In these tough economic times, it's likely that if your activities are not showing marketing ROI, your boss is going to be highly unimpressed. If you're a business owner, you're probably going to be even more unimpressed.
I speak to so many small business owners and marketing managers who are frustrated that they're not getting the return from the investment they've put into their websites and general marketing activities.
If you're one of these - and you're sick and tired of seeing your money or your marketing budget yield no results - you need to look at Inbound Marketing.
In a nutshell, Inbound marketing is, as the name applies, about drawing customers in, when they're searching online for the products and services you offer.
Outbound marketing refers to traditional 'outbound' tactics of interruption, such as cold caling and TV ads.
Now, back to the marketing ROI part.
Let's start off with some hard facts about the ROI it delivers:
According to Hubspot, companies that focus on Inbound marketing experience a 60% lower cost per lead than outbound marketing-dominated organizations.
Hubspot have commissioned countless studies with a focus on Return on Investment documenting how hundreds of companies have grown traffic, leads and sales.
Overall, of companies employing inbound marketing, users experienced a 4.2x increase in leads and most saw increases in sales within four months.
When considering the criteria for choosing an online marketing agency, you should also consider what your reasons for wanting an online marketing agency are.
These reasons will dictate the type of online marketing agency you choose.
The two most common reasons companies use online marketing agencies are:
- To increase brand awareness
- To increase leads and sales
If your goal is purely to increase brand awareness, you should ensure your agency demonstrates excellence in the following fields:
- Content creation
- Social media
- Search marketing
If your goals are more directed towards increasing revenue through online marketing, you should, in addition to the above, ensure your agency lives and breathes return on investment. In other words, an agency that measures its success based on its contribution to your bottom line.
The agency's services must include:
- Lead generation - calls to action & landing pages
- Lead nurturing
- Email marketing
- Measurement and analytics that focus on leads and sales, not website traffic or banner views and the like
If you're still unsure, ask them how they measure the return on facebook fans and twitter followers. If their response is, "You can't measure social media," this is most likely not the right agency for you.
If, to the same question they respond with something like,"We measure how many of these facebook fans became leads and then how many of these actually turned into customers," you're very likely in good hands.
When choosing an online marketing agency one needs to think beyond how the agency will increase your Facebook fans, Twitter followers or banner clicks.
Instead you need to ask yourself how the agency will contribute to and show Return on Marketing Investment.
Your bottom line is the most important consideration and your online marketing agency should prioritise this consideration.
An online marketing agency that focuses on Return on Marketing Investment will develop a strategy which:
- Increases traffic to your website and also
- Converts that traffic into leads
Consider this acronym when assessing potential online marketing agencies - 'COPCA':
C : Content
Online, potential customers come to you; you don’t go to them, so you need to give them a reason to visit your site. Great content is the best way of driving traffic repeatedly to your website. Make sure this is the foundation of the agency's approach.
O : Optimise
Why go through the hassle of creating great content if nobody can find it? The online marketing agency you choose must be skilled at Search Marketing so that your content is easily found on the World Wide Web by your prospective customers.
P : Promote
The agency must be able to detail how they are going to promote the content to drive traffic to your website. Social media and email are two options which, when used effectively, as part of a process, are highly effective.
C : Convert
High online traffic volume on its own is a means to an end, not the end in itself. A potential online marketing agency should outline their strategy for converting traffic into leads and opportunities for your sales team.
Success or lack thereof can only be determined if a strategy measurable. Choose an online marketing agency that measures and analyses results consistently. This way, the agency can make changes in real time, and do more of what's working and less of what's not.
In summary, if when questioning a potential agency, you are satisfied with the responses to these key questions, you can rest assured they are a good bet:
- What is your content creation strategy?
- How will you go about optimising the content?
- How and where will the content be promoted?
- What is your strategy to convert online traffic into leads?
- How do you measure and analyse results?
We can't afford to be fluffy around social media. According to this article, 73% of CEOs say they don't believe marketers drive revenue.
If this data is anything to go by, we have a serious problem on our hands. Essentially, what this means is that marketing is too often perceived as the "fluffy" stuff.
As marketers, we have a responsibility to change this perception.
We do this by showing how our marketing efforts drive results. And this includes, now more than ever, our social media efforts.
How do we show results from social media ?
If we continue to report back to CEOs in terms of the amount of facebook fans or twitter followers our marketing budget generated, marketing will continue to be seen as a non-contributor.
Similarly, reporting around 'brand awareness' is a further reason why CEOs have little choice but to be unimpressed with social media efforts.
The solution - Report to CEOs in metrics they care about - leads
Leads mean money.
Leads are also a brilliant indicator to tell whether or not a marketing campaign is working - which helps marketers be more agile in making decisions - which also contributes to the results CEOs are looking for.
Social media measurment
If you can't show results from your social media campaign, you're not going to get the support, let alone the budget you need to need to implement it successfully.
You need to be be able to show how your social media activity is generating revenue.
If you can't measure it, you shouldn't be doing it.
Parting Question - how are you measuring results in social media?