Accelerate and Grow Your Business Through Digital Marketing
It sounds like a bold claim, a great promise and any wise business person should be skeptical of such claims. Especially when you hear scare stories of people investing a lot of money into their marketing and sales campaigns with very little, if any, positive results to show for it.
Unfortunately, this is a common perception which quite frankly is unfounded, and I’ll show you why.
Marketing is like any investment you choose to make; you have to understand the game to be successful. For example, you wouldn’t just start investing money into the stock market hoping to make a positive return when you knew very little about the market and its current state.
An investor would need to analyze, research and understand the market. What factors are driving the market, what challenges are affecting the market, why this sector would be more profitable than the next and so on.
They also have a keen understanding of the risk and how the ‘numbers’ work in their favor over the long term, that is if they follow a sound and well-researched plan.
The bottom line is that if you don’t understand all the different mechanisms and processes involved in running a successful marketing campaign then, of course, the outcome will be disappointing.
This is precisely the same with digital marketing. No one should ever invest hard-earned profits into a marketing campaign with little understanding, plan or strategy behind it.
Unfortunately, most companies do this, and I’m talking about companies of any size when they hear how simple it is to advertise on Google or Facebook for instance. They get sucked into believing they will get hundreds of people visiting their website and obtain vast amounts of leads almost instantly.
If only it were so simple… Let’s set the record straight, my objective is that after reading this article you’ll be armed with enough information to decide on how to proceed with your digital marketing, whether to do it in-house or outsource to an agency or freelancer.
I aim to highlight the common issues that lead to poor results.
More importantly, I’ll show you what successful companies are doing to achieve success through their online marketing campaigns and also how you can ensure that you invest your marketing budget, and yes you’ll need a marketing budget, that will accelerate and grow your business inline with your objectives and goals.
Let’s get to it…
Why do so many companies get it wrong and fail to grow their business via an online marketing strategy?
Who is your best customer? One of the key areas that businesses get wrong is not understanding their own market deeply enough, not realizing who their best customers are, the ones that are profitable for their business and help it grow.
Why is this the case? There is often a lack of understanding of who a company’s most profitable customers are or even their services for that matter. There’s just a lot of assumptions made with little fact or substance behind them.
This is more obvious in younger companies as they don’t have a long track record to be able to identify clear patterns, which is understandable. They’re still establishing who their best audience is, who their best customers are and how best to serve them and so on.
However, even with a few customers, you can do a lot to find out what their needs and desires are that will help shape your message, your offerings and establish who you are as a company and enable you to move forward positively.
Larger companies make many assumptions as to what is making them money without digging deeper to unearth obvious patterns and truths.
They often don’t have a solid plan in place and there is no real strategy. Often corners are cut and when it comes time to try and grow the business the infrastructure just doesn’t exist to enable that to happen.
Why is digital marketing failing so many companies? Every company needs customers, and most companies need more of them to grow. There are many ways to achieve this, and digital marketing is one of them.
It’s accessible to everyone, the barrier of entry is low with self-service platforms that enable you to set up ‘digital advertising’ campaigns.
Often senior management is being pressed to make more revenue, and they may have heard or seen their competitors advertising on the internet. Now, rightly so, they believe that running an online marketing campaign will bring them the boost in results they desire.
The problem is they have been pulled into the iceberg effect! The what? The iceberg effect is where you can clearly see the top of the iceberg, the 20%, the reality is though that 80% is out of site and this is where they trip up. They can’t see exactly what their competitors are actually doing or why to be successful!
There is a whole lot of assumptions, and even if they have the knowledge to try and unpick what they are doing or have done they don’t actually know how successful it is, and what works for one organization probably won’t work for them for a multitude of reasons.
A classic example is sending traffic directly to their existing website, which on the face of it is totally understandable. They’ve had one built and wish to maximize the investment they made into it.
The thing here is that web designers are NOT marketing or salespeople and have little understanding or interest in it. The website is not usually designed in a way that will generate leads that a sales team would need.
