The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Measuring Marketing Success in Manufacturing w/ Joe Sullivan


How do you define marketing success? 

Many manufacturing organizations are sales-centric. They may not even support a marketing department beyond a content team. Consequently, they don't measure marketing success. 

But if you've taken things a step further, you've probably discovered how convoluted a measurement system can be.

In today's episode, I, Joe Sullivan, share my thoughts about how to straighten out your marketing success measurement system. 

I dive into topics such as:

Defining your terms

Which KPIs matter most

The danger of growing near-sighted with your marketing

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When really what I believe is that marketing sourced pipeline needs to be your north star metric. Are we physically quoting opportunities from leads that originated from your marketing activities? Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. As a manufacturing organization, how exactly would you define marketing success? A new website launching, completion of a trade show that ran smoothly, some leads from a papercliff campaign? Or maybe the answer is Huh, good question, I don't really know. What I've found is at most manufacturing organizations aren't quite sure what success means on the marketing front, or if they do have an idea, they're not quite sure exactly how to put that measurement system in place. So today I'm going to do my first solo episode in a few months and we're going to talk about how manufacturers can and should measure the success of their marketing programs. So let's dive into it. So one thing that's very clear to me is that most manufacturing organizations are very sales centric and traditionally that's exactly how they've been. I talked to a lot of manufacturing organizations that, frankly, don't even have marketing departments, or maybe they've got one or two people in that department, and often those people come from backgrounds that really aren't even marketing but they kind of got thrust into that role somewhere along the way. And so you know, traditionally, to a lot of these organizations, marketing has meant trade shows, meant print ads, it's been about, you know, creating brochures to support the sales team. Maybe it's been about some paper click or some banner advertising online or traditional methods. More recently it's probably meant some level of content production, whatever that means. Case Studies, maybe some educational content, but largely we're talking about traditional marketing activities that, frankly, are very hard to measure and, as a result, aren't being measured. So I've noticed in my earliest conversations when I engage with the new manufacturing organization, there's just no measurement system in place and they just aren't sure what they should be measuring or how they can do it if they want to be. So you know, I think back to about two thousand and five. It was the fall of two thousand and five when Google launched Google analytics, and this was the exact same year that I happened to graduate from college. So I'm thirty eight years old now, but I came up in this era, entering the marketing world where measurement of digital marketing activities was just becoming possible. And what happened early on is people started slowly adapting this. You had adopting this, you had you had software companies and professional services probably being some of the first on board to really start to learn how to measure things, and the manufacturing sector has largely lagged behind. So you know, you're probably in the early two thousand ten s when it's standard practice now for a manufacturing organization to be running Google analytics and on their website and to maybe be using some of that data to make some decisions. And then what started to happen throughout, you know,...

...the two thousand ten s and as we moved, you know, into the two thousand and fifteen and beyond, is it was it was standard practice and everybody's got google analytics and everybody's starting to use other tools to measure their success. But now you're at you've reached a point where a lot of manufacturing organizations are they're trying now to measure everything they can just because this data is available, and we gotten to a point where we're almost measuring too much or we're measuring the wrongs things and it's starting to force bad decisions to be made because we're measuring for the sake of measuring. So we're going to get into that a little bit later. But what I'm finding is that manufacturing organizations that are measuring success, they're latching on two things that I would consider to be marketing KPIS and marketing KPIS are important, but they are not the end all, be all. So I'm talking about things like your rankings and the search engines, traffic to your website, leads being generated from your website or I should have air quotes on right now, around the world leads, because even leads are being, I think, improperly defined in a lot of cases. And the problem here is that you know, if you're talking to, say, a search engine optimization company, there they are using rankings and traffic in a lot of cases as Northstar metrics to determine marketing success. But if you sit down and you think about it for a moment, what good do rankings in the search engines do for you? What good does traffick do to you if we don't know, if we don't follow that traffic all the way down the funnel and say, is this traffic the right traffic? Are they the right people? Are they converting into leads on our website by subscribing to our newsletter, by filling out our fq forms, by engaging with our salespeople through live Chan hats, or however it might be? Are we able to track that traffic down the funnel to the point of becoming leads and then beyond that too? Are these the right leads? Are they qualified to they match our ideal customer profile. Are they turning into actual RFQ's and quoted business, and is it the right business? And is that business closing? Because you can generate all the leads you want in the world, but if they're not the right people, if they are take, you know, burning through your sales team's time and wind up they wind up getting nowhere or they're turning into, you, unprofitable deals that really aren't even the right types of deals that you're looking for. What are we really accomplishing here? So I think that's one of the first things to note here is that manufacturers tend to measure things. Are they put an emphasis on the wrong KPI's when really, what I believe is that marketing sourced pipeline needs to be your north star metric. Are we physically quoting opportunities from leads that originated from your marketing activities? Are we actually quoting business with the right types of customers where that business can be attributed to a marketing activity? So what that could mean is it could mean that you're consistently posting on Linkedin or wherever it might be online, and we are tracing that traffic from the those linkedin posts into your website. Those leads are converting their engaging with their sales teams, that filling out our FQ's and they are closing or they're at least getting quoted as business. We're talking about sourcing pipeline here specifically. So that could be one example. Another great example could be, you know, are we producing content and that content is starting to rank organically in search engines and we know that that certain individuals have entered your site through those pages out of organic searches in Google. So we can attribute the...

