As we move to the next stage of these strange and worrying times, hopefully you have been able to take advantage of the government backed support and some degree of positivity is returning to your outlook for the coming months.
Much has been written on Furloughs, CBILS and Bounce Back by smarter people than us. Something we have noticed among the businesses we continue to work with is that despite the turmoil a lot of bosses are finding the time to take a deep dive into areas of the business where they haven’t usually got involved.
In particular, we are told that marketing is being given the once over. It seems that John Wanamaker’s famous quote that he didn’t know which half of his marketing spend was working has got business leaders thinking.
So here are some definitions for some of the more often used terms. Phrases such as ‘hyperlocal’ and ‘A/B testing’ might sound bamboozling initially, but understanding their meaning outside of the marketing department, and how these can help inform better spending decisions has to be a good thing right now.
Inbound marketing aims to draw in new prospects using online methods such as social media, blogging, SEO (see definition below). This is different from outbound marketing, the more traditional approach, which relies on actively reaching out to prospective clients (e.g. by phoning or emailing them directly). At the heart of the approach is understanding the buyer persona and the process they follow to buy products such as yours.
Why invest in inbound marketing? – inbound marketing is 61% cheaper than outbound, but it produces higher quality leads and returns on investment.
Digital content marketing
‘Content’ refers to marketing literature in the form of web pages, blogs, newsletters, info-graphs, emails, whitepapers designed to be read by and therefore attract a specific target audience. The word ‘digital’ means this content is published online, rather than by traditional print means. Digital content marketing aims to attract the attention of prospective buyers by piquing their interest, thereby creating a lead/sale. Digital content marketing requires a constant flow of output to, over time, connect with and gain the trust of potential buyers. To draw in clients, your content needs to be original, high quality, relevant, helpful, and engaging – positioning your organisation as thought leaders in your field. And importantly, a soft-sell is what you are aiming for – offering something of value without overtly promoting the business.
Why invest in digital content marketing? – digital content marketing produces three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing methods and is over 60% cheaper.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the endeavour of trying to ensure your company’s web pages rank as high as possible when searched for by prospective clients. This represents an ‘unpaid’ method of drawing clients to your website – as opposed to ‘paid for’ advertising (see PPC below). All organisations competing for rankings in search engine results (i.e. Google and Bing) invest heavily in SEO expertise, and this is an ongoing cost as the SEO landscape is forever shifting. This is in large part because Google’s search algorithm is changed frequently throughout the year, and without resources dedicated to understanding the potential impact of these changes, your website may suddenly lose organic traffic (i.e. whereby potential customers find your site after typing in a search term) overnight.
Why invest in SEO? – SEO is one of the primary ways of ensuring your firm’s website will rank highly for the search terms your prospective clients use – as such, it is a mandatory recurring cost which is essential for any business relying on a website presence.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
With ‘pay per click’ internet advertising, a publisher (typically Google or Microsoft) will display an advert for your services when specific search terms are entered into their search engine. You will have seen this first hand when searching in Google and a number of results appear at the very top with the letters AD (this is Google Ads in action). You will then pay each time someone clicks the link to your business’s website. PPC campaigns require considerable skill and understanding as it is not simply about paying for keywords – in order to appear in a PPC advert you will have to bid for your preferred search terms against other firms, and have a sufficiently high ‘Quality Score’, which is based, in part, on the quality of your landing page (the page the person clicking is sent to), and its relevance to the search terms.
Why invest in PPC? – In essence, think of SEO as a slow burning, broadly targeted, and relatively low-cost (although quite time-intensive) way of achieving a competitive advantage organically. Whereas PPC is typically used to target very specific audiences for specific advertising campaigns. For long term success, we recommend leveraging both approaches for maximum effect.
Over the past decade, marketing departments have become more scientific in their approach. In the same way, a baker will refine their recipe until the best results are achieved, A/B testing enables businesses to subtly compare different marketing approaches to see which is most effective. A/B testing may consist of having two web pages with faintly different wording to see which is most effective, or observing the results of differing prices, colours, or subject titles. There is no real limit to what can be achieved by A/B testing; it is an ‘agile’ approach which promotes flexibility and efficiency – ultimately ensuring money is not wasted for a given marketing campaign, and the best possible results are achieved.
Why invest in A/B Testing? – Putting additional money or resource into A/B testing will ensure your business attracts and converts more clients without wasting time on ineffective campaigns.
Content Management System (CMS)
At the most basic level, CMS’s enable the marketing team to quickly, efficiently and consistently publish digital marketing content online. Without a CMS, getting digital content into the outside domain is extremely cumbersome, requiring knowledge of web coding. CMS’s separate the function of website design and development (the job of a web designer and developer) from the task of placing content/wording onto that site. A CMS is designed to ensure a consistent and professional end-user experience, control of the content published, and measurement of the performance and effectiveness of the content being published.
However, new CMS products go beyond publishing content, allowing the user experience to be tailored on the fly using marketing automation. Marketing automation tools work by creating a workflow of marketing actions which can be run without human intervention. For example, you may wish to send an email to several existing clients with a whitepaper on the latest insights in their field. If they download the document, you may set the system to automatically email them a thank you for taking the time to read it and offer them an incentive to purchase your latest product. Such workflows can be as nuanced and complex as required.
Why invest in a CMS? – Modern content marketing revolves around the dissemination of engaging information to the target audience to attract them as a client. CMS’s are the primary enabler of this release of information. Not only can marketing teams release content quickly and flexibly when needed, by measuring the effectiveness of the published content (e.g. do customers read it and then make an enquiry), more and better leads are generated as the approach is refined. And the automation of marketing will allow your existing marketing resources to focus on tasks of higher value, and refining workflow rules, rather than carrying out manual and repetitive marketing tasks.
Marketing has always been the lifeblood of any business, but the latest approaches mean that this vital function is becoming more efficient and effective than ever. The techniques and tools above are only a few of many that the best marketing teams are now leveraging to great effect. By listening to and engaging with your marketing experts on a regular basis, you will be able to understand the present and future of how you will attract clients, and therefore support them with the well-justified financial backing they require.
Reach Revenue works with business owners, leaders and investors to develop high performing sales and marketing teams aligned to the strategic objectives of their business. To find out how we can help you, please call 0203 858 8030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.