SEM is “Most Effective” B2B Marketing Strategy | CMI Manufacturing Report (2015)

Content Marketing Institute recently released its annual Manufacturing Marketing Trends report.  The report, which surveyed hundreds of B2B manufacturing marketers across North America, ranked search engine marketing (also referred to as PPC, SEM and search advertising) as the most effective advertising method for manufacturers.

onlinestraWhat’s interesting about this finding is that 85% of B2B marketers reported using traditional print or offline promotion to distribute their content, promote their products, and ultimately drive new sales.  However, only 34% of those same marketers felt such tactics were successful.

On the other hand, a majority (57%) of all B2B manufacturing marketers found search engine marketing (or PPC) to be the most effective marketing strategy. Yet, 3 out of every 10 manufacturing marketers in the US are not taking advantage of this advertising channel.

At Fathom, we were struck by these numbers.  If search engine marketing is the most effective channel for promoting your message and products, and ultimately drives more sales than traditional methods, why aren’t all manufacturers introducing SEM into their marketing strategy?

If your company is part of this 30 percent not yet utilizing SEM, here are 7 reasons why you may want to consider adding it to your marketing mix:

1.  You can accurately track ROI on all investments– in CMI’s manufacturing report, only 2% of companies surveyed felt their organization was doing an incredible job tracking ROI on digital marketing spend.  This is astounding, given that Google, Bing and other paid channels allow you track very specific metrics of success (cost per form submitted, cost per call, avg. conversion rates, etc.), AND even tie leads generated via their platforms directly to revenue through a connection to your CRM.   Here’s a Lead-to-Revenue connection guide Google recently published that will help any company advertising through Google Adwords and also using Salesforce tie leads back to revenue: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/3285060

2. You can be seen by your EXACT target audiences of choice: Paid Advertising platforms allow you define your target audience in a number of very specific ways, including geography (country, state, city, zip code), gender, age, interests – the options and combinations are almost limitless.  LinkedIn allows for even more detailed targeting (by job title, company size, groups, and more) and Twitter recently entered into a partnership with Acxiom and Datalogix that will allow advertisers to target Twitter users based on past offline purchase behavior. Pretty cool (and targeted) stuff!

3. You can distribute your message immediately: 65% of companies say they created more content in the last 12 months than ever before, and plan to continue creating more content in the next 12 months. With all this content being created, you need to find an efficient way to distribute it. Paid advertising (through Google, Bing, LinkedIn) allows you to distribute your message immediately.  Once your manufacturing marketing strategy is in place and assets (ad copy, image ads, landing pages) are created, you can launch a campaign in any of these mediums in just a couple hours. It sometimes takes Google and Bing a couple hours to approve your messages, but within a day, you can usually have your ads running and visible to whichever demographics you’ve chosen to target.

4. You can optimize performance of your ads (or message) on the fly:  Not seeing great engagement with your ads? No problem – you can change ad copy in the matter of seconds, and test ad copy and landing page copy to see which provides the best results. Whether you’re measuring success in terms of clicks, cost/click or conversions, you have the ability to tweak all variables in nearly real-time to make sure you’re optimizing your spend.  Wouldn’t it be nice to do that with print ads in magazines or commercials on TV!

5. Cost-Per-Clicks are a bit more reasonable in the manufacturing space:  unlike the insurance & legal industries (which see costs as high as $700/click), the manufacturing space – for the most part – offers relatively lower Cost Per Acquisition.  These costs are determined by an auction-type algorithm,, where costs fluctuate based on competition in your space.  If your competitors aren’t advertising yet on Google or Bing, implementing Paid Advertising campaigns is a great way to capture market share at a low cost.  Chances are, if you’re an OEM, you have a healthy lead value (calculated based on cost of your products x lifetime value of the customer).  High lead values and low competition (or cost/lead) are a recipe for success in the SEM space.

6. You can attract buyers at any stage in the funnel: in SEM, you have the opportunity to promote pretty much whatever it is you want online.  Whether it’s a landing page with a video that demonstrates your newest product, a whitepaper or tech sheet that gives more details to customers who are in the “research stage”, or a strong call to action (like “request a demo” or “contact us”) that engages visitors near the end of the buying process, you can promote it through Paid Ads on Google, Bing, LinkedIn, and other digital advertising channels.

7. You can stay in front of potential buyers who have shown signs of interest:  one of the most exciting and successful forms of paid advertising is called Remarketing.  This is a digital marketing strategy manufacturers can use to re-target any visitor who has come to your site in the past with very specific messaging, based on the actions they took.  For example, if they visited a specific product page but left without submitting a demo request, you can create an ad promoting your “free demo” and include incentives, additional details, etc.  If a visitor did complete a demo request, you can re-target them with a message promoting benefits of the product you ultimately think they’d like to buy.  The possibilities are endless here, and the beauty is that these types of ads are usually MUCH less expensive than traditional Pay Per Click ads, yet produce some of the highest conversion rates.

If your interest in SEM as a manufacturing marketing strategy is piqued, you might want to explore the following blogs, written by Fathom’s experienced Paid Advertising experts:

If you enjoyed the stats presented in this blog and want to find more, you can view Content Marketing Institute’s full manufacturing report here.

Read our latest manufacturing marketing publication, The MFG Standard. The first issue focuses on

Assembling Your Digital Marketing Strategy.

Industrial Marketing Strategy

Jenni Ramminger

About Jenni Ramminger

Jenni is the Director of Marketing at Fathom, responsible for strategizing and executing branding, lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns. She previously worked as a Senior Account Executive at Fathom, managing digital strategy and execution for clients in the legal, technology, and ecommerce industries. She is also Fathom’s live chat implementation expert, and leader of “Web Analytics Wednesdays – Cleveland”, an event for analytics & marketing companies in the Cleveland area.

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