Tech Marketers, We Have to Stop Kidding Ourselves

Marketing KPIs and Content: It’s Time to Get Real

September 14, 2016

As tech marketers, we have to stop kidding ourselves. Not every brand is the market leader, not every product is well-known.

Countless times I’ve met with companies that are the third or fourth player in their market. Yet, they’re expecting to get a minimal cost per lead and giant shifts in brand awareness on relatively small budgets — just like the market leader who has 80%+ brand awareness and consideration.

So why do these brands insist on using the same KPIs as the industry leader? It’s time to get realistic about KPI projections and the content that drives (or doesn’t drive) engagement toward those KPIs.

Let’s Be Honest About Marketing and Sales Goals

The truth is, unless you’re #1, customers don’t really care about your brand all that much. And they’re fickle. That’s why getting an honest picture of who sees and engages with your brand, and what content impacts those factors, is critical. The first, and most important, step toward doing this is to create realistic KPIs, and then measure against those milestones.

This means forgetting about what the “top dogs” are doing and concerning yourself with what makes sense for your brand and products. If you’re being honest, you might realize your original goal of 5000 leads isn’t feasible for you or your sales team. Instead, 1000 leads would be more realistic. And if the market for your product is small, you might see that a $50 cost per lead just isn’t possible.

As tech marketers, it all comes down to understanding your addressable universe – how much your intended audience really knows about your brand (awareness, consideration, willingness to be a lead) contrasted with how much of that audience is actually in the market for your products and services at any given time. For example, fifty percent market consideration with 30,000 companies buying your product means you have 15,000 of those companies likely to engage with you, and another 15,000 who will be hard to convert into leads. You’ll also want to calculate conversion odds for each stage of the education process and sales cycle.

It’s with this knowledge that realistic KPIs can take shape – because you can now base your calculation of expected leads, cost-per-lead and deal-size on what your businesses pipeline actually looks like – not what you’ve heard the industry leader is doing. But even the most realistic KPIs need help – this is where selecting the right platform and creating great content comes in.

Let’s Get Smart About Platform Selection

Establishing incorrect benchmarks and then using generic content to try and reach those goals doesn’t work. How can tech marketers do more to appeal to customers, in turn driving engagement and informing more honest KPIs? By choosing the right channel as a starting point.

The right platform leads to the right audience insights. Ask yourself: What platform(s) is your audience using? Why are they using it? Is your content and messaging a good fit for that platform and audience? Addressing questions like these will help increase the likelihood of engagement and result in more leads.

Let’s Be Thoughtful About Content

To be honest about setting realistic goals and measurement benchmarks as a tech marketer, you have to first be honest about content. So it’s no surprise tech marketers report lower overall content marketing effectiveness this year compared with 2015. Why? Because even if you’ve selected the ideal platform to share your message, only high-quality, customer-focused content that truly informs and engages your audience will achieve the desired metrics.

What could be diminishing your content’s value? Some of the common mistakes made in content marketing are:

  • It’s too self-serving. Don’t just talk about your products and services, have a unique position and industry point of view.
  • It talks only about “speeds and feeds.” Don’t just talk products, be educational in addressing your customers’ business problems.
  • It’s gated too soon. Customers won’t fill out lead forms or reach out to sales if they feel it’s not worth their time or the company doesn’t “get them and their needs.”

Let’s Think More Strategically About Gating

So how can tech marketers be even more effective? In addition to establishing realistic KPIs, choosing the best platform and creating engaging content, they must recognize that a significant amount of waste can happen when making marketing investments. For example, 15% of folks immediately leave a website if they encounter gated content.

It plays out something like this: You start with a large “audience universe” who accesses your website or landing page. After those 15% leave, that universe shrinks. Of the audience who remained, only 5% actually fill out your lead-gen form with accurate information. But only a small percent of those leads are good enough to pass to sales. So, you’ve gone from thousands of prospects landing on your website to dozens of Sales Ready Leads. When you pass them to Sales, on average, 20% of leads will received significant Sales engagement and only half of those engaged leads end up as closed deals. It’s easy to see in this scenario how quickly that large “audience universe” is reduced to a single star in the night’s sky.

What’s the solution? It all goes back to the beginning – be honest about your target audience size and their interest in your brand to set realistic KPIs. You can then do everything you can to meet those goals by genuinely engaging your customers on the platforms they use, with relevant and accessible content that has progressive or soft gating keeping your content accessible while allowing a buyer to raise their hand asking for more information (E.G. providing their contact info willingly to have someone contact them). By taking these steps, they begin to learn about your opinions, solutions and value in a more meaningful way which begins opening more of the market up to considering you over the industry leader.

How are you changing the way you content marketing and measurement? We’d love to hear about it! Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @LinkedInMktg.

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