Why marketing measurement is more important in a downturn

Many businesses are using multi-channel marketing initiatives to drive online traffic and telephone enquiries to their business. During a downturn there is a danger that the cost attached to many forms of direct marketing becomes less appealing as the ROI decreases, therefore making it unsustainable as a direct marketing option.

This article will investigate how improvements to the return on investment from multi-channel marketing can be made by simply using a tried and tested formula to avoid the culling of certain channels that have previously brought regular footfall to a brand.

Measure and reallocate

The marketing budget has to work twice as hard during a downturn. This is true across most sectors and brings unsettlement and insecurity to the science of marketing. The majority of successful marketers rely on tried and tested formulas for success and will test a new campaign to maximise the impact to enquiry and online traffic levels.

The measurement of digital response rates is very much a given in the online marketing sector, however there is no standard for tracking telephone responses to direct call to action marketing campaigns, including website and PPC campaigns with dedicated landing pages. There is in-depth reporting for a website’s performance, monitoring bounce rates and page impressions in particular. What about telephone enquiries? There is also a case for predictive response during busy times, especially when a new campaign has been distributed. How does a mail order retailer prepare for responses with no previous measurement to anticipate likely telephone enquiries?

“In order to anticipate response and react appropriately, a mail order company used response monitoring to measure the response to a catalogue launch. From day one, the company could clearly see their enquiry levels from each mailing. As the company has grown, the data has enabled them to plan the appropriate capacity levels for their staff and tailor their marketing budget to increase ROI.”

Harry Bott, Director – Key Accounts, Mediahawk

How is the success of a website measured from the number of telephone calls the business has received? Is the search marketing campaign driving visitors to pick up the telephone? How is this measured or is it assumed that all telephone responses are driven from direct mail or print advertising? Without the in-depth measurement of response rates how can marketers take the next step, calculate ROI or manage the budget according to enquiry levels?

Time for a change?

By looking closely at marketing spend and ROI for each channel, how does the current marketer decide what to spend money on or most importantly where to make cutbacks? There is certainly a greater need for marketing efficiency. Looking at areas to improve upon is a good place to start. By measuring the number of inbound telephone enquiries against specific channels, the task is simplified as this provides a clear and defined picture of who is responding to what and when.

Everyone is working twice as hard to stay profitable and marketing has to be at the heart of this change. Look at it as a performance review and don’t be afraid of turning a tried and tested direct marketing method on it’s head. Be careful, however when changing the way your marketing delivers, back the strongest horse by all means, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Identify the return on investment you need from certain channels and look closely at refining your call to action and see what effect that has on telephone response rates.

Responding to the call to action

If this exercise tells you that your search optimised website is generating the most telephone enquiries into the business then re-direct your spend to that area. If your email marketing campaign or print advertisement provides you with significant calls to justify the spend then continue with it but tailor it to the response. The beauty of analysing the response rates of marketing channels by the number of telephone calls you received is that you are now able to get a clearer picture of how each channel in your marketing mix is performing as a direct marketing function. These channels will no longer get lost in the mix as part of a ‘strategy’ as in the current economic climate there is no room for wastage, especially in marketing. If your latest direct mail campaign only provided you with 5% of your total sales, it will need to be tailored accordingly.

Cost per lead

There is also the discovery of how much it cost to get an enquiry from a certain channel. A website may seem inexpensive but factor into it the cost of search engine marketing, content management and online advertising as well as print advertising that may have driven the traffic there in the first place. Cost per lead will give you a clear idea of how much your responses have cost you and will help you to understand the journey your have customers made to reach you.

In summary, there is a way to improve response rates which does not necessarily mean changing the way you market or spending more money to get there. By carefully measuring the response to your marketing and using the results to refine your strategy, wastage will be eliminated. Hone your marketing efforts to ensure success by finding out what routes to market are generating your telephone response.

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