Following the result of the Brexit vote last week I have heard businesses discussing cutting their budgets, especially where their online marketing spend is concerned.
This often stems from a belief that marketing is not an essential when it comes to weathering a possible financial storm. Businesses do sometimes need to make some budget adjustments and maybe reduce their online marketing budget. I don’t agree, however, with a total budget cut or that marketing is not an essential.
I thought I would briefly look at why cutting your online marketing budget completely is a bad idea and provide some thoughts on how you can use your online marketing budget more effectively.
“But Our Sales Team Have Things Covered”
If the general trend is for all businesses to withdraw their marketing budget, then how is a business like yours able to communicate to potential new clients?
Simply put, it will be a struggle.
Someone mentioned to me at a networking event yesterday, “That’s what the sales team is there for”.
The problem with that statement though is that the sales team is no longer at the top of the sales funnel or the introduction agent to a potential client.
People have grown tired of being sold to and this means traditional interruptive techniques are showing poorer return on investment results. Cold calls, direct mail and random bulk marketing email campaigns are no longer very effective.
People tend to educate themselves more, before reaching out to a service or product supplier. This has meant that sales has moved further down the funnel.
Don’t get me wrong sales is still an important part of the process but just not the first step for a potential client.
This is because the way people and companies find service suppliers or products has changed. 94% (roughly) of business starts with an online search.
Typically these people are looking for solutions to a need they have. The presented search results help the person explore options more. Eventually they make a decision on who they will approach to provide that service or product.
It is at this stage that the potential client has their first encounter with a sales person. 70% of the sale is already done, the sales person’s job is merely to answer some additional questions, validate what the potential client already knows and close the deal.
Don’t Stop Your Online Marketing When Financial Storms Loom
The main reason you shouldn’t stop online marketing when there is a possibility of a financial crisis is simply because this always been the general trend.
Being brave and bucking that trend will mean that you have the opportunity to surge ahead of your competition. Especially if you are one of the few businesses maintaining your online marketing spend and attracting new clients.
Compared to traditional sales and marketing practices, the right digital marketing strategy can actually reduce the cost per lead by +/-60%.
Sure you may need to cut back, but don’t stop. You need to be smarter in how you utilise the budget that you have to be more effective.
This means looking at what you are currently doing and asking questions like…
- Are you able to effectively know what marketing activity is generating the most visits or a decent return on investment?
- Do you have the right tools in place to measure and understand your website visitors?
- Do you have a good grasp of the people you want to attract to your business?
- Is your website fit for purpose and flexible enough to adapt as analytical data suggest you should?
- What strategy do you have in place to attract visitors, convert them into leads and close them as clients?
- Is your sales team being given qualified leads that have a real chance of becoming clients, or are they spending a lot of time cold calling people with a 2-5% close rate?
How To Be Smarter About Your Online Marketing
Plan Your Online Marketing Budget
Talk to digital and inbound marketing agencies to get an idea of the costs involved. This will help you plan a 12 month digital marketing budget, which can be set aside.
Strategy (The general jist)
- Attract: Think about who you want to attract to your business. What information would they be looking for? What problems or challenges do they have that you can help them with? What type of phrases or questions would they use when search Google? Once you know this start to create content that they are more likely to find based on their needs.
- Convert: Use calls to actions and landing pages to offer them more in depth content such as ebooks or product demo’s. This is a great way to swap their contact details for the content that they find useful and helpful. Crongrats you now have a lead, which you can now nurture through additional follow up content and offers.
- Close: As their engagement with your website and your business increases and you answer more of their questions, their lead score increases. Once the lead is sales qualified (which through a well developed strategy they will generally qualify themselves), your sales team can engage with them further and close a hot lead.
Often businesses create a website and it looks great, there are two main problems.
- They don’t change the content or look of the site for one and half to two years.
- They don’t know if this beautiful looking website actually will have any impact.
A website should always be adapting and changing and these issues can be solved by taking a growth driven approach to your website design and development.
This process involves creating a launch pad website as quickly as possible and putting the right measurement tools in place. This helps you identify what elements of the new site have the best impact.
You can also learn which elements of the website need changing and adapting to meet the needs of your visitors.
Imagine if you were to hire a sales person and you told them that the clothes they were wearing and the information you have just given them, was all they were getting for the next two years. Would they be effective?
How fit for purpose is your website? Is it setup to create leads and opportunities for you?
The Right Tools
Use tools that help you measure accurately and can bring data from various sources together in one place. This will allow you to asses things more clearly and understand what is going on a great deal better.
A tool like Hubspot will also integrate with your customer relationship management software. This will allow you to close the loop between sales and marketing. Doing this will allow you to put a financial figure to each marketing activity you carry out and help you understand your users better.
A tool a lot of businesses forget about is call tracking. This is especially useful when it comes to pay per click advertising. If a visitor calls you and doesn’t fill in a form on your landing page (after clicking on a Google ad for example), they are not taken to a “Thank You” page and so are not tracked as a conversion.
Phone tracking software like mediahawk or Infinity means that if they call instead of completing a form they can still be tracked as a conversion. This can lead to inaccurate ad data being fed back to your marketing team and cause bad decisions to be made based on incorrect assumptions.
A client of ours initially didn’t want to use phone tracking when we launch his Adwords campaign and the campaign was showing very poor performance. He was about to stop things but we suggested that he try call tracking first, which he did. Once call tracking was in place it showed that his campaign was performing incredibly well and it was, given the nature of his business, that people preferred to call for immediate help as opposed to wait for an email from his team.
There is so much more to cover when discussing this topic, but I hope this has been useful. The main points to take away and consider would be..
- Sales is no longer at the top of the funnel and therefore marketing is needed to attract people to your business, so don’t follow the trend and axe your marketing budget.
- Be smarter in how you use your marketing budget.
- Develop the right digital marketing strategy.
- Have a website that is fit for purpose, adaptable and growth driven.
- Put the right measurement tools in place to measure return on investment and impact.
“Digital in business is crucial now more than ever, in fact with so much uncertainty within certain economic climates is imperative that you maintain your online marketing budgets as now it is more about consistency and continual engagement.
Your audiences don’t just need education they need engagement and this comes from your investment in online marketing – whether it’s email marketing, videos or social media you need to continue pushing out content that engages your audiences as this is what will maintain the shift to client acquisitions.” – Ketan Makwana CEO Enterprise LabShare This Post...