The key to inbound marketing success is providing high-value content consistently throughout the buying journey. There’s no shortage of analytical tools available today to assess what is working in the process and what isn’t. Google Analytics or HubSpot’s reports, insights provided by the various social media platforms, and your own company’s CRM will give you a mountain of data.
But your manager or CEO really doesn’t want to wade through all of that data. How do you select the treasure from the trinkets to formulate your report?
Of course, this step should have been completed long before you publish your first piece of content. The manufacturing sector has been slower to engage with customers and prospects online, often saying that the people they want to reach are not spending time on the Internet beyond updating their personal social media profiles or watching videos. Sometimes, management’s decision to launch online content marketing resulted from seeing what the competition was doing—possibly for years.
In your conversations, be sure they do not have a “build it and they will come” expectation. The synergy of the individual pieces of your inbound marketing program working with your calls-to-action will move prospects through your sales funnel from the top to becoming your newest account.
As you develop your report, answer the question management is asking: Will the dollars we are investing in inbound marketing generate more dollars in sales?
With analytics available to you to track activity on your website, electronic newsletters, blogs, webinars, social media, videos, public relations, search engine results, and online ads, does your company gather data on sales so the company can correctly assign the revenue generated?
Your company may have a CRM system in place, but be sure it has a way to record where and when the lead originated and how it was nurtured until the sale was made. And know whether it will also report sales of consumables required in the product’s operation and additional products purchased over time to identify lifetime sales.
For example, your records may show your average new customer who makes an initial purchase of $10,000 can be expected to make additional purchases of $180,000 within five years. If your CRM tracks these additional sales, you will be better able to identify the true long-term value to the company of generating enough leads through your marketing efforts to acquire one new customer.
Remember, current customers are also likely to consume and share your online content. Not only do they want to reinforce the wisdom of their purchase decision but as their needs evolve and new ones arise, you want them to have easy access to information and to come to you first for the solution. If the account representative doesn’t know a customer has subscribed to your blog and newsletter, accessed one of your webinars-on-demand, and just downloaded a new white paper that is unrelated to any of his previous purchases, she may be missing the chance to have a conversation at an early point in the account’s internal discussions.
Additional factors as you determine sources for your sales:
When designing how you will report your results, consider the complexity of your sales process. Can your product be ordered and payment processed on your website in one session? Do you need to custom design a solution, do a survey of the site or get approvals from regulators? Or is it your buyer’s purchasing process that is complex, requiring your company to complete a certification process to be added to an approved vendor list which will receive an RFP, complete the proposal, and wait for a bid opening to see who is awarded the contract?
If the visitor has chosen your product and is ready to place an order today, what is the minimum lead time required to clarify any information in the order to be able to accept it? Add in the time required for a visitor who has recognized a need for your product to learn enough about you to make the purchase decision and anticipate the approval process.
The longer the process, the more time periods you need to monitor. The person who read your blog today may not become a new account for months, or possibly years. Make sure she doesn’t fall through the cracks in your tracking and reporting.
Break out in your report the total number of leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, opportunities that connected with a salesperson, customers who placed an order, and new accounts.
To learn more about KPIs, download our new e-book, Inbound Marketing: Budgets, Buy-Ins and Best Practices
Are you seeing any trends as you examine the behavior your analytics are tracking? Look for:
Include in your report how you stack up against your competitors. Remember their inbound marketing efforts might have driven part of management’s decision to launch or fund your plans. If you aren’t asking these questions, their influence may be greater on your customers and their buying decision:
With the convenience of automating reports, it is easy to be lulled into complacency. Regularly review your report to include new metrics that will alert you and management of changes in your customers’ behavior or needs. Adjustments may also be needed as products go through their own lifecycles, capacities increase or decrease, and new technologies are introduced.
Keep your report concise, easy to understand, and utilize strong graphics. Pay attention to how the information is being used and by whom.
Lastly, keep listening to the conversations your online community is conducting publicly as well as those your company is having internally. You may be among the first to see the new opportunities and challenges for your company with the ability to provide the data to assess their importance.
To build the right foundation or better report inbound marketing success, download our new eBook, Inbound Marketing: Budgets, Buy-Ins and Best Practices.
Michaela Kekedy is passionate about finding good stories and connecting with the audiences that will be equally excited. They become content for print, radio, TV, web, film and live presentations whether she is working as a journalist, public relations manager or marketing manager for companies, nonprofits or public sector entities. She’s always on the lookout for best practices to build awareness, increase revenue, and reduce costs so connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @michaelakekedy.