The current definition of marketing is:
“The activity for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” –The American Marketing Association, Approved July 2013
That definition puts a lot of focus on creating awareness part of your marketing and communication, but more and more, businesses today are focusing their marketing efforts on driving new customer sales. For most companies, marketing should be redefined as the way business gets its customers to make purchases.
With the ubiquity of choice and competition, the largest challenge for most businesses is to be found by the customers who want their products when they’re ready to make a purchase decision. A 2012 study by Fleishman-Hillard determined that 89% of consumers turn to Google, Bing, or another search engine to find information on products, services or businesses prior to making a purchase.
What Channels Are You Targeting?
Almost 90% of customers start their purchase decision with an online search. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to know where your customers are searching. If you can identify the channels your customers use to find services like yours, then you know where your company needs to be advertising.
For most businesses, the basic channels to cover are the same. You want to be found on the search engine where most of your customers are looking. In the U.S. that’s still Google, Bing, and Yahoo, in that order. Then, you want to be found in other places where your customers are looking online, such as social media networks and blog posts.
Is Your Company Easy to Find?
The usual channels to get in front of your customers online are blogs, online ads, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If your company is easy to find on these major channels, you can feel pretty confident that you have covered your bases. But where else is your audience looking?
For many of the clients working with Big Leap, email lists make a great channel for getting your message to customers who want to receive it. Whether you own your list of interested prospects, send eNewsletters to your current clients, or are purchasing targeted lists or co-reg through affiliates, email marketing is alive and well in 2015.
How Many Leads Do You Want?
If the restated goal of marketing is to generate leads from customers who are ready to make a purchase, then it becomes important to know how many leads your marketing is generating. An important question we ask our clients is “How many leads are you equipped to handle?” This is a key distinction for many business owners and sales professionals whose immediate response is “As many as we can get!”
A lead that is not followed up in an appropriate and timely manner, no matter how well qualified, can be a waste of your marketing dollars and energy. To preserve that essential time and money, make a fair evaluation of your current lead flow and determine how many more leads your sales process can accommodate without sacrificing quality.
Aren’t All Leads Created Equal?
It is important to note which channels are creating the most leads, but it is even more important to follow the leads to the end of the conversion funnel to see which channels are creating the most sales. Higher converting channels like social media referrals and email responses are more valuable than channels like blog posts or online ads, even if those channels are delivering considerably higher quantities of leads to your sales team.
Tracking your leads from their channel or source all the way through to conversion is essential for making value-decisions on which of your marketing efforts are worth pursuing and which should be turned up or shut off. Pay-per-click channels like social media ads and Google AdWords are easy to measure because you are only paying for the people who respond. Knowing your conversion percentage and average sales value will tell you immediately whether these channels are making you money or are a cost. A simple CRM tool or well-crafted spreadsheet can track performance for your lead sources. Then, re-evaluate your choice of marketing tactics every 60 to 90 days to ensure you’re using the right channels and that they’re being optimized for cost-effective results.
What is Your Definition of Marketing?
Marketing starts with having a good understanding of where your customers are and how to get your message in front of them. The next step is to make sure you’re giving them the right message and that they’re seeing it enough that when they’re ready to make a buying decision, your company is at the top of their mind.
For most businesses today, marketing is much more about generating new customer leads than about creating artsy campaigns or generalized brand awareness. There are lots of “best practices” being thrown around these days. The goal for marketers this year should be to focus on what works best for them, not what other people say are “best practices.” Instead, work to prove the value of your marketing practices with data-supported lead generation. Armed with this information, you can integrate it into an effective marketing strategy that gets you results.
Would you like to know how your marketing stacks up? Take this short quiz to learn how effectively your marketing efforts might be reaching your audience and delivering qualified leads to your sales team!
Hint: If you’re using the channels your audience is using, your score will be higher.