Back to Basics: Getting your Digital Marketing Fundamentals Right

In marketing as in basketball,. stick to the fundamentals.

I played basketball as a kid. And from a young age, I remember my coach always stressing the fundamentals: set shot, layup, dribbling, bounce pass, etc. Get the basics right, and expand from there. He hated the fade away jump shot… he would yell: “Too complicated, stick to the basics!”. He was right.

Here’s the thing: The exact same advice applies to your digital marketing.

I talk with manufacturing marketers every week, each of them representing large, multinational, sophisticated manufacturing organizations. It is remarkable how many of these companies are missing the very basics of digital marketing—resulting in lower traffic and missed opportunities, yes, and what’s worse—wasted cash and misdirected effort.

Here are three problems we see almost weekly. Check to see if any of them hit too close to home and, if they do, I encourage you to take the steps needed in 2018 to get your digital marketing fundamentals right. (Note: If you want to read about how a manufacturer is spending thousands buying traffic that is searching for an alternative Christian rock music act, skip to the third example below.)

Are you built to be found?

First things first, does your website have keyword optimized title tags and page headers along with clearly written copy that describes what each page is about? This isn’t next-level digital marketing wizardry visiting us from 2025, we’re talking about the very basics of on-page SEO. And yet, so many digital marketers are building their marketing efforts on a digital foundation that doesn’t have a hope in the world of making significant organic search gains. Traffic will be missed. Opportunity lost. All because the most basic principles of search optimization were ignored in building their website.

Gartner research shows that B2B buyers are almost two thirds of the way through their buying process before making contact with sales, meaning that there is a lot of research being done before your sales organization is even aware an opportunity exists. Google’s own data shows that 89% of this B2B research is happening online—with 71% of B2B buyers beginning that research with an unbranded organic search. Do the math: organic search matters. A lot.

Simply put, ignoring the basics of search optimization is leaving money and market share on the table, while placing your company at odds with how today’s B2B buyers are researching and buying.

Can a visitor turn into a prospect on your site?

While having an easy to find and navigate “Contact Us” section is more rare than you would think, many manufacturing websites lean on “Contact Us” as the exclusive means by which a visitor can engage with the company and become a prospect.

In our work with manufacturers who have robust inbound lead generation activity, we have found leads generated by “Contact Us” completions to make up a comparatively small percentage of the total. On average, only 3-8% of total inbound leads for these manufacturers arrive via a “Contact Us” conversion. And you know what that means…

If you’re only converting leads via a “Contact Us” form, you’re missing out on over 90% of your potential leads.

I have to believe that there isn’t a marketer alive who wants to turn their back on that kind of potential lead flow. Broadening your top-of-funnel and middle-of-funnel lead capture via a variety of conversion assets (whitepapers, spec sheets, interactive tools, etc.) is the key.

Are you making another donation to Google this year?

In the last quarter of 2017, our work in paid search (i.e. Google AdWords) uncovered more than $1M of wasted annual AdWords spend. By “wasted”, I mean WASTED. As in “they may as well of set the money on fire” wasted. The spend simply amounts to a donation to Google.

I wish that the story I’m about to share was unique—but the fact is this happens all too often. We regularly see hugely wasteful paid search programs that were often implemented by well-intentioned, but ill-trained (and often very junior) in-house marketing staff or agency partners. And the costs are real.

Just last month, we were doing competitive paid search research for a client, and we uncovered something both hilarious and sad with one competitor’s paid search performance. Due to some very poorly conceived keyword bidding in AdWords, this electronics manufacturer (a competitor to our client) is spending over 70% of their paid search budget on search terms related to a now defunct alternative Christian rock group.

It’s easy to imagine how this happened. Someone with enough knowledge to be dangerous set up a very basic AdWords program, and then didn’t know what to look for in attempting to understand how it was performing. Chances are, the marketer in charge simply thinks they pay $X for Y visits, without knowing that 70% of the visits result from only two keyword strings that are both entirely unrelated to the business. The result is thousands of dollars out the door every month with zero return—like having a hole in your bank account that drains a little bit away each month to Google. Silently. Drip… drip… drip…

As a platform, Google AdWords has been around for just under 18 years. This kind of mistake is as avoidable, as it is inexcusable, as it is expensive. But nevertheless, the story repeats itself every day.

That’s the thing about the fundamentals, I guess. They’ve always been around a while. The best time to start doing them is always 5+ years ago, and the second best time is today.


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