Lately the media seem to be rubbing everyone’s faces in the “slower economy”. I don’t like it. It gets people in the wrong frame of mind, thinking contractionary thoughts rather than expansionary ones.
So it seems there’s a recession on… but I’m refusing to participate.
It’s true that there are fewer dollars being spent on certain so called “luxury” items, but all is not doom and gloom, especially in the online space. On the macro-level, the indicators look strong.
A recent report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers Europe comments that while a contracting economy normally reduces total media spend, investment in online marketing and media continues to increase rapidly:
“…overall online advertising growth is expected to slow down to about 20% according to the Advertising Association. While this is still a very strong growth rate, far stronger than other forms of offline advertising, this represents a slowdown compared with last year’s growth rate of 38%.”
So we can still expect 20% growth in online spend this year.
Another perspective – online was the third biggest media category in the UK in 2007 with a 16% share (behind Print Display and TV). By 2009, it was expected to become the single largest advertising channel.[While this is UK data, the general trends are equally applicable to the Australian market too]
Here’s a 7-step program that I recommend for any business owner who wants to increase sales, even in a slower economy. Outsized rewards will go to companies who implement these steps:
The 7 Step Online Marketing Game Plan:
- Know how much a client is worth to you after the initial transaction, and in the first 3, 6, 12 and 24 months of doing business (or whatever time periods make sense in your particular business) – this gives you your Allowable Cost of Acquisition.
- Know how much a lead/sale is costing you, split by source. This means that all online goals need to be tracked (this can be done with Google Analytics for general goals and Google AdWords conversion tracking for AdWords-generated conversions).
- Track everything, not just AdWords. Other types of online campaigns such as email newsletters can be tracked with Google’s URL Builder. This will tell you the exact volume of sales generated from a specific email blast, for example.
- Make sure ALL ads and promotions are associated with a specific, trackable offer. You should not be running ANY promotions with a generic “call us” offer. Many of our clients run print ads that invite prospects to download a Special Report or Info Kit by following a special, tracked, URL. This allows them to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working.
- Cultivate and develop MORE THAN ONE successful lead generation approach. Many websites are highly dependent on, say, AdWords alone. If Google changes their Terms Of Service or the way they serve ads (and they frequently do), this could literally put you out of business. You need to test and run with at least 5 separate, independent prospecting methods that you can call on if required. Most of our clients have successful PPC accounts, SEO campaigns, referral systems and offline campaigns running simultaneously, automated via their website as the central “hub”. If any one lead generation channel dries up, they still have a business.
- Don’t drop new leads quickly – nurture them. You should aim to develop the following three communication sequences to make as much of incoming leads as possible: (a) – one for “soft leads” before they enquire (i.e. an info pack, or Special Report), backed up by a ongoing sequence of education-and-information emails. (b) – one between the initial enquiry and closing the sale – could be a book, a White Paper, or a Feasibility Analysis. (c) – one for un-converted leads who may convert in future. Especially where the value of a new client to your business is high, these communication sequences can deliver exceptional ROI. You’ll also notice that almost nobody you’ve done business with in the past does this. If you do it, you’ll be exceptional in the eyes of your prospects – always a good thing!
- Resell to your existing client base by offering more value. Don’t forget about your current client base – how can you serve them better? One of the most effective ways to develop a more stable cashflow and serve your clients better is to offer some kind of continuity-based service. For health supplement companies, this means shipping the product every month until the customer says “stop”. For professional services, this might mean providing a retainer service on an ongoing basis for a set price.
Whatever you do, don’t succumb to the doom-and-gloom in the media. Executing the 7 Step Game Plan can bulletproof your marketing engine so you can not only survive, but thrive, in 2014.
Summary for business owners:
- Overall media spend will decline in the short term, while online spend will continue to increase rapidly.
- Within the online category, advertisers are moving away from non-accountable methods (e.g. display advertising such as banner advertising) and toward accountable methods (e.g. paid search such as Google AdWords).
- This means that more dollars will be spent online to attract fewer customers (although more customers are shifting their purchasing from offline to online as well).
- Many of the new entrants into the online space will be unsophisticated players who don’t know what they’re doing (yet).
- Companies with tightly managed and monitored online campaigns can expect to do as well, if not better, than they have always done.
ROARlocal can of course help you ramp up the lead and sales generation capacity of your website with smart, accountable marketing, so that you can focus on managing and growing your business. Contact us to enquire about availability on our B2B Lead Generation Program.