I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this quote, which goes “Half of my marketing dollars are wasted, if only I knew which half!”.
We’ve definitely been guilty in the past of taking a shotgun approach to marketing, which I don’t think is uncommon in small business. As we grow and we take a more systematic approach to everything we do, it fell to me to review and optimize one of the larger budgets that we have after salaries. To say I went into it kicking and screaming would definitely be an understatement, as my background is mostly centered around technology. It turns out, after spending considerable time learning about inbound and outbound marketing techniques, social media, SEO, and Adwords-based search marketing, I’ve come to the conclusion that in this day and age it takes a really good techie to be a really good marketer.
Here are some of the things that I have been working on (some complete, some still a work in progress). I believe that taking a systematic approach to our marketing spend will pay off on a number of fronts : less waste, better leads, better decision making and increased sales.
- I am now using the Google URL Builder to tag all of my Social Media posts, Email campaigns, and Adwords ads. These tags give me great insight what medium is most successful in driving activity to our web properties.
- For years, we’ve had geographically-specific websites (for example, www.hostedpbxcalgary.com) which target local markets across Canada. We have local phone numbers in each of the regions that are only listed there, so that we know where an inbound sales call is being generated from. Also, we feel having a local phone number listed on our website will cause someone who might be sitting on the fence about calling to pick up the phone.
- We’ve setup web-to-lead in Salesforce which allows me to capture website visitor information directly into Salesforce’s Lead form. This allows me to track a visitor from lead all the way through to customer (full life cycle), and gives me great insight into how many prospects actually buy, where the roadblocks might be in our sales process, and what we can do to grease the wheels so that more prospects convert into customers. Seeing this in action was a breakthrough moment for me, and I continue to refine this to provide better insights.
- We also use Salesforce to do outbound email marketing (including automatic followups and drip campaigns), tracking HTML opens and quickly deleting those leads that have invalid information or bounced email addresses.
- Lastly, I’m currently working with our graphic design team on landing pages. We’re using Unbounce so that we can do a lot of A/B testing on different in-page concepts and see what works and what doesn’t.
Why does it take a really good techie to be a really good marketer? Well, getting these integrations going between all the different components is not trivial. If I was a pure marketer counting on an IT staff to do this stuff, it would take forever and inevitably would be wrong. There is no recipe or step-by-step guide for this, you have to do it by trial and error. It really helps that I have admin access to all the tools and the authority to make changes as I see fit, in the best interests of the company.
I read a blog post on the weekend which goes into a little more detail about the challenges facing today’s marketer. It’s a well-written piece about something called a “Full Stack Marketer” and really was the impetus for my contribution today.
I can relate to those business owners and managers who don’t need another task on their to do list, but if you aren’t already doing this kind of analytical marketing you really need to start. Throwing money at the wall to see what sticks is a waste of valuable resources. I still lean heavily on my outsourced design team and consultants for specific deliverables, but it’s up to me to see the big picture and make sure all the marketing pieces are in alignment. Based on the linked blog post above, finding people or agencies who can do all this stuff is really tough. If your business is anything like ours, getting the marketing spend optimized can really lend itself to the bottom line. Oh, and knowing how effective your different campaigns are really helps when your board starts asking questions about the large “Marketing” line item on your P&L :-).