The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 6 months 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

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Executive, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The Manufacturing Executive in your favorite podcast player.

When really, what I believe is thatmarketing sourced pipeline needs to be your nor star metric. Are we physicallyquoting opportunities from leads that originated from your marketingactivities? Welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving mid size manufacturers forward here, you'll discover new insights frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles, and you will learn from B to b sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developmentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show, welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive Podcast, I'm Joe Sullivan your host and a Co founderof the Industrial Marketing Agency Garillas, seventy six as amanufacturing organization. How exactly would you define marketing success? Anew website launching completion of a trade show that ran smoothly? Someleads from a paper click campaign, or maybe the answer is Huh good question.I don't really know what I've found is that most manufacturing organizationsaren't quite sure what success means on the marketing front or if they do havean idea, they're not quite sure exactly how to put that measurement system inplace. So today I'm going to do my first solo episode in a few months andwe're going to talk about how manufacturers can and should measurethe success of their marketing programs. So, let's dive into it. So one thingthat's very clear to me- is that most manufacturing organizations are verysales centric and traditionally that's exactly how they've been. I talked to alot of manufacturing organizations that, frankly, don't even have marketingdepartments or maybe they've got one or two people in that department, andoften those people come from backgrounds that really aren't evenmarketing, but they kind of got thrust into that roll somewhere along the way,and so you know traditionally to a lot of these organizations. Marketing hasmeant trade shows. I meant print ads, it's been about creating brochures tosupport the sales team. Maybe it's been about some paper click or some banneradvertising online or traditional methods. More recently, it's probablymeant some level of content production, whatever that means case studies, maybesome educational content, but largely we're talking about traditionalmarketing activities that, frankly, are very hard to measure and, as a result,aren't being measured. So I've noticed in my earliestconversations when I engage with a new manufacturing organization, there'sjust no measurement system in place and they just aren't sure what they shouldbe 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- thatI happened to graduate from college. So I'm thirty, eight years old and now,but I came up in this era entering the marketing world, where measurement ofdigital marketing activities was just becoming possible and what happenedearly on is people started slowly? Adapting this you had adopting this?You had you had software companies and professional services, probably beingsome of the first on board, to really start to learn how to measure things and the manufacturing sector haslargely legged behind. So you know you're, probably in the early twothousand and tens when it's standard practice now for a manufacturingorganization to be running Google analytics and on their website and tomaybe be using some of that data to make some decisions and then whatstarted to happen throughout. You know...

...the twenty tens and, as we moved, youknow into the two thousand and fifteen and beyond, is it was it was standardpractice and everybody's got google analytics and everybody's starting touse other tools to measure their success. But now you've reached a point where a lotof manufacturing organizations are they're trying now to measureeverything they can just because this data is available and we've gotten to apoint where we're almost measuring too much or we're measuring the wrongthings and it's starting to force bad decisions to be made because we'remeasuring for the sake of measuring, so we're going to get into that. A littlebit later, but what I'm finding is that manufacturing organizations that aremeasuring success, they're latching on to things that I would consider to bemarketing, K, Pis and Marketing K PAS are important, but they are not the endall Bel. So I'm talking about things like your ranking s and the searchengines. Traffic to your website leads being generated from your website or Ishould have air quotes on right now around. The word leads because evenleads are being, I think, improperly defined in a lot of cases, and theproblem here is that you know, if you're talking to say a search engineoptimistic company there. They are using ranking and traffic in a lot ofcases as North Star metric to determine marketing success. But if you sit down-and you think about it for a moment, what good do ranking in the searchengines do for you, what good does traffic do to you? If we don't know ifwe don't follow that traffic all the way down the funnel and say, is thistraffic the right traffic? Are they the right people? Are they converting intoleads on our website by subscribing to our newsletter by filling out R F formsby engaging with our sales people through live, chats or, however, itmight be? Are we able to track that traffic down the funnel to the point ofbecoming leads, and then beyond? That, too, are these the right leads. Arethey qualified? Do they match our ideal customer profile? Are they turning intoactual R fs and quoted business and is at the right business, and is thatbusiness closing, because you can generate all the leads you want in theworld, but if they're, not the right people, if they are take you burningthrough your sales team's time and wind up, they wind up getting nowhere orthey're turning into unprofitable deals that really aren't even the right typesof deals that you're looking for what are we really accomplishing here? So Ithink that's one of the first things to note here is that manufacturers tend tomeasure things or they put in emphasis on the wrong k pis when really, what Ibelieve is that marketing sourced pipeline needs to be your Norstadt C.are we physically quoting opportunities from leads that originated from yourmarketing activities? Are we actually quoting business with the right typesof customers where that business can be attributed to a marketing activity? Sowhat that could mean? Is it could mean that you're consistently posting onLinkin or wherever it might be online, and we are tracing that traffic fromthose linked in posts into your website? Those leads are converting they'reengaging with their sales teams that filling out R F QS and they are closing,or there at least getting quoted as business we're talking about sourcingpipeline here specifically, so that could be one example. Another greatexample could be, you know, are we producing content and that content isstarting to rank organically and search engines, and we know that that certainindividuals have entered your sit through those pages out of organicsearches in Google. So we can attribute...

