If your marketing spend isn't producing revenue for you then why are you doing it? It should be a paying proposition for your business.

 Here are 3 things I've learned from discussions with owners of small businesses about their marketing

 Many small businesses don't have a written marketing plan

  1. Those businesses that don't have a marketing plan don't usually have a marketing budget
  2. Tracking of marketing activities to see which things are producing sales isn't really understood or followed

 Tracking of activities helps you to see what's working and paying

 If you run a small and growing business where do you start when it comes to measuring your marketing results?

 In a digital world, there are so many things that you could analyse and this can be very off-putting. Paralysis by analysis often occurs.

 "What do we measure, where do we start?" are questions that I'm often asked. My recommendation is to keep things simple.

 Start with measuring visits to your website

 The creation and maintenance of a website is often the only directly budgeted marketing expense within a small business. It's also the place where totally new sales enquiries are expected to come from.

 In relation to your website, there are really only two important stats to look at and work on. Traffic and Conversion.

 The traffic flow picture

 Given that your website is your company's sales window to the outside world, and the starting point for many new enquiries, it's vital to know how it's performing.

 You can construct a question and answer flow diagram based on the following questions and answers (and quite a few others).

 Is traffic to your website increasing or decreasing?

 If it's increasing are you seeing an increase in quotes requested or in sales revenue?

 If traffic to your site has increased do you know (for sure) what has caused this to happen? Can you see a correlation between specific marketing actions or events that have caused more traffic to come to your site?

What if site traffic is increasing but quotes and sales are static or falling? Detective work is needed to discern why this might be the case.

 Are you attracting the wrong people? Who are the right and wrong people? Do you have landing pages that provide in-depth details about products or services or are you just directing incoming visitors to your Homepage? How long are visitors staying on your site?

 This isn't as complicated as it sounds. Simple logic can help you to quickly build a picture of how your site is performing in relation to traffic.

 Conversion is the important statistic

 Here is a simplified example to explain conversion.

 If you are running a business that sells products directly from a website then conversion means being able to see how many of your website visitors turn into actual buyers. Knowing these two numbers can provide you with a sales conversion rate.

 Let's say that because of the marketing that you undertake your site attracts 1,000 visitors a month and on a fairly regular basis 250 of those visitors become customers. Your sales conversion rate is a whopping and enviable 25%.

 If you then work out that the average spend of those 250 customers is £19.95 you can predict that if you follow the same kind of marketing again, with the same sort of offer to similar people.....Then you should be generating just under £5,000 every time you email* a similar group of 1,000 people.

 This is why knowing what your conversion rate is so important to your marketing and to making it a paying and predictable proposition.

 Also knowing things like what your average sales value is, what your click-through rates are on emails and digital ads, is also important as explained in my next point.

 Different sorts of conversion can affect your overall sales conversion rate

 To improve the performance of your sales conversion rate, you will probably need to look further down the traffic chain to see how other conversion rates are performing. Four simple examples;

 Email open rates and click-throughs

  1. Click-throughs on your digital ads
  2. Readership rates and click-throughs from individual landing pages
  3. Site traffic immediately after sending direct mail

 Improve the performance and conversion of one or more of these parts of your marketing and you should start to see an improvement further down the line in your sales conversion rate.

 When you see this improvement you'll know that your marketing is working. When it's producing the type of leads that your sales team or direct sale website can more easily and more often turn into sales achieved. 

 Why your database is so important to building sales and increasing your conversion rates

 Your database should be a sales engine that works in tandem with your website and with any other form of lead generation marketing that you undertake.

 All new and relevant visitors to your site should be invited to join your "Update List."

 This is where you invite site visitors to provide their contact details so that you can send them further updates and details on what you do.

 You know that site visitors must be reasonably interested because they have come to your site (people that aren't right won't usually sign-up).

 The people on your list should be emailed regularly with relevant information. They may not be immediate buyers for what you offer but they are quite likely to be buyers in the future. the better your on-going marketing is, the more likely this is to be the case. 

 And of course, you can measure your email conversion rates and you can also work to improve them too. Achieving even small percentage point improvements in open rates and click-throughs can help improve your sales conversions.

 Marketing as a paying proposition

 If you don't have a marketing budget or a marketing plan don't write either until you analyse your conversion rates.

 You have to know what it is that you need to improve. Once you know what that is, you can decide on which activities to undertake and how much you will need to spend in order to achieve your desired outcome.

 Don't start off by writing a list of marketing "to do's" without having an objective otherwise you may well carry on doing things that have no real sales generating value to your business.

 And that's definitely not using marketing as a paying proposition.

 *Or advertisement, podcast, seminar or whatever form of marketing that you use to generate those 1,000 site visitors.

The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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