Where to Start with Your Online Marketing Mix
For our first post on this blog I think it’s apropos that we talk about marketing channels and the online marketing mix. Every marketer reading this is familiar with the online marketing mix. If you are not, then check it out here. The thing that is always on the mind of a marketer is, “Where are my customers?” And by customers, I mean people/companies that are spending money with your firm. That is the goal, right? You are hoping to get your products and services in front of people. And you hope those people find them valuable and willing to spend money on them.
Because of this, you have to have your finger in a number of pies. This is to diversify your lead sources and find your next winner. This is the reason few companies use just one or two channels. Frankly, whether you know it or not, you are already using many channels.
Passive Marketing Channels (potentially)
Some of these channels are going to be in your online marketing mix, whether you pay attention to them or not. Channels such as organic search are always there. Unless you noindex your entire website, you cannot avoid this. Others are more passive such as social (organic) and directories. The ones you probably think about are the ones where you overtly spend time and money. These are paid advertising, email, and social media management (community building), and social advertising.
If you do not spend resources on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you are still showing up in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Those are probably the only ones a US company should be concerned with right now but there are many search engines out there. Simply having a Facebook page can lead customers to find you. Of course, those that see value in these categories actively work their SEO and organic social channels.
Active Marketing Channels
Then there are those in your online marketing mix that you are actively looking to generate business from their channels. Not only do they spend resources on things like SEO and community building on social, but they:
- Run paid advertising campaigns
- Search engine marketing (Google AdWords, Bing Ads, etc.)
- Social ads (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Manage email marketing campaigns
- Run promos on deal sites (LivingSocial, Groupon)
- Manage referral programs (link/traffic exchange)
- Offer affiliate programs (paid commissions)
- And probably a bunch of other channels but I can’t cover everything in this post J
All of this is the endeavor to come up with the best recipe for revenues – right now – given what is at your disposal.
Why not put resources into ALL internet marketing channels?
An obvious thought would be simply set up every channel you can imagine and work them all to get maximum revenues out of them. Easy enough – and if you had unlimited resources then that would be the only solution everyone would use. Resources (time, money, labor) are finite though so you have to pick your battles.
This is where the skill in crafting your recipe comes into play. Channel effectiveness is often specific to vertical, seasonality, geography, or other factors. Once you figure out what your online marketing mix should be, you need to implement it. That’s fairly straightforward once you create a strategy for each. Once deployed, it’s all about measuring success. After that, it’s making decisions as to which ones are winners, which ones are losers, and which ones need adjustments.
Collecting data is critical to this process. Without hard data, you are really just guessing. Attribute every lead, opportunity, and sale to one or more channels. This justifies the investment and exposes risk to not continuing the use of said channel. No data = no good decisions. The good news is that your boss loves hard numbers so when you do use data to back up your recommendations the conversation goes a lot easier.
You’ve got to be a bit of a mad scientist with your online marketing mix
You are always going to have certain channels that you are confident are safe bets as well as those that you have to adopt for one reason or another. Add those to the mix and launch them. Then there are the ones that are not so obvious.
You have to experiment with lots of channels in order to find your hidden gems in your market. You also need to test certain channels that you learn about but really do not have any idea if they will pan out. New channels come and go every day so you need to keep an eye open for them.
This kind of behavior is good. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know you don’t know it. Good data is necessary to help guide your decisions. You don’t want to waste six months of spend on a channel that’s not yielding well. You could put that money on different channels that do– or use that money to experiment on another channel.
That’s it, right? Once I have figure it out, we’re good to go, right?
Unfortunately, no. These channels are constantly changing. Like any marketing effort, it is subject to time, competition, and marketing trends. The early movers on any channel could see great success early on. That’s why they move first. It’s risk vs. reward.
Sometimes, the channels do not yield fruit. It’s good to know that early so you can get out early and move on to the next channel. There are not an infinite number of channels out there, however, within each channel there could be sub-channels. You could run one Google AdWords campaign – or you could run 20. If they are well structured and all have discrete purposes, there is no reason not to. Figuring out the ones that are not worth it frees you up to focus on the ones that are.
Revise, Revise, Revise
Remember what I said before about
- figuring out where your audience is
- determining the channels to reach them on
- new channels emerging all the time
Once other companies in your space start to figure out a channel is having success for their competitors, they will want to do it as well. Can you blame them? Figuring this out is hard work. Companies keep this information confidential to the best of their abilities. Being in the business of being found makes this tough though. Ironic, I know.
That increases competition and drives up cost per click/acquisition/conversion/call/what have you. All of a sudden, your low budgets that were showing you great yields may not be enough. This will lower ROI. You will need to adjust your online marketing mix now.
And it starts all over again.
There is no one perfect, sustainable recipe for any company. The recipe you have this year could look very different next year. It is up to the marketer to keep up with the changes and make adjustments before their competitors do. This is never going to end. That’s what marketers do.
You need to control what you can control. In this case, it’s the intelligence that you get from the sales process, specifically attribution. If you are tying all of your prospects/leads/opportunities/sales to the appropriate channels, you know if your efforts are in the right places. This minimizes wasted resources and frees you up to look at the next opportunity. The big takeaway here is: Really understand where your sales are coming from. Analytics is imperative. The game has changed.