Have you calculated your B2B marketing costs and ROI?

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Do you know how much marketing activity you can actually afford? Even if best practice marketing is employed it is not safe to assume that an increase in B2B marketing costs will be more than covered by the resulting sales?

As an example if a manufacturing company intends to increase sales it is reasonable to expect that some extra marketing activity will be required to generate those sales. Of course a proportion of the increase will be generated by existing customers and projects but what about the rest? Marketing activity will be required to generate the required sales leads.

The ideal marketing process may include Content, Website (&SEO), Email, Social media and possibly some Pay per Click. Is it really possible to justify investing in everything or are there choices to be made? The first step is to determine how many sales leads (on average) are required to generate a sale, what is the average value of a sale and therefore how many leads are required. Read more on calculating lead quantity in this post  from Christopher Ryan.

With the number of leads in place it is then possible to develop a process. For a manufacturing business social media should be a low priority leaving Email and website both of which require content. If an Email list of existing customers and prospects is in place then to reach out to these contacts with engaging and valuable content and nurture those prospects going forward is by far the cheapest route.

Simple measurement processes may be put in place to quantify exactly how many leads are generated from an ongoing Email campaign but what if the business suffers from the all too common small list syndrome , what then. Ultimately, a small Email list results in a small number of leads, regardless of how strong your content and nurturing process may be.

Of course you could take the inbound route but that demands both a substantial investment in content, in its many forms, and SEO to ensure your content hub (website) is actually found. Don’t fall for the ‘build it and they will come myth’ as it just won’t happen.

Good quality SEO takes time and effort and that involves cost. Justifying the expense of a full time SEO person can be difficult and it is not something you can expect an existing marketing person to learn overnight. It is important to make a careful analysis at this point of exactly how many sales leads you can expect from inbound marketing (and website) and therefore what you can reasonably invest.

The alternative option is to invest in pay per click but it is important to first check it fits with your type of business. It is well established the majority of prospects look to the organic results on Google before they look to the ad results. PPC has many advantages including the ease of defining cost per lead but it only tends to fit with a relatively small proportion of manufacturing type businesses. It is however easier to equip an internal marketing person with PPC skills than SEO skills in a relatively short period of time.

Cost per lead is generally higher for PPC than inbound marketing or Email. On the flip side PPC and Email are much faster to generate results. However, as mentioned above, Email only works well if you have a good quality Email list. If it is necessary to build a list that can take a significant amount of time and effort. The task is not to blindly invest in marketing but to think through a process that will deliver the required number of leads for an appropriate cost. Crucially, the same analysis will show what is, and is not, a realistic number of leads and therefore a reasonable turnover growth forecast.