The good news? Measuring that ROI is arguably easier than ever for small businesses. By stressing efficiency and using the right tools, uncovering and tracking new leads, traffic and revenue don’t have to feel like a guessing game.
Making it all happen starts with a process of defining what positive results look like and identifying the most efficient paths to achieving those results.
For business leaders, this means making each and every marketing touchpoint, message and published asset count, so you know you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Instead of blindly throwing time and money at what “should” work, teams need to look inward to figure out how they can deliver more value.
Below I’ve outlined what a smooth, streamlined marketing strategy looks like in 2018 and beyond.
No tricks, no gimmicks or “hacks” here. Just five simple steps businesses of any size can follow to ensure their marketing efforts are as ROI-positive as possible.
1. Look before you leap
Prior to spending a dime or diving into any sort of marketing program, you need to have a plan.
And remember, there’s a huge difference between brainstorming a vague or unattainably lofty marketing plan that you may never actually execute and mapping out your SMART goals.
Unclear goals like “growing your audience” or “driving engagement” might sound nice, but what do they actually mean?
For example, there’s a huge difference between “sending cold emails” and “sending 25 cold emails per day to a list of targeted prospects, to grow our customer base by 10% by the end of the quarter.”
Whether you’re talking about growing revenue, driving traffic or anything between, your team needs to have specific objectives in mind. In short, something you can measure. When you have a metric to track (think: dollar signs, funnel volume, or percentages), it’s much easier to assess how you’re doing and correct the course.
Similarly, roles need to be assigned to hold your team accountable when it’s time to roll out a campaign.
Who’s overseeing the campaign? Who’s going to track metrics? How long is the project going to last? What external stakeholders and platforms need to be involved?
When these points are defined, you are in position to work toward an end-game instead of spinning your wheels in pursuit of “results.”
2. Automate those repetitive tasks
There’s a reason why businesses both big and small are investing in automation like never before.
For starters, businesses that automate marketing tasks grow 1.6% faster than those that rely on human resources alone. Marketing in any shape or form can be cripplingly time-consuming. The ability to put even some of your marketing activity on autopilot is huge in a day and age where lack of time is the number one burden on today’s teams.
Also, these tasks can grow tedious for your colleagues. Crafting social post after social post, email after email or report after report is a surefire road to burning out even the brightest of marketers over time.
Not only does automation keep your team engaged, it also helps people emphasize their respective strengths. Let your star blogger focus on writing rather than metrics. Let your best salesperson worry about closing leads rather than finding them on social media.
With the right platforms on deck, you can remove non-essential tasks from people’s plates and allow them to get down to business.
But what exactly does effective marketing automation look like? Let’s take a quick look at some tools today’s top teams are using to streamline the tasks that eat up so much of their precious time.
Your marketing campaigns absolutely must be data-driven, but making sense of your data to others in your company can be a headache. That’s why tools like SuperMetrics are such lifesavers for marketers looking to clearly define the ROI of their marketing campaigns for their teams and management alike.
Image Source: SuperMetrics
With the ability to run scheduled imports of your marketing data from Google Analytics, social media and ad platforms to one pre-formatted spreadsheet, you can spend less time bouncing between reports and more time, well, marketing.
Brands today are not only tasked with creating and boosting their own content, but also promoting the content of fellow industry players and influencers.
The process of finding and promoting that content is no small feat, though. This is especially true considering that brands are expected to promote content multiple times per day across multiple platforms.
That’s why tools such as Quuu are invaluable. This tool finds hand-picked content on your behalf, based on your niche topic selections, and packages it for you to promote.
Image Source: Quuu
Speaking of social media, this is possibly the number one marketing channel when it comes to professionals’ difficulty to assess ROI. After all, marketers can spend hours going back and forth with customers or leads without resulting in a single sale, or sales can come extremely quickly, but via “dark” click throughs.
Tools such as Socedo, on the other hand, help transform your social presence into something measurable and actionable (think: SMART). Want to find relevant audience members who match your criteria for qualified leads? Want to funnel more Twitter traffic to your site? Want to engage your social products from all angles? No problem.
