A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the challenge of convincing CFOs that inbound marketing makes good business sense (How to Convince Your CFO That Inbound Marketing is a Sound Investment). CFOs are a tough audience, especially when it comes to marketing spending. Lots of them had formative experiences reviewing marketing budgets that were light on hard evidence and heavy on "trust me!" So they can be excused for wanted to see an objective demonstration of how X dollars in marketing spending will translate into 2X or 3X in new margin.
My last post took the CFO to the point of objectively demonstrating the gap between business goals and what you'll accomplish if you keep doing what you've done in the past. Most businesses today are realizing that traditional outbound efforts are losing effectiveness as potential buyers buffer themselves from outbound marketing and rely more and more on on-demand information to guide them in purchase decisions. According to most sources, more than 90% of B2B buyers start their buying process with a web search for information and potential vendors.
Now I'm going to show how you can set digital marketing goals that are realistic, compelling, and will lead to your CFO's commitment to support your inbound marketing plans. Start with the basics metrics that illustrate objectively where your online marketing performance is today. See chart below for current levels of website visitors, visitors who convert by giving their contact info, how many of those leads were actually marketing and sales qualified, and final conversion into customers.
Setting online goals is more art than science, but the point is to use potential goals to demonstrate the business impact of improved lead attraction, conversion, and nurturing into customers. In this example, the subject company's web presence wasn't doing much to attract or convert visitors, and they were almost invisible to search engines. Very little new content, subpar social media utilization, minimal current SEO work, especially relative to the little current content on the site. From that we know that a competent inbound marketing plan will have a relatively immediate impact on traffic.
We also know that improving traffic conversion is a certainty with the addition of some compelling calls-to-action (CTA), while content written to the target personas will improve lead quality. Finally, segmented nurturing using smart automation will improve customer conversion rates. The end result is an online lead generation machine that, in it first iteration, is a dramtic improvement over its predessessor, and will continue to improve as the subject company's inbound marketing team learns more of the nuances of what works best in their industry and with their customer types.
What's really exciting to us as inbound marketing partners to our clients is we can use this type of goal assessment process to quickly talk through the tangible steps we'll take to drive the performance improvements represented in this comparison of current vs goals. And we can provide the added assurance that each element of the inbound goals are objectively measurable from day 1, satisfying the dictum so often ignored in traditional marketing that "We can only manage what we can measure." In this case we can manage all of the components that collectively drive an inbound program, and because the measurement happens continuously we can make adjustments or modifications whenever we feel we've seen enough to make a reasonable judgment based on observation.
And if you take your CFO through the entire process and allow them to consider the evidence and the approach, and they remain unconvinced that inbound marketing is a valuable new strategy for your company to pursue....maybe what you need is a new CFO!
Posted by Greg Linnemanstons
With 18+ years in senior management roles at Fortune 500® and medium-sized companies, Greg has deep marketing and sales experience with CPGs and manufacturing. He leads strategic initiatives with clients and is involved in developing client inbound marketing plans. Greg holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University.