The recent update to Google’s content farm algorithm had SEOs and webmasters scrambling to figure out what’s going on as it affects 12% of the search results in the US.
Even if you’re not a hardcore SEO ninja you should know that Google works hard to purify its search data regularly. After all we’re creating as much information in two days now as we did from the dawn of man through 2003.
In addition, with the announcement of adding social context into the search mix, Google just introduced a whole new set of algorithm in an attempt to make search more social.
If you’re a business, you have to overcome disruptive technologies in order to cope with the rapidly evolving landscape of social media and consumer behaviors.
That makes it even more challenging for modern marketers to get a true ROI (return on investment) out of every marketing dollar.
This is why it’s important than ever to have the right approach to creating your marketing strategy.
If you’re going to invest in online marketing you need to focus on the value of what you’re doing. So here then are some marketing ROI advices that I’ve picked up over the years and feel are most relevant today.
Have short-term goals with a long-term outcome in mind
Would you like to get a ton of traffic?
How about more subscribers? Or perhaps you could use a higher conversion rate?
The problem with those questions is that they’re simply too broad and abstract. When setting your goals for social media, SEO or even content marketing you need to know why you’re doing it and what the “specific” expected outcome would be in a given time frame.
And what does getting that outcome mean for your business?
How does that impact the bottom line?
No, I don’t mean in the number of retweets or Facebook likes, but in dollar figures.
In how long and at what cost?
If you’ve decided to invest in a 12-month campaign, you need to first identify incremental goals that you set out to achieve rather than just eyeing the end result.
Looking at your weekly traffic in a given month won’t tell you much, but give it enough time, you’ll be able to connect the dots between cause and effect, that’s when the story emerges.
Too many businesses abandon what might have been a successful strategy had they stick with the original plan. The trick is to focus on getting that first small success to build momentum and confidence.
What are the short-term goals? What are the long-term benefits?
Having a short-term goal allows you to stay on track so you can make adjustments alone the way to get to the final outcome you had in mind.
Think like an analyst, act like a startup
We want to know more about our target customer. We want to know when, where, how and why they clicked on our links.
Historically, customer data is what enable companies to increase the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. But at what cost?
Information has never been so widely available than it is today. The access to data is virtually free but what’s not free is how you translate data into useful insights.
These insights give us actionable steps to take and put behaviors in buckets.
The thing to remember is that all information and data are lagging indicators. They’re good references to help you develop your strategy but ultimately you’re using rational logic on irrational subject matter – human emotions.
It helps to analyze data but Internet marketing strategy requires adaptability.
This means listening to the market then translate the demands of the business environment into an action plan.
Develop your marketing strategy should be like a startup figuring out how to make money or survive until the next round of funding.
Not only do startups have to be nimble, they have to think creatively without just throwing money at their problems.
Social media is the perfect example. Not every brand is ready to let go of their reputation but the choice no longer belongs to the brand. It’s now in the hands of the customer.
This shift in power changes the relationship between business and its customers.
If you can’t change the customer, you have to change your business. Why not make updates to customer service procedures and distribute responsibility across multiple resources?
Change is hard but no business can stay at the top without staying with the rate of change.
Identify potential risks and rewards
Facebook recently rolled out all new Fan Page designs and now may even be phasing out the Share button entirely so how are you ever going to get your return on investment out of something that’s always changing?
This is where you need to make your planning and risk analysis commensurate with the size of your marketing strategy.
For large scale campaigns, contingency plans are critical. Again it comes down to asking the right questions.
If we put our money in A, what’s going to happen to B? If A works, how will we deal with C?
Pay attention to the risk vs reward metrics and know when to cut your losses if a campaign isn’t delivering the result you want. Don’t let your desire to succeed be the enemy of good judgment.
A good place to start is to have a clear justification on the next step with your team’s support or have outside opinions to help bring clarity to your process. Then establish a measurement framework that can be used to determine the value of your activities.
Needless to say, every marketing strategy has its own risks and rewards.
Ask yourself what’s the best scenario? What’s the worse that can happen?
Remember, most successful marketing strategies only works for a short period of time based on things that don’t account for the constantly evolving nature of the market.
When the next Facebook or Groupon shows up, it’s back to the drawing board developing, testing and executing new strategies.
Although all companies face different degrees of these hurdles, knowing how your customer’s behavior is the key to attenuating organizational risk.
Even CMOs worldwide have a dramatic difference in measuring social media ROI. According the eMarketer. “Asked about social media activities with the highest ROI based on older metrics with less of a focus on the bottom line, CMOs were most likely to say they did not know the return from any channel other than their company’s online community. Even Facebook and ratings and reviews, the two top venues with “significant ROI,” failed to win over more than about 15% of respondents..”
As you can see, marketers are trying to justify the value of site traffic, pages views, positive buzz, fans and followers on the impact of conversions.
There is definitely a shift in the way marketers measure social media ROI because in marketing, EVERYTHING is a test.
Know the weaknesses in your strategy
While there are a ton of free valuable content and strategy out there, that to doesn’t’ mean they’ll fit your needs. This is why some marketing strategies fail because of false assumptions based on irrelevant data.
Businesses usually implement Internet marketing strategies and would ask for help for the one of the following three reasons:
- A company tried something, got good results and would like to replicate the result continuously but lacks resources.
- The company is stuck and needs help to make their strategy more profitable and/or want some advice on how to do it (i.e. usually this happens if the strategy is no longer working as well as it has in the past or just can’t keep up with all the changes) and
- Something happened recently and has hurt the strategy’s performance and the company is desperately seeking answers to understand why everything went wrong (i.e. What? Google changed algorithm again and all our SEO disappeared, please help!)
Which brings up an important point – if you don’t know the weak points in your strategy (and execution), it isn’t because they don’t exist but rather you haven’t discovered them yet!
In my experience, no strategy out there doesn’t have some sort of soft spot (or many) whether it’s because it doesn’t work in some niche markets or the audience just isn’t ready for that concept.
For example, according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll shows that both Google and Facebook attract young, affluent, and educated Americans in large numbers. More than half of those are under the age of 50 with a college degrees and making more than $90,000 a year.
It may sound like a good idea to go after audience in those channels but looking into further details you’ll find that the report went on to say that the data does not include “how many times a week they visit the sites or how much time they spend on the sites, meaning this analysis gauges raw audience reach rather than engagement.”
This means that the report is only a high-level overview of the types of users that are in those channels. Not a good indicator.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when making assumptions.
When necessary purchase useful data will save you time and money if you know how to use data to your advantage.
The take away: When looking at your marketing strategy, identify short-term goals that fits into the long-term ROI is where you’ll find value that matches your bottom line.
Many marketing activities are part of an overall strategy that won’t have immediate or direct impact on sales simply because they’re cumulative activities.
Positive marketing ROI are the results of incremental investment in time, money and resources. Just because some activities aren’t part of an ROI calculation, it doesn’t mean their costs shouldn’t be justified.
At the end, it all comes down to this: Business is about continuous profits (doing meaningful transactions) while marketing is about increase profits over time.
And strategy is a process to implement those profit generating activities for the business to measure the effectiveness of its marketing.
So, next time you’re working on a marketing strategy, take the time to ask yourself this simple question – What’s your long-term desire outcome?
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