Are You Confident in Your Marketing Plan’s ROI?

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A successful marketing plan is the sum of many parts.

You need a winning product or service of course, and a team of talented individuals to make it happen.

Key elements to creating a highly successful marketing plan also include a market analysis, target audience insights, strong brand positioning, clear business goals, communication strategies and the ability to measure performance.

Additionally, if you don’t understand the importance of marketing ROI, your chances of success could be limited.

What Is Your Marketing Plan ROI?

Marketing ROI is used to create a better understanding around the marketing campaigns and tactics that work and don’t work for your brand.

Answering questions related to budget-spend versus ROI creates accountability on your part and reveals how well or how poorly your marketing strategies are performing. 

Marketing ROI should focus on improving your marketing activities so they better align with your company’s strategic goals, not just your marketing objectives. Making sure those metrics resonate within your company and support your business drivers will create further transparency and clarity around your marketing efforts.

Here’s the very basic equation companies use to measure a marketing campaign’s ROI:  

ROI = (Revenue – Marketing Investment) / Marketing Investment 

The 3 Benefits of Using ROI to Fuel Your Marketing Plan  

We’ve already covered the most obvious benefit of focusing on ROI when creating a marketing plan: it helps ensure you see positive returns and it helps you to course-correct when you don’t.

However, that’s not the only reason it pays to consider ROI when developing your marketing plan. Here are three more:

1. Prioritizing ROI Means Prioritizing Accountability

Most companies marketing plans feature a number of moving parts. This means that numerous strategies, agencies and tactics can be responsible for a brand’s marketing success.

Sure, it’s excellent to see positive financial returns, but it’s often difficult to repeat those results – much less improve on them – if you don’t know what was responsible for the success.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

According to the Nielsen 2018 CMO Report, only 1-in-4 marketers are highly-confident they can quantify ROI and, what’s more, 79% of respondents reported that they plan to invest more in their attribution tools and analytics, so they know where their biggest wins are coming from – and where they can cut their losses.

For example, it might look like pay-per-click (PPC) ads are delivering the best results for your business because they result in the most conversions; yet, you might find through further analysis that although your content marketing produces fewer conversions, those customers that do convert lead to much larger returns.

It’s thus important to consider ROI when evaluating the results of each marketing program so you can feel confident in the performance of individual strategies and tactics.   

2. Prioritizing ROI Means Setting Expectations for What Can Actually Be Measured

As they say, what gets measured gets improved. As marketers, if we can quantify current performance then we can measure how programs are contributing to growth over a period of time.

For example, we often need to explain how writing blogs for our company website or running a product giveaway on Instagram contributes to growth. Well, if an ROI-centric approach is taken, then we start by identifying the proper key performance indicators (KPIs) as a first step toward measurable improvement. Since each marketing tactic must ladder up to a greater marketing strategy, and, ultimately, a higher business goal with financial impact, it’s important to determine how each activity contributes to the broader objectives, which activities can actually be measured effectively and how they will be measured. Once it’s clear how each marketing tactic will be measured, we are one step closer to understanding the full marketing plan’s return on investment.

3. Prioritizing ROI Means Using Benchmarks to Set Realistic Goals

This is all about using the data you already have to develop metrics for success, track and optimize along the way. Look at things like Google Analytics, social and sharing metrics, audience and shopper data, sales and/or retailer data, and even 3rd party syndicated data to inform your goals and strategies. 

If you’re lacking any of that information, you can pursue quantitative and qualitative research techniques to gather the data. 

The bottom line is that taking an ROI-based approach means using and evaluating existing data to inform your marketing strategies and measure their effectiveness.

Once you have this ROI approach set up, you can look to build an attribution model for the future of your business. An attribution model quantifies the sales impact of your marketing activities. Based on your past marketing spend and sales, attribution modeling can help you optimize your future spend and maximize your return on investment.

Start with ROI to Improve Your Marketing Plan

Having an ROI based approach to marketing planning is the best way you can be sure to know what strategies and tactics are working to increase profitability and growth.

Otherwise, you’re most likely just using intuition and educated guesses to account for performance – rather than a winning approach based on real data.

Is Market Research Protected from the “Robots”?

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The rise of machine learning is hard to ignore. It’s happening fast. For the vast majority of digital marketers and forward-thinking companies, it’s an exciting time.

However, there are some concerns over the big picture.

