How 10 Minutes of Research Changed Manufacturer’s Product Offerings

Where did your last brilliant business idea come from? Was it an aha moment, an epiphany … or was it from something you read or saw that sparked your idea?

Our Lawn and Garden client had been selling trellises online and in big box retail locations. These products performed satisfactorily in those retail locations, and the search volume around these items supported those sales.

Digital Campaign Performance vs Sales

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But what about similar products? How do they compare?  With a quick review of the search volumes for “lattice,” we quickly discovered that the combined search quantities were three times that of “trellis.”

Our client had both the materials and the capabilities already in place to manufacture this product. With upcoming annual sales meetings, our client used our market research and data to help bolster their pitch for adding lattices to the repertoire of products carried by retailers and distributors. The jury is still out on the final outcome, but it is a shining example of how sales and marketing can align to drive strategy and key decisions.

Real World Example: Traffic, Conversions, and Sales

What’s most important: Site Traffic, Site Conversions, or Sales Dollars? Trick question. Separate but equal, each of these outcomes is inter-dependent.

This graph shows the actual performance for three of our client’s product lines.

Digital Campaign Performance vs Sales

B-SearchVSales-graph2 Real World Example: Traffic, Conversions, and Sales

Starting with picnic tables, the search volume is significant. At first glance at the search results alone, it appears this is a product collection in need of supportive advertising and additional attention. But if you look a little closer, the actual site conversions for this product are low, along with the percentage of total sales generated by picnic tables. This isn’t where we should be investing our client’s marketing dollars.

In contrast, the fencing products generated a similar amount of search volume, but accounted for a much larger share of actual conversions, site sessions (research!) and sales. In fact, for a similar search volume, the sales are more than 60% higher than that of picnic tables. This indicates that the return on the paid search investment is more than 13 times that of picnic tables. Knowing this, should we consider whether a change in the spend will increase the return percentage? Could we spend less and see similar results?

In lawn and garden, our spend hasn’t generated the sales we’d hope to see. This might indicate that an optimization in our keywords is necessary, that our geographies should be reviewed, or that our content should be analyzed for SEO value.

What does your analysis tell you about your own business?

Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories

When we’re working with Business to Business companies, we think about site conversions differently. While the goal is to generate sales for the items our client manufactures, our B2B clients are selling to the seller of their goods, rather than the end user. As their agency, our job is to help them generate interest and measure the effectiveness of their marketing. One of the ways we do this is by using exit links.

Using Exit Links

Our client’s site offers plenty of great information on the products they manufacture. Photos, dimensions, and other details are readily available, along with where these items can be purchased. Enter the exit link: the spot where the consumer leaves the manufacturer’s site to purchase the item from their preferred retailer or find a distributor who carries it.

DIGITAL PERFORMANCE VS SALES

B-ExitLinks-Graph1 Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories
B-ExitLinks-Graph2 Real World Example: Developing Conversions Online, and Testing your Theories

This graph identifies the sales volume found within each retailer, versus the percentage of times that site visitors on the manufacturer’s website clicked to each of these purchase locations. Retailers A, B, and C are no surprise. These are the largest, most well-known retailers for the industry. But the smaller distributors are outselling the pace of their exit link percentage. This might indicate an opportunity ripe for some strategic marketing in those areas, using co-op to generate a stronger partnership for the brand. Or, it might represent a consumer sentiment shift from big-box to small or independent retailer. Either way, this trend is something to watch, and should be used to confirm that the marketing activities are the right ones.

Smarter Tomorrow than You Were Today

One of the most important marketing activities you will ever do is analyze data. Without it, your business decisions will be based on your gut, rather than real information.

For all of our clients, we always begin by understanding what the reality of the business is. What does the data say about sales, ideal customers, the frequency and size of the transaction. This is the kind of information necessary to create an effective marketing strategy. Marketing efforts are not everything though, we have to pay attention to the data and make optimizations accordingly.

For a Business to Business (B2B) client that manufactures custom cases (solid exteriors containing foam cut to specs of the objects to be carried as in photography or medical equipment), we established two layers of activities. First, we started with Paid Search, targeted to specific geographies surrounding their manufacturing locations. We then layered in display retargeting to increase frequency.

In B2B, lead generation is the key to new sales. Because these are businesses selling to other businesses who in turn sell to the end user, finding new clients can make a tremendous impact. Tracking how a new client came into the fold and adjusting to find more like them is key.

Each week, a report with the leads from the website are sent to the client with details on the keywords and location of user. Through this process, they will understand what is being searched to find their products, and make educated decisions about adjusting keywords, changing targeted geographies or budgeting by day of the week.

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Our client then tracks the leads on their end and categorize them by industry type. Then, we cross-reference with different data points to determine where and how to make campaign optimizations. The first sizeable piece of closed business for our client was for a multi-year project amounting to more than $300,000!

Additionally, this information helps us change keywords we are using to drive business. An example of a change includes the removal of keywords related to military and guns. Because of the large market for gun case consumers, we determined that consumers using those keywords were primarily end users rather than business purchases. Thus, the keywords were eliminated from the campaign.

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After making optimizations based on data, such as eliminating certain keywords/industries and implementing re-messaging, we increased Paid Search conversions by +160% in one month (compared to previous month), by increasing the conversion rate +140%! You can also see from the chart below that the percentage of new users closely matches the increase in users overall at approximately 30% month to month. Additionally, sessions to the site improved incrementally while bounce rate decreased by 70%; this traffic highlights that our clients were quality, interested parties. Without the data or assessment of the business that $300K sale may never have occurred and optimization opportunities would have been missed.

B-Optdata-Report2-800 Smarter Tomorrow than You Were Today

The Path to Purchase: Manufacturing Has Changed

Since the advent of the advertising industry, marketers have fed information to customers and customers have made buying decisions based on this information. It was a linear path. Someone sees an ad, became interested in the product, goes to the store and makes a purchase. But now customers are finding information on their own. It’s the marketer’s job to pull that audience in by creating a personalized experience that resonates with the potential customer. The path to purchase is no longer linear, it is a collection of moments that influence a customer to purchase your product.

Customers are already well down the path to a decision before performing an action on a website. They are being influenced from many different touch-points, whether through your website, social media, mobile campaigns, or traditional marketing methods. That makes it important for manufacturing marketers to reach their audience through a variety of methods well before the audience reaches out to them.

B-Manu94percent The Path to Purchase: Manufacturing Has Changed