketing programs? Have they noticed anything about your company’s presence in the market?

Look for common themes in the anecdotal information you compile. What story does it tell? Between quantitative data and qualitative data, you’ll have a great understanding of how marketing is performing.

Look ahead

If you’re halfway to or ahead of year-end goals, you deserve congratulations. But if the metrics and anecdotal evidence show that your marketing is not as healthy as it needs to be, now is the time to make adjustments. If your business is dependent on the seasons or if the fourth quarter is always your biggest, you should account for those variations before drawing conclusions and jumping to make changes.

When deciding where to make changes for the second half of the year, follow these tips:

• Take resources from programs that aren’t working or whose performance you can’t measure, and put them into measurable programs that are more specifically aligned with your goals.

• Add more resource to programs that are working well. Keep in mind that at some point a program could be “saturated” and you’ll experience diminishing returns.

• Diversify your marketing spending across a greater variety of programs—as long as each one can laser target your audience and the programs work together as a cohesive whole.

• Share your results with your media partners and/or your marketing agency to get their recommendations.

• Change your marketing goals. This isn’t the cover-up it might sound like. If your industry or the economic climate has changed, or if something occurs beyond your control (budget reduction, acquisition, elimination of product line), you may need to change your plans for the second half of the year.

• Pick one or two new or revised objectives you want to achieve over the rest of the year, determine the measurements of success, and adjust your marketing resources to achieve them.

Most of all, stay optimistic, make decisions based on data whenever possible, work hard, and keep marketing. You’re halfway there.

How to Meet Marketing ROI Milestones Reply

 Measuring the success of marketing programs is nothing new. There has always been a focus among B2B marketers to quantify the reach and engagement of their initiatives. In the past, much of this measurement focused on metrics like the circulation of print publications, the growth of catalog mailing lists, business cards collected at trade shows, and completed magazine “bingo cards.”

Today, online channels command the bulk of B2B marketing budgets, providing marketers access to more data, more metrics, and more insight than ever before. So it’s not surprising that B2B marketers at all levels of an organization are under unprecedented pressure to quantify the return on their marketing investment. In fact, ROI is the number-one objective for B2B marketers in 2016. According to The Content Formula’s Michael Brenner, 93 percent of CMOs state that their greatest challenge is showing measurable ROI. And 81 percent of B2B marketers claim that measuring marketing effectiveness is their biggest riddle to solve.

Whether you are looking to quantify the performance of your current marketing initiatives, or want to have a plan in place for 2017 that will help you reach your ROI goals, these five keys will help you get started.

1. Target your desired outcome. Return on investment is the name of the game, but ROI is not a “one size fits all” term.

According to the 2015 State of B2B Marketing Report from Salesforce, the top three digital marketing metrics for success are revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and retention rates. And when IEEE GlobalSpec asked industrial marketers how they measure the success of their marketing initiatives as part of our annual Industrial Marketing Trends Survey, we found that marketers care most about sales attributed to marketing campaigns, acquisition, satisfaction, leads, and retention.

By having a strong understanding of the goals and objectives of your organization, you have built the foundation for your marketing plan. From there, you can define objectives and tactics that will help you reach your goals.

2. Diversify your marketing mix. Your audience has more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently, and they are also exposed to many options when ready to buy. And as companies continue to allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media, it will become increasingly important to fend off competition online. That’s why diversifying your marketing mix is critical.

Our research shows that a majority of B2B industrial marketers are reaching their target audience via multiple channels and tactics, but many feel like they could be doing more. Not sure how to get started? Consider working with a media partner to develop a multichannel marketing strategy that is measurable and can reach your marketing goals.

3. Understand your customer’s buy cycle. In the B2B space, the buy cycle is often long and complicated, involving multiple stages – needs assessment, comparison, evaluation, and purchase. As a result, it can be difficult to correlate sales to specific marketing channels.

Buyers will often interact with your content and brand many times before contacting you or making a purchasing decision. For example, they may download a technical article they found in an e-newsletter advertisement, attend a webinar that you are hosting, watch a video, type your company name into a search engine, and visit your website – all before beginning a conversation.

Understanding your customer’s buy cycle – and having content that helps them meet their needs at each stage – will help you define and capitalize on the value that your marketing programs deliver.

4. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. It sounds simple enough – reach your audience by understanding what they seek. But remember that a key desired outcome is to reach your target audience where they can be found. Go beyond search engine marketing and consider the websites they rely on, the e-newsletters they read, and more.

Being found in the right place at the right time isn’t enough. Ask yourself, “Are we offering them content they want?” Your ability to answer this question correctly is dependent upon the tools you use to understand your customer and the quality of your analysis. In addition to the product data they are seeking, offer educational materials that position you as a thought leader and help them make a better, more informed decision. White papers, technical articles, datasheets, webinars, and videos are just some of the different content types used by today’s B2B buyers.

