Remember this rom-com from 2009? Despite the critics giving it mixed reviews, it went on to gross $219.1 million worldwide. A hit movie for sure.
Sometimes I feel the same way about industrial marketing for lead generation and its relationship to sales – It’s Complicated!
Every industrial company I talk to wants more leads at a lower cost per lead. Yet, very few have a formal process in place to measure marketing’s contribution to sales and revenue.
It is easy to measure data points such as Visitors, Pageviews, Pages/Visits etc. and downloads but it is not easy to tie them back to actual sales. Measuring ROI or ROMI sounds good in theory but difficult to accurately measure in the real world. According to some marketing pundits, these may be too simplistic to understand marketing’s full impact on sales.
Here are two sobering findings from a 2013 survey done by the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn and managed by Holger Schulze (@HolgerSchulze).
For most marketers, between 5 and 10 percent of qualified leads convert to customers. A whopping 25 percent don’t know their conversion rates.
Cost per marketing qualified lead ranges from less than $25 to over $500 per lead – but most B2B marketers simply don’t know (41 percent).
You already know about the complications because of the long sales cycle that is typical in industrial sales. Many other everyday situations can also make it very difficult to correctly attribute marketing’s contribution to industrial sales.
The two examples I have used here are from real situations.
Example #1: A PPC ad for a specific component leads to a click to your landing page. However, the visitor takes no action and leaves. A week later the same visitor reads one of your blog posts and downloads an application note. A few months later, a design engineer from the same company emails your engineering department with a question about his application. This leads to a conversation with one of your sales engineers and the second contact is entered into your CRM system as a lead. Did the PPC ad generate the lead or was it your content marketing responsible for the conversion? Do you give equal attributions to both marketing tactics?
Example #2: You have been tracking visitor activity from a particular company for a while now but there have been no conversions so far. One day you receive an RFQ for one of your pumps but you don’t hear back from the engineer. However, a month later you receive a second RFQ from another engineer from the company and he wants you to quote on a skid-mounted system using three of the same pumps and several other process control equipment that you manufacture. Are these two separate sales opportunities or one? Did the second engineer ever visit your website or did the first engineer influence him for the second RFQ? (See Does Your Website Content Meet the Needs of Industrial Buyers?)
My point is that it is not always possible to measure everything that industrial marketing does to create real sales opportunities. Measuring data points alone cannot give you the complete picture. It is imperative that sales and marketing work together to understand the complete sales process from the customer’s perspective in order to develop effective industrial marketing strategies for lead generation and sales.
Without these deep insights, you’ll be left wondering about marketing’s real contribution to sales. You are probably familiar with John Wanamaker’s famous quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Don’t let this happen to you.
What do you measure and can you accurately attribute industrial marketing’s contributions to your sales?