Failure to launch: 5 ways companies kill their marketing ROI

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Your company modernized its marketing strategy long before your competitors knew what a responsive website was.

You’ve allocated marketing dollars away from old school channels like direct mail and into development of a dynamic website that Google loves.

Your marketing assistants post alluring images on Facebook. You’ve experimented with pay-per-click ads.

You’ve embraced all that is good with inbound marketing (you even had your kids show you how Snapchat works!) but where are the leads? You’ve spent more time and more money on marketing than ever before and for what? 

Your efforts aren’t returning the results you had hoped for.

It takes more than a marketing plan with a “magic mix” of inbound and outbound tactics to fill your sales funnel.  At Illumine8 Marketing & PR, our cumulative years in agency marketing and advertising have taught us that clients who struggle with infertile marketing tend to make similar missteps in implementation. (Conversely, the clients who succeed share the same good habits.)

Following are the top mistakes companies make that kill their marketing ROI:

5. No analytics in place to measure or substantiate ROI

ROI stands for Return on Investment, not Return on Expense. A marketing plan is an investment, and requires an investment mind-set. It’s much easier to convince upper management to increase your marketing budget if you pitch your plan with ROI goals based on benchmarked metrics.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. You can’t determine what works and what doesn’t if you don’t track the analytics. 

A distinct advantage of inbound marketing platforms is the ability to measure, in real-time, where and how often your audience is interacting with your brand and messaging. Solutions exist that offer automated analysis of metrics and push-button reporting. If you aren’t sure how to structure your marketing analytics, a seasoned digital marketing firm can help you align appropriate metrics with your company’s marketing and sales goals, and show you how to establish baselines.

4. SalesandMarketing is one word 

The Sales & Marketing Department is an epidemic across industries. 

Sales and marketing are two distinct disciplines with very different workflows, and each requires a dedicated focus. If you wear both hats at your organization, an agency partner can be an indispensable aid to managing and assisting with content development, analytics tracking, and marketing automation. They become a virtual marketing team that can significantly accelerate the momentum of a marketing campaign.

3. Shotgun approach to inbound marketing

The fragmentation of advertising audiences is the bane of the modern marketer’s existence. Don Draper never had to worry about keeping his marketing slogans to 140 characters or less. 

Marketing channels and platforms are appearing and evolving faster than you can say “start-up.” Experimenting with a variety of marketing platforms and channels is fun for staff, and it’s the best way to find your target market. However, it requires discipline to monitor the effectiveness of each and have the fortitude to quit those that aren’t working for your company, even popular social media networks your staff has invested a lot of time cultivating.

Testing the viability of emerging marketing channels is a lot like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks. Analytics are critical to help you determine what “sticks” and what falls off the wall. 

We come back to automation here—with an integrated marketing platform, it’s possible to track and report on marketing analytics at the touch of a button.  (Better yet, some marketing automation platforms also include robust CRM tools for the sales staff.)

2. Letting hot leads grow cold

A surprising number of companies launch a shiny new marketing campaign but fail to prepare the sales department for an increase in sales volume: you launch your plan, hot leads come in, sales staff is overwhelmed, hot leads become cold leads. (This is particularly true of businesses with an over-reliance on word-of-mouth sales referrals—you know who you are.)

An effective marketing plan requires a scalable sales infrastructure to ensure the organization has the capacity to adapt and manage lead flow.

It’s also important to train sales staff on how to respond to inbound versus outbound leads. We’ll cover that topic in a future post.

1. Failure to launch

The number one reason we see marketing plans flop is impatience. Capturing a hot lead is a process, not a one-time event.  Remember, prospects need to hear a company’s message at least 7 times before they reach out. 

Clients often underestimate the time and effort it takes to build brand awareness and spur action from consumers, and choose to shoehorn content creation and social media maintenance tasks intermittently, where and when work flows and schedules permit.

Time and time again we see in-house marketing departments shift gears in frustration or abandon implementation altogether because a sporadic approach to inbound marketing fails to gain traction. 

We get it—it takes precious time to create content for websites, maintain social media feeds, track analytics to see what’s working and what’s not.

Management is impatient to see results.

Marketing staffers become fatigued and website and social media content stagnates. Clients who see the best results from their marketing plans—particularly those who operate with a lean in-house staff—typically leverage an experienced agency partner to keep content fresh, feed the social media beast regularly, and monitor the analytics.

Now that we’ve covered common marketing mistakes, let’s circle back to the “magic mix” comment we made in the introduction. If there is one question we hear more than any other from prospective clients, it’s:

“What is the best ratio for allocating budget dollars between inbound and outbound marketing?”

Striking the best budget balance between outbound and inbound is an art and a science, and looks different for every company.  We like to call it “unbound” marketing. 

Illumine8’s Free Impact Audit can put you on the road to finding your company’s "magic mix".  (And help you stop killing your marketing ROI.)

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