One of the biggest frustrations I hear from business leaders and CEOs about marketing is the inability to draw a direct line from any one marketing line item to a lead or closed sale. Part of the reason for this frustration is because, in the past, it’s been really difficult for marketing to do this with traditional marketing methods. The other part is that there is a lack of transparency between marketing and sales, so tracking and closed-loop reporting have been all but nonexistent.
So what can be done?
You Need Accountable Marketing.
Accountable marketing refers to the ability of marketing to manage data and results in a way that is understandable to managers of the business. It goes hand-in-hand with ROMI, or return on marketing investment.
Accountable manufacturing marketing usually means setting clear goals that marketing is responsible for meeting, measuring performance related to those goals, and requires executive buy-in and support.
Additional insights from the Journey to Marketing Operations Maturity benchmarking study [MOPartners.com, 2015], state that achieving marketing accountability requires clarity of purpose and a disciplined approach for managing commitments. Without clarity and focus, everything becomes a priority - and therefore, nothing is a priority.
All of that is well and good, but is meaningless if your marketing tactics and processes aren’t set up in a way that allows marketing leaders to actually accomplish these measurement and data insight goals.
Inbound Marketing Gets You There.
Data-backed, growth-driven inbound marketing practices are one way to start closing the gap between sales and marketing, particularly when it comes to accountable marketing. It’s a buyer-centric strategy to increase quality leads by providing content that establishes trust in your business. Inbound marketing focuses on setting up your marketing tactics to:
- engage with your target audience,
- encourage them to visit your website where their actions are trackable and you are able to learn more about them,
- educate them via your expert content, and
- convert your prospects to leads.
Inbound marketing is ideal to transform your marketing from reactive to proactive - and create accountable marketing in the process. It’s the only way to establish truly accountable marketing because inbound marketing is focused on data. It allows both marketing leadership and business leadership to see the cause and effect of marketing dollars on your business.
Why Inbound Leads the Way in Accountability
Here’s the thing: inbound marketing relies 100% on data to work. This is a win-win for your organization and for establishing accountable marketing for manufacturers.
The cornerstone of inbound marketing is to establish key performance indicators that will be tracked regularly, create dashboards to assist in viewing these metrics, and then use the data to dictate what happens next. Establishing closed-loop reporting requires a marketing tool for your website, such as HubSpot’s content and customer management system, so that you’re able to see what happens to each website visitor, each lead, each qualified sales call, and each customer from beginning touch to final sale.
This reliance on data and trackable metrics is the answer to transforming your marketing to an accountability machine.
I like to use the example of a manufacturing company to illustrate this process.
B2B companies, particularly in the manufacturing industry, face a unique problem when it comes to their target audience. They need to reach an audience with a very specific problem. Oftentimes, they have trouble defining that target because “we don’t want to turn anyone away; we want to reach anyone who’s interested in our product.” While this is true, there are definitely prospects who are more beneficial, better fits, and ultimately more financially productive than others. These are the people you should be building your marketing to reach.
In today’s digital world, the first step is to set up your website to reach them. Using an inbound marketing strategy design for manufacturers, our marketer would build a website that the target audience - the top tier ones, the buyer personas - would align with. The next step would be to add a few key differentiators for inbound, accountability marketing:
- Keywords and phrases in the content that the buyer persona would search for
- Educational content, such as:
- A blog
- White papers
- Include growth-driven design elements - built to grow your leads - such as:
- Pages that encourage the visitor to exchange info for a downloadable, high-value piece
- Landing pages with forms
- Videos explaining the complex product that you offer, and why it’s a good fit for the problem they’re experiencing
Finally (but probably done first), the whole thing would be hosted on a platform that supports measuring data from visitors and conversions to leads. This is the game-changer for marketers to become accountable. Without this platform, it’s very, very difficult for marketers to have a good view into what’s working, what isn’t, what to spend more money on versus less, and what is ultimately driving (or assisting in driving) leads and customers to your business.
Inbound is paramount to the success of your accountable marketing initiative.