...source of those leads to that piece of content and then again, following those leads through the buying process, are they actually turning into quoted pipeline and if so, we're attributing that to marketing, at least as the preliminary source. So these these are the things we're talking about in terms of using marketing source revenue as your northstar metric. Okay, so now let's go back to KPI's for a minute, because I don't want to dismiss these things that a lot of manufacturing people are actually using as their measurement, measurement of success. I don't want to dismiss these things like ranking and traffic and add impressions and engagement and leads and sales qualified leads as as not being worthy of looking at, because they absolutely are that. But here's the thing. These are leading indicators of success, and so I want to talk about the leading indicators that really do matter. So let's go all the way to the top of the funnel. I I am a big Advo kid of SEO, their search engine optimization, but it's one piece of the Pie and it's not the end all, be all, and your your metrics there are are again, they're leading indicators. So, as far as SEO or search engine optimization goes, we need to be looking at rankings. Are we targeting keywords that matter to your ideal customers and the things that those people are caring are that I actually care about. So think about that for a second. Where you really need to start is who are the types of companies we are trying to do business with? Not just you know, everybody serves ten different verticals and big and small customers, but who are the customers that you are really locked in on and are focused on trying to win more business with, because there is opportunity there, because their profitable, because this market share to be one. And then who are the buying process influencers inside of those organizations? The engineers, the plant managers, the C suite, whoever it is that you're trying to reach that are going to be most influential in the buying process. So what are the things those people are care that they actually care about, and how are they looking for information online? Are they trying to get questions answered? Are they trying to solve specific problems? are their specific products searches that they are conducting? We want to learn these things through a combination of research online, using tools that will help you identify search volume. We want to learn these things directly from the miles of customers, through doing voice of customer work or through customer interviews or through talking to your sales team and hearing what they're hearing from your prospects and customers. But it's these things will help you figure out what keywords do we need to be ranking for that our ideal customers are actually searching for, and then you do the work to you know, this comes down to doing the work, to earning the right to rank in the search engines for those most important keywords and producing content that's going to allow you to rank for those and building credibility for your content that revolves around those topics by building in bond links. So I'm not going to going to get into Seo strategy here, but what I'm getting at here is that rankings absolutely matter as long as those rankings are focused on the keywords that are going to matter to searches that are conducted by your ideal customers. Now, hand in hand with rankings should come organic traffic over time. There's no magic button you can push it's going to make you start ranking overnight, but website traffic is another measure of success, measurement in terms of a leading indicator of success. Again, not an end all be all, but traffic is when you start to rank for the right keywords, you're going to start to drive traffic for those related keywords as long as there's some search volume associated with those or keywords that you're targeting and ranking for. So organic search traffic is going to be another KPI that is going to matter to you. So that's that's SEO. Now let's get into, you know, other ways to attract people to your website and associated metrics, so you know if you're running, if you're producing great content and...