5. Implement a formal lead nurturing program. Now that marketing has brought in the leads, it’s time to convert them, right? Wrong.

Very few leads translate into an instant purchasing decision. Adding a clear lead nurturing program to the marketing mix has several distinct benefits that directly tie into ROI. First, you deliver more qualified leads to sales – making them happier and more productive. Next, you can successfully track contacts and inquiries along the sales process, resulting in easier and more accurate measurement. And finally, leads are less likely to fall through the cracks, reducing the potential for lost sales and wasted resources.

Hitting ROI milestones can seem like a daunting challenge. By taking a strategic approach to defining, executing and reaching your measurement goals, you will be well prepared to illustrate the value of your marketing efforts to the c-suite.

Patrick D. Mahoney is President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec. IEEE GlobalSpec connects a global audience of engineers and allied technical professionals with suppliers of industrial and electronic equipment, components, materials, and technology. The company combines rich technical product information with comprehensive digital media solutions that deliver measurable awareness, demand, and engagement opportunities at all stages of the buy cycle. Learn more by visiting www.globalspec.com/advertising.  

This was originally published on Marketing Tech News: http://www.marketingtechnews.net/news/2016/sep/15/how-meet-marketing-roi-milestones/

Two Important Measurements that Communicate Marketing’s Value Reply

 More than ever, executives are demanding accountability for marketing expenditures. It’s not an unreasonable expectation. Companies devote significant resources to marketing, and one of our roles is to demonstrate those resources are sound investments that generate demand for your company’s products and services.

There are multiple ways to gauge marketing success. The top three measures for industrial companies are sales attributed to marketing campaigns; customer acquisition; and customer satisfaction, according to the IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions’ 2015 Industrial Marketing Trends research report.

For that top measure—sales attributed to marketing campaigns—you might be underreporting the value marketing is delivering to the business. That’s because when you attribute sales to marketing campaigns, you should be looking at two different types of marketing leads that can turn into customers: the marketing qualified lead and the marketing influenced lead.

1. The Marketing Qualified Lead
This is a lead that marketing has generated through one of its campaigns and passed on to the sales team after qualifying it. Qualification may come from any number of processes, depending on how you’ve established lead handling practices. It could be from survey questions, telemarketing follow-up, or a lead score based on attributes such as company size, industry, need, buying time frame or other criteria.

Qualified leads are gems. Marketing should be proud of them. You’ve generated interest from a potential client, and routed that prospect through your lead qualification process. And your sales team wants qualified leads that require less effort and are more likely to convert into customers. Qualified leads are the glue that binds marketing and sales. There’s no diminishing their importance.

2. The Marketing Influenced Lead
The marketing influenced lead is sometimes overlooked because this lead hasn’t gone through the qualification process and been handed off to sales. It’s less visible than the marketing qualified lead.

However, the marketing influenced lead is any person who engaged with your marketing content before becoming a customer. For example, they downloaded a white paper, watched a webinar, interacted on your social media accounts, subscribed to your newsletter, visited your website or performed some other engagement activity with your company due to your marketing efforts.
Marketing influenced leads likely far outnumber marketing qualified leads. That’s because in the early research phases of their buy cycle, engineers and technical professionals are often quickly gathering information from a variety of potential suppliers without yet making any formal contact. According to the 2015 IHS Engineering360 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector research report, the majority of engineers and technical professionals don’t make contact with a potential supplier until the latter stages of their buy cycle.

If these future customers haven’t filled out a form (such as a registration), you may not even know about them yet—but they know about you, and they are being influenced by your marketing content. When they eventually make a buying decision and become a customer, your marketing efforts helped define their path and contribute to their decision, and marketing should get credit for this marketing influenced lead.

Putting the Leads Together
The distinction between these two types of leads is important when trying to demonstrate marketing’s value to the business, and both must be counted. The distinction also has several other implications for your marketing efforts:

• Diversify your digital marketing presence as much as possible to expose your company to more potential customers who can be influenced by your content
• Content marketing has a crucial role to play in any industrial marketing strategy
• Track interactions with your marketing content: clicks, views, downloads, shares, comments and more
• Work with your sales team to document effective processes to qualify leads and pass them to sales

Next time you’re asked to communicate the value of marketing to the business, be sure to mention both qualified and influenced leads.

How do industrial marketers measure the success of their marketing initiatives? Reply

Sales attributed to marketing campaigns, customer acquisition and leads are the top three measures of success for industrial marketers.

Click the image below to view at full size.

4 How do you measure success of marketing initiatives

IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions recently conducted its annual Trends in Industrial Marketing Survey of marketing and sales professionals in the industrial sector.

