By Brian Bluff
This is the third of three articles I’ve written to document the state of digital marketing among MHEDA member companies.
The basis for this work is ongoing research that my team has conducted to document what successful MHEDA members are doing to capitalize on the opportunities created by digital marketing.
Descriptions of the other two articles can be found at the end of this post.
Digital Marketing Is More Important Than Ever
This article determines that – when it comes to marketing – effort and resources are the keys to success. It’s taken more time to draw these conclusions that I would have imagined.
Leading into 2020, I felt good about my understanding of how important digital marketing was to MHEDA members. Throughout the pandemic, digital marketing has been a life raft, providing some companies safety while others floundered in the swell of massive shutdowns and business restrictions.
During the Great Recession, demand was down across all media. However, this time, during the pandemic, it’s different. While demand is definitely down, companies with a strong digital presence are up, in many cases.
Why? Because those companies have established strong visibility where prospects have been forced to look for solutions to their problems – and that’s online.
In other words, offline is down but online is up.
Today, prospects don’t have the luxury to take meetings with sales reps and instead must turn to their computers and the internet to solve problems.
If you want a piece of that action, get online now! More about this later in the “Summary and Next Steps section below.”
Over the nearly 20 years in the digital marketing space, I’ve come to believe that companies that apply effort and resources to digital marketing in the form of internal and outsourced labor, advertising budget, and investment in the right tools ultimately see the best results.
More labor is an indicator that a company is involved in a wider range of digital tactics (advertising, search engine optimization, social media, email marketing, etc.) and that requires bigger ad budgets and better digital marketing tools. All of this results in securing more opportunities for the participating company.
This shouldn’t be a surprise.
As part of our ongoing research, we decided to try and prove it. And that’s exactly what this article does.
We searched Google for the term “pallet rack” and found the number one ranked organic result.
Next, we ran a “Market Explorer” report using SEMrush, one of the top SEO tools in the market today. This report showed the total estimated traffic (direct, referral, paid, organic search, and social media) for that number one ranking website and its top 45 competitors.
We exported this data and sorted by the percent of total traffic captured by each of the competitors.
Armed with this information, we used LinkedIn Sales Navigator and did an advanced search for each of the 46 companies. For filters, we applied “company name” and the function “Marketing.”
We then recorded the number of employees filling the role of marketing at each of the 46 companies.
To account for the fact that some of the companies were quite large, we used a binary indicator of “yes” or “no” to indicate whether the company did indeed have an internal marketing staff.
Figure 1 shows that digital marketing success in the form of the percentage of all traffic captured tracked with the existence of an internal marketing staff.
The blue line in the graph shows the percent of all website traffic (paid, organic, direct, referral and social media) that the top 46 companies competing for “pallet rack” captured.
As you can see, for companies capturing greater than 1% of the traffic (the dashed vertical orange line), 59% had a marketing staff. Those companies averaged 1.7 marketers each.
For companies capturing less than 1% of the traffic, only 35% had a marketing staff and they averaged 0.4 marketers per company.
Figure 1: Digital Marketing success is related to the effort and resource applied. Effort, labor and resources are made up of ad budgets and investment in digital marketing tools and technologies.
These findings demonstrate that companies that invest in digital marketing see better results.
This investment includes internal labor as evidenced by staff members filling a marketing role and digital advertising as indicated by higher percentages of website traffic from paid search and social media (driving social media traffic today requires an investment in social advertising).
As for the use of more advanced marketing tools and outsourced marketing partners, we reference both our Part 2 article which documented the use of advanced marketing technologies among MHEDA members and our nearly two decades of experience that tells us that the bigger the internal marketing team, the more that company spends with outside vendors.
Digital marketing has matured. To be successful means that you can’t rely on a single employee or a digital agency with a narrowly defined scope of work to drive huge results.
Today, it’s not about search engine optimization or paid search or a new website or social media or email marketing; it’s about search engine optimization AND paid search AND a highly converting website AND social media AND smart email marketing AND so much more.
Beyond all that, success in digital marketing today requires a strategy and a plan. You need to have a strong team and arm that team with the right tools (software) and an ad budget sufficient to move the needle.
In short, the more resources you have at your disposal the easier it is to be active and present across all the channels where your target audience is.
You, as a business leader, need to make sure your team understands your priorities for the year, and they must create a plan that you believe will help you achieve your goals.
Summary and Next Steps
Approximately 32% of MHEDA member companies participate in Google Ads. Search engine marketing has proven successful for countless Site-Seeker clients. You should explore establishing a new program or improving an existing program.
MHEDA members with a regional opportunity (i.e., lift truck dealers), underutilize Google My Business with low average star ratings and too few reviews. Your goal should be to drive up your star rating and protect your reputation by generating a continuous stream of four- and five-star reviews.
24% of MHEDA member companies have code on their website indicating use of a live chat tool. This is the single easiest way to increase the number of leads you generate, and the price point is cheap! Do it now!
23% of MHEDA members are running code indicating the use of a marketing automation platform – a form of smart email marketing. These companies are dead serious about digital marketing. If I were you, I’d take notice and prepare your response plan, which by the way, should be to jump on the bandwagon and create a program that outperforms your competition.
42% of all MHEDA member websites run on WordPress. Unless you have a need for something very special, don’t be fooled into spending a lot more on a proprietary content management system. If in doubt go through a platform vetting process before you begin developing your new website. This will save you a ton of money in the long term.
Digital Marketing is here to stay and it’s not free. The companies that spend on labor, tools and digital advertising do better. Period. The limited face-to-face environment we find ourselves in due to the pandemic should have erased any doubt that the time is now for you to make the leap and get marketing – digitally.
I’m here to help!
I understand that this is new to many of you and in some cases I know the concepts I’ve addressed here are as foreign to you as developing an equipment service offering would be to me.
The reality is that digital marketing is not easy. Be cautious when confronted with a “it seems too good to be true” story.
Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum between novice and expert, if you have questions, please reach out. You have no obligation to work with Site-Seeker or anyone else for that matter. I’d like to get you pointed in the right direction and I’m confident that when it comes to digital marketing, I can help.