Web designers want to produce, hopefully, nice looking websites and they provide what has been agreed and asked for by their client. The company feels they need a website, that will properly enhance their brand image, but this doesn’t necessarily equate to a website that will be able to focus on gathering those leads, nurturing them and converting them into paying customers.
As mentioned earlier the classic mistake is to spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to drive traffic to their website via various methods, for example, Google PPC or Facebook advertising and they may even try social media to reach new audiences as well.
What they fail to realize is that no matter how much money they’re spending, if they don’t have the required infrastructure and back-end systems in place, then it’s basically a waste of money.
Of course, some leads will come through, however, these are usually more luck than judgment and don’t actually meet the requirements or expectations that the company has and often will not be profitable for the company both in the short or long term.
They will lead to low conversions a lot of wasted time and money, along with frustrated salespeople demanding better prospects to follow up on and ultimately unhappy managers as they haven’t hit their targets.
A trap many enter is to just throw more money at the problem with the hope that the more people you target the results will change. However, if the front end marketing, which is an art in itself, isn’t sending people to a well designed, tested and effective back-end system, as I’ve already mentioned, then no amount of tweaking, split testing or money spent will change the end result. It will never be a positive and sustainable plan with a poor if any meaningful Return On Investment (ROI).
One aspect of digital marketing that many people won’t discuss is whether or not your product or service even lends itself to an online marketing strategy that meets your objectives and goals.
In my view this needs to be addressed right from the start, as taking on a project that has little chance of success from the outset is just unacceptable!
There are many considerations to make, and the strategy and plan should take those factors into account.
Companies that get their digital marketing right
They spend the time to create a plan and a robust strategy, let’s dive a little deeper.
Understanding their customers. Knowing exactly who their best customers are is key to setting up for success. Who are they, what do they do, where they hang out, what their problems are, what they want and how can you help them achieve their desired outcome.
Often the idea of ‘selling’ someone a product is your primary focus, unfortunately, this doesn’t always lead to the best outcome for either party. Where companies best succeed is by learning how to offer value and to genuinely want to help people.
If you invest the time in building a relationship and trust they will be far more inclined to do business with you and you’ll, in turn, become their trusted partner.
Know who provides the real revenue. By learning what factors motivate people to do business with a company allows them to tailor the offer and the message. Once that is identified you can get this message out to similar people who are likely to need help.
Not all customers are created equally and some will be a fleeting one night stand and others will look for a long term relationship. Knowing who those are is the key as they will obviously be worth far more to a company both in terms of direct revenue but also indirect revenue.
What do I mean by this? The age-old powerhouse of referrals, happy and satisfied customers will become, hopefully, your brand advocates. You know the type, the ones that tell anyone who’ll listen about their experience, how it helped them and how grateful they are. This is the point where the most successful companies want to end up.
The really successful ones keep the formula the same and keep doing what they’ve been doing and not become too big for their boots and start knowing better than the customers who brought them to where they are now.
They invest in their marketing
According to Gartner, the most successful companies invest around 10% – 11% of their TO in marketing.
Depending on the type of business, that could be spread across different channels with a large percentage under the digital marketing umbrella.
Why digital marketing? Basically, because it reaches so many people at such competitive rates when compared to traditional marketing avenues and you have far more tools at your disposal to nurture them to become customers. That’s not to say ignore the traditional approaches but some things need adapting to serve the modern consumer.
Top tip is to combine traditional media with a digital strategy. Traditional media still has a place in the modern world so don’t ignore it!
Successful companies aren’t particularly interested in branding alone, that comes as a by-product of doing the right kind of marketing strategy in the first place.
What they are really interested in is focused results. In other words, they will invest in a marketing process that is designed to build their business over the short, medium and long term time horizon.
They are only too aware that it’s a process and like all processes it takes time. The ones that have this vision can outperform their competitors and quite frankly the longer they play this ‘game’, the more they can dominate their market and literally out spend and outshine their rivals.
Going back to the stock market analogy, smart investors don’t invest one week hoping to retire the next. They have a plan and knowing that time is a part of that plan makes the difference between success and failure.
