Marketing Management Tips
A well-tuned marketing team can achieve amazing results and increase leads, sales, revenue, and profit. But when a marketing team is managed badly it can result in mismanaged media, interdepartmental wars, corrupt or inaccessible data, high employee turnover, analysis paralysis and - ultimately - a huge waste of human capital, advertising spend, and brand value.
Use the following marketing management tips to streamline your organisation’s marketing efforts. They are based on thorough and well-documented marketing goals, plans and processes, which form the basis of marketing success.
Sometimes this means that a marketing department needs to be rebuilt from ground level, but that is surely worth the effort. In the middle and long run, a streamlined marketing organisation will benefit from huge efficiency savings in effort, media spend and agency expenses (if applicable).
- Have a common (set of) goal(s)
- Identify your target audiences
- Strengthen your marketing team
- Map and optimise your conversion processes
- Implement conversion attribution
- Calculate the value of your brand
- Your marketing plan is your blueprint
- Track your campaigns
- Final words of advice for marketing managers
Marketing management tip 1: Have a Common Goal & KPI
In virtually every organisation, marketing is only a part of the business process. Ensure that the marketing team is in sync with other business units (such as sales, account management, senior management, production, etc.) and working towards a common goal (or set of goals).
Such goals should be identified and measured with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs must be SMART:
KPIs must be transparent and shared throughout the organisation, attribute to the organisation’s overall goals and – most importantly – need to have buy-in from senior management.
Unfortunately, in many businesses, these KPIs are not aligned. Quite often we see that marketing is responsible for generating traffic or leads, but the organisation’s higher goal is to generate profit. In this scenario, the KPIs can even work against each other: more low-quality traffic or leads can improve the marketing department’s performance, but in the meantime, decrease overall revenue and profit.
Marketing Management Tip 2: Identify Your Target Audiences
Create user personas for each relevant target group. Describe these fictive persons in detail, answering questions such as:
- What are their demographics (age, location, income, etc.)?
- What problem are they trying to solve? What questions do they have?
- What services or products do they need?
- What do they value (e.g. lowest price, security, etc.)?
- What can you use as unique value propositions?
- What is their opinion of your brand?
- How do they use media?
Note that media campaigns nowadays go far beyond demographics alone. Research proves that for most products and services there is little correlation between demographics and high-performance target groups, and it is far more useful to focus on a users intent and micro-moments.
Marketing Management Tip 3: Strengthen Your Marketing Team
Does Your Team Have All the Needed Marketing Skills?
Analyse the availability of skills within your team and see if there’s any competency that your team is lacking. You might need to outsource some work to a developer, usability expert, or web analytics analyst to help your team grow. Even while outsourcing, involve the colleagues that have related experience. Never bypass the team by hiring new staff without their input. Realise that Senior Management and HR usually lack the skills to properly value an expert’s experience and expertise. Use a specialised marketing recruiter to assess a candidate of you don’t have the expertise in-house.
Invest time in knowledge
Invest in regular meetings where knowledge is shared. Nominate ‘champions’ for specific marketing topics, so that:
- This ‘champion’ keeps their knowledge up-to-date
- Others can learn from them, which;
- Avoids contingency problems, as the whole team knows what’s going on and can provide input;
- Ownership and empowerment improves efficiency;
- Gives more meaning to people’s jobs.
Also, give colleagues room to provide ideas or initiatives. Pet projects based on a solid business case can often grow into a valuable marketing asset (e.g. Google provides employees with time to come up with their own ideas and work on them).
Streamline & Track Activities
Stick to best practices for holding meetings:
- Keep meetings under 1 hour
- Take and share notes
- Always make someone accountable for a task
- Track assignments and results with a project management tool (e.g. Asana, Wrike)
Marketing Management Tip 4: Map and Optimise Your Conversion Process
Map the Conversion Process
To ensure that everyone works towards a common goal and achieve highest levels of efficiency through the conversion chain, it is paramount that all marketing processes are mapped out. The most important one is the conversion process.
The conversion process is the way how people learn about and interact with your organisation and the steps they take to become leads, clients, or otherwise generate revenue. Note: different services and/or target groups can have different processes.
A fully mapped conversion process usually looks like a diagram and:
- Includes all touch points that prospects come across while they convert into leads or clients;
- Includes the activities of all people, departments and/or business units (e.g marketing > sales > account managers);
- Includes the target KPI and the conversion rate for each interaction, so the engagement level (as well as the impact on the conversion chain) is clear;
- Separates the role of branded vs. non-branded interactions;
- Shows the ownership of and accountability for each interaction.
A lengthy conversion process across multiple departments can profit from standardisation of KPIs, goals and/or acronyms across employees, departments and even business units.
Interactions can have a top-level KPI (e.g. related sales, subscriptions, or revenue), or a lower one (click, share, opened email). Examples of interactions can be:
- An online sale
- A white paper download
- A Like on Facebook
- A subscription to a newsletter
- A 50% view of a YouTube video
Remember: always keep your audiences in mind while mapping out current and new conversion processes. Make the conversion process easy and logical for your prospects, not for your office. Too many organisations expect people to leap through loops because they fit their business structure, not because it helps to meet business goals. Every process that isn’t ideal from a customer’s perspective, WILL cause you to lose efficiency.
Update and review your marketing processes regularly (e.g. per quarter, or at least once per year), to show the effectiveness of your efforts, identify bottlenecks and discover new opportunities. Improving your core processes is usually much more effective than improving the media mix.