...the source of those leads to that pieceof content and then again, following those leads through the buying process,are they actually turning into quoted pipeline and, if so, we're attributingthat to marketing, at least as the preliminary source so e? These are thethings we're talking about in terms of using marketing source revenue as yournorse farm metric. Okay. So now, let's go back to Kapi for a minute, because Idon't want to dismiss these things that a lot of manufacturing people areactually using as their measure measurement of success. I don't want todismiss these things like ranking and traffic and add impressions andengagement and leads and sales qualified leads as not being worthy oflooking at, because they absolutely are that. But here's the thing these areleading indicators of success, and so I want to talk about the leadingindicators that really do matter. So, let's go all the way to the top of thefunnel is. I am a big advocate of SEO. There's search engine optimistic, butit's one piece of the Pie and it's not the end, all Bel and your your metrics.There are again they're leading indicators. So as far as SEO or searchengine optimistic goes, we do need to be looking at ranking. Are we targetingkey words that matter to your ideal customers and the things that thosepeople are caring, 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 aretrying to do business with? Not just you know, everybody serves tendifferent verticals and big and small customers, but who are the customersthat you are really locked in on and are focused on trying to win morebusiness with, because there is opportunity there, because they'reprofitable, because it's market chair to be one and then who are the buyingprocess influencers inside of those organizations, the engineers the plantmanagers, the C sweet, whoever it is that you're trying to reach that aregoing to be most influential in the buying process. So what are the things?Those people are care that I actually care about and how are they looking forinformation online that they trying to get questions answered? Are they tryingto solve specific problems? are their specific product searches that they areconducting? We want to learn these things through a combination of ofresearch online, using tools that will help you identify search volume. Wewant to learn these things directly from the mouths of customers to doingvoice of customer work or through customer interviews or, if you're,talking to your sales team and hearing what they're hearing from yourprospects and customers. But it's these things I'll help. You figure out whatkey words do we need to be ranking for that? Our ideal customers are actuallysearching for and then you do the work to you know this comes down to doingthe work, to earning the right to rank in the search engines for those mostimportant keywords and producing content. That's going to allow you torank for those and build incredibility for your content that revolves aroundthose topics by building in bond link. So I'm not gonna going to get into sostrategy here. But what I'm getting at here is that ranking absolutely matteras long as those ranking are focused on the key words that are going to matterto searches that are conducted by your ideal customers now hand in head withranking, should come organic traffic over time. There's no magic button. Youcan push it's going to make you start ranking overnight, but website trafficis another measure of success measurement in terms of a leadingindicator of success again, not an end all ball, but traffic is when you startto rank for the right key words: You're, going to start to drive traffic forthose related keywords. As long as there is some search volume associatedwith those workyards that you're targeting and ranking for so organicsearch traffic is going to be another K, Pi that is going to matter to. Sothat's that's so now, let's get into you know other ways to attract peopleto your website and associated metric. So you know, if you're running, ifyou're producing great content and...

