Optimising your marketing spend
Editorial

Optimising your marketing spend

Getting more bang for your marketing buck doesn’t always mean spending big – which is good news for small businesses

Here’s a question for marketers in small businesses: if you doubled your marketing spend, would you double the amount of leads you create, or your sales? While they might wish otherwise, most will answer ‘no’.

Success isn’t always about the size of your budget. Rather than being solely concerned with the quantity of their marketing activity, marketers should focus on its quality – and how it can deliver more bang for its buck.

Getting the most value from your spend might involve gaining insight from key stakeholders, conducting market research, or investing in analytics – and this doesn’t always require an expensive initial outlay.

Here are four ways marketers can make their spend work harder.

Cut costs with pooled market research

Purchasing pooled market research means you benefit from accessing market and customer information from a range of surveys and panels, which overlap to provide an empirical view of a sector. The anonymised, aggregated format will not reveal any personally identifiable information, and the data is less likely to be skewed or show bias, as an individual survey might. The research is less expensive, too, as it has been commissioned by other organisations, but can reveal valuable trends in what, where and how consumers are purchasing a product or service, and how much they are paying for it. Research can often be bought as a one-off investment, or with a subscription-based model that will deliver insights on a regular basis.

Manage your community of brand advocates

A community of advocates can spread the word about your brand message, meaning that much of the marcomms heavy lifting will be done for you. Communities aren’t created overnight, however – they grow organically over time and are essentially earned, rather than owned or paid for. Similarly, being a ‘community manager’ is not the same as being a broadcaster – or a helpdesk. The crucial relationship in a community is not between you (or your social team) and the consumer – it’s between the consumers themselves. Developing a profitable online community of advocates for your brand is about helping them connect with each other and find a sense of belonging there, even when you’re not present. In other words, it’s not to do with talking or being talked to, it’s to do with being talked about. Community managers, therefore, must seed discussions and set the tone, subtly facilitating the ongoing conversation and enforcing community guidelines when necessary. After that, your potential advocates are free to get to work.

Discover the potential of retargeting

Few people want to be bombarded with ads, and retargeting potential customers might seem like a way of doubling-up on unwanted brand communications. In fact, it’s often anything but. The consumer you retarget with advertising has already expressed interest in your offering – they’re in the sales funnel, even if they’re floating at its widest point. Retargeting helps them firm up their interest and move down the funnel, or move away. If the ads you serve through retargeting help the decision-making process, they’re the antithesis of ‘spam’. Since a connection has already been made with your potential customer, and you have gained at least some data about their preferences, retargeting allows you to develop, differentiate, adjust, or simply renew and amplify your message. If serving a first-time ad is the equivalent of cold calling, retargeting occurs in a warmer and more welcoming space, and marketers should seek to fulfil the potential of that opportunity. Conversions from retargeting are generally regarded as being high; one popular statistic, from software giant Hubspot, is that online consumers who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert, and there’s one extra benefit whatever the outcome – they produce a further set of customer data.

Link data analytics to business goals

The foundation of all the above is data, but numbers mean little unless you apply them – and act on them. The analytics that will increase the ROI of your marketing spend requires an end goal. That means asking what you want your data to deliver – whether that is developing relevant products, controlling your inventory, personalisation of services, or delivering a more seamless customer journey – and then ask how and where that will contribute to sales. Kronenbourg, for example, knew that its customers preferred to drink its beer in warm weather, and employed real-time temperature data to target people most likely to benefit from a cold beer. An algorithm was then developed which allowed the organisation to deliver adverts via digital signage to users who were in locations where the temperature and time of day would likely make them interested – cutting advertising waste and driving demand for the product. In ways such as this, tactical activity developed through data analytics should always aim to increase your business’s competitive advantage – cement this in to your strategy from the start, and it’s more likely to deliver dividends on your spend.

To learn how to measure your marketing performance and harness the power of data, join CIM’s one-day course in Marketing Metrics and ROI

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