Marketing Management Tip 5: Implement Conversion Attribution
Besides mapping out each activity leading to a conversion, it is also important to assign a (virtual) value to these micro-moments. This will clearly show how important each conversion is. It is also paramount to evaluate the effectiveness of paid media and other marketing activities.
The virtual value can be anything (a value of $100 or $1000 is commonly used), but I like to calculate the break-even point and use that as a total value throughout the conversion chain. This way your reports, dashboards and media analysis will show actual ROI and ROAS. It will also clearly show where you are making a profit and where your campaigns are bleeding money.
Some examples of conversion attribution:
- If the average revenue of a sale is $100, and 100 Facebook Likes lead to 1 sale, then the virtual value for a Facebook Like would be $100 / 100 = $1.
- If an average call is worth $50, but a 2-minute call converts twice as much you can set conversion values as follows:
- The average call gets 50% of the total value: 50% * $50 = $25
- The 2-min calls get 50% of double the value: 50% * (2 x $50) = $50
- If the average new client nets $50, but during a later time an additional $25 in cross- and up sales, award a new client with $75 to reflect their lifetime value.
Be creative and come up with a conversion attribution model that best reflects your customer’s interaction, your marketing process, and your business’s main KPIs.
Marketing Management Tip 6: Calculate the Value of Your Brand
Branded vs Non-Brand Engagement
In this era where brand recognition and brand loyalty are at an all-time low, it is important to know just how exactly your brand contributes to your business goals. Some industries rely heavily on their brand (e.g. FMCG, top brands, high-end fashion, etc.), while in other industries or organisations a brand hardly matters, such as:
- Lowest pricing business models;
- Services people don’t expect to need (injury lawyers, bankruptcy trustees);
- Organisations depending on referrals or word-of-mouth;
- Goods bought on impulse.
In brand-inflexible marketing environments, we typically see that prospects learn about their products or services first, but come back later using the brand name (or as a direct visitor to the website). Although the brand seems to generate good results, it is the initial contact point that is far more important. Without the initial contact moment, that branded conversion further down the conversion path would never take place.
Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and other media support conversion paths, which show the various ways how people touch base with an organization and how this affects brand demand and results. You can use this information to better value the effect of each medium, campaign, strategy, or your brand.
Marketing Management Tip 7: Your Marketing Plan Is Your Blueprint
Your marketing plan should be your strategic, tactical and operational blueprint. A great marketing plan takes some effort to put it together, but in the end, it will pay off big time as it allows everyone involved to understand the marketing philosophy and how you use your team and media to realise results. This will save a lot of time in the future and serves as a great base to generate synergy between current and future marketing activities.
Besides, you probably have most of the information available, so it is a question of filling in the blanks.
Meet Your Marketing Plan
Your full-fledged strategic marketing plan should include:
- A competitive analysis;
- Information on brand positioning;
- Core and secondary KPIs;
- An overview of the media mix (more on this later);
- internal & external SWOT-analysis;
- Client lifetime cycle and attribution model;
- Role of marketing within the business model;
- Timeline & milestones;
- Strategical > tactical > operational breakdown over 5 years.
Marketing Management Tip 8: Track Your Media
Especially in larger organisations, you’ll be surprised at the amount of unsupervised media that is flowing around. Old websites, unused domains, yearly renewals for business listings, rogue YouTube accounts, and shady backlinks from that old SEO guy can hinder your brand and your media efforts.
Elements of a media plan
Your media plan should include:
- A full overview of all components of the media mix;
- Notes on tracking implementation (including attribution model);
- Past results from each media strategy;
- New media/strategies to test, based on hypotheses and/or business cases;
- Content strategy and publishing calendar (if applicable).
Ensure that there is a list of all marketing activities and campaigns, including (if applicable):
- brand protection
- out-of-home ads (OOH)
- advertorial (offline channel with highest ROI)
- event marketing
- behavioral targeting
- up-/cross-selling activities
- social media
- search advertising (SEM/SEA/PPC) (quick return, high ROI and extremely flexible)
- SEO (highest ROI of all media!)
- bid management strategies
- affiliate marketing
Check that all online media is tracked. There is NO EXCUSE for NOT tracking and optimising results – even from offline campaigns.
Don’t just list the results per platform, but list media results per strategy, audience, topic and/or location. For example: instead of listing the results of Facebook (a platform that provides marketers with a plethora of opportunities) make a distinction between:
- Facebook: retargeting ads
- Facebook: ads by topic
- Facebook: ads by audience
- Facebook: social media publishing
- Facebook: brand engagement
- Facebook: lead generation
Different strategies have different results. An average value across multiple strategies will not provide any insights, as performance is rarely the same. Separate advertising campaigns on a granular level, study their results and spend your marketing resources more effectively.
Especially in SEO and SEM/SEA, separate the results from branded vs non-branded traffic, as these tend to be very different.
Rules of Thumb for Marketing Managers
Some final marketing management tips
- Don’t approve any marketing activity without a business case;
- Always have 1 person to be accountable for a channel, campaign or project, and give him/her the means to do so;
- Do things right the first time - even if you try something new. Building a test case on a badly executed campaign will not provide you with good data to support your business case;
- Know your stats. Beware of analysis paralysis or (especially within bigger organisations) ‘data puking’. (thanks, Avinash!)
- Say ’NO’ when management asks for reports, but instead ask what question they have or what problem they’re trying to solve, and educate them. Always provide insights and options. Don’t make decisions on too little data, or within a timeframe that’s too strict;
- Know your media budget and results well before it’s time to finalise your strategy. Allocate budgets based on past results and leave room for unexpected cost and new initiatives.
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