'Engagement is nothing without conversion' in Internet Marketing

Ed Marsh | Sep 24, 2015


Shocking - Alarming - Erroneous

These are examples of the strong language from a report on new research by the Fournaise Marketing Group which describes the fundamental disconnect between business reality and the metrics to which most digital marketers cling.

A majority of marketers wrongly assume that awareness and engagement are ways of proving effectiveness and many even mistake engagement for conversion...
'Awareness in itself is nothing if not specifically built to generate (measureable) interest, desire and ultimately action that have a direct positive impact on the company's top line and/or bottom line'...
emphasis on awareness also meant that three quarters focused on standing out through creativity, media placement and digital, with form and style taking precedence over content and message...
"most alarming of all" finding, however, was that 86% of marketers thought their engagement KPIs proved that they generated more business for their organisation even though they could not prove this was actually the case.

Pretty strong stuff - and the point is crystal clear.  There is an enormous gap in perception of marketing goals between business owners / execs and the digital marketing teams who petition them for funding.  This gap highlights the potential role for a capable internet marketing consultant to advise industrial manufacturing B2B businesses.

Exaggerated in an industrial environment

If marketers want to be taken seriously and have a bigger, stronger presence in the boardroom, they need to stop living in their la-la land and start behaving like real business people - Fournaise

Certain industries are more conceptual than others.  SaaS software, for instance, lives in the cloud and often addresses business issues that aren't widely recognized.  But in the manufacturing and industrial world things are pretty concrete (or steel, ceramic, composite, etc.)

That's why often industrial marketing focuses on product specs and data sheets.  Founders and managers of technical companies are often product focused technical people themselves who are intimately acquainted with the technical details of their products.  And often their prospects, who find them late in their buying cycle once they've selected a solution and are comparing vendors based on 'product' searches, focus their questions and research on technical details.

And the disconnect between the digital marketers who toss around stats for "awareness" and the technical folks who have a very concrete, product focus, becomes a business barrier.  In the end the marketers are often relegated to an insignificant role.  Their response, typically, is to say that management just "doesn't get it."  This research shows that in fact the marketers are the ones that don't!

'Behaving like real business people'

In many manufacturing companies these roles and conflicts are ossified - reinforced through the unproductive recitation of the common and mutual mantra..."They (marketing of management/sales and vice versa) don't get it."

It's not that the marketers can't do more, or differently - although some indeed can't.  And it's not that management is unable to attach value to the marketing cost.

The problem is that in most cases marketing hasn't provided metrics tying the expense to revenue.  They lament the fact that management treats it as a cost instead of investment, but fail to illustrate how it is the latter.

There's intransigence all around; and that's an increasingly dangerous equilibrium as buying behaviors and expectations evolve to expect more of companies.

A great internet marketing consultant, therefore, must address much more than tactical tweaks to technical performance measures.  Instead they must have:

  • carried manufacturing P&L responsibility
  • sold products to similar buyers AND managed sales teams doing the same
  • the ability to lead a change management initiative
  • empathy for each of the key disciplines involved (sales, finance, marketing & management)
  • strategic perspective to envision evolving business models, extended product road map and value creation opportunities

More than 'SEO' or blogging

Perhaps the most important contribution an internet marketing consultant can make though, is to articulate the vision for how digital marketing will infuse every aspect of a company's revenue growth model in the future.

Precisely because internal biases are so vehemently (and often unconsciously) held, it's not adequate to simply highlight the barriers.  The consequences of those barriers must be described, and a vision of the opportunity (enterprise success and individual challenge/reward/fulfillment) must be painted.

Too often an internet marketing consultant is seen as a technical resource for a specific task.  There was a time when SEO, for instance, was a stand alone function that was outsourced to a "consultant" and many companies that struggle with content creation see a similar role for outside resources.

The right outsider however, with the expertise, perspective and background outlined above, actually serves a management consulting function focused on the top line growth of a company.

Revenue growth, strategic assets and enterprise valuation

Beyond visits and engagement metrics, and beyond even conversion and directly attributable revenue are other benefits of digital marketing that are rarely discussed.  Industrial manufacturing companies can create IP around their revenue growth process.  Forecasting and pipeline management can become so accurate that funding is less expensive.  Buyer behavioral data and insights can be accumulated, and mined, to create an asset with enormous stand-alone value.  And cumulatively enterprise valuation is enhanced.

So the "kumbaya" aspect of inter-silo collaboration may make everyone's days a bit more pleasant.  But helping marketing to execute and describe their activities "like real business people" is more than just a feel good goal.

It's a fundamental business transformation as outlined in this free eBook "A Business Executive's Guide to the Finance of Content Marketing."  Download it today to start to envision what "could be" for your B2B manufacturing business if you had the assistance of a great internet marketing consultant.

New Call-to-action