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Leveraging your manufacturing analytics can mean the difference between boosting your business growth — and spending extra money while getting subpar results.

Good data can show you information critical to success, including customer perceptions, drive process, acquisition costs, performance, sales, and company growth. Gathering and interpreting analytics allows your company to understand better what you're doing well, what you need to improve on, and how specifically you can improve, without costly guesswork.

But despite how important this information is, less than 20% of manufacturers reported successfully leveraging analytics to impact long-term performance. And less than half of them used analytics outside of production.

So how can you get ahead of the curve? Let’s talk about how to effectively use marketing analytics to drive revenue, build customer trust and loyalty, and meet — or exceed — your business goals.


What Analytics Are Important for Manufacturers?

Digital marketing analytics can impact manufacturing success. Your marketing team delivers a message about who you are and what you can do for your customers. This shapes their perceptions and drives their behavior.

This isn't to say that the quality and consistency of your product don't matter. But without the right message around it, no one knows about your products or how they solve their problems.

These analytics impact business performance the most:

  • Visual Analytics
  • Social Media Analytics
  • Digital Marketing Analytics

Visual Analytics

Visual analytics help manufacturers quickly identify issues that they can’t see with Excel sheets so they can act with confidence to drive their business forward.

Visual analytics employ artificial intelligence and automation to make sense of mounds of data and provide you with weekly, monthly, and in some cases, daily comparisons. You'll be able to clearly see any growth or decline on the chart long before a "shift" or "trend" might otherwise be apparent.

This type of analytics allows you to visually understand the progression of certain data points over time (which measure important factors in the real world) and decide which areas you need to focus on.

So, if you see a certain area isn’t performing well, you know to take a closer look at what isn't working and how you can improve that area. Often, this means spending time and money here. But just as analytics can point out problems and solutions, they can also help you draw a relationship between fixing this problem and your return on that investment for that fix.

They justify your efforts before you may be able to "feel" the effects. And what's more, they help you make a case for investment among decision-makers and stakeholders in your company.

Track your most important key performance indicators (KPIs) in marketing activities like social media, SEO, paid advertising, and email to measure success over time. See how your marketing impacts lead generation, deals won, and revenue.

With that said, it's important to be selective with visual analytics. Only put your most important KPIs on a visual dashboard that you’ll look at every day, week, month, and quarter. Then pull on-demand reports for other KPIs as needed.

Some of the most important KPIs to track visually include:

  • Sales growth: Adjusting for seasonality, sales should steadily rise year over year. Sales growth not only demonstrates the effectiveness of your marketing; it shows you're delighting customers who buy more and tell others. A healthy company experiences YoY sales growth of 15% to 45%.
  • Organic traffic: Organic traffic indicates you're findable online. You're delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience. A steady climb in organic traffic indicates that you know who your target audience is and are generating the resources they need to navigate their personal buyer's journey. While it takes work to achieve this, a healthy website generates around 40% or more of its traffic organically.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate represents the number of visitors who provide contact information, usually in exchange for something of value like a white paper, free sample, or case study. Once you generate a lead, you can nurture them through more targeted email segmentation and automation to move them through the pipeline. The average landing page conversion rate is around 2% to 3%. However, a landing page optimized for conversion rate can generate upwards of 5% to 10% conversion rate.
  • Lead-to-sale ratio or lead-conversion rate: What percentage of leads you generate become paying customers? A good lead-to-conversion ratio is around 5%.
  • Customer acquisition cost: Effective digital marketing causes acquisition costs to decrease over time. That's largely because you're paying attention to analytics and optimizing performance based on your data. Savings can vary greatly based on the business model but typically range between $100 and $500 per account for B2B manufacturing.
  • Marketing ROI: The higher your marketing ROI, the more revenue you can generate from your marketing budget. If you're earning $5 for every $1 you spend on marketing, that's considered a good ROI. However, studying your analytics and optimizing can achieve a ratio of 10:1 or even higher.

You may be wondering if you can track this in Excel. Can't you create visual charts and graphs from the numbers?

It's true that Excel allows you to keep data over a long horizon. You can refer back to it and compare. And with some advanced Excel know-how, you can create charts and graphs that auto-populate and turn numbers into visual analytics.

