Sometimes, marketing can feel like throwing darts at a board and praying that something hits the bullseye. Sure, you can try to use data to back up your trajectory and force, but there are hundreds of variables that may prevent you from getting any strategy down to a science.
Understanding how you can prove your effectiveness as a marketer and frequently assessing the projects you have in the works is a must. I’ve outlined ways you can make strategy the core of all your tasks using real examples from my time at Crema.
Despite the uncertainty of your results, it’s still a marketer’s job to do the best work they can. If you can’t prove your worth to the company that employs you, concerns about job security will follow you like a dark cloud. To support the effectiveness of your strategy, you’ll want to keep a record of marketing initiatives and track the time and cost associated with the project.
It’s good to take a step back and look at the level of effort (LOE) vs. payoff for any given task. A great decision-making tool to assist in your data-driven strategy is the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, which helps you sort through what should be done immediately, delegated, delayed, or deleted.
When placing your tasks, keep in mind the results you’re seeing in your reporting tools. If you’re publishing content that’s showing a high bounce rate in Google Analytics, use that information to guide your future strategy. The data is there for a reason--reference the numbers!
Because of the nature of this work, marketers are forced to be both adaptive and creative. Working for a product development agency, I have to be aware of our capacity to take on new projects. If our developers become booked but our designers have a decent amount of open time, the Growth Team (how we define our staff dedicated to Sales & Marketing initiatives) has to pivot marketing initiatives to push design-heavy work (like Design Sprints).
Having a solid base of tools and vendors that can pivot with your new focus is essential to marketing success. For example, you’ll want to partner with a paid ad vendor that’s available to switch out ads on a weekly (and perhaps even daily) basis. In an agency setting, Agility is key.
Reaching Your Target
B2B marketing is a whole different ball game than B2C, and going after enterprises can feel like an entirely different sport. As a company, we’ve decided to leverage our content to guide our Account Based Marketing strategy. Rather than casting a wide net, we use a spear to find and target the people who would actually be a good client fit.
Even with a spear, though, getting something to stick can feel impossible. When you’re going after professionals who are incredibly busy and constantly bombarded by companies just like yours, you have to learn how to stand out from the crowd. We constantly ask ourselves:
- What value are we providing?
- What pain points are we relieving?
- How do we establish trust early on?
In addition to these questions, we try to think how we might stand out from the crowd with our outreach strategies. A personalized video that incorporates information gathered in a company profile will have much more of an impact than a general ad in the Display Network. The more we can highlight how we’ll alleviate their pain, the more enticing our offer becomes.
A hard lesson for us was learning how to say ‘no’ to the clients who weren’t going to be a good fit. Crema’s recently shifted gears from serving startups to serving larger, Fortune 500 companies. With this shift, we’ve had to learn how to adjust our marketing efforts accordingly. Where previously we had thrived on referrals and client retention alone, we knew we had to diversify our client portfolio to fit our ambitions for Crema’s growth.
With this shift, we also had to rethink our brand voice, the publications we wanted to be showcased on, and how much we wanted to invest in long-term marketing efforts. Even though it can be expensive to attend and sponsor conferences, we realized that in-person connections have a lot more potency than a cold outreach message over LinkedIn. In that same vein, we want enterprises to see that we’re a thought leader in our industry. We’ve made strides toward this through recognition from the Kansas City Business Journal and contributions to large publications like ReadWrite.
A marketing assist is when a marketing effort indirectly leads to client acquisition. For example, a Product Owner at XYZ company reached out to us based on a referral, but they were also impressed by the quality of our YouTube videos. Even though the YouTube videos aren’t how they landed on our site in the first place, they were a deciding factor for the Product Owner.
Celebrating these marketing assists will help validate your ‘constants’ and guide future efforts based off of what’s working. Marketing can be grueling work, especially because it’s a habit rather than a project with a set endpoint. Pausing to acknowledge when you’re successful will help keep you motivated through the daily grind.
You’re Not Alone
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There are a ton of online resources out there to keep you motivated and spark fresh ideas. Even Reddit has an entire Marketing forum with professionals eager to share their knowledge.
In addition to your fellow marketers, there are hundreds of tools out there (many of which are FREE) to help make your life easier. I’ve outlined a few of my favorites and explained how we leverage them at Crema.
Leadfeeder: Leadfeeder is a tool that tracks which companies are visiting your website, providing a breakdown of the pages they visited, how long they spent on your site, and which channel they found you through. On top of that, the tool identifies some key personnel those companies and their contact information. You can set up filters to track companies in a certain geographic region, and the tool grades visitors as green, yellow or red depending on how long they spend on your site.
We review our green leads in leadfeeder on an almost daily basis. If they fit the bill for a company we would pursue, we add the company to our list of Account Based Marketing target companies. We use this list as a springboard for future event invites, a place to find potential podcast guests, and a filter for targeted advertising on LinkedIn.
SEMrush: SEMrush is an all-in-one tool for search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. You can track the performance of your social media, research trending topics, perform site health audits, and research keywords all from one handy dashboard. Plus, the SEMrush writing assistant plugin for Google Docs grades your article’s SEO as you’re writing based on your target keyword.
At Crema, we use this tool for keyword research when we’re writing our metadata. We also use it for our content marketing to see what topics are trending and how much search volume there is for certain topics. In addition, we use it to gather data on potential backlink opportunities and identify when there are broken links on our site.
Wistia: As a company that produces a lot of videos, we wanted to find a tool that would help us leverage our high-quality videos for lead generation. Wistia gave us the ability to customize our play bar with brand colors, add in annotated links throughout our videos, and create full banners that display after our videos are complete. Another nice perk is that, unlike YouTube videos, there aren’t video suggestions at the end that would send people away from our content.
We plan on utilizing the tool to help encourage conversions while viewers are watching our videos, and to create personalized videos for the companies we’re wanting to target.
Mailchimp: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the untapped capabilities this powerful tool has. For one, Mailchimp integrates with just about every other tool we use, making it easy to transform email opens into conversions. It also helps us distribute content to those who may not be seeing our social media posts and keep track of those who signed up for our events or webinars. Sending follow-up emails is a piece of cake with their templates and easy-to-use tagging system.
We use Mailchimp to send out reminders for our events and webinars and distribute weekly content roundup emails.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator: As part of our Account Based Marketing strategy, we do a LOT of research into our target companies and the prospects that work there. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, it’s easier to identify the people that fall precisely in our wheelhouse. The tool allows you to send 20 InMail messages per month, save up to 1,500 leads, add more filters to your searches, and more. Though this tool is geared more toward Sales teams, it’s a great tool for any marketer wanting to learn more about their target market.
We use LinkedIn Sales Navigators to identify Product Owners and those in a similar role at the companies we want to target and initiate conversations via connection requests or InMail. We also use the data provided by Sales Navigator to inform our messaging and offers.
As any marketer knows, it can be hard to show concrete ROI with so many variables at work. Using the guiding principles above should help you prove your value to your company (or, at the very least, show that there’s a strategy behind your actions). Remember to prioritize the right tasks, track the results of your efforts, pivot when necessary, and leverage tools!