January 23, 2008
I just listened to your podcast with E-Marketing Talk Show. Good stuff! You have such a sweet little voice, too.
At any rate, in the fourth segment, you briefly hit on ROI and basically described perfectly a dilemma I have. We are a B2B manufacturer of machinery that costs anywhere from the 10's of thousands to the 100's of thousands each. We sell a handful of these machines each year. Consequently, the buying cycle can take up to a year or more. How would you suggest we figure ROI and conversions for this kind of business?
Thanks much. As always, your advice is greatly appreciated.
Good question! But first, a big LOL at the voice part. People do still occasionally ask to speak to my mother when I answer the phone!
Okay, back to business.
Measuring ROI and conversions can certainly be a challenge to B2B marketers, especially those with a very high price point and long sales cycle. With an ecommerce site, it's simple -- you know exactly what people bought, when they bought it, where they came from, what keywords they used to get there, how much they spent, and perhaps even how much it cost you to gain that visitor/sale in the first place. This all assumes you have installed a good web-analytics program.
[As an aside, the free Google Analytics program can do all that if you know how to set it up and measure things properly. If you don't, you may want to check out the awesome Google Analytics online training course that ROI Revolution provides.]
With a B2B site that isn't selling products or services directly online, it's a whole 'nother ballgame. In fact, you may not be able to trace back exactly where a given sale came from, especially if they simply pick up the phone and call you as opposed to taking action on your website.
That said, there are definitely conversion points you can and should measure. Presumably, you have a contact form on your site that people might fill out for more info or to receive a call back from your sales department. Getting visitors to click to that page could be considered a conversion. But a more important one is the "thank you" page a visitor would be taken to after they fill out the contact form. In fact, if you're finding that lots of people are viewing your contact form but are not actually filling it out, you might want to look at why that might be. It might be that they are picking up the phone and calling instead. (I know it's weird, but there are still crazy people out there who like to use the phone! ;)
If you get a lot of phone inquiries, you may want to train your answering team to ask how the caller found you. (Don't be surprised if people simply say "the Internet," however. You may have to be a bit more specific and ask if they used Google, and if so, do they remember what keywords they typed in.) Depending on your volume of calls, you may even be able to match up the times when people looked at your contact form with the time someone called, and then make some educated guesses as to whom they may be and where they came from.
You can also measure conversions of people downloading a whitepaper or a free trial of some software, subscribing to a newsletter, or basically anything else where you can get people to fill out a form. Other important measurements are open rates and clickthroughs from your email campaigns, as well as any clicks from online and offline advertising that you're doing.
The key is to be sure to use tracking links for your various marketing initiatives, so you'll be able to know exactly who came from what ad.
Once you start really looking at this stuff via your web-analytics program, you'll be amazed at the info you learn. We're doing this big-time with our own High Rankings marketing programs, and it's been very eye-opening, as well as fun! Stay tuned for future articles on tracking and what we've learned about it.
Hope this helps!