Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash
You slam your desk in frustration. Another day, another marketing email or business article. It makes you wonder,
Are my marketing efforts paying off? Do I have an effective way to measure my ROI?
Does my marketing plan need an overhaul?
What are my business marketing options?
We get it. Today’s economic volatility and threat spurs all of us to reexamine our marketing strategy. Consider the following to avoid common mistakes and wasteful marketing spending in 2021.
Not all marketing options will likely work for your business. You really should think carefully about your plan—your goals and how you intend to achieve them. Then include only the most promising options in your plan.
Why do you do what you do?
What are your general business goals?
What is your mission?
Strategically, answers to these questions, even if not published online, should guide everything else that you do. Your answers are your brand.
Who are your ideal clients or customers? You should communicate with them, in terms of tone, style, and platform(s), that they expect.
How do you propose to achieve your goals, your mission?
For example, do you need to emphasize attracting new clients? What about retaining current clients? What sort of balance works best for you?
Do you sell a physical or virtual product, or might you offer a service?
Do you sell your product or service directly to customers (as in eCommerce)? Or do you primarily target other businesses?
Your answers will shape the type of website that you set up and the specific social media platforms that you use.
Obviously, an eCommerce website differs from a service-oriented site.
For example, LinkedIn might be more appropriate for promoting professional or technical services than for eCommerce products while an email funnel campaign may work best for long-game conversion.
Stage of Business
What is the developmental stage of your business?
If you are just starting out, you probably need to focus on creating awareness and attracting new clients. Building email subscription lists and followers of your social media platforms will be priorities. In the process, you will need to establish your business as authoritative and trustworthy.
If you are more established, you might prioritize retaining current or past clients over attracting new ones. After all, retaining current clients costs less than prospecting for new purchasers. And current clients, through testimonials and reviews, can act as a marketing asset in their own right.
Of course, the specific features of your business might require that you pay equal attention to new and current/past clients.
In truth, too many variables influence a marketing plan to allow detailed advice here. The number of stakeholders involved, the available resources, the size of your business, the competitive environment—these and other factors will affect your planning process.
Nevertheless, any plan must specify which marketing tasks will be accomplished in-house and which will be outsourced.
Large firms with abundant resources and expertise will probably choose to keep as much as possible in-house or, alternatively, to retain a full-service marketing agency. Their primary goal would be to maintain maximum, overall control.
Smaller firms might decide to delegate coordination of marketing efforts to an in-house manager who, in turn, can outsource specific tasks or projects as needed. Such an arrangement can achieve close coordination while it limits overhead expense.
Solo entrepreneurs fill every role themselves. They coordinate all marketing efforts but may outsource specific marketing tasks.
Regardless of the size of your business, you should create and use a marketing calendar to plan and track every marketing initiative. A complete calendar will help you anticipate staffing and other needs, and it will allow you to monitor marketing costs so that you don’t overspend.
Again, size of the business, available resources (financial and personnel), and general business climate will affect budgeting decisions.
In planning a marketing budget, however, you should determine an acceptable Return on Marketing Investment that will promote your business’s financial health. As the business grows, the marketing budget should also increase, but within acceptable limits related to overall revenue or profit.
ROMI (% of Profit Due to Marketing)
Task #1 is to learn where things stand. You already know that marketing is essential to your success. Without it, no one would learn of your service or product.
Learning where things stand means knowing your Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI). The overall calculation is simple.
Task #2 entails drilling down to see how each of your marketing efforts performs. For example, are your email messages leading to high conversion rates on your call-to-action prompts?
Further, do your web pages result in high sign-up rates for your newsletters?
Again, do your discount offers pan out with increased sales?
If not, you might want to think about improving your content to bring your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) back into line for your business.
Surely, most large and small businesses find word-of-mouth advertising to be the most effective. People trust what their relatives, friends, and colleagues recommend.
Today, however, word-of-mouth has shifted to cyberspace. Online reviews and information distributed via email, social media, and websites have become crucial to business success. Some 80% of customers search for services or products on the Internet before contacting potential vendors.
