- Eliminate waste.
- Establish a panel.
- Prioritise video.
- Eliminate barriers.
- Develop a culture.
- Personalise everything.
Whatever your marketing strategy for 2023 and beyond, whatever your industry or the size of your business, there are a range of initiatives you can and need to look at to maximise the return on your investment in marketing in 2023.
In preparing for 2023, my research has highlighted six strategies I believe businesses in every industry sector and of all sizes should prioritise to maximise the return on their investment in marketing in 2023. These strategies draw from those discussed in previous missives published this year and lead into next week’s missive on digital transformation.
ELIMINATE WASTE – in both time and money.
The February 06 missive, entitled ‘Reducing marketing costs in 2023’, discusses a number of strategies that every business needs to address in early 2023 if the return on investment in marketing in 2023 is to be maximised. The strategies discussed included:
- Prioritise data.
- Focus on winners.
- Focus on the consumer.
- Focus on lifetime value.
- Complete an audit.
To reduce marketing costs in 2023 – stop relying on intuition and start relying on hard data; focus resources where the returns are greatest; understand the customer journey; focus on the lifetime value of each customer and undertake a comprehensive marketing audit. The issues I will emphasise again here are:
- Focus on the customer – and document the customer journey, identifying and targeting the critical touchpoints.
- Complete a marketing audit – identify all waste areas and alternative strategies to eliminate waste and maximise ROI.
Documenting the customer journey and wrapping the marketing strategy around the journey’s touchpoints can help enormously reduce waste, maximise returns, and drive customer lifetime value. While many marketers believe they understand the customer journey, in my experience, few know it as well as they should, or even as well as they think they do, given:
- The enormous growth in the number of touch points.
- The increased requirement for brand consistency.
For most businesses, there are multiple touch points, and it is essential to identify all of them, customer expectations at each touch point and how to best leverage the opportunity. The better this is understood, the more targeted the marketing can be, and the less the waste will likely be.
With the radical increase in the number of customer touchpoints, there is also the need for a strategy to ensure absolute consistency in the brand messaging at each touchpoint. Highlighting the importance of consistent messaging are these research findings:
- 87% of customers think brands should work harder at delivering a consistent experience.
- Consistent brand presentation increases that brand’s revenue by an average of 23%.
- 81% of global brands involved in localised marketing cite “communicating a consistent brand message” as a top organisational priority.
- It takes an average of 5 to 7 brand impressions for a customer to remember your brand.
If there is any inconsistency in your brand messaging – you are burning cash.
Identifying inconsistencies in brand messaging is one of the issues that can and should be prioritised in completing a marketing (including brand and communication) audit. An independent and comprehensive marketing audit represents one of the most powerful tools available to marketers for identifying:
- Waste in marketing.
- Opportunities to market more efficiently.
A marketing audit is most certainly a powerful tool for determining whether a business has the following:
- Optimum markets in its sights.
- Right people in marketing.
- Optimum data gathering systems.
- Right systems for agile marketing.
- Optimum strategies and channels.
- The marketing audit, more than anything else, helps the business determine the following:
- How match fits its marketing is.
- How to make marketing optimally match fit.
The first step in any programme to maximise the return on marketing must be eliminating waste. A marketing audit incorporating customer journey mapping is a powerful tool for identifying waste. Here are some statistics highlighting the magnitude of waste in marketing:
In a survey of 1,000 marketers worldwide by Rakuten Marketing:
- Respondents estimated they waste an average of 26% of their budgets on ineffective channels and strategies.
- About half of the respondents said they misspend at least 20% of their budgets.
- 2.9% believed they were squandering more than 80% of their marketing dollars.
Forrester recently reported:
- 37% of marketers waste money due to poor marketing/media data quality.
- 35% of marketers are engaged in inaccurate targeting,
- 30% have lost customers due to waste.
ESTABLISH A PANEL – and start a conversation.
It is hard to imagine a business that would not benefit from establishing a brand community. Consider these research findings:
- 33% of internet users follow brands on social.
- 27.3% of US businesses use brand communities for research.
- 85% of US marketers believe in brand communities.
- 66% of brand communities are found to build relationships.
These are just some of the volumes of research findings highlighting the importance of a brand community. While US-based businesses are more inclined to establish a brand community, such communities are effective in both countries.
Establishing a brand community is not expensive, but it is time-consuming. This may be why many Australian businesses still need to develop a brand community. Fortunately, however, establishing a brand community can be readily addressed in a way that delivers early results. Even a small number of brand community members can help:
- Finetune the product offering.
- Develop the optimum customer experience.
- Establish the optimum pricing model.
- Develop strategies that enhance lifetime value.
Rather than waiting to develop a fully-fledged brand community, any business can start by establishing a small ‘customer panel’ that can work with the business to co-create every aspect of the customer interaction with a view to implementing strategies that will maximise the lifetime value of every customer. All that is required to establish a ‘customer panel’ are:
- Perhaps four to six customers engage with the brand.