As more companies adopt automated market research and AI, what does the future really look like for business? Moreover, how will it affect the people doing those jobs today?

The reality is, we can all gain a lot from embracing automation.

4 Benefits of Automated Market Research

Automation has been disrupting marketing for quite some time, and the benefits are already clear:

1.    Saves Time

We at E29 have been working with a number of automated market research technology providers for some time now. ZappiStore is one such provider that we’ve had tremendous success with.

Together, we’ve sought to improve the results of concept testing for a number of our less established clients who have significant innovations looming, but whose timelines to market are tight. With automated market research in play, we’ve been able to aid them in making key decisions, often in less than a week.

2.    Improves Accuracy

One of the most widespread uses of automation in market research is in data analytics.

Companies can track users onsite behaviors to gain deep insights into the needs and interests of their audience.

This enables ecommerce companies to tailor brand messaging and offer targeted product recommendations that get more engagement, and ultimately, more conversions.

3.    Audience Growth

With online surveys, your business can curate a global audience of tens of thousands, either in targeted locations or spread across the world.

4.    Marketing ROI

Automation is typically cheaper than traditional marketing methods. With fewer overheads, automated market research reaps a higher ROI on spend.

The Role of Humans With Automated Market Research

Research indicates that 93% of people view AI as a huge opportunity, while 7% consider it to be a threat, as many believe AI will be doing their job better than them within the next 10 years.

The buzz around machine learning and digital transformative technologies is understandable, however, it’s important to keep it in perspective.  

On its own, automation technology still lacks a degree of sophistication. It is only when humans perform deeper analysis on data that the value of the research can be measured.

Take, for example, the instance of an automated survey or interview. Sure, you can garner a wealth of information from numerous participants in a short space of time. However, automation alone is not yet at a point where it can probe or clarify points beyond the basic insights. Without a human present, creative thought is absent.

There’s no doubt that automated tools do enhance our ability to conduct qualitative analysis, which in turn gives marketers the power to improve their campaigns.

That being said, machines aren’t able to connect the dots without us – yet.  

We Must Adapt and Embrace Automation Technology to Our Advantage

The people with the biggest concerns about the dawn of a new era in digital marketing are those who are currently working in market research.

Given that machine learning is already faster, more accurate, and more organized with data than any human could ever dream of, it’s easy to understand why some people are fearing for their jobs.

But they shouldn’t consider this with a doom-and-gloom outlook.

Instead, we should look to adapt and find new opportunities alongside automation.

Many people are already doing that, with 50% of people considering upskilling. Others are finding new roles where they can use automation in their job, rather than be supplanted by it.

For now, automation in market research is an innovative strategy that all businesses can leverage and profit from. But it cannot fulfill its potential without humans.

Learning how to work with these new technologies will set people and businesses up for a prosperous future.

Why Social Media Reach is Really Dying

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Having trouble reaching your audience on social media?

You’re not alone.

Over the past decade, social media marketing has become one of the most powerful tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit, allowing businesses to build an audience with relative ease.

However, times are changing, and it’s no longer easy.

Social media reach is being hampered by several factors, from saturated markets to an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Now, your company must adapt to survive.

How the Facebook Algorithm Has Changed the Game for Marketers

At the start of 2018, Facebook announced some big changes were afoot.

The platform was to shift focus back to connecting people, rather than giving preference to media consumption.

The new algorithm effectively put marketing content in the backseat, which was bad news for marketers hoping to grow their brand on social media.

Since then, some companies have reacted well, while others have made some mistakes. Specifically, they’ve bought into the widespread belief that organic social media reach is dead. 

One of the Most Harmful Social Media Marketing Trends

Research from BuzzSumo found that content engagement on social media has dropped by 50% since 2015. With less interaction on their posts, many companies have turned their attentions to other marketing streams, such as email.

While that in itself holds vast potential for building a loyal audience, you shouldn’t close the book on social media marketing just yet.

A common trend now is for companies to manage their social media marketing in-house, as opposed to hiring an agency. While this certainly cuts on costs, there are drawbacks to employing an avid social media user fresh-out-of-college.

Sure, they’ll know a few things that the rest of the office might not, but when it comes to strategy and marketing skills, you could find yourself falling behind the competition.

Unfortunately, many small businesses persist with this venture, which more often than not, leads to a flood of low-quality content that delivers little return on investment (ROI).