If you are B2B, you can use case studies to achieve some control over client testimonials. In addition, all businesses can use software or paid services to capture client reviews.
As with any other campaign, you need to think about the message that will gain the best reviews for you.
You must still decide about which platforms you need to invest in.
Your website is your virtual business card, especially if you’re looking to attract new clients. Your landing page, for example, should be one of your best conversion tools.
Whether you manage your website yourself or hire a developer to do so, pay regular attention to the following:
- Content—both words and images—should provide what clients need to know and be updated regularly.
- Old fashioned design will brand your business as out of date, frumpy. Conduct a design overhaul (or have someone else do it) every couple of years.
- Since 75% of visitors to your site are likely to use a mobile device, be sure that your site is responsive to smart phones and tablets.
- Pay attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). This can become technical, and Google’s algorithms change continually.
- Tone should be appropriate to your business: more professional for B2B, more conversational for B2C or eCommerce.
Email marketing for new and current clients remains the most lucrative marketing investment: average ROI is $38 for every $1 spent.
For convenience and compliance reasons, it pays to retain a reputable email vendor, of which there are many.
A good email vendor should provide the following services at minimum:
- Maintain accurate, up-to-date subscription lists
- Segmentation of subscription lists according to your criteria
- Handle all opt-in and unsubscribe events
- Create and manage automated campaigns and responses
- Offer templates for images and layout
- Provide reports of messages sent, delivered, opened, and clicked-through (and conversions if feasible)
Several vendors also offer to host websites, landing pages, and other services.
Nearly all large and small businesses maintain a presence on social media, and for good reason: billions of people worldwide use social media to research and purchase goods and services.
LinkedIn has become a premier platform for professionals and businesses. The most basic service is free, but paid subscriptions open several useful opportunities for communicating your message.
Whether you set up only a personal account or add a company page, LinkedIn will help you if you follow these suggestions:
- In addition to friends, former colleagues, and acquaintances, connect with others who are relevant to your business and experience.
- Respond to others’ posts with a comment if possible.
- Interact with individuals or company pages daily or at least 3 times per week.
- Post content of value to others as often as possible, usually at least 3-4 times per week (Tuesday through Friday is optimal).
- Refrain from direct selling; be personal, engaging, informative in your posts.
- Include relevant hashtags to attract attention from potential clients and to research other opportunities.
- Consider using LinkedIn’s paid messaging, advertising and recruiting services as needed.
Most B2C and eCommerce businesses use Instagram and Facebook to connect with clients. Even professional services in law and health care are doing so now.
- Create a company page linked to your personal page.
- Both platforms feature “stories” for longer posts with text and video
- When you use features such as polls or question box, their search algorithm will increase visibility of your business.
- All posts should include images or video along with appropriate hashtags.
- Solicit service or product reviews from clients.
- Respond to all comments or other interactions from followers.
- Consider using paid ads to boost reach and to target audiences.
- Organic (non-paid) ads/posts produce limited results.
- When using paid ads, be careful about budgeting daily costs.
Twitter is a fast-moving platform that can direct traffic via links to your website or blog content. It is very useful for posting company news, limited-time offers, or announcements.
Remember that Twitter is conversational: self-promotion should be take a back seat to engaging others.
All tweets should attach an image or video to attract attention. Text in each tweet is limited to 240 characters (including spaces).
Engagement on Twitter should occur a few times daily to maintain an effective presence.
Using social media to best advantage consumes a great deal of time and energy. If you run a small business, consider hiring an in-house or freelance social media manager. When you do, monitor performance to make sure that all messaging reflects your brand’s mission. If you handle social media yourself, be sure to set aside time each day to keep your brand visible.
With limited resources, you may need to prioritize whether you’ll pursue an email funnel campaign or concentrate on your social media efforts. Your decision should be fueled by strategy first and tailored to your current business model and goals. When you decide to pursue a marketing strategy, produce the most useful or relevant content that you can. Your audience would rather have that than a half-hearted effort over all the digital platforms.
To receive more helpful tips, sign up to receive our biweekly email newsletter.