They outsource to agencies and freelancers
They tend to outsource the work to an agency or freelancer for a variety of reasons.
Why? On the face of it, things can appear to be misleadingly simple. Again I’m back to the iceberg theory, what you see isn’t exactly what’s happening and to make all these parts work together is an art form, that includes the right copywriting, the look, the flow, the offer, the timing, not to mention the technical aspects to pull this off.
Also, an important consideration is that hiring a full-time marketing team is very expensive, whereas outsourcing is a fraction of the price for a varied pool of talent that can bring far higher returns on every dollar spent. Plus they have the added advantage of being able to view a business more objectively than someone from within and as you’ll see later in this article an outsourced team is as heavily invested into your success as you are.
Appreciate who is involved in making it a success
Depending on the strategy and objectives determines who’s involved in making it happen. If we take content as a core element of any marketing campaign, then this would be a typical team structure.
Managing Editor, Content Strategist, Marketing Analytics Leader, Copywriter, and Graphic Designer.
The combined salaries for these would range from $369,000 to $554,000, not including benefits, training, vacations and so on!
N.B. Salaries based on data from Payscale.
This is again is just the tip of the iceberg as it doesn’t include Developers, SEO specialists, Email Marketing Specialists, Marketing Analytics, Brand Specialists, Social media Specialists and so on.
The above doesn’t include paid media which is considered a separate cost.
Successful companies have clear and realistic business objectives
In other words, they know exactly what they wish to achieve, let’s say 10% – 15% growth.
An agency/freelancer will be able to help that company determine whether or not that is realistic and a perfect partner will help outline precisely what would need to happen both from a marketing perspective and the client’s internal infrastructure. Does the client have the ability to provide and support the extra workload without sacrificing quality, service, and support?
It’s no good, increasing business only to find you’re letting down both new and existing customers and losing them faster than you can attract new prospects.
They look at investing in an agency or freelancer for results
This is, of course, relative and is usually based on the value that the client is trying to achieve and could be anywhere from 15% – 20% of the projected growth plus any ongoing management, for example, advertising and SEO strategies.
As I’ve already demonstrated, this would be significantly less than trying to do it in house.
They’re able to leverage their marketing budget
By using an outsourced approach, these companies know that they can significantly leverage their marketing dollars.
The obvious advantage is by getting the component pieces outsourced it frees up a considerable sum for any paid media activities, which in turn can accelerate the whole process.
This would also free up more of the budget to invest in rich media, such as video.
Investing their budget wisely gives them a considerable edge over its competitors and can take a company from a challenger brand to a market leader.
Who wouldn’t invest in creating that kind of opportunity for growth?
Like all things, there is more than one approach and often smaller companies look for a price based model for producing leads alone, and that can also be an effective way to start investing your advertising dollars.
The goal here would be to level up once a positive ROI was in place.
Successful companies are looking for results, not a bargain
Is using a freelancer or agency cheaper? The answer may surprise you as a freelancer will still need to subcontract a lot of the component work to their trusted partners. They are, in all honesty, a trusted consultant and project manager who will deliver the required outcome.
If, however, a low price comes back from a freelancer then it would be advisable to get your runners on and get out of there fast. The same conditions also apply to an agency.
They look for long term partnerships
A good partnership is for the long term and is in both the organization’s interest and the agency/freelancer to be successful.
If a company goes down the route of having their marketing strategy developed and implemented they will also tend to use the agency to maintain the system, manage their ads and look after their SEO and social media if that features in the plan.
An agency will charge a management fee along with a percentage of the ad spend. This is a good thing as it keeps the agency motivated to keep improving the ad campaigns rather than letting them go stale.
Obviously the more successful the campaigns, the more the company invests into advertising. Basically, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.
When done in house it’s basically set and forget and isn’t monitored or updated in any way like an ad manager would. This means that many opportunities for continued growth are left on the table for the competitors to pick up!
They include short, medium and long term strategies
This could be an entire article in itself, but most strategies engineered to grow a company are split into short, medium and long term approaches.