...ranking for it. Well, you can also bedistributing this content via paid social media channels like Linkin orface book or INSARA. It just depends on where your audience sort of consumesinformation where they hang out online, but impressions for these ads andengagement for these ads can be other things you might look at. So when Italk about engagement, let's say: You've got a great piece of content.Let's say you ran a Weben or for a specific audience and you get two year.Experts debating a topic and you clipped out a sixty. Second video clipfrom that Weben that you know got really great reception and people wereasking questions about it and there was clearly engagement there and yourpeople sounded brilliant. Well, you could run that ad you'd run that sixtysecond clip as an ad on link in or face book in front of people who have thesejob titles from these types of companies and these geographies withthese interests etc. And then you can look at engagement with that content.You know what percentage of people watched, fifty percent or more of thatvideo or seventy five percent or more, if you're getting four seconds peoplewatching these minute long videos for four seconds to l tells you es. There'sprobably you know the contents, probably not really resonating withthem or it's reaching the wrong people. If you have people engaging for fortyfive seconds or more out of a one minute video, it shows that there'sengagement. So there are a lot of ways to measure engagement on on ads, but Ithink that's that's one way to do it. So there's a little bit about measuringpaid media. You know other other K pis that matter. In addition to things likeranking and traffic, and engagement on unpaid media leads right contacts generated throughyour sight. My philosophy has changed on this over the last few years, alittle 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 consumethat content and make sure they're consuming and engaging with it ratherthan creating barriers. As frankly, you can go. If you want to, if you, if whatyou need is new context, then sign up for up lead or sign up for Zoom Infoand go buy those contacts, but what I'm talking about here in terms of leadsbeing generated on your side? I'm talking about you, know orf form, submissions, I'mtalking about newsletter subscribes, I think newsletter subscribes are greatbecause you have people willingly raising their hand and saying yeah. Iwant to hear from you on a regular basis, not just I want this particulare Book Right now and I guess I'll submit my contact information, becauseit's the only way I can get it. I think a newsletter subscribe shows yourcontent is valuable and I want more of it so that that's a nice leading matric.It also will help you demonstrate that you are building your contact databaseof people who want to hear from you. So when I'mtalking about leads being generated, I'm not necessarily talking aboutbottom of funnel leads who are ready to buy and the way you respond to a newsletter subscriber needs to be very different than how you respond tosomebody filling out, an r form you have somebody who is just wants tolearn more from you and appreciate your content. It could be a future buyer, itcould be an influence or somebody who would be a referral source. But let'sthat's a topic for another day, but the contact is generated through subscribe forms on your site and andobviously orfs are our good metrics for success. If these numbers are tickingup as your ranking and traffic and add impressions and Click throughs from adsstart to trend up, you want to see contact being generated, also tickingup now and then the next one after leads being generated as salesqualified lead. So what percentage of these leads that you are generatingthrough your website are actually sales qualified when your sales team looks atthese these individuals and says yes, this is the right kind of lead thatfits our ideal. Customer profile and checks, the boxes that we have laid outfor who those buying process influencers are and when we are goingto attempt to contact this person and start a conversation with them orrespond to an ORF. You know now we're...

...talking about sales. Qualified leads.So these are. These are the things that K pis that still matter ranking trafficad impressions, engagement, Click throughs from ads leads being generatedthrough your sight from all of that sales, qualified leaves among thosethose leads being generated and then from there now you're starting to moveinto into the more bottom of funnel actual quoted business marketing sourcepipeline, where you are quoting business and that that that pipelinecan be attributed to a marketing activity and then from there. It's all.I now we're talking about business outcomes, we're talking about closingcustomers 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 a leadingindicator. They all matter. We need to be quoting business from theseactivities 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 ass risk on everything Ijust said and here's here's what I want to talk about market it. We have gonetoo far in general with measurement, and there is this this term. I wrote anarticle about this last year about the side effects of marketing nearsightedness, and I can link to that in the show notes, but the idea is becauseeverything is measurable. Now many of us have gone so far as to you know saywell now we need need to measure everything and what happens is when weobsess over measuring everything. We have we start to get this near sightedthis, where we become impatient, we don't let things play out as long asthey need to, and I kind of broke it down into three things that I believeget neglected when we are overly obsessed with measuring everything andthe first one is the things that we do persistently to grow results over thelong term. So few examples of that search engine optimistic. I said thisearlier, but there's no button. You can push no seo firm, you can hire whereyou hire them and then, a month later, you're just ranking like crazy anddriving all kinds of organic traffic. If that is happening, it's probablybecause some black hat technique is being used. That is just going to biteyou in the long term. When Google penalizes you, but the reality is, youknow doing things like producing content, to build thought leadership,to position your people as experts as the experts that they are frankly, butyou know extracting that knowledge from their brains, turning it into writtencontent or podcast content, or we in our content or video content whateverit is that stuff, it's hard work, it takes time. Good content needs to know,need some love and you can't just turn that stuff out overnight and expect itto start producing results. You need a program to do that and you got to startsomewhere, but you need patience and I've seen too many companies I've I'veseen it happen recently with some of our own clients, where they get threesix months in and they're, not seeing an Ri on the foundational content. Workor so work, that's being done and they pulled a plug, and it just pains me somuch to watch that happen because they're on the right track and thoseleading indicators are pointing that they're moving in the right direction,but when they're not seeing pipeline resulting from it immediately, theypull a plug and it happens too early. So this is not an excuse for notmeasuring results, not at all, but what I'm talking about here is we need togive things like Seo and a content program time to evolve. There's somefoundational work there and it's probably going to take you frankly, sixto twelve months to start seeing meaningful results. So you got to lookfor those leading indicators. Are we moving in the right direction, butwe're talking about our alive from this stuff if you're starting from scratchor you've got you know, you're in an industry where you're surrounded bygiants that are, you know, light years...

