At one time, company owners and executives considered marketing to be a luxury. Now it’s generally accepted that it’s an essential investment in the growth potential of your business. And, as with all investments, you need to see a return for your money.
How do you identify which inbound marketing channels are most likely to deliver effective results? These 6 steps will provide you with a head start:
Step 1: Perform Industry Analysis
Customers are different in every industry, and so are the methods of reaching them. You’ll need to conduct comprehensive analysis to answer these questions about yours:
- What companies are the major suppliers in the industry, which channels do they use for marketing and how successful are their campaigns? This will tell you where your competitors are advertising, and whether it’s working for them or not.
- How does your target audience consume marketing content most frequently? There are bound to be a number of formats but you want those that are the most common.
- What criteria do your clients generally use to choose a supplier or service provider? This could include adspend (or lack thereof) or it could be based on something like having thought leadership in the market.
- Which media channels are most appropriate for the form of advertising your market prefers? For example, if your audience likes visual content then video might be a better option than blogging.
Step 2: Know What You Want to Achieve
Marketing campaigns can serve any one of a number of purposes, and knowing precisely what it is that you want to achieve can help you determine the right channels to use to maximize your ROI. Do you want to attract sales leads, generate awareness of your services or collect email addresses for your mailing list? Each of these goals will have competing objectives and will require you to use different types of media and marketing channels.
Step 3: Assess Potential Returns
Before you decide on the channels to use, it’s essential to find out what kind of return you can expect from each. The secret is in the statistics. Don’t be fooled by a page of fancy numbers from an advertising department; you need to do your own assessment to see if the medium is right for you.
Check out things like:
- The average cost of a hypothetical multi-channel marketing campaign.
- The average number of conversions generated in such a campaign (it doesn’t matter whether these are sales, leads or email addresses because each advertiser has their own objectives).
- Apply the result to the outcome you want from your campaign and assign it a monetary value. For example, if you’re collecting email addresses, decide how much each one is worth to you if you had to pay for it. Perhaps comparing against buying existing email lists will give you an idea of a going rate.
- Compare the value of the two. In other words, if a campaign costs you the same as the hypothetical one and you get the same number of results, what will its value be based on your cost per conversion? And how does that compare with the cost of the adspend?
It’s not an exact science, but it’s a lot better than taking a shot in the dark without any data or intelligence.
Step 4: Map the Channels to Your Requirements
By the time you reach this step, you’ll have a reasonably clear picture of what other players in your industry are doing, the channels they are using and whether they are finding them effective or not. You’ll also know what some (or all) of those channels are likely to cost you, and you can start to formulate your next marketing campaign. Here’s where you get to “map” the channels to your needs by choosing the best mix to achieve your objective. Here’s what I mean:
If your campaign objective is to raise brand awareness in a particular market segment, you might want to use a publication that’s read by decision-makers in the industry. If your objective is to generate leads for future email nurturing, however, then a content marketing campaign targeting your consumer is more likely to deliver the return you want. The first will likely require regular adspend, while the second could take investment in the development of search optimized content and pay-per-click ads.
Step 5: Analyze Your Performance
Unless you’re monitoring your investment in each and every channel you won’t be able to determine those that are working and those that aren’t. Include Google Analytics (or any other analytics program) as part of your campaign, and check the progress regularly to see how you’re doing. Find out where your conversions are coming from and keep a record of the results that you can compare against the expenditure at the end of the campaign.
Step 6: Act On the Intel
Having detailed analytics reports is a great help, but only if you make use of them. If you don’t, it’s like a bear-skin rug – nice to look at but useless to everyone! Review the data and find out what’s working and where, and then make adjustments to your campaign according to the information you gather. If your content marketing isn’t working but your social media is doing well, increase your adspend on Facebook instead to optimize it. Alternatively, you can focus on the channels that aren’t proving successful, by tweaking and testing new options until you find the right recipe for the secret sauce. Just remember: each time you make a change, you’ll need to do some A/B testing to see whether there’s an improvement or a decline.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you consider the millions of dollars wasted every year on ineffective advertising. The best way to find out which channels are suitable for you to invest in is to do the necessary due diligence before, during and after your marketing process.