Begin at the Beginning – Setting Goals for Digital Marketing (Part 1)

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re here because you’re interested in learning how to navigate the world of digital marketing from the viewpoint of an industrial business owner or decision maker. And if you’re like most people, the most daunting task is trying to figure out where to begin. Well, to paraphrase author Lewis Carroll, you should begin at the beginning.

It sounds silly, but you’d be surprised how many people miss the most important step in launching any marketing plan — what do you want to get out of this? Are you going to be one of those companies that throws everything at the wall – “We should do Twitter because everyone is on Twitter!” – or are you going to start with what you’re trying to accomplish, and work from there?

Let’s start by looking at some common goals that businesses should discuss internally before spending money on a digital campaign.


We are living in the golden age of marketing. Sure, many marketers romanticize the old days of drinking whiskey in the office, large expense accounts, and all of those other things that make Don Draper such an alluring character. But I’m here to tell you, there has never been a better time to succeed at marketing. Why? Because everything is trackable, even when it comes to branding and awareness. That’s the power of the being digital.

Whether you’re doing something offline (mass media, such as billboards, or trade publications) or online, such as display/banner campaigns, there are tools that help measure how many people knew about your company before, and after, a campaign. Operating your campaign in a digital fashion is much easier to track, even being able to see how people engage your ads, which version of an ad performs better, how many people see your creative and return to your site, and many more metrics. However, even the offline things, if done well, should result in a measurable increase in how many people end up on your website.

Some companies want brand awareness simply to drive their own ego; others because it makes recruiting top-notch talent that much easier. Other businesses are more strategic, using things like targeted display campaigns to get new products in front of the right people as efficiently as possible. I run current branding campaigns that target people based on job title and industry, such as getting in front of purchasing agents in the commercial roofing industry, or seeking out engineers in the oil industry to promote a cutting edge product that will make their job easier. Mass media won’t cut it for those types of campaigns, but through digital, we can still find them and capture their attention.

If someone tells you that branding can’t be measured, that is a very antiquated way of thinking. In the golden age of marketing, everything can be measured.


If you’re smart about your company’s way of thinking, you want to deliver more of a message to your prospects than just “BUY NOW!!!” You’re not a wacky inflatable flailing arm man in front of a car lot. Essentially, you have to woo them with your brain power and let them know why buying from you means they are buying from the industry leader (even if you aren’t the industry leader…yet.)

It’s easy for Nike, or GM, or Amazon to tell a story about why their product will make your life better. And honestly, it’s easy for an industrial marketer to tell the same type of story, as long as you have your target audience in mind. Are you producing a product that is safer for the environment than your competitors? Maybe your product is proven to last 15% longer than the closest competitor. Heck, maybe you just care more, treat your employees better, and own your customer service better than anyone out there. Even if it’s a clunky, un-sexy product, if there are consumers for that product, you have a window to move them by telling them what makes you their ideal partner.

Going back to the ability to track campaigns – maybe that story is delivered in video format, and published on your site, in email blasts, and on social media. Years ago, I’d have never entertained the idea of introducing Facebook into industrial marketing campaigns – now it’s a staple of every client I work with, because it’s so easy to track. You can measure how many people have the option to watch the video, how many people took action to watch it, and even pay to promote it to people who don’t already know your company.

In my strategies, I track as much as possible – things like PDF spec sheet downloads, video views, catalog requests, phone calls, and more. Not only do I track those actions, but what drove those actions, so we can put dollars to performance and adjust as needed. There are so many leading indicators before a prospect converts into a client – think about what you would track. And if you don’t know, ask me!

Speaking of converting a prospect to a client, check back for part two of this blog coming soon. I’ll discuss the BIG goal – conversion – and what types of conversions you should be tracking.