5 Strategies to Boost Social Media Reach in 2018

So, just how can your business deal with the issue of declining social media reach?

Here’s what you should be doing:

1.    Video

When Facebook say video content boosts engagement, it’s worth taking note.

Facebook Live is another option. Although it doesn’t have the same social media reach as native videos do, studies indicate it still trounces text posts.

Native or live, video content is the indisputable king of content now, and it’s here to stay.

2.    Visuals

From GIFs to infographics, catchy images to thought-provoking photos, visuals make a big difference to your content, as proven by the 87% increase in engagement.

3.    Ask for Engagement

Sometimes, to get more likes and shares, all you need to do is ask. But beware of bait-like posts. Instead, aim to incite genuine discussion and conversation.

4.    Paid Ads

With social media reach on the wane, many marketers are exploring paid advertising.

Facebook ads don’t cost much, and with some clever strategy, you can target specific segments of your audience. Ultimately, this ensures your content reaches the people you really want it to.    

5.    Use Brand Advocates

Social media marketing still has the power to build networks. By reaching out to friends, family, and trusted associates, you can get help to amplify your content.

Teams who post their content on personal pages can harness this potential, as people are 16 times as likely to engage in content from a friend rather than a brand.

Quality Over Quantity Is What Matters In Social Media Marketing

Social media reach is not what it was, but it isn’t quite dead yet.

The game has changed, and companies must evolve with it.

Focus more on quality rather than quantity.

By embracing new social media marketing strategies, your company can still build a strong brand on social platforms. Over time, these methods will deliver a solid ROI, and help you achieve real growth.

5 Unique Benefits of Small Agencies for Big Brands

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E29 Larkspur Office

In recent years, there has been a major shift in the way companies outsource their marketing needs. More and more big brands are deciding to work with small agencies, which begs the question:

Why?

Just what can these smaller agencies offer that larger agencies with greater resources cannot?

Let’s find out.

5 Factors That Influence How Big Brands Choose Agencies

As agencies grow over time, there is a tendency for the quality of their work to suffer, and big brands suddenly find themselves pushed to the back of an ever-growing queue.

Here are some key benefits of small agencies that big brands should consider.

1. Small Agencies Are More Committed

Small agencies have fewer resources to attract big contracts.

When they get one worth having, they go above and beyond to deliver the goods. They are more passionate and more eager to please.

The CEO of Ten35, Ahmad Islam explains that you just don’t get that same level of focus from larger agencies.

2. Smaller Agencies Deliver Faster Results

In bigger operations, there is much more red tape to wade through. From various personnel and processes, to elongated chains of communication and approval.

For big brands who want a quick turnaround, dealing with large agencies can be frustrating. Turning your focus to work with smaller, more nimble agency teams is just the tonic.

In the digital age, staying agile is vital.

It’s important to adopt this concept in your marketing campaigns, and you will be more flexible to react to changes in the market with a smaller agency.

3. They Are More Transparent

Paid advertising is increasingly important nowadays. But just because businesses know they must invest in advertising doesn’t mean they are willing to hand over complete control of their finances, with no questions asked.

Forbes believes that transparency can help build better companies, and even big brands with deep pockets want to know their money is going to good use.

Smaller agencies are usually more transparent, making it easier to see the true return on investment (ROI) you are getting.

4. Cost Is More Reasonable

Big agencies tend to charge higher prices, without offering any added value. Once you’re on board, there’s no knowing who is actually working on your project, and if they are really “experts.”

Smaller agencies aren’t just transparent with their pricing, but also with the talent they have available. You may well meet the team before striking a deal, and can be more confident of the value for money you are getting.

5. They Are More Consistent

Typically, working with big agencies involves several points of contact. You might discuss options with one person, sign a contract with another, and then never hear from them again as you’re passed along the assembly line.

While large agencies have a higher turnover, small agencies tend to keep the same core team together for longer.

You have more chance of getting a dedicated team and constant point of contact this way, and over time, you’ll develop a relationship with the team.

It’s Better to Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

One of the overarching benefits of small agencies, is that big brands will become their top priority. By choosing to work with a small team, you can receive all the time and attention your business needs.

You will form stronger ties with a small team, facilitating a better working relationship that delivers faster results, and a greater overall ROI for your investment.

Also, a smaller agency will grow to know your brand intimately. Their collaborative nature breeds greater productivity, which makes small agencies a greater asset for growing your business in the long-term.