As a manufacturing company exploring the possibilities of inbound marketing, you may consider yourself well ahead of the curve and you're not wrong. But the truth is that even for manufacturers who are actively engaged in inbound lead generation, finding and tracking success is easier said than done. Yes, most manufacturers are currently failing at inbound marketing. But don't take that as a sign that inbound marketing strategies don't work. Instead, read on to find out why this failure is so prevalent and what you can do about it.
Manufacturing Companies Want to Utilize Inbound Marketing Tactics
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), as of last year 84% of B2B manufacturers were actively engaged in content marketing, which CMI defines as "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience - and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." Manufacturers know that inbound marketing works, which is why most of them have jumped on board. So why do only 26% of those who are creating content for marketing purposes consider themselves actually effective at it? If the industry is so gung-ho, where are they going wrong?
Manufacturers Don't Consider Inbound Marketing Strategies
CMI's definition of content marketing, which we'll use as a synonym for inbound marketing in the case of this post, is "strategic." The fact is that most manufacturers do not take the time to develop an inbound marketing strategy before they start creating and sharing content. Then, when they don't see the results they expect, they can't understand why it's not working. When you go into inbound marketing without a strategy in place, the result is that you won't see results.
Manufacturers Aren't Measuring the Right Things
ROI measurement is another major obstacle in finding inbound marketing success for manufacturers. 67% of manufacturers say that website traffic the top indicator they use to measure the impact their content is having. But when your ultimate goal is sales and increased revenue, this can be a big mistake. After all, with a manufacturing sales cycle, it is extremely rare to have someone visit your site and make a purchase right away. Increased traffic great, in theory, but an increase in leads and ultimately in conversions it what really means success for an inbound marketing strategy.
When you combine under strategizing and questionable measurements, it's easy to see why inbound can look like a major failure and waste of time.
But don't abandon your efforts just yet...there is still a chance to turn things around.
So what can you do?
Start with a Goal in Mind
If you're among the manufacturers that simply are not seeing the results you want from the work you're putting into your inbound marketing, there is still hope. It might seem obvious by now, but the first thing you can do is work on putting a documented inbound marketing strategy in place. (If you aren't sure how to do that, check out some of our blog posts on inbound marketing strategies). One thing we can never stress enough is setting appropriate goals. SMART goals are a great place to start. When you know exactly what you want your marketing efforts to get you (e.g., sales, leads, or even website traffic if that's what you decide) then you can strategize around that goal and create a big picture plan to get you there.
Don't Commit to One Strategy Forever
Digital marketing as a whole is always evolving at the speed of technology. So once you do develop and document your inbound marketing strategy, it is important not to rest on those laurels. Instead, use your measurements and your goals to determine whether your strategy is actually taking you in the right direction or not. Maybe you are attracting more website visitors but your conversion rates have dropped. Consider reassessing your content and buyer personas to determine how to focus your content towards actual, interested buyers.
Inbound marketing doesn't happen overnight, so if you don't see an immediate jump in sales do not assume that you are failing at inbound marketing. Instead, learn from your B2B peers and make sure to think through your plan strategically, with a measurement system that makes sense, and you will start to see the results you want.