Image Source: G2Crowd2crowd
Simply put, Socedo takes the question marks out of your social media ROI without sinking all of your time.
3. Make the most of your meetings
Meetings are a crucial component of tracking your progress, but they can quickly eat away at your schedule if you aren’t careful. This is true when coordinating internally and with customers alike.
Think about it. How many times in the past month has a 20-minute call or check-in devolved into an hour-long back-and-forth session that didn’t yield any actionable takeaways?
Much like your SMART goals, meetings demand defined purposes. Saying that you’re simply going to talk about a campaign isn’t going to cut it.
Instead, you’re going to need to be specific, to-the-point and prepared prior to a meeting. Some quick tips for making your meetings more effective.…
- Define your talking points and schedule in a written agenda. This helps cut down on tangents and moves the discussion from Point A to Point B, lickety-split.
- Conclude with action items. Everyone involved needs a takeaway task from any given meeting, something to hold them accountable.
- Follow up on action items. Much like you review performance metrics, revisiting the results of a previous meeting is what’s going to make your discussions “stick.”
Meetings are absolutely necessary, but businesses today shouldn’t use them as an excuse to waste time. It’s all about finding a balance between saying what needs to be said and taking action.
4. Eliminate wasteful spending ASAP
Marketing is becoming more and more of a pay-to-play game. Facebook’s algorithm changes are just the tip of the iceberg.
As a result, businesses need to be especially careful with their budgets. This means choosing the right platforms, outsourcing roles where appropriate and making the most of the impactful free platforms that you still have available.
That said, how do you ensure that the money that you do decide to spend doesn’t go to waste? If your goal is to become a more frugal marketer in the future, you’re on the right track.
Fortunately, there are plenty of proven strategies to boost your business that don’t require a massive financial investment.
A shining example is thought leader Andy Crestodina’s zero-waste principle of collaborating on content with influencers who will be happy to share your content when it goes live. Don’t neglect the power of relationships when it comes to moving the needle with marketing.
Of course, there are tools out there to help you manage your marketing spend, too. Services like Siftery can effectively break down how much you’re spending on any given subscription marketing platform and suggest cost-friendly alternatives to keep your budget in check.
Image Source: Siftery
Also, consider strategies such as using a Facebook Pixel to effectively track each ad campaign’s visitors and leads as they interact with your brand. Rather than constantly chase new business, this type of measurement allows you to make sure your campaigns are optimized for sales – and to make the most of those who are already familiar with you by using retargeting and lookalikes.
These sorts of solutions enable a marketing strategy that’s both cost-effective and focused on accountability.
5. Learn to avoid distractions and find your flow
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of being controlled by tech as you ramp up your business’s marketing campaigns.
Think about. Emails. Phone calls. Texts. Notifications.
They pour in day after day, don’t they? While you may see them as business as usual, these sorts of pulses can be incredibly distracting. Rather than live “in the moment” of distractions, marketers must focus on long-term goals.
Cutting down on distractions means establishing dedicated timetables to take care of tasks, versus spending all day “putting out fires,” by checking emails, project management tool notifications or social updates.
Image Source: Business Insider
Whether it’s a Chrome extension to block distracting sites or a built-in Pomodoro timer for your desktop, consider investing in some time management apps to maximize your productivity. You can even create your own version of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix to break down what you want done versus what needs to be done.
The takeaway here? In order to avoid time-wasting, you must prioritize your tasks and find your flow ASAP.
Truly efficient marketing comes from a thought-out combination of tactics and tools.
Make every minute and dollar count. Focus on objectives and priorities instead of “what-if”s. Scale what works and drop what doesn’t.
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This five-step strategy is possible for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Don’t assume that a well-oiled marketing team is beyond your reach – these principles can be your pillars, even as the marketing landscape continues to change.
Guest author: Vikas Agrawal is a start-up Investor & co-founder of the Infographic design agency Infobrandz that offers creative and premium visual content solutions to medium to large companies. Content created by Infobrandz are loved, shared & can be found all over the internet on high authority platforms like HuffingtonPost, Businessinsider, Forbes , Tech.co & EliteDaily.