A regular subject of debate in a company boardroom after the annual financial review is how to spend its disposable income and of course, which department ought to get the lion’s share. Once that figure is on the table everyone, quite rightly, has a vested interest in claiming as much as they can. However, in recent years, even small to medium sized companies have come to realize that whatever else, to attract and secure new business, they must have a well-planned marketing strategy and ideally, a competent inbound partner to make sure they are truly plugged into the modern web-centred market place. Once that budget is fixed, the next step is to organize how that money is spent bearing in mind three basic factors that will affect the result. First, of course, is the size of the budget. Second, are the company’s objectives, i.e. how much is it hoping to grow and finally what customer numbers does that translate into. Clear numerical figures are a big a factor in assessing just how successful a campaign will be.
The exact amount varies of course depending on the size of the company. According to Entrepreneur.com they usually suggest “for companies 5-years old or less, 12 to 20 percent of gross revenue and for older well-established brands, they suggest 6 to 20 percent”. Whichever the case, the next step is to decide how much goes where. The main areas of interest are Website, Branding, Content, Social Media and Advertising.
Once the numbers have been crunched, a selection of digital tools are available to optimize a company’s opportunities to grow customer numbers including analytics software, various strategies, optimizers and tools all revolving mostly around the digital side of a company’s communication and sales facets including Email, website, social media, content, video and of course, storytelling.
Even if your funds are limited, there are many important tools that are available for free including software, printed advertising, piggybacking online through ad placement, and of course email campaigns. In today’s business environment, even small companies should have a presence on the web through a dynamic and attractive website supported by a hosting service with the wherewithal to help them make the most of their online assets. However, as inbound marketing usually has quite a significant impact on a company’s client-catching performance, your company should be considering specialized all-in-one software packages that will efficiently carry out your strategies and give you detailed feedback on whether it’s working.
Social Media is the most straightforward of today’s platforms and requires monitoring and constant updating to stay on top of trends. Therefore to maximize its effect on your ROI, all-in-one software such as HootSuite and Buffer offer effectiveness-monitors and help attract attention to your brand.
Websites are essential, so a good website design and outlay is a vital prerequisite to anything that comes after. Aside from recouping design, registration and subscription costs, capturing and landing new business is possible through website Content Management Systems and a number are free of charge like WordPress. However, to take things to a whole new level, you need search engine optimization, which is part and parcel of the specialized services offered by premium services such as HubSpot and Sitecore. These include targeted plans, on-going assessment tools, lead generation plans, online digital presence, ecommerce facilities and premium content instruments.
Analytics is where number crunching comes back into play and data is the new name of the game. Knowing who is interested in your website (ergo your brand), in what numbers and where they came from is called track value metrics and is an incredible source of useable information. The best known is Google Analytics, a web traffic reporting service that also helps convert that traffic into leads and potential clients. If you’ve got a website, then you Google Analytics is a given. To dig deeper into the back alleys of visitor behaviour, software like Hot jar will show you exactly how a visitor is interacting with your website, including mobile access and jumping on and off pages.
Good Content is what bring visitors to your site, keeps them there and brings them back, so aside from inputting relevant up-to-date and useful information on your website, good graphics software such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud makes it a pleasant place to visit. Good content and good graphics is how you optimize your website.
Email Marketing is still a force to be reckoned with and as such deserves a dedicated system to make the most of your contact database. Software like Mail Chimp or Campaign Monitor is designed to monitor the relevance and design of your content, offers client segmentation, address triage, compliance with major email providers and performance reports.
Video Marketing can be disseminated for free over channels like YouTube which is the second largest search engine and also happens to be owned by Google. According to SocialMediaToday "100 million users watch online videos everyday". Optimized graphics, viewer analytics software (e.g Wister), embedding, social media sharing and so on are necessary if your production is ever going to be seen.
Landing Pages, Lead capture, Calls to Action all are best handled by specialized platforms like HubSpot if time is at a premium. There are untold number of services that handle each of the various options available to inbound marketers, such as platforms like Unbouncy, Bedrock Data & Hodja, but depending on your inhouse facilities and budget, it can actually prove to be more cost and time effective to have them all under one roof and all seamlessly integrated.
The budget and the effectiveness of a strategy are the two basic criteria in play. However, the time available to achieve strategy goals will greatly affect their outcome, so rather than focus only on what can be included in the marketing budget, a company really ought to consider what should be included in order to maximize that outcome.