Measuring the return on investment for marketing is challenging in even the best cases. Many industrial marketers mistake commonly used online B2C metrics for effective measures of their efforts. But marketing effectiveness can affect business outcomes like revenue growth and customer retention — so with so many variables and items to test, how can industrial marketers measure the success of their marketing campaigns?
How Do You Define Marketing Success
Clicks don’t necessarily solely help you reach your business goals, new customers do. So the accurate measure of ROI for any online marketing program should be real new business opportunities.
Yet too many industrial marketers get wrapped around the axle measuring clicks, page views, traffic, conversions and other ‘visitor’ metrics that quite frankly might be great for the B2C world, but don't present the full picture of marketing success for B2B suppliers.
In the search engine/SEO world, visitors to your website are too often doing things other than supplier discovery and evaluation. In other words, they don’t always represent real new business opportunities. There are many reasons for this:
- A healthy percentage of your search engine traffic typically comes from people who already know you. They are often just looking up your phone number, email address, product info – whatever they are looking for, they are not a new business opportunity.
- Related keyword searches can bring non-valuable traffic to your site. For a simplified example, let’s say you’re a die caster. Someone searching “die casting” may just be researching die casting processes. Or interested in purchasing die casting equipment or materials. Or perhaps even looking for diecast toys. None of them represent a real new business opportunity.
- Unfortunately, there’s fraud. Unless you're diligent about setting your PPC campaigns for success, your ads may be polluted by fake clicks and bots. In other words, you could be paying for garbage that doesn’t represent any real new business opportunities.
Measuring the right thing comes down to user intent.
B2B Tools To Measure The Success Of Your Online Efforts
Most web analytics tools have a function that says that if a user searches for a term, clicks on your ad or link, and goes to a particular page, this keyword is bringing value. In the industrial B2B buying process, a single visit is not always likely to lead to an immediate sale. The industrial buying process can be long and many steps are taken before an engineer, procurement professional, or MRO manager submits an RFQ or contacts you.
So, does that mean that the data isn't meaningful? Absolutely not.
Getting the most out of web analytics tools begins with first documenting your marketing goals, like the growth of contact lists, increased website traffic, etc. Then ask the right questions. Why are users visiting only these pages and not others? Why are they spending a specific amount of time on the site? On a particular page? Industrial marketers ahead of the curve understand that the "who" and the "why" are far more important than the "how many" when it comes to measuring the ROI of your online efforts.
With Thomasnet.com, we’ll give you a preview of the “who” by providing you with a free custom opportunity report of companies that recently used our platform to find suppliers that do exactly what you do. Once you’re an advertiser on Thomasnet.com, you’ll have full access to powerful analytics tools and reports showing you precisely who’s found, evaluated and contacted you via our platform.
Corrugated Metals set a record for quotes in the first year of listing on Thomasnet.com, increasing quarterly quotes by 197% over the previous year. In fact, according to our sourcing activity, every second, a buyer or engineer visits Thomasnet.com to source products and look for new suppliers. But they can't contact you if your company isn't listed.
As for the “why,” visitors to the Thomasnet.com platform overwhelmingly have one intent: to find and evaluate suppliers to meet a specific buying need — it’s the sole reason the platform exists. Visitors who show up on your Thomas ROI report have qualified themselves as serious buyers by their actions on our platform — they're highly qualified design engineers, procurement managers and MROs.
For example, if a page on the website has a high bounce rate — i.e., users spend a brief amount of time on a page before hitting the "back" button—it could be because the user could not find what it wanted immediately and left. However, it may also be because the user did find the information they were looking for — a product component description, a phone number, a process definition, etc.
If the analytics software offers enough data, this can be investigated even further. Sometimes, certain software can identify the company browsing the site, like Thomas WebTrax. If this is an existing customer, the data offers an opportunity to see when it first began visiting the website if it was viewed by multiple locations/individuals or mostly the same person.
There's a lot of data out there — and real-time data from tools is critical to maximizing your returns across marketing channels. But to truly get the most out of the data, we recommend using more than one tool at a time to get a complete picture of the effectiveness. Many manufacturers and industrial companies couple Thomas WebTrax with Google Analytics and Ahrefs to monitor how visitors interact with the pages and convert to leads.
A user searched your company name, for example, is at a different stage in the buying cycle than one that searched for a specific product category, such as "ball bearing." The former is likely very aware of your company's offerings — it's a hot lead! The latter has potential and will require a bit more effort (although it is also worth pursuing).
Alternatively, if the user searched a vague term with multiple meanings, such as "pump," it leaves a question about whether this meant women's footwear or a mechanical device. Further SEO analysis could indicate a need to refine your site's keyword affiliation. At Thomas, the industrial marketing experts can conduct a free SEO audit for you — request your digital health check here.
B2B Marketing Success In A World Without Trade Shows
The reality is that digital marketing provides real-time data that allows you to define how effective your marketing strategies are. In contrast, in-person event metrics can be more challenging to quantify. Today, in-person events are at a standstill and an increase of 12% of manufacturers have shifted to budgets to digital marketing. (See the full industrial report here.)
Digital marketing and its tools allow you to understand the full sales cycle within a known or prospective customer's organization too, which can be infinitely valuable to creating the right type of content and campaigns to keep your business top of mind.
Remember, not all leads are the same so it's important to mimic your in-person sales process with your website. Your emails, display ads, and videos are perfect channels to track ROI and should all be designed with the industrial buying process in mind — click here for 13 industrial videos that have helped close sales.
Measure the number of qualified leads (MQLs vs SQLs vs unqualified leads) and their quality rate when possible (decision-maker, influencer, non-decision maker). In addition, you should measure how many leads generated from your marketing efforts move on to an appointment with your sales team and how many meetings close to a sale.
Unsure of how to align your ROI expectations with the reality of today’s industrial buying cycle? Our In-Market Buyer Report shows you companies searching your manufacturing and industrial services right now, relevant online behaviors during that time period, and how those behaviors ultimately culminate in a real new business opportunity for you. Request your free report and learn how you can increase your reach to engineers, procurement managers, and MROs and decrease customer acquisitions' costs with effective online marketing campaigns from Thomas.
- 2020 Industrial Digital Marketing Benchmarks
- How Industrial Suppliers Get More Leads Using Thomas WebTrax
- 32 Industrial Lead Generation Tips, Tricks, And Ideas
- MQLs vs SQLs In Lead Generation: What's The Difference?
- Manufacturing Leader's Step By Step Guide To Converting Anonymous Traffic To Leads
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