With that said, Excel isn’t as useful as tools specifically designed for marketing analytics. You still have to do a lot of manual work to create and maintain your spreadsheets, and nothing is automatic.

Any time you retain a manual process, you increase your risk of error. A tiny mistake in the data then becomes misinformation in a graph. It can completely change what you think you're learning from that data. You end up with flawed and outdated analytics.

Automated visual analytics are only available through advanced analytics tools.

Social Media Analytics

You might wonder how much of a role social media should play in your already large manufacturing marketing budget. But, social media takes the pulse of people who are customers — or might become customers — of your business.

As a manufacturer, you must keep those channels of communication open. People won't always call you up to tell you their needs have changed or why they chose to switch manufacturers out of the blue. Social media analytics keep you informed.

Social media can be a waste of time if you're not regularly reviewing the right social media KPIs like:

  • Reach: This is the percentage of your followers who saw a post. A low reach indicates you have disengaged followers. You need to know that because you can leverage engagement to generate leads, promote activity, and boost sales.
  • Audience growth rate: This is the percentage increase in followers on a specific social media platform like Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. A healthy social media presence is continually growing while increasing its reach.
  • Social share of voice: This measures your brand mentions compared to your competitors on a social media platform. Having a share of the voice builds trust with your audience. Leverage it to generate more leads and customers.

Aligning these three with a unified message improves company performance and leads to company growth. You're seen as a company that keeps its promises. Social media analytics measure how effectively all of these elements work together to meet buyer expectations.

Digital Marketing Analytics

Manufacturers continue to underutilize digital marketing despite its effectiveness, relatively low risk, and measurable results in the manufacturing industry. A company’s ability to clearly distinguish between what's working or not in marketing is paramount to any company's performance.

When you understand the buying behavior of customers, you know which demographics to market to and how to market to them. Additionally, you understand how your product may need to adapt over time to meet customer needs.

With digital marketing analytics, a company can identify what's driving revenue, see benchmarks for KPIs, and have documentation of trends within the company.

You can leverage your analytics to make more informed decisions about next steps while lowering the risk involved in any action you take. This reduces wasted spending on moves that you later have to abandon because they're not working.

Digital marketing analytics help you attract and retain ideal customers to grow your customer base. Leads are a vital part of a company. See how many leads you have, the progression of a lead, and even how many new leads you’re getting to anticipate demand so you can ramp up production and reduce supply line issues.

This may influence where or what kinds of leads you try to generate, improving lead quality and shortening the sales cycle.

Collecting Data Isn’t Enough — Understanding Analytics Is Key

You need to understand the ins and outs of your company so you can grow a healthy, thriving business now and well into the future. Analytics help you create and execute effective, scalable processes, so whether you have 100 employees or 10,000, you can apply what works.

This isn't just about collecting more data. Forrester found that up to 73% of data collected by businesses doesn’t even get used. Deploying the right manufacturing analytics enables your people to put that data to work to get things done.

To have a successful company, you need to maintain sustainable growth. Manufacturing analytics show you how to hit that sweet spot and project, predict, and plan to achieve this steady long-term company growth. You can develop an effective marketing strategy that will drive your company forward regardless of supply chain struggles or staffing shortages that come your way.

For example, if you were focusing all your time and money on a specific area that isn’t performing well, you would want to know that, right? When you have that information, you can confidently redirect your efforts and money to generate the highest revenues and ROI.


Getting Started with Manufacturing Marketing Analytics

Let's face it. Analytics can be overwhelming. Often, using analytics tools means seeing more data than you can actually make sense of. We love HubSpot for manufacturers for some very good reasons. But we recognize everyone may not want to start with an analytics platform that large and powerful. Using the right analytics tools and customizing them to focus on what's important can eliminate the clutter.

Ask yourself: What are the key performance indicators for my manufacturing company? (Besides production—we all know that's important!) What do you need to look at every day to know you're on track to meet your big performance goals and achieve sustainable, long-term company growth?

These are all questions that you'll ask when first looking at digital marketing analytics, but don’t worry! We’ve been there, we’ve done that, and we have a few tips for you. Check out our free guide, “The Ultimate Guide to Marketing for Manufacturers” to get started:

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Todd Laire

Todd Laire

B2B Sales and Marketing Leader | CEO at LAIRE, a Digital Growth Agency - Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Marketer, Sales Team Builder, and Change Advocate.