As a marketer, you generally trust your brand equity, company growth, and sales with your internal teams, advertising agencies and consultants. You focus on crafting your “Go to Market Plan”, media strategy & activation, data integration, marketing automation, and demand generation against budgetary constraints and operational inefficiencies.
The key question for you is how to make the most of your marketing budget. Though you and your peers may share a short list of objectives such as driving sales, increasing app downloads across platforms, or generating new software solution subscribers (e.g. SaaS/PaaS/IaaS), choosing the most effective tactics to achieve each of these goals while staying on budget may be daunting. Over the years I have heard “I need more awareness to drive sales” or “I am spending dollars across every media channel but not seeing any brand lift.” With additional probing, you may discover a variety of underlying issues to be addressed alongside numerous opportunities for achieving both short- and long-term objectives.
You may not have properly defined your target audience, wasting money attempting to reach consumers who will never be interested in your brand, let alone your products. It is entirely possible that all you need are simple tweaks to your marketing plan easily uncovered by setting measurable objectives.
Ways of Measuring the Success of your Marketing Tactics
- Measure with “agreed upon” KPI Benchmarks – It is essential to establish benchmarks that have been agreed upon by each of your internal teams, bringing in sales along with marketing and other key teams. To get everyone on the same page, it is easiest to start with an analysis of previous activities to determine which have had the best ROI, breaking these out by department, channel, target segment, etc. As James Cash Penney, founder of JC Penney said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
- Let your Data do the Talking – Track all marketing activity: regular emails sent from sales reps to website visits to paid media activity. Though it can be a challenge to track everything, this data will allow you to create actionable insights and make more informed marketing choices.
- Set a Time Limit – Put a stake in the ground for measuring the success of a particular initiative allowing enough activity for the results to be statistically valid and replicable.
- Optimize and Repeat – After a quarter, sometimes more or less, you may find that you need to alter your KPIs or activities. The point is to keep analyzing and making changes as you go to optimize your efforts. Whether it’s altering the brand messaging or paid media channels, always be ready to adapt.
Bottom Up Funnel Media Buying
You are likely familiar with the sales funnel, that upside-down pyramid that each different stage of the buying journey. The top of the funnel represents the early interactions with the brand with the greatest number of target customers while the lowest portions of the funnel represent that much smaller number of people closest to purchase. The lower a potential customer gets in the funnel the higher the conversion rate from one step to the next until the purchase is completed. For example, the conversion rate for a promotional email sent to existing customers of an online retailer will be higher than for a digital advertisement introducing the brand to a new target audience.
While it may be true that you need to boost your brand awareness among potential consumers at the top of the funnel, you may find greater value in increasing conversion with potential buyers further along in the purchasing process. As a best practice, start at the bottom of the funnel to maximize sales then work your way up. Though lower funnel tactics such as retargeting and improving your website/mobile experience may not be the flashiest, they will drive the most effective return against your advertising spend. This is not to say that you should completely forfeit targeting new potential customers with search engine marketing or brand advertising, but that you should never do so at the expense of losing current ones, especially when it costs so much less.
At some point, you may find that you have “tapped out” of your highest converting segments and need to move up the funnel to drive more awareness. While this “bottom up” approach may serve as a framework for maximizing your budget, there will be nuances to consider based on the brand, the target audience and your company’s goals. Keep in mind the latest media innovations including programmatic buying and explicit targeting of your social media spend as these may provide better value than sponsoring blog content on a well-trafficked website.
Thoughtful Marketing Evolution
Older companies with evergreen brands may have weathered the ups and downs of their business, but if they don’t expand their customer base to include Generation X’ers and Millennials, their business days could be numbered. Other such companies may be stuck in a “this is how we always do it” rut, leading to staggered growth. In addition, they may have operational inefficiencies, marketing communications that miss the mark with their current and potential customers, or a lack of proper infrastructure to allow them to grow their business globally. Sometimes, they may be faced with all of the above.
To combat such complacency, your team will need to approach their marketing strategy with an open mind. Work with them to identify problems, get educated on all of the options, and commit to solving them together for the long haul. While it is quite likely that that your internal stakeholders have several ideas for improvement, you may need to bring in an outside expert with a fresh perspective.
In today’s landscape, consumers have higher expectations regarding their experience with brands. This shift in consumer behavior has greatly been amplified by technology, allowing them to have direct access to brands through social media, mundane activities made simpler with connected devices and purchasing apps, and the immediate gratification of the Facebook or Instagram like. Luckily for you, much of this same technology gives you new opportunities to connect with your customer. You can get create cross channel executions with personalized messaging based on the attributes provided through the collection of data (e.g. CRM, DMP and/or Customer Database Platforms or “CDP”) on your existing and potential customers.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are strictly my own and not necessarily those of iCrossing.
Author: Thomas Moyer