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ROI for Manufacturing Marketing: How to Predict and Measure It

Have you ever been stuck in a marketing rut? Maybe you launched a program that didn’t get the traction you expected, and your wheels are spinning, trying to find what to focus on next. It’s every marketing manager’s worst nightmare. But the good news is, the right marketing partner can help you get from stuck in the muck to back on track.

Finding an agency you can trust with your brand is no easy task—let alone getting the CFO to sign off on the funds needed to hire them. That’s why one of the first questions marketing managers ask us is what ROI they can expect from our efforts, and when can they expect to see results? We know that your C-suite wants a safe bet—and so do you, after all. Every marketing manager (or director, or VP, no matter their title) wants to be a good steward of their company’s finances and contribute to top- and bottom-line success. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

The truth is, it’s pretty tough to predict ROI with accuracy when every manufacturing company’s marketing engine is built differently. Some haven’t run in years and are missing parts. Some are simply in need of a good tune-up. And some are already supercharged and looking to optimize.

Here’s another truth: marketing requires vision and a belief in playing the long game. Without investment in paid tactics, you likely won’t turn on your marketing engine and have your sales team wake up the next morning to an inbox flooded with leads (if only that were true!). But like hitting the gym consistently, doing the right things regularly will begin to show results. 

So the question becomes: how can you get the earliest possible indication that marketing is having a positive impact on your business? What are the signs to look out for that your marketing engine is progressing from Jalopy to Lambo?

Here’s a breakdown of the KPIs you (or your agency partner) should be tracking and iterating on to ensure maximum return on your marketing investment, and what is reasonable to expect once you start investing in marketing…however, as they say in pharmaceuticals, actual results may vary:

Website Effectiveness

Website effectiveness (what happens once a visitor lands on your website) and how they find your website are two different but related topics. Website traffic analysis provides visibility into current patterns and metrics that directly impact your website’s success. User experience, content, and more affect the bounce rates, engagement, and conversions of your website. Driving more traffic to your site needs its own strategy depending on short and long term goals. Before setting goals for either of these things, here are some key steps to take:

Step 1: Benchmark Current Metrics. Gather data from your website analytics platform (e.g., Google Analytics) to understand your current performance. Note down metrics like traffic volume, traffic sources, bounce rate, conversion rate, average session duration, and any other relevant KPIs.

Step 2: Compare with Industry Standards. Research industry benchmarks for the metrics you’re tracking. This gives you a sense of how your performance stacks up against your competitors or similar businesses.

Step 3: Identify Key Metrics for Improvement. Given your goals and industry benchmarks, select a few key metrics that you want to improve. Prioritize those that directly align with your marketing/business objectives. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, focus on metrics like conversion rate and revenue generated. If brand awareness is the priority, engagement metrics like average session duration might be more relevant.

Step 4: Set Goals. For each chosen metric, set clear, achievable goals. These should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). 

Here are examples of SMART goals:

  • Increase sitewide conversion rate by 5% within the next quarter
  • Drive 10% more traffic through organic social media within the next month
  • Reduce bounce rate by 50% in 6 months

Step 5: Develop Strategies for Improvement. Based on the metrics you want to improve, create actionable strategies. If you’re aiming to increase conversion rates, approaches might include optimizing landing pages, improving user experience, or refining your call-to-action messages. If you’re looking to enhance brand awareness, strategies could involve creating more engaging content, leveraging social media, and exploring collaborations with publications or industry leaders.

Step 6: Monitor Progress and Adjust. Regularly review your chosen metrics to track progress towards your goals. If you’re not seeing the desired improvement, be ready to adjust your strategies. It might take some trial and error to find the most effective approach.

Step 7: Refine and Iterate. As you make improvements and gather more data, continuously refine your strategies. Keep an eye on emerging trends and adapt your approach to stay ahead in the dynamic digital landscape. Focusing on a few key metrics allows you to channel your efforts more effectively. It’s essential to measure the impact of your changes and iterate based on results. 

Website: SEO & Organic Search

Number one or bust! We wish we could tell you that with a couple published articles, an agency partner can get you to the #1 spot on the SERP (search engine results page) for your most desired keywords…but we think lying is wrong. The promise of a big, fast jump to #1 in organic search on Google is a red flag. If this happens to you, run.

As with other KPIs, results vary based on the overall site health and current rankings once a marketing partner starts working with you. A partner should focus on maintaining and increasing rankings for keywords that you both agree should be prioritized, because not every keyword will bring in relevant traffic.