The short-term would be focused more around paid media such as Google PPC, Banner ads and Facebook ads. Results can be measured, and paid campaigns can start producing activity very quickly.
The medium-term would bridge between short and long term and be generated via Social Media. Short because you can react instantly to Social Media and long because you’re building up brand advocates and customers feel they can reach out and interact with an organization directly. This approach may include some paid aspects for reaching out to an audience to build engagement and is also a little harder to detect direct correlations to business results.
The long-term would feature Search Engine Optimization aka, SEO and is an integral part of any successful strategy. It’s not quick, however, consistency and an appreciation that time will be your friend are well understood.
A typical SEO strategy will take between 6 and 9 months to start seeing results, but once all the hard work has paid off the rewards keep on coming.
Gone are the days of ‘gaming’ the system and if anyone promises quick results they are probably going to do something that will damage your business and reputation and trust me you really don’t want to find out.
They have a highly effective sales process
I guess it goes without saying that an effective sales process is paramount to success and companies that get this right and invest in the infrastructure and training win hands down every single time.
Clearly, it’s totally pointless to produce leads if there isn’t a system in place to maximize the chance of turning that lead into a paying customer.
It amazes me how companies are so laid back when it comes to contacting a new lead. What they fail to acknowledge is that while they’re considering making contact, their competitors have already done so. The sale starts with the first touch, and if that appears to be lacking, you’ve lost before you’ve begun.
They’re fanatical about customer service
Everyone should know how expensive and difficult it is to gain a new paying customer. There’s a lot of moving parts and people to make it happen.
It should come as no surprise that the companies that really nail the customer support side outshine their competitors every step of the way.
They’re smart enough to realize that by looking after the client, even if sometimes it isn’t directly profitable to do so, yields an even higher return. A brand advocate.
I’ve mentioned this already but how you service your customers is key to growing a business. They will keep coming back, and it’s far easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.
Also if you have the right strategy, they will be your best salesperson by telling everyone how great you are.
Overview of the digital marketing process
Phase 1. Agency/Freelancer consultants
1. Initial strategy call. Dig deep, ask the questions, then dig deeper and ask more uncomfortable questions until satisfied there is nothing left.
The goal here is to understand the company, its customers, how it operates, what is being sold, what sets them apart, existing strategies, what’s worked and what’s not worked.
We basically need to unearth the sales process, the product, and target market.
Who is the best customer and how can we get more and so on?
2. In-depth review. Dig deeper and audit existing processes and systems. By asking different stakeholders the right questions, we can uncover valuable information to use in developing market winning strategies.
3. Establish and set out objectives and goals. Plan for the Short, Medium and Long term.
These will follow the SMART plan of needing to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
This clearly is defined by what you’re trying to achieve, it may be that long term growth isn’t a priority and that you’re looking to launch a new service, then a short term strategy would be more appropriate.
Likewise, if growth is the primary concern, then as mentioned earlier the big guns need to come out, and some serious planning is required to make that happen.
4. Design marketing strategy for front end marketing i.e. traffic generation, the middle marketing system i.e. where the traffic is going to and finally the backend marketing system to create relationships and trust.
5. Killer copywriting, that invokes an emotional response from the reader from the first contact to take some sought of action.
Probably the least understood or appreciated part of not just digital marketing, but any marketing is the critically important component of ‘effective copywriting’.
No matter how well designed a marketing strategy or system is if the content doesn’t evoke the right emotional response from the reader, listener or viewer then it will be destined to fail or at best perform poorly.
6. Asset creation tightly aligned with copy that will include graphics, images, and ideally video.
This could include lead magnets that are sometimes referred to as ethical bribes, e.g. white papers or eBooks that provide high-value information to the potential prospect, which in turn help build your audience and gives the opportunity to build that ‘know, like and trust’ dynamic.
7. Build and integration work. The technical cornerstone of a successful marketing plan. Putting it all together, integrating and testing. This takes time as there are so many elements to get right and sometimes systems to talk to and needs to be factored into the timeline.