The online survey addressed the marketing trends, challenges and expenditures within the engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial communities. This research report analyzes and presents the results of the survey, and offers recommendations to industrial marketers to help them allocate their budget, develop a sound marketing strategy, and plan effective programs and campaigns.

Download your complimentary copy of the report.

Follow the Three V’s of Managing Your Engagement Opportunities Reply

In this era of marketing accountability, industrial marketers need an effective framework to manage and measure their engagement opportunities. You can’t measure everything—and you don’t want to measure everything. You want to focus on specific measurements providing valuable insight, which in turn can help you make decisions to improve the performance of your marketing program.

measuring roi

According to Forrester Research, the hallmark of top marketing performers is their ability to generate marketing leads at the right velocity, volume, and value. These three metrics are key indicators of funnel health—and a healthy funnel generally means healthy revenue.

  • Volume is the count of engagement opportunities or deals delivered by a marketing program.
  • Value is how much an engagement opportunity is worth in terms of dollar value.
  • Velocity is the speed at which an engagement opportunity converts to a sale.

What marketers must determine is how much weight and priority to give to each of the three V’s in order to optimize your marketing efforts and maximize your return. The answer is different for every company, based on your marketing goals, the makeup of your sales force and the nature of your customers’ buying behavior.

The dream world of every marketer is that the volume and value of engagement opportunities is high and the velocity of conversion is lightning speed. However, we all work in the real world, not the dream world. Therefore you must put these three V’s in perspective, understand how they align with your goals and use them to help make marketing decisions.

Volume, value and velocity intelligence can also help you segment engagement opportunities. For example, if a marketing program produces a high volume of opportunities, chances are many of those opportunities are not yet sales ready. They should remain with marketing in a lead nurturing program until more qualified. It might make sense to assign high-value opportunities to a salesperson for one-on-one cultivation and personal attention. Handle high-velocity opportunities in whatever manner will close the sale quickly.

Volume requires ironclad processes
Volume is historically the metric that gets the most attention, deservedly or not. What sales team doesn’t want more engagement opportunities? Some marketing programs are designed to maximize the volume of engagement opportunities. The upside of this approach is that you have more potential customers to convert and more of your target audience exposed to your message, which helps increase brand awareness.

On the other hand, the greater the volume of engagement opportunities, the more you need sound lead management processes. You must be able to separate real prospects from tire-kickers, prevent good opportunities from slipping through the cracks and avoid inundating your sales team with unqualified prospects who will never convert.

Value can trump volume
A highly targeted or specialized marketing program may not deliver a high volume of engagement opportunities. It can still be a strong program because the engagement opportunities generated should have a higher conversion rate and produce a higher amount of sales.

If your company’s objective is to close bigger deals or sell highly customized products or services, you’re likely looking at implementing a program that delivers fewer, but highly motivated prospects. You’re looking at quality over quantity.

Velocity offers intelligence
Velocity—the speed at which a prospect converts to a sale—can be considered independently or in relation to volume and value. Velocity is often directly related to your customers’ buy cycle and the nature of what you are selling. A long, complex purchasing process involving multiple decision makers and a significant investment may not have much in way of velocity. But if you’re selling parts or components that the market considers a commodity, you should expect high velocity.

No matter what you are selling, if you have a hot prospect motivated to buy, treat them as a high-velocity engagement opportunity. By tracking the velocity of deals, you can gain valuable intelligence on the length of your sales cycle and how well your marketing and sales processes are performing.

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How do you manage the 3V’s of lead management? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Marketers Must Help Customers Through Their Buy Cycle Reply

With pressure to demonstrate return on investment (ROI), industrial marketers often focus most of their attention and resources on the end of the buy cycle: the purchase decision. When you can build a marketing ROI case based on sales it’s easier to justify marketing expenses.

But there are two pitfalls to this approach:

1. The industrial buy cycle consists of distinct stages: needs awareness, research, consideration and comparison, and procurement. It’s important to use marketing to build awareness and connect with customers in these earlier stages or you probably won’t be a candidate to win business when decision time comes.

2. You can establish goals and track metrics for marketing programs that reach prospects in the earlier stages of the buy cycle. In this way you can use awareness and engagement opportunities as additional evidence to demonstrate ROI for your marketing efforts.

Why the early buy cycle stages are important
Fifty-six percent of industrial buyers don’t contact a vendor until at least the consideration and comparison stage of the buy cycle, according to the “2013 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report. Nineteen percent don’t contact the vendor until they are ready to make a purchase.

Before making a purchase decision, buyers rely on a variety of digital resources to discover and research information about products, services and suppliers. They use this information to narrow down their options prior to even getting a vendor involved, which means you must be found in the early stages of the buy cycle and support customers with helpful, relevant content to make it onto a buyer’s short list of vendors.