...ahead of you on the Marketing Front?It's going to take some time. So it's those things we persistently do likeproducing content like working on our seo that are just going to take timeand we can't neglect those as a result of being so overly obsessed with shortterm measurement, o other things, investments we make to build brandequity. If you redesign your website, because your website looks like garbageyou're, probably not going to see immediately results from it, but youneed 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 inthat same bucket, that are maybe even non digital, like speaking, and hethought leadership out there in the world, like a attending event, beingspeak on events being a guest on podcast that are in your industry. Alot of these things. You know they might generate one or one or two. Youknow short term engagements, but largely what you're doing here isyou're establishing your name. Writing a book would be another one right, likeyour demonstrating thought, leader, sure, you're, building a great brandand bit by bit over time. It all starts to snowball I've watched it happen withour clients that have done this for years. We've seen it happen withourselves, but you're not going to make those those investments in the shortterm and watch them immediately pay off. So so that's kind of similar to myfirst one, but persistently doing things like producing content at Seo,but you know there as also these, these less tangible things that we are goingto do to build brand equity over over the course of time, and then the thirdthing I wanted to hit on here that gets neglected when we're too focused onshort term measurement is going to be the experiments we run that have thepotential to yield significant results. So you know you're going to trydifferent marketing tactics that are frankly they're gun to fall flat. Youwant to do the best you can to try to determine what marketing activities aregoing to perform well, but there will be paid campaigns. You run that franklyfall flat. There's going to be, you know, key words you target and producecontent around that aren't going to produce the results. You were hopingthey would you do your due diligence, but youdon't know exactly what's going to work every time and you know if you're so focused ononly doing the things that are guaranteed to PROC produce results,you're going to miss opportunities to do things that would frankly, be veryimpact. Over the long term, I took a risk with this podcast. It's been oneof the best decisions I ever made, but had I given up after a month or two,you know I wouldn't have reaped the benefits of what's coming from this andthe people I've met and the reach of this podcast and all the content.That's come from it. So just one example, but we need to be runningexperiments. We need to be trying new things and we can't be. We can't go inwith the expectation that every single thing we're going to do is going toproduce an immediate or even positive, Ri at all. Some will some won't, butlet's fail fast and kind of move on and double down on. The things that areworking so marketing requires a lot of experimentation. Okay, so I'm going toput a wrap on this here so in the end here I think what I want to communicateis that marketing source pipeline is your North Star. That is what webelieve should be your North Star business. You are quoting with theright types of customers that is coming, there's resulting from your marketingprogram and can be traced to the marketing activities that are part ofthat program. You know the other thing here is k. pis we got it. We got tohave the right K pis in place, but they are leading indicators. They are notthe end, all be all ranking traffic ad impressions, AD engagement, Click does,from those ads leads being generated. Sales qualified leads from those. Theseare all K pis that matter, but they are leading indicators and then, finally,let's not over obsessed with measurements, let's not neglect thethings 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 likeinvesting in the way. Our brand looks and sounds, are positioning and doingthings like speaking and writing books and getting our thought leadershipcontent out there and, let's not look...

...neglect the experiments that we need torun to figure out what is going to gain traction. So we can double down onthose things, knowing that some things are going to fail. So that's my take onhow to measure marketing results is a manufacturing organization and thethings that matter we've written more about this topic. We've we've got othercontent around this and a lot of the things that I sort of talked aboutinside of this episode at Gorilla. Seventy Sicler, that is our industrialmarketing learning center. You can go there and explore been producingcontent there for over ten years now, and you can also subscribe. He'll findmany calls action to subscribe to our newsletter there. So I hope this washelpful and we will see you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to themanufacturing executive podast to ensure that you never missed an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learnmore about industrial marketing and sale strategy, you'll find an everexpanding collection of articles, videos guides and tools, specificallyfor B, to B manufacturers at grilla. Seventy sixscore. Thank you so much forlistening until next time. I.

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