There’s a cost to doing business, and for some businesses the cost is higher than others.
Obviously, there are direct costs such as ad spend, website setup and maintenance, organic digital marketing (including blogging, social media, and organic email), paid advertisements (across available networks today such as Google Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Mobile, Email, and more).
Then, there are indirect ones such as:
- Doing things all wrong.
- Depending on the wrong people, dysfunctional teams with irrelevant experience, and bad agencies or freelancers.
- Instead of treating digital marketing as an umbrella, and choosing to execute only parts of the campaign because you believed that the others don’t work for your business.
- Losing out on the opportunity to deliver exceptional one-to-many networking capabilities that the Internet provides for you.
- Not focusing on Conversion Rate optimization.
- Not utilizing the power of Affiliate Marketing and making the strength of an invisible, dedicated, and committed workforce of millions of affiliates who scramble to get sales for you.
The list can never be exhaustive, but the point is simple: digital marketing demands attention to detail trying to tie up loose ends and getting things going in the right direction.
Digital marketing also helps you lower your acquisition costs, boost your branding efforts, help you establish processes for effective Inbound marketing, and lets you establish authority to make it easier for you to do business.
Lon Safko, author of The Fusion Marketing Bible, wrote a piece for Entrepreneur, tried to put this in numbers (at least for the direct spending part of the marketing budget, since the indirect costs are phenomenal):
Lon figured that this is how much it costs to get a customer:
- Travel: Priceline.com: $7
- Telecom: Sprint PCS: $315
- Retail: Barnesandnoble.com: $10
- Financial: TD Waterhouse: $175
Go ahead, and calculate. You’d be able to peg your cost of acquisition somewhere there.
Are you overspending for your business? Or are you in an even worse state of “being unaware” that you are overspending? Do you have a data-driven reality-check in place for your marketing budget or do competitive forces dictate what you spend?
In the interest of simplification, let’s cut it down to basics of how to bring down the cost of acquiring a customer, and in the process, understand the entire spectrum of Digital Marketing:
Use the Fork to Eat; Not to prod your eyes
In India, we have a term for reverse engineering: Jugaad. Almost anything can be fixed using Jugaad – much like inserting a spoon in the gap between a loose press switch on an old tape-recorder; linking electric wires to the nearest section between two electric poles to tap into the nearest source of electric power. The list goes on.
Jugaad is commendable to a certain extent; just not for marketing. Don’t get me wrong. There are smart, guerrilla tactics you can always use. In the long-term, you need an engine that runs to help your business thrive and not a motor that “manages to get the work done”
Use digital marketing channels for what they are meant to do for you (and not what you thought they’d do for you).
Writing and publishing regularly brings in curious visitors who’d later become customers (if you were good enough).
Plus, it gets you traffic, traction, and some linking opportunities. It gets you leads indirectly. According to HubSpot, 10% of all the blogs you’ll ever write are “compounding” – organic search visibility increases with time. Companies that publish 16+ posts per month get 3.5 X more traffic than companies and 4X more leads than businesses that just do 0-4 posts per month.
Leads are almost an after effect of good blogging. More interestingly, you set yourself up as an authority and a credible source of information about your products, services, and the “problem” your business solves.
Social media helps get you sales. But the media isn’t built like your newspaper. People don’t get on social to hear about your new products all day.
However, social media has the potential to generate leads with as little as six hours per week for more than 66% of marketers, according to Social Media Examiner.
Anyway, it’s a no brainer to not use social.
Consider this: there are:
- 313 million active users on Twitter
- 150 million daily users on SnapChat
- 100 million users on Pinterest (of which 71% of them are Women)
- 450 million members on LinkedIn, and
- 1.13 billion daily active users on Facebook
Are you absolutely sure you still think social media is “something I’ll look into once I run out of funds drained on marketing channels that don’t work”?
Nothing beats email, not even social and blogging. If you can build a list (and nurture your lists well) the right away, you are invincible.
75% of businesses report good ROI from email marketing. 86% of customers “stated” that they like to receive promotional emails from companies that they know, like, and do business with.
Email is best for transactional nurturing (emails with “thank you” in the subject line has the highest, above-average engagement levels, according to Adestra, 2015).
An RSS-to-Email Campaign takes less than a minute to setup. Setting up basic transactional emails is a one-time job. Writing out short, text-rich emails is much less work than blogging is.
What stops you from using Email marketing?
Paid Marketing Isn’t For Sissies
So, you thought you’d throw out a few ads on Google Ad words and see if that works?
Save your cash and time. It won’t work. You’ll see clicks and you’ll see your money draining away but you won’t get an ROI you can write to mom about.
Paid advertising – whether you use Google Ad words, Facebook Ads, Twitter Cards, and LinkedIn Sponsored Posts – is a dancing act, choreographed with great ads, high-converting landing pages, common-sense, tracking, analytics, attention to detail, smart initial setup, a good sense of organization, ongoing optimization, continuous A/B testing, patience, and making changes to your strategy on an ongoing basis.
More than 98% of all ad money is wasted, as Oli Gardner of Unbounce writes.
Go ahead, do a quick search for whatever you want and see how many ads point to landing pages. I’ll wait.
Paid search is not here to beat SEO; and SEO can’t beat PPC. These are two distinct channels to be used “together”, and one is not better than the other.
Retargeting Is Smart
While the cost of acquiring your customers is already high, what’s surprising is that most businesses don’t do what’s absolutely essential to get those costs down.
Whether you do only organic digital marketing or paid digital marketing or both, this much is for sure: you have visitors.
But the sad truth is that those visitors leave. But why?
- 40% of visitors leave because your website loads slower than 3 seconds.
- The website layout is confusing (while you thought it was art).
- Videos are on auto-play. Ads are ruining the experience.
- The content is uninteresting.
- Customers aren’t just ready yet; they need time.
You did spend money, effort, time, and resources to get those visitors. Does it make any sense to let them go?
Retargeting helps you bridge that gap. While writing this, Retargeting is also getting smart. For instance, Adroll also has “sendroll” that sends out automated emails to your visitors who checked out your products or added products to the shopping cart.
I haven’t covered mobile advertising, videos, podcasting, a holistic content strategy, and lots more.
You can well image the complexity of digital marketing for a single brand. Now, multiple this work by just as much as the number of brands you have on hand.
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