Ultimately, increasing rankings is a good indication that you’re enhancing the user experience of your site as a whole, since Google factors in technical aspects of your site in addition to its content. Continuous improvement based on insights from data is what a partner should provide to help you reach your goals.

If you’re a marketing manager or sales leader looking to get a handle on this yourself, here are some key strategies for assessing and monitoring the success of SEO:

  1. Keyword Rankings: Start by tracking your website’s keyword rankings. Use SEO tools like Moz, SEMrush, or Google Search Console to identify the keywords that drive the most organic traffic. Regularly monitor these rankings to ensure they are improving over time.
  1. Organic Traffic: Keep a close eye on your website’s organic traffic metrics. Google Analytics is a valuable tool for this purpose. Observe trends, patterns, and spikes in organic traffic. Assess whether your SEO strategies are leading to an increase in the number of visitors from search engines.
  1. Conversion Rates: Ultimately, the success of your SEO efforts should translate into conversions. Monitor the conversion rates for organic traffic compared to other channels. Are visitors from organic search engaging with your content and taking desired actions, such as requesting a quote or downloading product specifications?
  1. Content Quality: Regularly review the quality and relevance of your website’s content. Ensure that your blog posts, product descriptions, and other content are optimized for both users and search engines. High-quality, informative content not only attracts visitors but also keeps them engaged.
  1. Backlink Profile: Evaluate your website’s backlink profile. High-quality backlinks from reputable websites can significantly impact your SEO performance. Monitor the acquisition of new backlinks and ensure that they are from authoritative sources within the manufacturing industry.
  1. Mobile Optimization: In today’s mobile-centric world, assess how well your website performs on mobile devices. Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, so ensure that your site is responsive and offers a seamless user experience on smartphones and tablets.
  1. Technical SEO: Regularly audit your website for technical SEO issues. Check for broken links, slow page loading times, and other technical issues that may hinder search engine rankings. Address these issues promptly to improve SEO performance.
  1. Competitor Analysis: Keep an eye on your competitors’ SEO efforts. Analyze their keyword strategies, content, and backlink profiles. Identify opportunities to differentiate your website and outperform them in search results.
  1. ROI Analysis: Calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your SEO initiatives. Measure the costs associated with SEO efforts against the revenue generated through organic search. This will help you justify your SEO budget and refine your strategies.

Organic Social Media

While follower count is important, engagement rate, click-through rate, and sentiment analysis help to paint a richer picture. It’s common for a GBG client to experience 3–5% follower growth month over month through organic activity, more if there are paid tactics involved. It’s important to understand that every post won’t be a slam dunk, but you should expect that your agency partner pays attention to the data and learns from both what succeeds and what fails to generate better results through iteration.

Complex purchasing processes in manufacturing make for interesting marketing funnels, which lend themselves to a strategic content approach. By breaking down and categorizing content efforts as targeted toward the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, we can start to see what resonates the most on organic social as a channel. For example, you may find that top-of-funnel (TOFU) content (where the prospect may be both problem- and solution-unaware) doesn’t resonate quite as much as middle- or bottom-of-funnel (MOFU or BOFU) on LinkedIn. By understanding which portion of the funnel your content assets are geared toward, you can start to identify patterns that lead to insights when you look at how they perform when distributed on your organic social channels. 

Marketing Email Programs and Newsletter Engagement

Open rates, click-through action, and unsubscription rates give you the real pulse. In the B2B universe, if you’re hitting open rates of 15-25% and CTRs around 2.5%, you’re in the engagement sweet spot. What you should expect from your agency partner is that they gain an understanding of where you’re starting from a baseline perspective, deploy a thoughtful content strategy, and then iterate based on data to get your results to meet and then exceed industry benchmarks. Most GBG clients see regular newsletter open rates above 25%, and for some, open rates of 40% and higher are not uncommon.

Continued iteration and optimization of marketing email programs can look like:

  • More specific segmentation of audience lists and customized content catered to their specific needs
  • Nurturing sequence creation and optimization for gated content assets
  • Warm and cold email campaigns
  • Additional branding of regular newsletters (giving it a name)
  • Customer updates to influence repeat and refer activities (bottom-of-funnel activity)

From Couch to Marathon

Most people can’t run a marathon without doing lots of training. The same is true for marketing. If developing a digital presence and deploying smart traditional tactics isn’t something you’ve focused on yet, turning on marketing won’t fill your pipeline right away. However, building a foundation rooted in best practices and continuously optimizing based on data will get you across the finish line. It just takes consistency — or a partner who can help you be more consistent. 

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