Industrial B2B companies have historically had a culture problem with digital marketing.
Industrial companies that work within bid processes often work with tight margins. While they need to attract customers just like every other business, it can be hard to justify spending money on something like digital marketing because of a perception that digital marketing campaigns only produce intangible metrics, and "fluffy" results.
Keep in mind that in the pre-digital age, it was substantially harder to measure the results of expenses like ads in industry magazines or booths at trade fairs. Today, the good news for leadership and marketers alike is that digital tools are built to easily track the results of marketing dollars to make sure they generate a return on investment, so long as you know how to correctly set up and implement said tools.
Here is our condensed playbook for how B2B companies can best get started with marketing tools and techniques that get results.
1. Track website performance
It’s your website, it’s your data. You should be using it. Especially because it’s so easy to gather today.
If you aren’t already, start collecting data about how many people visit your website and how they use the website. Google Analytics is a tool that we recommend that people start with because it’s free and particularly easy to use. We explained the basics of using Google Analytics in three steps in a previous blog post.
Analytics tools provide information about things like pageviews and session duration. Pageviews are counted every time some loads or reloads your page. Session duration tracks how long a user is on your site, viewing your content and assets. Such metrics have benchmarks to help your marketing team assess whether your website is working, or if it's just a waste of digital space.
Analytics can also give you information about your conversion rate, which is the percentage of users who take an action you want them to take such as buying something or requesting more information.
2. Compare data to your baseline and research industry benchmarks
So now you know that you website got x-many thousand unique pageviews last month, and 1 percent of users filled out your consultation request form.
But is that good or bad? Well, it depends. On its own, it’s hard to know how to interpret that data. Web traffic numbers are all about comparisons.
The first way to use the data is to compare your website to itself over time. If you collect baseline data on how your website does absent a promotion or marketing campaign, you will be able to track the campaign’s return on investment.
Another way to use the data is to compare your company with your industry. Check out these sources of benchmark industry data for things like website traffic and click-through rates of social media ads and email marketing campaigns.
For example, according to benchmark data from email marketing company MailChimp, about 23 percent of the service’s emails in the architecture and construction industry get opened, while only 2.5 percent lead people to click on links in the email. Even if your exact business vertical isn't listed, this statistic is a useful tool to evaluate the success of an email campaign without the high open rates of ecommerce or dating platforms to skew your target outcome.
3. Set SMART goals
Now that you can evaluate how your marketing programs are working, set some goals. We like goals that are SMART, as defined by HubSpot.
SMART stands for:
For example, an industrial B2B company might set a SMART goal of using an email campaign to increase the number of leads who fill-in a consultation web form by 25 percent over a three month period.
SMART goals are a key way to prove bring results back to leadership to show measurable marketing outcomes over time.
4. Make your website a resource for a wider audience
Try expanding the scope of your website. Your website should mainly serve to reach your customers and potential customers, but there are other less-obvious populations to consider.
A long term way to stay ahead of your competition is by hiring better employees. When qualified prospective employees look for jobs, they’ll start by searching relevant companies online. Your website makes a powerful first impression and influences whether they should apply to work at your company. Consider adding a “culture” section to your website that explains the advantages of working at your company beyond benefits like health insurance.
Just as you try to remove the “friction” that slows down an interested customer from doing business with you, make it easy for potential employees to find open jobs at your company with just one or two clicks.
This is getting a bit “fluffy” but stay with us. While it doesn’t lead as directly to sales, a small part of your marketing attention can be well spent invested in your company’s reputation in the public at large .
Industrial companies have a reputation for being particularly impersonal, but they don’t have to be. Be thoughtful in designing the “about” section of your website, describing your company in words that both your customers and the general public will understand.
Think about your company’s reputation in the city where you’re based. Are there local sponsorship opportunities that can help promote your company as a contributing part of the community? Getting involved not only can connect your entire employee base in something beyond normal working hours, but can extend your reach beyond your typical work channels in surprising ways.
All in all, start somewhere
Marketing within the industrial B2B space might seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Start with the steps above, and check in on your key metrics and goals a few times during the year. Even these minor steps can increase your audience, improve your sales goals, and prove to leadership that marketing is, in fact, working.