Once you have a marketing process up and running that’s producing leads and creating real revenue opportunities for your sales team, you might be tempted to think that the marketing team’s job is finished…
The reality is that marketing’s job is never done, because marketing teams should always be measuring, analyzing, improving upon their existing efforts. By failing to spend time on optimization, marketing teams are essentially leaving money on the table, and they’re missing out on a huge opportunity to learn and improve. As advertising pioneer David Ogilvy once put it:
“Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”
That same principle holds true not just for advertising, but for all of your marketing channels. In this section, our experts share their optimization secrets and explore how, with a few tweaks, you can increase conversion rates and improve overall performance.
Experts quoted in this section:
A Framework for Figuring Out What’s Working (And What Isn’t)
Break down all of your marketing channels, landing pages, and content along the following two dimensions: traffic and conversion rate. Then, categorize them all into one of four quadrants:
1. High traffic, high conversions:
You’re winning along both dimensions. Your only worry is losing it. So monitor both your traffic and conversion rate to make sure that it’s not declining, and constantly run tests to see if you can optimize either dimension.
2. High traffic, low conversions:
You have traffic exceeding 100,000 visitors, but you need to increase conversion. You have enough traffic to A/B test and execute on standard best practices to drive up your conversion rate.
3. Low traffic, high conversions:
You’re getting conversions, but not many of them. You need to increase your top-of-funnel to turn your high conversion rate into a significant number of new signups.
4. Low traffic, low conversions:
You’re struggling along both dimensions. Your path to success goes in order
of first getting more traffic so that you can A/B test, and then increasing your conversion rate.
Fundamentally, this framework helps you break down your marketing problem so that you can employ one of the most basic rules of marketing: Figure out what’s working and then do more of it.
3 Keys to Improving Performance
I’ve logged over 300 miles in running races over 8 years, and just in this past year started to see some small improvements in my 5ks and half marathons. Suddenly, I started asking, “How much faster could I run a half marathon? Could I translate these improvements to longer distances?
According to Derek Bouchard-Hall, CEO of USA Cycling, ‘At the elite level a 3% performance improvement in 12 months is attainable but very difficult. For the USA Women’s Team Pursuit Team, they had only 11 months and needed 4.5% improvement which would require them to perform at a new world record time (4.12 / 15.4 Lap Average). The coach could account for the 3% in physiological improvement but needed technology to bring the other 1.5%. He focused in two area: Equipment (Bike/Tire, Wind Tunnel training) and Real-Time Analytic Training Insights.’
As you consider how to improve an area of your business, keep in mind these three things from the USA Cycling project with IBM Bluemix:
Set well-defined goals. Or, as business expert Stephen Covey would say, “always begin with the end in mind.” USA cycling clearly articulated they needed to increase performance by 4.5%, and that would take more than a coach.
Choice and implementation of technology matters. Choose the tools that will not only deliver data and insights, but do so in a timely and relevant manner for your business. Data alone doesn’t equal guidance. You must review the data, and with your colleagues, your coach, your running buddy – set clear, executable actions.
Learning From High-Growth Companies
This past June we released the results of a survey of more than 500 marketing leaders covering marketing metrics, demand gen channel strategy and its effectiveness, tech stack, organizational structure and more. The respondents ranged from seed to growth stage executives, but the vast majority were expansion stage software leaders.
Taking a deeper look at our survey results, we uncovered key attributes shared by respondents from the fastest growing companies – among which revenue grew by more than 50% year over year.
So what exactly did we find? These companies were statistically significantly more likely to:
Leverage attribution to track marketing spend:
Attribution – identifying a marketing campaign’s impact on customer acquisition – is the key to unlocking smart growth. The fastest growing companies are 30% more likely to leverage attribution models to understand the effectiveness of their spend.
Implement lead scoring based on two or more attributes:
Lead scoring is almost always born out of necessity. At the expansion stage, as companies shift from product development to customer development, they experience a surge of leads, but have limited resources to move these leads through the funnel.
Run continuous marketing experiments:
The majority of the fastest growing companies we surveyed have run at least 3 marketing experiments in the past 3 months. The takeaway here isn’t that 3 is the magic number (although some marketers may argue it is). The point is, the fastest growing companies adopt a ‘test and learn culture’.
The Limitations of Closed Advertising Ecosystems (Like Facebook)
The strategic and operational downside of closed ecosystems is that
they increase costs and prevent brands from reaching consumers across
channels. They leave marketers with a dangerous blind spot… Advertisers
are unable to reconcile their own data across disparate ecosystems, nor
to orchestrate integrated omnichannel customer experiences.
Closed ecosystems detrimentally blur the lines between players (media
sellers) and referees (media performance and measurement technology companies). As a result, advertisers lose their ability to understand how their marketing is performing across all of these siloes.
Marketers will continue to operate in a fragmented world of both open and closed ecosystems, with varying degrees of transparency and data access. To get by, they need buy-side tools that allow them to keep their sell-side partners honest, and to understand the value of each media channel in relation to others.
How valuable is a Facebook newsfeed ad versus an ad on the open ecosystem? How to decide on search investments versus the 30-second TV ad? How can marketers determine that the investment mix in their plan is driven by normalized outcomes across all their channels, and prove with certainty how their media investments are delivering returns for their business? Neutral third-party measurement tools are needed to help level the playing field.
The Future of Content Marketing
I think content marketing isn’t going to be whitepapers and blog posts for very much longer.
The way people are thinking about content is changing. Businesses are starting to go beyond the current best practices and simply checking the boxes. More people are taking a design thinking approach; they have a problem that needs a solution, they find the ideal solution, and then they
work back from there.
Marketers are starting to build content in much better ways for their end-users than they have in the past. The types of content, how they’re distributed, is changing.
Also, I would love to see more and better video. That’s a superpower if a brand can do video well. It is game changing for a business. It can be an expensive channel, but it can also be incredibly powerful.