...ranking for it well. You can also be distributing this content via paid social media channels like linkedin or facebook or instagram. It just depends on where your audience sort of consumes information, where they hang out online. But Impressions for these ADS and engagement for these ads can be other things you might look at. So when I talk about engagement, let's say you've got a great piece of content. Let's say you ran a Webinar for a specific audience and you get two year experts debating a topic and you clipped out a sixty second video clip from that Webinar that you know got really great reception and people were asking questions about it and there was clearly engagement there and your people sounded brilliant. Will you could run that ad, you could run that sixty second clip as an add on linked in or facebook in front of people who have these job titles from these types of companies in these geographies, with these interests, etc. And then you can look at engagement with that content. You know what percentage of people watched fifty percent or more of that video or seventy five percent or more? You know, if you're getting four seconds, people watching these minute long videos for four seconds. Still it tells you there's probably, you know, the contents probably not really resonating with them or it's reaching the wrong people. If you have people engaging for forty five seconds or more out of a one minute video, it shows that there's engagement. So there are a lot of ways to measure engagement on on ads, but I think that's that's one way to do it. So there's a little bit of out measuring paid media, you know, other other kpis that matter, in addition to things like rankings and traffic and engagement on unpaid media, leads, right, contacts generated through your site. My philosophy has changed on this over the last few years a little bit. I'm not a huge fan of gating content like white papers and ebooks and things like that. I'd rather you let your audience consume that content and make sure they're consuming and engaging with it rather than creating barriers because, frankly, you can go if you want to. If you if what you need is new contacts, then sign up for up lead or sign up for Zoom Info and go buy those contacts. But what I'm talking about here in terms of leads being generated on your side. I'm talking about, you know, rfq form submissions. I'm talking about newsletter subscribes. I think newsletter subscribes are great because you have people willingly raising their hand and saying, yeah, I want to hear from you on a regular basis, not just I want this particular ebook right now and I guess I'll submit by contact information because it's the only way I can get it. I think a newsletter subscribe shows your content is valuable and I want more of it, so that that's a nice leading metric. It also will help you demonstrate that you are building your contact database of people who want to hear from you. So when I'm talking about leads being generated at it's I'm not necessarily talking about bottom of funnel leads are ready to buy. And the way you respond to a newsletter subscriber and needs to be very different than how you respond to somebody filling out in rfq form. You have somebody who is just wants to learn more from you and appreciates your content. It could be a future buyer, it could be an influence or somebody who would be a referral source. But let's that's a topic for another day. But in the contact is generated through subscribe forms on your site and an obviously, Urfq's are are good metrics for success. If these numbers are ticking up, as your rankings and traffic and add impressions and clickthroughs from ads start to trend up, you want to see contacts being generated also ticking up, you know. And then the next one, after leads being generated, is sales qualified leads. So what percentage of these leads that you are generating through your website are actually sales qualified? When your sales team looks at these these individuals and says, yes, this is the right kind of lead that fits our ideal customer profile and checks the boxes that we have laid out for who those buying process influencers are, and when we are going to attempt to contact this person and start a conversation with them or respond to... RFQ. You know now we're talking about sales qualified leads. So these are these are the things, the KPIS, that still matter. Rankings, traffic, AD impressions, engagement, Click throughs from ads, leads being generated through your site. From all of that, sales qualified leads among those those leads being generated and then from there. Now you're starting to move into into the more bottom of funnel, actual quoted business, marketing sourced pipeline, where you are quoting business and that that that pipeline can be attributed to a marketing activity. And then from there it's all is. Now we're talking about business outcomes, we're talking about closing customers from all of this, and that's that's obviously even a step further. But you know, anything that falls before marketing source pipeline is it's a leading indicator. They all matter. We need to be quoting business from these activities if we want to consider this a successful marketing program okay, so all of that behind us. Now I'm going to throw a big astrisk on everything I just said, and here's here's what I want to talk about market it. We have gone too far in general with measurement, and there is this this term. I wrote an article about this last year about the side effects of marketing near sightedness, and I can link to that in the show notes. But the idea is, because everything is measurable now, many of us have gone so far as to, you know, say, well, now we need need to measure everything, and what happens is when we obsess over measuring everything we have, we start to get this near sightedness where we become impatient, we don't let things play out as long as they need to. And I kind of broke it down into three things that I believe get neglected when we are overly obsessed with measuring everything, and the first one is the things that we do persistently to grow results over the long term. So a few examples of that search engine optimization. I said this earlier, but there's no button you can push, no seo firm you can hire, where you hire them and then a month later you're just ranking like crazy and driving all kinds of organic traffic. If that is happening, it's probably because some black hat technique is being used that is just going to bite you in the long term when Google penalizes you. But the reality is, you know, doing things like producing content to build thought leadership, to position your people as experts, as the experts that they are, frankly, but you know, extracting that knowledge from their brains, turning it into written content or podcast content or Webinar content or video content, whatever it is. That stuff. It's hard work. It takes time. Good content needs to it need some love and you can't just turn that stuff out overnight and expect it to start producing results. You need a program to do that and you got to start somewhere. But you need patients and I've seen too many companies I've I've seen it happened recently with some of our own clients, where they get three, six months in and they're not seeing a an Roi on on the foundational content work or Seo work that's being done and they pull the plug. And it just pains me so much to watch that happen because they're on the right track and those leading indicators are pointing at they're moving in the right direction, but when they're not seeing pipeline resulting from it immediately, they pull the plug and it happens to early. So this is not an excuse for not measuring results, not at all. But what I'm talking about here is we need to give things like Seo and a content program time to evolve. There's some foundational work there and it's probably going to take you, frankly, six to twelve months to start seeing meaningful results. So you got to look for those leading indicators are we moving in the right direction, but we're talking about our alive from this stuff. If you're starting from scratch or you've got you know you're in an industry where you're surrounded by giants that are light years ahead of you on the marketing front. It's going to take some time.

