The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 8 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.

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When really what I believe is thatmarketing sourced pipeline needs to be your north star metric. Are we physically quotingopportunities from leads that originated from your marketing activities? Welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturersforward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling storiesto share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob salesand 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 MarketingAgency guerrilla seventy six. As a manufacturing organization, how exactly would you definemarketing success? A new website launching, completion of a trade show that ransmoothly, 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 manufacturingorganizations aren't quite sure what success means on the marketing front, or ifthey do have an idea, they're not quite sure exactly how to put thatmeasurement system in place. So today I'm going to do my first solo episodein a few months and we're going to talk about how manufacturers can and shouldmeasure the success of their marketing programs. So let's dive into it. Soone thing that's very clear to me is that most manufacturing organizations are very salescentric and traditionally that's exactly how they've been. I talked to a lot of manufacturingorganizations that, frankly, don't even have marketing departments, or maybe they'vegot one or two people in that department, and often those people come from backgroundsthat really aren't even marketing but they kind of got thrust into that rolesomewhere along the way. And so you know, traditionally, to a lotof these organizations, marketing has meant trade shows, meant print ads, it'sbeen about, you know, creating brochures to support the sales team. Maybeit'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 marketingactivities 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 engagewith the new manufacturing organization, there's just no measurement system in place and theyjust aren't sure what they should be measuring or how they can do it ifthey want to be. So you know, I think back to about two thousandand five. It was the fall of two thousand and five when Googlelaunched Google analytics, and this was the exact same year that I happened tograduate from college. So I'm thirty eight years old now, but I cameup in this era, entering the marketing world where measurement of digital marketing activitieswas just becoming possible. And what happened early on is people started slowly adaptingthis. You had adopting this, you had you had software companies and professionalservices probably being some of the first on board to really start to learn howto measure things, and the manufacturing sector has largely lagged behind. So youknow, you're probably in the early two thousand ten s when it's standard practicenow for a manufacturing organization to be running Google analytics and on their website andto maybe be using some of that data to make some decisions. And thenwhat started to happen throughout, you know,...

...the two thousand ten s and aswe 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'sstarting to use other tools to measure their success. But now you're at you'vereached a point where a lot of manufacturing organizations are they're trying now to measureeverything they can just because this data is available, and we gotten to apoint where we're almost measuring too much or we're measuring the wrongs things and it'sstarting to force bad decisions to be made because we're measuring for the sake ofmeasuring. So we're going to get into that a little bit later. Butwhat I'm finding is that manufacturing organizations that are measuring success, they're latching ontwo 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 aboutthings 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 youknow, if you're talking to, say, a search engine optimization company, therethey are using rankings and traffic in a lot of cases as Northstar metricsto determine marketing success. But if you sit down and you think about itfor 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 wedon'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 our fqforms, by engaging with our salespeople through live Chan hats, or however itmight be? Are we able to track that traffic down the funnel to thepoint 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 turninginto actual RFQ's and quoted business, and is it the right business? Andis that business closing? Because you can generate all the leads you want inthe 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 windup getting nowhere or they're turning into, you, unprofitable deals that really aren'teven the right types of deals that you're looking for. What are we reallyaccomplishing here? So I think that's one of the first things to note hereis that manufacturers tend to measure things. Are they put an emphasis on thewrong KPI's when really, what I believe is that marketing sourced pipeline needs tobe your north star metric. Are we physically quoting opportunities from leads that originatedfrom your marketing activities? Are we actually quoting business with the right types ofcustomers where that business can be attributed to a marketing activity? So what thatcould mean is it could mean that you're consistently posting on Linkedin or wherever itmight be online, and we are tracing that traffic from the those linkedin postsinto 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 quotedas business. We're talking about sourcing pipeline here specifically. So that could beone example. Another great example could be, you know, are we producing contentand that content is starting to rank organically in search engines and we knowthat that certain individuals have entered your site through those pages out of organic searchesin Google. So we can attribute the...

