Industrial Content Marketing 101: Define Your Goals
One of my marketing mantras has always been, “if you don’t have a plan to tell you where you’re going – how will you know when you get there?” This certainly applies to the topic for today, which is incorporating goals – and how they will be measured – into your content marketing strategy.
For B2B, industrial companies, setting content marketing goals can usually be simple and straight forward. Let’s assume you won’t be creating content intended to motivate online purchases, since most complex industrial sales are very customized. Likewise, your goals related to lead nurturing will probably be less complicated than B2C’s. An easy way for B2B, industrials to define goals is to think in terms of either overall business objectives, or specific marketing objectives.
Why Sales Centric Goals Don’t Work
Having worked with many B2B industrial companies over the years, I’m going to say something that may sound like sacrilege: but I don’t believe your content marketing goals should be sales-centric. Since most B2B industrial companies do NOT sell online, this just isn’t a reliable measurement. And honestly, it’s not a reliable measurement for any marketing goals. Besides the fact that there are simply too many variables that effect sales that marketing has absolutely no control over – consider the complex B2B industrial sale that could involve 5 or more people on the purchasing team, and a sales cycle of a year or longer. Let’s look at a real-life example to help you understand the difficulty in attributing content marketing to sales and revenues.
- Someone in Prospect Company clicks on your LinkedIn company post and visits your website – but they take no action and leave.
- A week later, the same visitor reads an article written by one of your engineers on a trade industry website, and clicks over to your site to download a case study. At that time, the contact is entered into your CRM and he begins receiving your monthly eNews blast.
- A few months later, your engineering team receives an email through your website with a question about an application from a process engineer at the same company. This turns into a meaningful conversation with one of your sales team and this contact is entered into your CRM, also now receiving your eNews.
- Prior to a meeting with your sales team, the procurement manager at Prospect Company downloads a White Paper from your website. He is entered into your CRM and begins receiving eNews.
- Your sales team begins the discussion with Prospect Company’s purchasing team regarding your product, which leads to a sale over a year later.
So – did your social media marketing lead to the sale? What about the case study, and what did the process engineer read on your website that prompted him to begin a conversation? How about your email marketing? What about the White Paper that was read by the procurement manager? Hopefully, you can see how the complexities of the purchasing process make it impossible to say one piece of content was responsible for the sale. It’s not a bad idea to track the number of sales leads that come as a result of someone visiting your website, although this is impossible to gauge accurately unless in addition to email, you have a phone call tracking system like CallRail installed on your site.
The Difference Between Business and Marketing Specific Goals
Business goals are often related to your company’s unique value proposition. For instance, if your value prop is based on “customer intimacy” one of your goals may be “to help and educate customers and prospects” through your content marketing. Great ways to educate include case studies, “how to” articles or blogs, webinars, podcasts, and video. Your measurement of success will be the number of clicks, downloads and other ways you can track audience views of your content, as well as engagement. Did one blog post generate 10 comments, whereas the majority generate few if any? Was a LinkedIn blog shared 50 times, when most are shared far less? Pay attention to these numbers, as it will give you insight into what your prospects are looking for.
Marketing specific goals will be related to whatever objectives you’re currently tasked with. For instance, If one of your marketing objectives is to deliver timely information to customers and prospects about a new product you’re introducing, that could be achieved in a number of ways. Make sure as you’re setting marketing goals that you also consider which point in your sales funnel each type of content is for. This isn’t hard and fast … content may work for one person at one stage, and another stage for someone else. Just make sure you have enough pieces to encourage people to move along your funnel. Forms of measurement will essentially be the same as for business goals. Most will be related to either reach (clicks, downloads, views, etc) – or engagement (shares, comments, etc.).
Don’t Skip This Part of the Strategy!
I think goal setting is important for two reasons. First: as a marketer, it will make you feel confident about your results and guide you in future goal setting. Second, it will make your boss and the powers that be happy if you have quantifiable results for your efforts, not just something ambiguous like “we increased brand awareness”. It goes without saying that if 800 people downloaded a technical article from a trade industry website, you increased brand awareness. Don’t skip this part of your content marketing strategy, and you’ll be quite pleased with yourself at the next sales and marketing conference where you’re expected to show the results of your strategy. If you need some help defining your goals, or developing a content marketing strategy, that’s what we’re here for. Call us today for a no obligation consultation!