Online marketing and transactions have brought a new opportunity to marketing departments and planners, the ability to micromanage metrics. One of the difficulties that marketing managers have faced since the beginning of marketing time is answering the question “is what I’m investing in really making a difference?”
That obfuscation of cause (or rather ad) and effect was and still is a problem for offline marketers and their quest for more budget. Online marketing can solve that problem because everything online can be tracked and measured. But does this new ability to micromanage the process help? Can you truly rely on math instead of your gut to help guide your marketing spend?
In most cases the answer is yes.
In the online world marketers must manage their budgets with their eyes focused on conversions and metrics.
Executive management has come to rely on the fact that their online expenditures can be tracked almost in real time. And so the online marketer must keep track of their overall Pay Per Click (PPC) budget when building their SEM plan and their aggregate Cost Per Click (CPC) which incorporates their SEO numbers. These numbers and costs can be watched on a daily and hourly basis and used as a marker for a campaign’s return on investment (ROI). With all of these metrics and measurements available to the online marketer it is easy and common for them to become a cost silo all by themselves and it is important that they maintain a connection with the overall marketing objective.
Basically both offline and online marketing plans combine to make up the company’s ultimate marketing plan. So the key to establishing good metrics and goals for the online marketing plan utilizes the same process as that for the offline plan, start by planning backwards. By developing the online plan from the company’s overall marketing plan you can make sure that there are thoughtful and logical intersections between both offline and online messaging and communications with the customer.
In the late 1990s marketers were challenged with coming up with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) processes and many CRM software companies were born. The idea behind CRM was, and still is, to manage the customer touch point process and measure the conversions along the way. I call these mini, micro or intermediate conversions as they are steps in the overall conversion process. Usually these conversion metrics can be used to track single node to node flow such as with an online click action or the overall aggregate percentage to close that the potential customer is at in the process.
B2B Online Marketing Conversion Process
- SSD-R-Us outbids their competitors for the search term ‘solid state hard drive comparison‘.
- CTO John wants to begin upgrading his server farm so he googles ‘solid state hard drive comparison’ and sees an SSD-R-Us ad and clicks on it.
- On the SSD-R-Us website CTO John sees a whitepaper on a comparison and reviews of solid state hard drives and a form he can download the report. He fills in his name, address and email to get it.
- Later that week CTO John gets an email invite from SSD-R-Us to attend a “Why Solid State Drives are the Way to Go” webinar, he clicks on the embedded link and provides his phone number and opts in to be contacted by a SSD-R-Us.
- An SSD-R-Us employee contacts CTO John to pitch a SSD of the Month club subscription.
That entire process would be captured in some format and hopefully tied back to CTO John’s prospect ID number and the campaign’s aggregate metrics would be used to measure efficiency and outcome of the campaign. The online marketer could begin to set up split or A/B tests to measure the whitepaper call to action or placement on the website, different types of communications such as email versus phone call or even incentives such as “buy 10 months and get 2 months free if you act today.”
With all of these online testing options available with real time data you can make decisions within days or weeks that can take an offline marketer months or years to decide. The online marketer needs to remember though that they are a step in the overall process and ultimate objective which is usually more sales.
The real objective of B2B Online Marketing metrics management isn’t to give you the look at the here and now (although it does do that) but really to focus on the future. This type of inward and intense look at conversions can also lead to other departmental efficiencies. For example you may uncover that the outbound telemarketing department for SSD-R-Us isn’t closing at a high enough percentage with the leads they are given and could use some additional sales training.
It is really all about providing the marketer and management with “what if” analysis tools to build budgets and expectations.
Later I’ll like to talk about how much that conversion was worth and how to track your online marketing spend. To get notified when I post that article, subscribe to this blog using the form below.