So it's those things we persistently do, like producing content, like working on our Seo, that are just going to take time and we can't neglect those as a result of being so overly obsessed with short term measurement. Other things, investments we make to build brand equity. If you redesign your website because your website looks like garbage, you're probably not going to see immediately results from it. But you need to build your brand for the long term. You got to have great copy, you've got to have great design. You know, there are other things I'd lump in that same bucket that are maybe even nondigital, like speaking and, you know, thought leadership out there in the world, like attending event, being speaker on a fence, being a guest on podcasts that are in your industry. A lot of these things, you know, they might generate one or one or two you know short term engagements. But largely what you're doing here is you're establishing your name. Writing a book would be another one, right like you're demonstrating thought leadershore, you building a great brand and and bit by bit over time it all starts to snowball. I've watched it happen with our clients that have done this for years. I've we've seen it happen with ourselves. But you're not going to make those those investments in the short term and watch them immediately pay off. So so that's kind of similar to my first one about persistently doing things like producing content and Seo. But you know there also these these less tangible things that we are going to do to build brand equity over over the course of time. And then the third thing I want to hit on here that gets neglected when we're two focused on short term measurement is going to be the experiments we run that have the potential to yield significant results. So you know you're going to try different marketing tactics that are frankly, they're gonna fall flat. You want to do the best you can to try to determine what marketing activities are going to perform well, but there will be paid campaigns you run that frankly, fall flat. There's going to be keywords you target and produce content around that aren't going to produce the results you were hoping they would. You do your due diligence, but you don't know exactly what's going to work every time and you know if you're so focused on only doing the things that are guaranteed to produce results, you're going to miss opportunities to do things that would, frankly, be very impactful over the long term. I took a risk with this podcast and it's been one of the best decisions I ever made. But had I given up after a month or two, you know I wouldn't reap the benefits of what's coming from this and the people I've met and the the reach of this podcast and all the content that's come from it. So just one example, but we need to be running experiments, we need to be trying new things and we can't be ex we can't go in with the expectation that every single thing we're going to do is going to produce an immediate or or even positive Rli at all. Some will, some won't, but let's fail fast and kind of move on and double down on the things that are working. So marketing requires a lot of experimentation. Okay, so I'm going to put a wrap on this here. So in the end here, I think what I want to communicate is that marketing sourced pipeline is your North Star. That is what we believe should be your North Star business. You are quoting with the right types of customers. That is coming as resulting from your marketing program and can be traced to the marketing activities that are part of that program. You know, the other thing here is Kpis. We got it. We got to have the right KPIS in place, but they are leading indicators. They are not the end all be all. Rankings. Traffic Ad Impressions, add engagement, Click dose from those ads, leads being generated, sales qualified leads from those. These are all KPIS that matter, but they are leading indicators. And then, finally, let's not over obsessed with measurement. So let's not neglect the things we need to persistently do over time, like Seo, like content creation. Let's not neglect the things that are going to bring build brand equity, like investing in the way our brand looks and sounds are positioning and doing things like speaking and writing book and getting our thought leadership content out there. And let's not look neglect the experiments that we need to... to figure out what is going to gain tractions. We can double down on those things knowing that some things are going to fail. So that's my take on how to measure marketing results as a manufacturing organization and the things that matter. We've written more about this topic. We've we've got other content around this and a lot of the things that I sort of talked about inside of this episode at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn. That is our industrial marketing learning center. You can go there and explore been producing content there for over ten years now and we you can also subscribe. You'll find many calls of action to subscribe to our newsletter there. So I hope this was helpful and we will see you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for B Tob Manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening, until next time.

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