...source of those leads to that pieceof content and then again, following those leads through the buying process, arethey 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'retalking 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'twant to dismiss these things that a lot of manufacturing people are actually using astheir measurement, measurement of success. I don't want to dismiss these things likeranking and traffic and add impressions and engagement and leads and sales qualified leads asas not being worthy of looking at, because they absolutely are that. Buthere's the thing. These are leading indicators of success, and so I wantto talk about the leading indicators that really do matter. So let's go allthe way to the top of the funnel. I I am a big Advo kidof SEO, their search engine optimization, but it's one piece of the Pieand it's not the end all, be all, and your your metricsthere are are again, they're leading indicators. So, as far as SEO orsearch engine optimization goes, we need to be looking at rankings. Arewe targeting keywords that matter to your ideal customers and the things that those peopleare 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 companieswe are trying to do business with? Not just you know, everybody servesten different verticals and big and small customers, but who are the customers that youare really locked in on and are focused on trying to win more businesswith, because there is opportunity there, because their profitable, because this marketshare to be one. And then who are the buying process influencers inside ofthose organizations? The engineers, the plant managers, the C suite, whoeverit is that you're trying to reach that are going to be most influential inthe buying process. So what are the things those people are care that theyactually care about, and how are they looking for information online? Are theytrying to get questions answered? Are they trying to solve specific problems? aretheir specific products searches that they are conducting? We want to learn these things througha combination of research online, using tools that will help you identify searchvolume. 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 yoursales team and hearing what they're hearing from your prospects and customers. But it'sthese things will help you figure out what keywords do we need to be rankingfor that our ideal customers are actually searching for, and then you do thework to you know, this comes down to doing the work, to earningthe right to rank in the search engines for those most important keywords and producingcontent that's going to allow you to rank for those and building credibility for yourcontent that revolves around those topics by building in bond links. So I'm notgoing to going to get into Seo strategy here, but what I'm getting athere is that rankings absolutely matter as long as those rankings are focused on thekeywords 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 aleading indicator of success. Again, not an end all be all, buttraffic is when you start to rank for the right keywords, you're going tostart to drive traffic for those related keywords as long as there's some search volumeassociated with those or keywords that you're targeting and ranking for. So organic searchtraffic 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 waysto attract people to your website and associated metrics, so you know if you'rerunning, if you're producing great content and...

