By Adriel Michaud, Special to Overdrive
Bury your competition by knowing what marketing works
Within the arena of online marketing, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and chat with hundreds of marketing professionals from fortune 500 companies to starting out sole proprietors. It’s always surprised me how many lack a basic understanding of the effectiveness of their marketing spend. These include campaigns costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that aren’t tracked for impact on sales, awareness change or customer satisfaction improvements. It seems like a lot of businesses treat marketing dollars like an extra overhead cost that they spend “when they can afford it”, but are unaware of how it actually works for them. If you’re in one of these companies, you can stop this madness!
What’s the point of it all?
Good marketing influences more than just sales. It can change perceptions about the company, improve customer satisfaction and even reduce costs in other departments. It’s impossible to measure it all, but if you can find a few solid metrics that do a decent job of representing key aspects of your sales cycle, you’re one step closer to the truth. Sales are the easiest to measure, but sales can be influenced by many different factors. Awareness can be difficult to measure since it’s far away from the sales close and typically involves surveying the public. Leads, for businesses that operate on inquiries, can be a great middle ground because it can be easier to determine where they came from, and if they close successfully.
In my personal experience, just asking that question “how did you hear about us” is practiced by less than 20% of all companies. That’s a crying shame because this exercise is so easy and gives you immediate, practical feedback. To go a level beyond, with a solid CRM and consistent training of your sales and marketing staff, asking customers where or how they heard of your company allows you to tie stories together and start to get a much better picture of what’s working.
A cheap and cheerful way to measure demand for your brand is to check your website analytics (usually Google Analytics) for how many visitors your website receives from people searching for your brand. There are plenty of free online tools that you can use to compare demand for your brand versus your competitors. When you broadcast a TV ad, use a unique phone number so you can track how many people call in. When you advertise on that industry website, check your website to see how many visitors and customers clicked on your big fancy banner ad. A customer lead from that marketing channel is a success; one of your buddies saying they saw and liked your ad is NOT. With the right processes and measurements in place, you should get answers to the effectiveness of your marketing dollars, cut the waste and maximize the top performers.
- Determine specifically what you want marketing to do for you: increase sales introductions, increase sales assists, increase awareness, decrease costs, etc.; take it one step further and set realistic goals; then measure success at the end of the campaign
- Ask how your customers heard of you at the point of introduction. If you want to know faster, ask recent customers where they heard of you.
- Demand real business metrics from your marketing team instead of fluff. Demand to know how many leads your website generates each month, ask how your social media campaigns have added to employee retention and recruitment, and figure out how many sales you closed from your last radio campaign.
Ultimately, every company has a limit on how much potential profit can be spent on marketing. The good news is that your competitors have those same limits. If they’re spending their marketing budgets ineffectively while you market wisely, they’ll lose market share while you gain. As their prospects worsen, someone at their company will cry out to slash spending on marketing. They will likely slash what little marketing was working at the same time. And as they cut, you’ll have access to even bigger openings. Sound like a good story? Make it yours.
As Partner and Director of SEO at Top Draw, Adriel Michaud is committed to maximizing ROI for his clients. He helps companies understand how effective internet marketing can drive their business forward and set them apart from the competition. His fact-based approach to web analysis, along with his extensive industry experience, translates into business process improvement and online success.