- A channel that enables communication with the panel.
- An independent person to manage the conversations and interpret data. Non-financial incentives for clients to participate in the panel.
- Conversation starters with clarity that the brand is listening.
Intuition, or the reliance on it, is an expensive luxury that no business should tolerate. A customer panel, while not replacing traditional research, in the way that a brand community can provide richer data than traditional research through engaging conversation. Gathering data directly from customers in a panel or community environment can provide hard data that the business can use to give a better return to all customers, especially those on the panel.
PRIORITISE VIDEO – and content more generally.
There is a well-documented trend in marketing away from ‘taking’ and towards ‘giving.’ Advertising is all about taking – that is – taking up the time of the consumer to sell them something without giving any value in return. Conversely, content marketing is more about giving something (information, entertainment or both) while simultaneously putting the brand front and centre.
Content marketing also has benefits in terms of the following:
- Educating prospects.
- Positioning the brand.
- Engaging customers.
- Opening up the potential for a relationship.
Research found that:
- 67% of marketers report – content marketing generates demand.
- 72% of marketers report – content marketing helps educate the audience.
- 63% of marketers say content marketing helps build loyalty with existing customers.
- 97% of marketers now have content as part of their strategy.
- 57% of businesses now have a documented content strategy.
Content is a critical part, or at least should be a critical part of every marketing strategy in 2023. That said, all content is not equal. Consider these research findings:
- 82% of global internet traffic in 2022 came from video.
- 90% of consumers watch videos on their mobile devices.
- 88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing.
In 2023, video is king – not just in terms of online communication but in terms of all marketing. It is far and above the most powerful marketing tool in its price range. Video now dominates the promotion of large brands. So, why is video not used more by smaller businesses? Some 48% of marketers say their organisation wasn’t using existing video to its full potential. And the reasons are:
- 43% of marketers say they lack in-house skills (filming, editing, etc.).
- 40% of marketers say their biggest barrier to video marketing was the lack of a budget.
Well, here are some important facts about online video marketing:
- While the content is critical, the production values are not.
- The budget for an effective video campaign can be nominal. Video content often works best when it is shot on a mobile phone.
Take another look at video. Produce a well-scripted but ‘homemade video’ and place it on your website or a landing page. Then edit the longer video into short clips with a simple top and tail and place them on social media. Aim to leverage the massive growth in short video content on major social media channels. Consider these research findings:
- 85% of marketers consider short-form video the most effective format for social media.
- 51% of marketers who used short-form videos last year are willing to invest more in this medium, with 38% planning to invest the same amount!
- 68% of users will happily watch a business video for under one minute.
ELIMINATE BARRIERS – to engagement and purchase.
The sane among us are well aware of the fact that consumers have options. Even the most confident among us will surely appreciate the competitive nature of the marketplace in 2023. Furthermore, every barrier between the customer and making a purchase increases the likelihood of the customer purchasing from a competitor. As such, the marketing audit should be used to identify all potential barriers to purchase; those barriers might include:
- Complex website navigation. If your website is harder to navigate – fewer consumers will use it. Research shows that 94% of consumers say a website must be easy to navigate.
- Keeping customers waiting too long on hold. Research has found that after 60 seconds on hold, more than 60% of customers will have abandoned the call, with 33% of them never calling back.
- Slow response times and handling complaints slowly. Research shows that 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience.
- Failing to deliver on time, to budget and to specification. Research suggests that companies lose 71% of their customers to poor customer service.
- High shipping costs with research showing that shipping costs account for 28% of abandoned carts when shopping online.
This list goes on and on. The point is a business can have a wonderful product that is well priced but still fails to sell well or at the preferred price because of one or more, often small barriers to purchase. What is more, these barriers to purchase may not be understood by the business – highlighting the need for an independent and comprehensive audit.
Further, marketers are notoriously bad at identifying barriers, especially subtle ones. This highlights the value of working with a customer to identify and resolve all barriers to purchase.
DEVELOP A CULTURE – and reduce the dependency on advertising.
Marketers who still believe that brands are created with advertising are setting themselves up to waste their marketing budget. Brands might be communicated by advertising, but they are made by people – the people who:
- Live the values.
- Provide the service.
- Deliver the experience.
- Manufacture the product.
- Respond to complaints.
In theory, it is possible to use discipline and incentives to ensure staff maintain service standards and ensure the brand delivers as promised. It is, however, far more efficient and reliable to employ people who embrace the values already and then create a culture where delivery on time, to budget and to specification is important enough to them. They will do so at every opportunity.
Undoubtedly, attracting, retaining and getting the most out of the best people is all about culture. Consider these research findings:
- Company culture is an important factor for 46% of job seekers.
- 94% of entrepreneurs and 88% of job seekers say that a healthy culture at work is vital.
- 86% of job seekers avoid companies with a bad reputation.
- Having highly engaged employees can lead to a 202% increase in performance.
