Your first communication with any client usually comes through your marketing efforts. That’s how you draw people in. The more effective your message, and the more efficiently you can deliver it, the more likely you are to attract new customers. For that reason, it’s important to get as much as possible from your marketing expenses.
After all, marketing represents a huge part of most corporate budgets. A study done a few years ago found that as much as 40% of a company’s budget was funneled toward advertising and other marketing efforts (the mean was 10%, while the average was 12%).
The 40% figure might represent an outlier. But, even toward the fat part of the curve, those figures represent a huge commitment to marketing. That said, throwing money at the situation doesn’t guarantee a competitive offering.
Done poorly, marketing can quickly become an enormous waste of resources. One study found that marketers squandered about a quarter of their budgets (26%) on misguided strategies and dead-end channels. And that’s just the average. Nearly 3% of the people in the survey believed they threw away at least 80% of their marketing budgets.
Don’t let this happen to you. Avoid having your marketing operations become a sinkhole of cash. Instead, take the steps necessary to maximize every effort to reach new clients. Here are a few areas to focus on as you look to get more out of your marketing programs:
Analyze Your Data
Knowledge is the key to the marketing game. Getting the most out of your advertising budget means targeting the people most likely to respond to your value proposition. It also means crafting a message in a way that will sway them effectively.
We noted earlier that just over one-fourth of marketing budgets evaporated as a result of bad decision-making. Poor data represents a major reason why. A Forrester study indicated that bad data quality contributed to wasted marketing efforts at 37% of companies. That’s more than a third of marketers throwing away money as a result of data-related issues.
Review your data collection and analyzation procedures. Make sure you have the proper process set up to make intelligent assessments of your efforts. If you don’t have a robust data analytics operation, build one out as quickly as you can.
Keep Current with Market Developments
The data you compile can provide useful insights about your customers and about the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. However, this shouldn’t represent the extent of your intelligence-gathering efforts. You also need to stay up-to-date on developments in your wider industry.
Commit to a program of continuing education. Set aside a certain amount of time each week to research developments in your industry. Build relationships with others in your field, and keep in regular communication.
Here are a few areas you should focus on:
Suppliers – They may not have much information that relates directly to your marketing program, but you can get a good overview of the industry generally.
Customers – Find out what value propositions mean the most to your customers and what innovations they would like to see.
Competitors – Learn what new products are ready to hit the market and what marketing strategies your competitors are using. This information will let you plot your counter-moves.
Remember: industry conditions can change quickly. Information you learned just a few years ago might be out of date at this point. For this reason, make these market reviews a regular part of your schedule.
Improve Your Website
The first step in the marketing process is to make contact with potential customers. Usually, this takes the form of driving traffic to your website. However, your job isn’t finished there.
Once you attract potential customers to your website, you want to get the most out of their presence. In other words, you want to transform those browsers into shoppers. That means taking steps to boost your conversion rates.
Review your website to make sure it operates as an efficient sales machine. Clickstream analysis provides an excellent tool for this. The process allows you to track how visitors navigate your website, and leverage that information to organize the website better.
Grade Your Results
Don’t be afraid to look at yourself critically. To develop more effective techniques, you have to continuously review your marketing efforts and judge the results. Utilize data to track how effective your marketing efforts are, and continuously take steps to fine tune them.
Here are a few steps you should take:
Have quantitative benchmarks. Don’t just go by “feel.” Have concrete targets in mind when you launch a campaign, with measurable, numerical goals. Know what statistics you want to use to judge your progress and have a definition of “success” pre-selected.
Compile data on marketing effectiveness. Once you have your quantitative measures, you need to collect sufficient data to know if you have reached your goal. Consider your data operation before you launch a campaign. Make sure everything is in place in order to amass the right information, and analyze it effectively.
Conduct regular strategy reviews. Have periodic evaluation sessions as part of your established schedule. Frequently meet with your team to assess your ongoing efforts. Pinpoint any campaign that has fallen below your benchmarks and take whatever steps are necessary to fix it.
Stay Flexible and Look for New Outlets
Flexibility is an important trait to have if you want to get the most out of every aspect of your marketing effort. After all, your regular review sessions won’t provide much value if you aren’t willing to make changes. Constantly look for ways to improve your marketing materials and your message.
This commitment should also relate to how you deliver your message and how you find an audience. Marketing outlets like social media and the Internet are fast-developing mediums. In order to stay relevant, you have to keep up with the changing landscape.
When we think of social media, we usually limit our consideration to the industry’s big players, behemoths like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, these names only scratch the surface of the social media world. In fact, there are dozens of meaningful competitors in the market, each of them with particular niches and competitive advantages.
Look at TikTok as an example. The social media service launched in 2016. From that starting point, it reached 500 million active users by 2019.
Right now, there’s likely a service about to be launched from some dorm room or basement. It currently has exactly zero users. However, as happened with TikTok, that new service might become a massive marketing hub three years down the road. You need to be ready to take advantage when it does.
Continually Offer Something New
Marketing is about communication. New products and services give you something to communicate. In this way, think of R&D as an extension of your marketing efforts.
The launch of a new product gives you an additional avenue for attracting clients. One survey showed that nearly two-thirds of people (63%) said they liked when manufacturers launched new products. Updated offerings and innovative products spark customers’ imaginations and give you the perfect focal point for marketing campaigns.
However, there are significant risks involved with launching a new product. A study conducted by the Harvard Business school showed that 95% of new products fail. Before jumping into a new project, you should closely review the market, and any available data, to give your eventual launch the best chances for success.
Create More Efficient and Responsive Operations
R&D isn’t the only part of your business that quietly influences marketing in unexpected ways. The same can be said for operations. While it may seem like a distant concern when you make marketing decisions, the way you conduct your day-to-day business bleeds over into marketing.
Your operational outcomes shape the way your company is perceived by the outside world, impacting your brand. Moreover, the experiences of individual clients influence whether they will purchase from you again. These aspects lay near the heart of marketing.
One quick example: data suggest that 69% of customers would be less likely to return to a provider if their order arrived more than two days after the originally-scheduled delivery date. As this shows, a sloppy operation, prone to delays and setbacks, will limit your ability to build a reliable repeat client base. No messaging will be able to overcome that.
Build Lasting Relationships
Companies tend to focus their marketing efforts on acquiring new clients. However, that investment is often misplaced.
Data show that, for an average eCommerce business, previously established customers provide 41% of the revenue, despite only representing 8% of a website’s visitors. With higher conversion rates, returning purchasers (customers who have bought from you once before) are worth 5 new shoppers. Meanwhile, repeat purchasers (customers who have made multiple previous orders) are worth 9 fresh clients.
Clearly, developing a long-term relationship with your clients provides a firm basis for long-term growth. Invest in lasting relationships with your customers. It will boost your margins and fuel durable revenue growth.