In today’s world, being online is equivalent to being social media-wise and tech-savvy. In other words, almost everyone is online.
In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 79% of companies’ respondents feel that their customers know more about their products and services than they do (55% said their customers provide the majority of the marketing content, while 20% said they have to actively seek it out). But despite the popularity of traditional social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, many firms still fail to utilize the full potential of the internet to attract new customers. Why?
Firstly, not all businesses are created equal, and some need more help than others to shine online. In other words, some businesses will benefit more from digital marketing than others. Secondly, keeping up with all the digital marketing trends can be tricky, time-consuming, and expensive. Thirdly, it can be difficult to determine the ROI (return on investment) of online marketing activities. That is, you can’t always clearly correlate digital marketing activities with a business outcome (like increased sales, or leads, or whatever).
Fortunately, there are solutions. To begin with, businesses can choose to outsource digital marketing to experts who can help them to maximize their web presence. This solution appeals to smaller firms who might not have the in-house expertise to carry out every step of the digital marketing strategy, or who just want to free up more time to focus on growing their business. Outsourcing is also appealing because it reduces your risk of being overwhelmed by the complex process, or of making costly errors.
Why B2B Marketing?
At this point, you might be wondering what is special about B2B (Business-to-business) marketing. After all, you are already doing B2C (Business-to-Consumer) marketing, and consumers are the ones who need your products and services, right?
Well, in terms of the marketing funnel, B2B is equivalent to going from Awareness to Consideration to Purchase. In other words, people are more likely to become aware of your product or service, then they are to consider it, and finally, they are more likely to buy it if they are already aware of it. In practice, this often means that you will have to take a different tack to reach your target audience. For example, you might have to look at marketing to business owners, rather than consumers. Or you might have to look at creating thought leaders in your industry, rather than trying to entertain the general public with viral blogging.
The Difference in Metrics
Now, let’s get to the meat of the matter. How do you determine the success of your online marketing campaign? Where do you start measuring it? How do you know if the metrics you are using are actually applicable to your industry? Let’s take a look at some of the differences in metrics and how you can use them to your advantage.
Awareness. This is the first stage of the marketing funnel, and you can measure it simply by looking at the number of people who are aware of your product or service. You might choose to measure this using a tool like Google Analytics, which can track visits to your website, as well as any social media platforms you are using to promote your business (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
Consideration. This stage is a little more difficult to measure. You need to look at the number of people who are actively considering your product or service, and the consideration stage will vary from person to person. That is, some people will only be in this stage for a short while, while others will look at your product or service and say, “Yep, that’s pretty neat.” Then, they will promptly forget about it and move on to the next offer. To begin with, you can measure this by looking at the number of people who have been to your website, or who have clicked a link in your social media posts, and then, further identifying those who have gone on to visit other pages on your website, or to click a link or two on other websites. This is also the stage where you want to start getting more specific with your metrics. For example, you can measure the number of people who visited your About page, vs the Number who visited your Services page, or the number of people who clicked on a Call to Action (like a contact us link or a button to subscribe to a newsletter), etc.
Purchase. Finally, we arrive at the most important stage of the funnel, the purchase stage. This is where you want to see the most action, and here you can measure the results of your marketing efforts using several different metrics. First off, you can measure the number of people who purchased your product or service. Then, you can look at the actual dollar value of those purchases (i.e., how much did those customers spend?), as well as the timing of the purchases (when did they occur?), to determine the ROI of your marketing campaigns. This is also the stage where you might want to consider looking at the ‘sticky’ nature of your website’s content, as well as whether or not your website’s content is driving action (or ‘m·a·ging’) or interest (or ‘l·o·cal research’)—especially if your marketing dollar is tight, you might want to reallocate your spending to garner more return on investment.
If you have a team of marketers, you might want to evaluate their individual contribution to the success of your online marketing campaign, by looking at the number of orders or leads that each person on your team helped to generate. After all, no one person can be responsible for the success of your entire digital marketing campaign. Even if you have the best-laid plans in the world, you are going to be overwhelmed by the complexity of the task, and it will be hard to determine who is responsible for what. This is why it is usually better to outsource the digital marketing to an agency who has experience in this area, and can provide you with a holistic view of the entire marketing process. At the very least, it will ensure that everyone knows what is supposed to be happening, and that you, as the business owner, are not left wondering why your sales are not rising as you expected them to.
In summary, being online is essential, particularly for businesses in the 21st century. A lot of marketing effort is focused on getting the word out there, but that is not all that matters. You also have to focus on making sure that potential customers can discover you, and then, further, that they can find the value that you offer and make a purchase, if they are interested in what you have to say.