- A culture that attracts high-calibre employees leads to a 33% revenue increase.
The facts are:
- Culture brings a brand to life and gives it value.
- The better the culture – the lower the reliance on advertising.
- A great culture attracts great staff.
- A great culture retains great staff – and helps get the most out of them.
Despite this, research suggests that very few businesses in Australia have a documented ‘culture strategy.’ Despite the fact that the brand and culture strategies are co-dependent, many small businesses invest in a branding strategy but ignore the need for the culture strategy.
There are few more powerful tools than the optimum culture strategy, especially at a time when good staff are increasingly difficult to find. There are very few things that can reduce the cost of marketing more than creating a culture that brings the brand to life and ensures staff exceed the expectations of consumers.
PERSONALISE EVERYTHING – engaging individuals rather than markets.
Time and again, research has highlighted the importance of six critical drivers of consumer behaviour:
Each of these drivers will be touched on in future missives. The last two are the focus of this missive. Every human being wants to feel significant or important in some way. Every human being needs to feel connected to others around them. This is why customers hate:
- Being ignored by staff completing administrative tasks.
- Not having their name remembered despite frequent contact.
- Not having their calls or correspondence returned.
This is also why personalisation in marketing is so important. Consider these research findings:
- 75% of consumers want to buy from brands that offer personalised digital experiences.
- 74% of Gen Z want personalised products compared to 67% of Millennials, 61% of Gen X and 57% of boomers.
- 72% of consumers respond to marketing messages crafted according to their choices.
- 97% of marketers witnessed a rise in business outcomes due to personalisation.
- 70% of brands relying on advanced personalisation bagged 200% ROI.
- 63% of marketers have observed personalisation increases customer interactions and, ultimately, better conversion rates.
- 51% of marketers assert that personalisation across multiple touchpoints increased ROI by 300% and more.
Personalisation in marketing can involve personalising:
- Email messages.
- Web pages.
- Product recommendations.’
- Service experiences.
- Sales approaches.
- Contract arrangements.
Research suggests that with most products in most markets, the more personalised the marketing, the better. Fortunately, a growing suite of marketing automation software options can facilitate personalised marketing. Some of these will be addressed in the next missive in this series.
For now, the more personalised the marketing, the better. The marketing audit provides a valuable tool for examining the current level of personalisation and the options for cost-effectively improving the level of personalisation.
- Identify and eliminate marketing waste using an independent and comprehensive marketing audit. 37% of marketers waste money on poor marketing/media data quality.
- Document the customer journey and touchpoints to deliver a consistent brand experience. 87% of customers think brands should work harder at providing a consistent experience.
- Establish a brand community to reduce marketing costs and increase profitability. 85% of US marketers believe brand communities can drive profitability.
- In the absence of a brand community, establish a customer panel to drive marketing costs down and revenue up. 66% of brand communities are found to build relationships.
- Ensure that content is part of your marketing strategy, given that 97% of marketers now have content as part of their strategy, and 67% of marketers say content drives demand.
- Build your content strategy around the use of short-form video. 85% of marketers consider short-form video the most effective format for social media.
- Eliminate a barrier to purchase by making your website intuitive to customers. Most could be easier to navigate, and 94% of consumers say a website must be easy to navigate.
- Don’t keep prospects on hold for more than 60 seconds. 60% of customers will have abandoned a call after 60 seconds, with 33% of them never calling back.
- Develop a culture that attracts the best possible people. 86% of job seekers avoid companies with a bad reputation, and culture is an important factor for 46% of job seekers.
- Develop a culture that brings your brand to life and causes staff to perform. Having highly engaged employees can lead to a 202% increase in performance.
- Place the highest possible priority on personalisation 74% of Gen Z want personalised products compared to 67% of Millennials, 61% of Gen X and 57% of boomers.
- Place the highest possible priority on personalisation 97% of marketers witnessed a rise in business outcomes due to personalisation.
Start your 2023 campaign by eliminating as much waste as possible – leveraging the customer journey and implementing a marketing audit. Even if you are not ready to establish a brand community, establish a simple customer panel to drive true engagement. Embrace short video – it is the short-term future of online communication, and it need not have professional production values.
Eliminate all barriers to purchase. Every barrier to purchase encourages the customer to go elsewhere. Build a culture that brings your brand to life and attracts the best possible staff. Personalise everything you possibly can. The demand for personalisation, often driven by cutting-edge software, is growing. It is also affordable.
Return on investment in marketing is maximised when the customer is at the centre of the strategic planning process.
Consumer-centric marketing leverages data and consumer insights to drive enquiries, conversion rates, margins, the average transaction, and repeat business and referral rates.
Focusing on the needs, preferences, and behaviours of the target audience, I create cost-effective marketing strategies to drive qualified enquiries and maximise the lifetime value of each enquiry.
I work with clients to identify consumer needs, wants, and expectations and develop branding, marketing, communication, and culture strategies that minimise waste and maximise returns.