Remember the days when marketing was always the first department to be downsized when the budget was tight? When it was considered a luxury as opposed to a necessity? Luckily, times have changed, and more companies are realizing that marketing is, in fact, a necessary investment in the business. And like most investments, you want a return on marketing investment that kicks butt. So how do you determine the most effective marketing channels to invest for your industry that will give you the best possible return on your funds? Here’s how:
Step 1) Analyze Your Industry
Before you can determine the best inbound marketing channels for you, it’s necessary to do some thorough market research. Start with analyzing your industry and understanding:
- Who are the primary players in the business?
- What marketing channels are they using and how effectively?
- Where do your target customers typically get their information from?
- How do your customers usually choose their product or service provider?
- What are the audience’s buying habits?
- What media options are best suited to your type of advertising?
Once you have this data available, you can verify any decisions you make about your inbound marketing program.
Step 2) Identify Your Marketing Objectives
Deciding where to invest your marketing dollars depends on knowing what you want to achieve. You’ll need to use one type of marketing to generate leads and a different method to build thought leadership and an expert reputation. Do you want to build awareness of your brand, or actually make sales? Each particular campaign is likely to have different objectives and therefore requires the use of different marketing channels.
Step 3) Study the Statistics
You wouldn’t invest in company shares without doing your homework, would you? So would you allocate precious funds to marketing without knowing the type of return on investment that each channel typically delivers? Of course not. Study the information available for the channels you have in mind and see how effective they are for reaching the target audience and the average response that marketers get from using them. Follow the money trail and determine where your competitors are spending their budgets. Some of this information can be obtained from the channels themselves. Other information may need to come from industry reports and independent research activities.
Step 4) Map Channels to Your Needs
By this point you should have a clear idea of:
- The channels that other players in your industry use
- The return on investment those channels claim to offer marketers
- The statistical evidence of whether they deliver results or not
Map the channels to your particular needs. For example, if one of your major inbound marketing objectives is to raise brand awareness among a particular sector, an online publication that’s read by decision-makers in the industry might do the trick. However, if your objective is to build a mailing list of consumers to whom you can send notifications of special promotions then implementing a content marketing campaign using sophisticated lead generation software might be a better bet for you.
Step 5) Measure Performance
Nothing succeeds like success. And failure begets, well – failure! The point is, unless you know how your investment in a particular channel is doing, there’s no way to determine if it’s proving effective or not. Set up analytics on everything you do. Pull reports regularly to keep a finger on the pulse of your marketing activities. Compare the results of your marketing expenditure versus your income. Identify where your new customers come from and record the number—and value—of the new business they bring.
Step 6) Adapt or Die
Having performance information is great, but it doesn’t help unless you use it. Until then it’s like a moose-head on the wall: interesting to look at and relatively useless. Examine the data and identify what’s working where, and then adapt the less effective activities according to your conclusions. If your guest blogging activities are working well but your Pay-Per-Click ads aren’t, then boost your investment of blog-writing time and reduce the PPC spend. Then it’s a cycle of wash, rinse and repeat. Each time you adjust, you need to re-evaluate the results, figure out how much ROI you’re getting and see how you can make it better.
The only way to determine which marketing channels you should invest in is by doing due diligence before, during and after the process. Following these steps will help you to ensure you don’t overlook anything vital, and enable you will keep on top of your marketing activities on a daily basis.