Buyers use different information resources in different stages. During the needs awareness and research phases, the most frequently used resources are general search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs, and GlobalSpec.com. In addition to these online platforms, other resources, including colleagues and printed directories, are used in the consideration and comparison stage. During the procurement stage, the resource used most often is supplier websites, followed by online catalogs and general search engines.

Establish your presence on these digital channels to reach customers early in the buy cycle and you will be able to create a large pool of engaged opportunities for your sales team to work on closing.

Measure Success Throughout the Buy Cycle
Calculating ROI by tying sales to marketing programs can be an effective way to justify marketing expenses. But you can also demonstrate ROI when marketing 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.

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

Keep in mind that early in the buy cycle customers want content that educates them and helps them do their job and move closer to a decision. Think about producing and distributing white papers, “how-to’s,” case studies, blog posts and product demo videos, rather than technical specifications or pricing and ordering information which can come later in the buy cycle. You can even measure the effectiveness of your content by tracking what gets downloaded, clicked on or shared the most.

It’s true that everyone wants immediate results. But the reality is that the industrial buy cycle can be long and complex, and might involve multiple decision makers. Plan your marketing to connect with customers early on in their buy cycle and you will have more engagement opportunities for your sales team to close in the later stages. You’ll also have the metrics as evidence to support your marketing decisions and justify your investments.

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How do handle the early stages of your customer’s buy cycle? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Four Ways to Measure Social Media Effectiveness 2

Many industrial marketers who are incorporating social media into their marketing mix are still unsure how to measure the effectiveness of their efforts. Last month, the Maven reported survey results about how your audience of engineers and technical professionals use social media and how industrial companies use social channels to connect with customers.

You can download the full report, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, which includes charts, analysis, and recommendations. Or view the on-demand webinar based on this research.

This month we’ll discuss how to measure your social media marketing efforts. As with any other marketing initiative, measurement is the only way you can intelligently manage social media initiatives and make improvements to your program. It’s not that difficult, as long as you understand your goals for using social media and pay attention to the metrics that matter.

The Metrics that Matter
There are four primary ways to measure your social media efforts:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Sentiment
  • Conversion

The emphasis you place on each measurement is determined by your social media goals. Simply trying to get your brand name in front of the widest audience? That’s reach. Hoping your audience takes some type of action? That’s conversion. Monitoring reaction to a new product announcement? That’s sentiment. Let’s look at each metric and what it means.

Reach
Reach is measured in basic statistics: Number of LinkedIn connections, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, third-party mentions of your company, etc. Reach is easy to measure (you’re simply counting) and it’s easy to spot progress as the numbers increase. At the same time, reach by itself provides little concrete business value.

What’s more relevant is what causes your reach to expand. For example, if an industry analyst tweets about your company and you experience a surge of new Twitter followers, you can conclude it’s worth applying resources to get industry analysts to pay attention to your company. Or if you include a link to your company’s Facebook page at an online event you sponsor and get new likes, you’ll know that promoting your social media presence at online events grows your brand visibility. It’s this kind of intelligence that can help you hone not just social media marketing but all of your marketing.

Engagement
Engagement measures audience response to your content. While it’s known that the industrial audience is generally passive in its use of social media, preferring to read and watch rather than post and comment, you should pay close attention to the responses you do get. Twitter re-tweets, Facebook wall posts or shares, blog responses, comments on LinkedIn discussions, length of video views—all of these forms of engagement measure how interesting and relevant your content is to your audience. You can test different types of content and see what generates the most engagement, then use the results to optimize your content efforts.

Sentiment
Sentiment measures the qualitative, emotional reaction to your content and company on social media channels. Are the reactions you get positive, negative, or neutral in tone? Are mentions of your products positive, but comments about your company’s customer service negative? By paying attention to sentiment, you’re taking the temperature of customers and the market and getting a sense of brand perceptions about your company, products, and services. It’s valuable insight.

Conversions
Most marketers think in terms of conversions as the key metric in measuring the success of a marketing program. And if conversions are your goal with social media, then this will hold significance. Although in the social media world, it’s one metric, and may or may not be the most important one.

To measure conversions, your social media content must include a call to action: register for a webinar, download a white paper, watch a video, etc. Tracking social media conversions not only gives you straight numbers, it gives you data for comparison purposes across integrated programs. Did your tweet result in more conversions or did your e-newsletter advertisement? You can discover which channels are most effective for different types of offers, and the intelligence you gain can help you optimize all your marketing, not just social media.

Be sure to download the report and view the webinar to gain more in-depth knowledge about social media use and measurement in the industrial sector. Also, if this article was helpful to you, please spread the word using the share buttons below.

Do you measure social media? What insights have you found? How has measurement shaped your social media strategy? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.