As of this year, 82 percent of manufacturing marketers are using content marketing as part of their marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Report. Unfortunately, only 26 percent say their efforts are effective, and only 12 percent say they are successful at tracking ROI. This calls for a drastic change in the way manufacturers and their marketing teams track and measure their content marketing efforts.
Many metrics exist, but which are most useful when determining the success of marketing efforts like content?
Here are the top metrics used by successful manufacturing marketers and how you can use them to measure your marketing department’s success.
Traditionally, many manufacturers sold through distributors, never interacting with actual end users. In today’s world of increased connectivity, manufacturers can connect directly with those using their products — specifically through online channels.
One of the biggest indicators of consumption is website traffic. Sixty-seven percent of manufacturing marketers say website traffic is their top metric, according to the CMI report. Website traffic is the number of visitors who come to your website, typically measured each week and then year over year for an overall picture of how your efforts are working. This includes both unique and repeat visitors.
Checking your overall traffic is important to gauge whether your website is effectively attracting visitors. You should also break down your traffic by source, including social media, email marketing or paid search. This helps you understand where your traffic and leads are coming from and how you can better utilize those sources. This can be found through reports on software like HubSpot:
As with any industry, sales are an important part of sustaining a business. Can you track how many website visitors consumed your content then ultimately became customers?
The most important thing to keep in mind is visitors will likely not become customers overnight. The process will unfold over time as potential customers go through the process of becoming educated with top-funnel content, digesting case studies and other resources for getting to know your company, and, finally, asking for a demo or completing an order.
It is a process of building relationships with visitors and consistently delivering solid content to position yourself as an expert in your field. You want to build long-term relationships, so set your benchmarks accordingly.
How do you track sales originating from your content? Customer Relationship Management platforms, like HubSpot, allow you to see visitor journeys through your website and even create reports to see what content was consumed first or just before making a purchase. If you don’t utilize a software like this, you can ask consumers how they heard about your company using surveys or e-commerce checkout forms.
In manufacturing, purchases may be large and expensive, which makes the road to acquiring customers longer than other industries. A buyer may not purchase your product after reading your content or even after a meeting; it can take time to nurture that lead and demonstrate your reputation as the best choice for their needs.
But it all starts with examining the types of leads you are capturing.
Two lead measurements to consider are sales lead quality and sales lead quantity. Sales lead quality is how well of a fit a lead is for a particular organization, while sales lead quantity is the amount of leads generated. The impact these two have on a company is often the topic of debate among sales and marketing professionals: Do you want a higher number of leads (whether or not they are likely to generate a sale) or do you want fewer leads with a higher rate of closing on a deal? Usually marketers want the latter. Landing just one customer who buys your whole package as a result of your marketing efforts is likely more profitable than landing five customers who buy smaller pieces or parts. The key is not only to get a good amount of leads, but to attract leads who are actually interested in your company and more likely to become a customer.
One strategy for determining the quality of your leads is through lead scoring, a method for ranking prospects based on their professional information and their demonstrated behavior on your website. Through lead scoring, you will discover which leads are the most ideal for your sales team to approach.
Measuring leads also helps determine how well your website is informing visitors about your company and can help you effectively measure how much new business you are getting from these efforts.
One additional metric not mentioned in the CMI Report is social sharing. This may be because manufacturers don’t think their audiences, often B2B, are on social media. But this is a major misconception, as there are several channels where B2B buyers congregate, including LinkedIn, SlideShare and even YouTube.
Buyers want to see original content from companies; to consumers, this positions those businesses as thought leaders in their industry, and people want to know they are buying from a knowledgeable source. When you have authentic content published on your social media pages, this significantly improves your “reach,” or the number of unique people who view your content. By extending your reach, you can increase your followers and fans and, ultimately, your customers.
Manufacturing company Caterpillar has an active Facebook page with a broad reach. Its posts are shared regularly and get hundreds of "likes" by fans of their page.
Your social media shares should be measured monthly to determine how your reach has grown, and year over year to gauge follower trends on a long-term basis. If you find your reach is not growing, you will want to tweak your social media marketing strategy.
The goal for any company is to increase sales and revenue; for the manufacturing industry, it makes sense to use content marketing as a part of a strategy to produce in these areas. While it has been proven to work, your rate of success will be significantly higher by using these metrics to measure success.