...ranking for it well. You canalso be distributing this content via paid social media channels like linkedin or facebook orinstagram. It just depends on where your audience sort of consumes information, wherethey hang out online. But Impressions for these ADS and engagement for these adscan 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 rana Webinar for a specific audience and you get two year experts debating a topicand you clipped out a sixty second video clip from that Webinar that you knowgot really great reception and people were asking questions about it and there was clearlyengagement 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 facebookin front of people who have these job titles from these types of companies inthese geographies, with these interests, etc. And then you can look at engagementwith that content. You know what percentage of people watched fifty percent ormore of that video or seventy five percent or more? You know, ifyou'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 reallyresonating with them or it's reaching the wrong people. If you have people engagingfor forty five seconds or more out of a one minute video, it showsthat there's engagement. So there are a lot of ways to measure engagement onon ads, but I think that's that's one way to do it. Sothere's a little bit of out measuring paid media, you know, other otherkpis that matter, in addition to things like rankings and traffic and engagement onunpaid media, leads, right, contacts generated through your site. My philosophyhas changed on this over the last few years a little bit. I'm nota 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 consumingand engaging with it rather than creating barriers because, frankly, you can goif 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 buythose contacts. But what I'm talking about here in terms of leads being generatedon 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 havepeople willingly raising their hand and saying, yeah, I want to hear fromyou on a regular basis, not just I want this particular ebook right nowand I guess I'll submit by contact information because it's the only way I canget it. I think a newsletter subscribe shows your content is valuable and Iwant more of it, so that that's a nice leading metric. It alsowill help you demonstrate that you are building your contact database of people who wantto hear from you. So when I'm talking about leads being generated at it'sI'm not necessarily talking about bottom of funnel leads are ready to buy. Andthe way you respond to a newsletter subscriber and needs to be very different thanhow you respond to somebody filling out in rfq form. You have somebody whois just wants to learn more from you and appreciates your content. It couldbe a future buyer, it could be an influence or somebody who would bea referral source. But let's that's a topic for another day. But inthe contact is generated through subscribe forms on your site and an obviously, Urfq'sare are good metrics for success. If these numbers are ticking up, asyour 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 areactually 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 customerprofile and checks the boxes that we have laid out for who those buying processinfluencers are, and when we are going to attempt to contact this person andstart a conversation with them or respond to... RFQ. You know now we'retalking about sales qualified leads. So these are these are the things, theKPIS, that still matter. Rankings, traffic, AD impressions, engagement,Click throughs from ads, leads being generated through your site. From all ofthat, 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, actualquoted business, marketing sourced pipeline, where you are quoting business and that thatthat pipeline can be attributed to a marketing activity. And then from there it'sall is. Now we're talking about business outcomes, we're talking about closing customersfrom all of this, and that's that's obviously even a step further. Butyou 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 ifwe want to consider this a successful marketing program okay, so all of thatbehind us. Now I'm going to throw a big astrisk on everything I justsaid, and here's here's what I want to talk about market it. Wehave 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 marketingnear sightedness, and I can link to that in the show notes. Butthe idea is, because everything is measurable now, many of us have goneso far as to, you know, say, well, now we needneed to measure everything, and what happens is when we obsess over measuring everythingwe 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 Ikind of broke it down into three things that I believe get neglected when weare overly obsessed with measuring everything, and the first one is the things thatwe do persistently to grow results over the long term. So a few examplesof that search engine optimization. I said this earlier, but there's no buttonyou can push, no seo firm you can hire, where you hire themand then a month later you're just ranking like crazy and driving all kinds oforganic traffic. If that is happening, it's probably because some black hat techniqueis being used that is just going to bite you in the long term whenGoogle penalizes you. But the reality is, you know, doing things like producingcontent to build thought leadership, to position your people as experts, asthe experts that they are, frankly, but you know, extracting that knowledgefrom their brains, turning it into written content or podcast content or Webinar contentor 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'tjust turn that stuff out overnight and expect it to start producing results. Youneed a program to do that and you got to start somewhere. But youneed patients and I've seen too many companies I've I've seen it happened recently withsome of our own clients, where they get three, six months in andthey're not seeing a an Roi on on the foundational content work or Seo workthat's being done and they pull the plug. And it just pains me so muchto watch that happen because they're on the right track and those leading indicatorsare pointing at they're moving in the right direction, but when they're not seeingpipeline 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 Seoand a content program time to evolve. There's some foundational work there and it'sprobably going to take you, frankly, six to twelve months to start seeingmeaningful results. So you got to look for those leading indicators are we movingin 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 whereyou'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 goingto take time and we can't neglect those as a result of being so overlyobsessed 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'reprobably not going to see immediately results from it. But you need to buildyour brand for the long term. You got to have great copy, you'vegot to have great design. You know, there are other things I'd lump inthat same bucket that are maybe even nondigital, like speaking and, youknow, thought leadership out there in the world, like attending event, beingspeaker on a fence, being a guest on podcasts that are in your industry. A lot of these things, you know, they might generate one orone or two you know short term engagements. But largely what you're doing here isyou're establishing your name. Writing a book would be another one, rightlike you're demonstrating thought leadershore, you building a great brand and and bit bybit over time it all starts to snowball. I've watched it happen with our clientsthat 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 andwatch them immediately pay off. So so that's kind of similar to my firstone about persistently doing things like producing content and Seo. But you know therealso these these less tangible things that we are going to do to build brandequity over over the course of time. And then the third thing I wantto hit on here that gets neglected when we're two focused on short term measurementis going to be the experiments we run that have the potential to yield significantresults. 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 totry to determine what marketing activities are going to perform well, but there willbe paid campaigns you run that frankly, fall flat. There's going to bekeywords you target and produce content around that aren't going to produce the results youwere hoping they would. You do your due diligence, but you don't knowexactly what's going to work every time and you know if you're so focused ononly doing the things that are guaranteed to produce results, you're going to missopportunities 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 thebest decisions I ever made. But had I given up after a month ortwo, you know I wouldn't reap the benefits of what's coming from this andthe people I've met and the the reach of this podcast and all the contentthat's come from it. So just one example, but we need to berunning experiments, we need to be trying new things and we can't be exwe can't go in with the expectation that every single thing we're going to dois going to produce an immediate or or even positive Rli at all. Somewill, some won't, but let's fail fast and kind of move on anddouble 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 thatmarketing sourced pipeline is your North Star. That is what we believe should beyour 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 themarketing activities that are part of that program. You know, the other thing hereis Kpis. We got it. We got to have the right KPISin place, but they are leading indicators. They are not the end all beall. Rankings. Traffic Ad Impressions, add engagement, Click dose from thoseads, leads being generated, sales qualified leads from those. These areall 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 weneed to persistently do over time, like Seo, like content creation. Let'snot neglect the things that are going to bring build brand equity, like investingin the way our brand looks and sounds are positioning and doing things like speakingand writing book and getting our thought leadership content out there. And let's notlook neglect the experiments that we need to... to figure out what is goingto gain tractions. We can double down on those things knowing that some thingsare going to fail. So that's my take on how to measure marketing resultsas a manufacturing organization and the things that matter. We've written more about thistopic. We've we've got other content around this and a lot of the thingsthat 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 beenproducing 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. SoI hope this was helpful and we will see you on the next episode ofthe Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensurethat you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcastplayer. 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 forB Tob Manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening, until next time.

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