There comes a time when every business needs to think about how they define success. This is true no matter the industry and applies to all companies from manufacturing and construction to recreation and retail.
Success could be the number of units sold, how many new customers they gained in a quarter or another metric. The key is tracking and watching for trends to continually improve results or change direction if something isn’t working. Every company needs to know what they want to accomplish and how they are performing toward these goals.
For business-to-business (B2B) companies, marketing metrics are among the key performance indicators that they cannot ignore.
Why Track Marketing Metrics?
Modern marketing activities are easier to track than more traditional forms of promotion like trade show attendance or brochure distribution. And today, tracking the right marketing metrics for your business can provide an opportunity to not only demonstrate success but also identify challenges - before they become real problems.
Good marketers know that website performance, social media engagement and a myriad of other metrics are available to them. The hardest part is deciding which metrics to monitor.
Ultimately, marketing metrics can provide B2B companies with insights to help them continuously improve and grow.
Knowing what to measure and why are questions to answer in order to develop an effective marketing plan.
Don’t have a marketing plan? Read: Top 3 Marketing Planning Tactics
Businesses of all sizes need a marketing plan to keep their marketing efforts on track, on budget and on time. Good marketing plans also inherently have some form of measurement built into them to gauge progress and measure marketing success. A marketing plan without measurement isn’t a plan - it’s a wish list.
Where should you start?
A solid marketing plan starts with clarity about overall business and marketing objectives, so you can set realistic and attainable targets. The first question all companies need to ask themselves is “What do we want to achieve?” You can’t build a plan to get your business there without clear objectives.
Next, consider “What does success look like for us?” Is success for your business based solely on sales growth? The number of leads generated? Increased market share? Higher brand awareness? Greater customer engagement? A combination?
Without metrics, successes nor failures can truly be recognized. And by analyzing the results, businesses have the opportunity to take their company from doing fine to being a whole lot better. So, to be really effective, track metrics that are tied to your overall business objectives.
Learn more: What to Include in a Strategic Marketing Plan
Include Metrics to Track Both Quantity and Quality
There are many different kinds of metrics a company can consider. The easiest metrics to measure are the quantitative ones – such as the number of sales leads, the number of clicks from a digital ad to your website, the increase in sales revenue, etc.
Harder to measure are qualitative objectives. These include changes in brand awareness and perception, channel effectiveness and more.
Be patient as you begin to track metrics. Real results take time to come in, so don’t rush the process. Develop a long-range view of trends over time. These results will be much more insightful and give a much better indication of what did or did not work and how and when to make strategic adjustments along the way.
If measuring metrics is new for your B2B or manufacturing business, consider starting with these 6 marketing metrics:
1. Website Traffic
Your website is the hub for your company’s communications - it’s where customers and potential customers come to find more information about your company, products and services. A well-maintained and up-to-date website is one of the most important business tools in your toolkit. But, if no one is visiting the site, it's not doing its job and it’s not helping your business - it could be hurting your business.
Learn more by building analytics into every page of your site so that you can see:
- how many people are visiting,
- what pages they’re looking at,
- how long they stay (are they reading or skimming),
- where they’ve come to your site from, etc.
From here, you’ll be able to decipher if changes to website traffic can be attributed to specific marketing activities, business announcement or changes made.
2. Website Visits vs. Leads Generated
There are many ways to generate sales leads – and all those leads should be included in your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. An effective CRM will make tracking easier and provide an in-depth analysis of your sales leads throughout the entire pipeline. It will also let you know how effective your website is at converting visitors to leads. The insights gained with this metric will also help you decide what possible website adjustments could be made to drive greater lead volume and quality.
How can your site be updated to make it easier for customers to educate themselves about the things you offer? Customers no longer want to be immediately referred to sales. They want to be able to find what they want, when they want it. If you don’t already provide information such as product benefits, pricing and availability, you could be missing out.
3. Social Media Traction
Social media is a great way to raise awareness, generate leads, engage past, current and potential customers and more.
Many companies start monitoring their social media efforts with ‘vanity metrics.’ These include the number of followers or connections a company or individual executive has on any given platform. Although these are a good ‘starting point,’ a better indicator of success or failure is the engagement your content creates.
