In a digital marketing world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often have a much harder time quantifying and qualifying their marketing campaigns because too often they don’t prioritize the right metrics, content or mediums of delivery.
The basic premise of inbound marketing is to “draw in” your audience, educate them on how to solve their problems using your solutions, and to have a natural path of progression where the next logical step is connecting with you for the final sale.
To generate the return on investment (ROI) you want, you’ll need to develop a solid inbound marketing strategy that targets your end goal and measures your successes accurately.
Produce Content to Support Your End Goals
Creating content simply for the sake of doing so isn’t the solution. According to Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, you need to use a strategic approach to content that takes account of your end goal of getting the user to purchase.
Sure, interim goals such as email sign-ups are important too, but at the end of the process your focus is to make a sale. Keeping this in mind will prevent you getting mired in providing useful information that doesn’t push the prospect into the next stage of the buying cycle.
Choose Media that Support Conversion
All the good content in the world isn’t going to achieve your objectives if your potential customer isn’t able to conclude the deal. How often have you abandoned a shopping cart or an online wish list simply because the process became inefficient?
Research from eConsultancy showed that cart abandonment resulted in global losses of $3 trillion each year. Even if you aren’t in the business of actually selling online, if you guide your prospect to a sign-up process that’s clumsy or filled with errors, you’re shooting yourself in the proverbial foot.
Choose digital marketing channels that support simple, streamlined conversion processes, so you can make the connection seamlessly and professionally.
Develop High-Converting “Lead Magnet” Content
A lead magnet is content that offers your potential customer value in exchange for his (or her) information. This typically comprises materials Content Marketing Institute CEO Joe Pulizzi (@) calls “content-for-content”—downloadable white papers, free entries into a competition carrying an attractive prize, or the chance to test your product or service before he considers buying.
This process starts to deliver real ROI when it provides you with additional intel about the prospect, such as:
- what stage he is at in the buying cycle
- other competing products he is considering
- in-depth information about his needs
Make sure the content published in all your channels has ‘lead magnets’ that direct your customer back to your core medium—generally your website, a tied-in landing page or a contact method such as an email, live chat or telephone number.
Manage Lead Quality
Getting leads isn’t enough on its own. To get leads that are worth the value of your exchange, you need to manage them though lead scoring and nurturing systems. Fortunately, we exist in the world of Big Data, so lead scoring is facilitated by a wide range of digital tools. These offer both the explicit information about the lead, such as contact details and location, as well as implicit information based on their online behavior and digital footprint.
According to Mathew Sweezey from Pardot, the information gleaned from these sources makes it possible to identify the answers to questions such as:
- How much money is the prospect likely to have available for the product or service?
- Is the prospect a decision-maker in the purchase or is someone else’s authority required to close the sale?
- Will buying your product or service resolve the prospect’s problem, or is this just an ‘interest’ query?
- What’s the projected timeline for making the purchase, based on current behaviour?
This infographic offers insights into methods of scoring the leads and acting on both the implicit and explicit information delivered by the process.
What to Do, What to DO?
Ok, so you’re getting the leads and evaluating them and now you need to use them to deliver that elusive marketing ROI you keep hearing about. Some of the ways to do this include:
Get Better Sales Funnel Tools
Building a sales process funnel is essential to every business. Before you can measure or analyze your data collected from digital marketing you first need to have an extensive data collection process.
Making the most of automated lead management methods: This helps you to minimize the costs associated with following up leads that are at best only ‘warm’ and to optimize economies of scale. Marketing stats compiled by HubSpot (@) show that automated lead management boosts revenue by 10% or more in less than a year.
Implementing a CRM program: It’s challenging for the most organized marketer to keep track of every prospective client, when last he was contacted or where he is in the buying cycle. A comprehensive CRM program does much more than just remind you when it’s your prospect’s birthday; it provides you with a central repository for all the available data, help to keep your automated system up to date with changes in his status and triggers the communications essential to making lead nurturing work. It helps you to manage the targets, leads, potential buyers and customers in your attempt to continually achieve a higher ROI.
An old carpenter saying says you should always measure three times before you make a cut. Similarly, in digital marketing you can trust your data only if you are effectively measuring the right metrics.
Focus on the Right Metrics: To boost your ROI, the most important metrics are those dealing with the actual conversion process from lead to sale. Although other metrics are important, especially in establishing audience, engagement and reach, conversion should be main metric tool that helps you make decisions regarding where to change your actual marketing program. • Focus, therefore, on metrics that measure sales cycles, conversion ratios, customer value in addition to content-side metrics.
Analyze your data effectively: Your metrics should be reviewed regularly, paying attention to factors such as conversion, sales cycle lengths and average sale per customer. That way, you can make adjustments to your plan allowing for the most effective use of your marketing dollars. This systematic review also helps you take advantage of trends at an earlier point in their development, keeping you ahead of your competition.
Determine metrics to support the financial-side marketing decisions: By focusing on metrics that help with the true end goal of increasing sales, shortening sales cycles and increasing marketing ROI you can keep your marketing budgets under control. Often these metrics provide a great way to systematically look at your costs and determine success.
Identify critical costs: Determining your cost per lead helps determine your overall cost-per-acquisition (CPA) of a customer, which is the absolute most important metric according to Lon Safko (@), author of the book The Fusion Marketing Bible. Once you have established how many clicks, engagements, read blogs and clicked pages equal a final sale; you can determine the overall cost of each lead. When you know what your CPA is through your various key performance indicators, you can start truly reaching a high ROI in your digital marketing. Focus on the areas of your marketing plan that are providing the least expensive acquisition costs as compared to the average sale of a customer as well.
There are multiple ways to evaluate the success of your marketing efforts, but eventually your business will only survive off of one metric; sales. In other words, to achieve a real ROI all your digital marketing efforts should ultimately be focused in that direction.
Success within each stage of the sales cycle needs to be determined to provide a comprehensive picture:
- Analyze the number of visits versus visitors, to get an idea of whether you’re getting return traffic or users that land once and then high-tail it out of there;
- Identify the keywords that drive traffic to your pages and compare it with the length of time spent on entry pages. This will tell you whether people searching for key terms are finding what they need on your site.
- If you are reaching out to leads through a blog, there should be a target established for the number of conversions achieved between reading and converting. This metric lets you know if your effort and budget is paying off in this specific channel.
Of course, each of these is only one piece of the puzzle, which leads into other metrics of success. These goals all lead to the same place; sales, making that contact a customer.
It’s easy to create a marketing budget and a strategy; what’s less simple is creating one that delivers a real return on your investment. With these methods, however, you can create a sound plan, a solid data collection and the right information that will enable you to enjoy the financial benefits you expect from your work.