I won’t go into all the details here as it will be quite technical and probably will not excite you enough to take action, however, a lot is going on and some hair pulling and swearing will sometimes feature in making everything work seamlessly for the end user, but it’s crucial to get it right for success.
8. Drive traffic. Build out the advertising strategy campaigns along with all required assets. The paid media chosen will often be the platform that your ideal customer hangs out on but it’s important that your service is relevant.
Often a combination of platforms is required to maximize results, and A/B testing goes without saying to see which ad campaigns produce the most consistent results along with the best cost per conversion.
N.B. This won’t take into consideration the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer or the quality.
9. Initiate the SEO traffic strategy this will lay the foundation for building the business going forward with traffic coming through the organic search results.
10. Initiate, learn, improve and repeat is the backbone to this part of the process but basically boils down to testing everything, watching the headline numbers, understand the back end numbers and then see what can be improved and then do it all again.
It’s a constant process, as the market is always changing, trends and expectations vary so it rarely stands still and it’s important to be aware of this.
Phase 2. You the companies responsibilities
1. The first contact. I’ve discussed this at some length already, but to summarise, there has to be a system in place that enables you, and the company, to act as fast as possible to new inquiries, otherwise, the chance of conversion is DRASTICALLY reduced.
It sets a bad precedent if you take too long to get in touch or Time to Contact (TTC) and saying that you’re busy won’t cut it.
Why? Put yourself in their shoes, my first thought would if you’re too busy to even talk to me how can I expect you to deliver the service I’m interested in. It’s basically a huge red flag.
2. Sales and the onboarding process. Naturally, there has to be a solid sales process in place once the initial contact is made. I could launch the best sales pitch plan here but fortunately for you, I won’t.
However, go with the intent of helping to solve their problem and being able to demonstrate that you are the right company to provide the solution.
Assuming the sale is closed then there should be a plan on how you onboard new clients, set out expectations and ensure that everyone in your team knows what to do to ensure the new client is happy.
This is an essential part of the process, and you must make the experience a pleasant one.
There’s no excuse for creating a situation that allows them to feel they made a mistake in choosing you, it’s just not acceptable and should never happen.
3. Customer service in this day and age is another important step. You simply can not get away with poor customer service.
The customer is always right has never been more accurate. If they are not happy, they’ll be posting their issues in every forum and social media platform known and this can be incredibly costly in both reputations and of course financially.
With this in mind, you must have the ability and the will to respond to social media comments, it’s a very close touch point for organizations of all shapes and sizes now.
4. A referral process is another element that can significantly boost client acquisition, and a plan should be in place to encourage new clients to refer you. There are many ways to achieve this, and various options should be tested and explored to capitalize on this opportunity.
5. Explore more in-depth opportunities from existing customers can be often overlooked by simply not asking probing questions that may unearth new opportunities for your company.
This probably comes under the responsibility of the account manager. However, it’s worth a mention as we all tend to get comfortable in our day to day relationships that we just don’t ask.
6. Have a robust account management process that ensures the customer is happy, that you put out fires before they begin and that expectations are managed realistically.
Of course, not all of these will directly apply to your business, although most should and if they do then excel at them.
You’ll be outperforming your competitors as they just can’t be bothered and fail to see the big picture over short term gains…
Wrapping up a digital strategy
Hopefully, this has opened up the world of digital marketing for you and what is involved from a 30,000-foot view to be successful.
I’ve covered many areas and attempted to keep it relatively straight forward.
However, it boils down to…
- Knowing exactly who your customer is, what they want and you being able to provide it.
- Setting out a plan and strategy with realistic objectives and goals.
- Designing a marketing system that fulfills the plan and brings these people to you.
- Having in place a solid conversion strategy.
- Finally looking after your customers.
Yes, there are a lot of moving parts; however, with proper planning and research, a robust, result orientated marketing strategy can be implemented that will accelerate and grow your business.
If you’d like to talk to someone who can help you reach your goals then book your free strategy call here.