Some ideas to increase engagement include:
- asking questions,
- posting short informative videos,
- sharing content followers will find useful, and
- highlighting accomplishments and updates.
4. Digital Advertising Click-Thrus
Digital advertising is considered a lower cost, higher return form of advertising than more traditional platforms such as print ads and billboards. Its effectiveness is also easier to measure and reach can be significantly wider.
Among other opportunities, digital advertising can include display ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, social media ads, blog and social media posts, online content, as well as any other form of digital messaging that can be clicked to drive traffic to your website.
The goal of digital advertising is to have as many click-thrus as possible from the digital content leading to your website. Preferably the content would lead to a landing page on your website that is relevant to the content from which your visitor has clicked. Measuring these metrics not only tells you how effective the content you provide is, but it can also be the start of your website lead creation process. Driving more traffic to your website provides more opportunities to share your business’s messaging, products and benefits.
5. Email Open Rates and Click-Thrus
Email marketing continues to be an effective way to share customized messaging to specific/target audiences that want to receive your company’s information. Examples include newsletters, special offers, product announcements, and email messages that are triggered by your CRM system throughout the lead generation, pipeline management and sales conversion process. If your business is in Canada, don’t forget about the need for messages to be CASL compliant.
By monitoring the open rates for these emails (the percentage of those who open the email versus the number of emails sent in total), you’ll know how effective your subject line, brand, or company name is at getting your audience’s attention.
Measuring click-thrus from links included in your emails, that lead to your website, will help you understand how effective specific content or messages are at getting (and keeping) the attention of your target audience.
6. Audience Reach
Reach is more than your digital marketing efforts. It’s an all-in indicator that is an important overall business metric and refers to the total number of people currently in your business audience. To grow their business opportunities, companies need to grow this metric.
- the number of contacts in your email database,
- the number of prospects in your pipeline,
- the number of customers you’ve invoiced, and
- the potential audiences of your various marketing efforts
Collectively, reach is the supporting metric of “the numbers game” in sales and marketing. But, more than simply numbers, the quality of your audience is also an important factor.
Marketing a product or service to an audience that has no use for what you offer is pointless and expensive. Your reach needs to be wide enough to include enough potential customers for your business to continually grow. So, part of your marketing plan must include tactics for increasing your reach to continually grow your sales.
Try leveraging comments from happy customers, share corporate successes and join in other relevant conversations to keep your company top of mind for current customers and attract new customers along the way.
Don’t Rush The Milestones
Once your company’s objectives are clearly defined and what metrics to keep an eye on, you can layer in your milestones. Start by considering your key milestones – both for the marketing plan as a whole and for each individual tactic you’ve included. Remember to include the marketing plan completion date as one of the big plan milestones.
Building milestones into your marketing plan, ensures that timing is reasonable and goals are achievable. Don’t set milestones you know you won’t meet – it will set a tone of failure before your marketing plan has been set into motion.
Remember to Include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The truth is, that not all objectives, metrics and milestones are successfully met and achieved. And that’s okay. Understanding the complete picture can give you the tools you need to implement positive change.
Regular monitoring of both metrics and milestones will keep your marketing plan and your business on track - and they can also uncover issues and barriers to success – which are just as important as achieving your objectives.
For example, if you are consistently unable to meet your desired milestones – which should be achievable – then perhaps you have staffing, resourcing or competency issues that need to be addressed. If you are successfully generating leads but have a low conversion to sale rate, you might have a closing issue - which could reflect a need for more or better sales training or another potential problem.
If knowledge is power, metrics and milestones can give you the knowledge to power up and change your organization for the better.
If you’re struggling with your marketing strategy and want to talk to the B2B marketing experts, contact us. Maybe it’s time for your company to hire an outsourced marketing agency to realize some exciting new opportunities.
Mezzanine B2B Growth Agents specialize in B2B demand and lead generation for companies that have complex sales such as manufacturers and other B2B companies. It’s all we do, so we have the depth and breadth of experience to help your company grow. Learn more:
- Four Major Sales Problems that an Outsourced Marketing Agency Can Solve
- Seven Compelling Reasons why Mezzanine is Your B2B Outsourced Marketing Agency
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