There comes a time in any business’s life when it needs to evolve from rote marketing to smarter, optimized activities…or risk petering out. But the path to getting there can seem murky. When organizations have a variety of marketing activities live at any given time, understanding what’s working (or not working!) and how to do it better can be hard to assess.
This is the value of a strong marketing infrastructure. By having a well set-up backend that keeps an eye on how marketing activities impact customer behaviors and purchases, you not only learn how well activities are behaving today but you also have critical metrics in-hand to drive future improvements and business growth.
COMPONENTS OF A STRONG MARKETING INFRASTRUCTURE
First things first, let’s talk about the basic components of a strong marketing infrastructure.
In marketing, all roads point back to the individual. That is, the person who’s been impacted by your marketing and starting to look at your product or service to decide if it’s right for them or their business. That’s why a key part of any marketing infrastructure is the underlying user or contact database. This database should capture a few critical elements:
- Contact Information: At the most basic level, you need to be capturing a user’s email address. Other information like phone number or mailing address may be beneficial if you’d like to reach contacts via SMS (i.e. text messaging) or by mail.
- Attribution Tracking: Another critical component of your database is being able to record exactly what marketing activity resulted in a user exploring your business in the first place. That is, being able to attribute a particular marketing activity to someone exploring, or possibly purchasing from, your business.
- Behavior Tracking: Databases that also capture how people engage with your businessâ€”unique pages visited, content read, webinars attended, etc.â€”are also valuable since they allow for future, targeted outreach.
- Order & Revenue Tracking: A strong database also collects information on an individual’s order history as well as revenue to-date.
Form And/Or User Information Capture
To collect many of the inputs above you need some way to capture user information. This is usually some kind of form, either located in a fixed position on a page or “floating” as someone scrolls down on the page. This can be a Contact Us form, a form that asks for your email address in return for 10% off a purchase, or some other type of form.
Forms allow you to capture basic information like email on a contact’s initial visit. With subsequent visits, forms can be “smart” and ask for additional information like a contact’s title, role, or other relevant information that will help you learn more about them.
With a robust contact database that’s primed for collecting relevant user data, and forms that can actually do the collecting, you’ll want to be able to reach out to users to drive their interest based on what you know about them. That’s why an ideal marketing infrastructure also includes ways to reach out to contacts on a “triggered” basis. That is, based on them engaging with you in a certain way.Â Depending on your outreach plans, you’ll want an infrastructure that allows for:
- Outbound Messaging:Â This includes being able to send messages via email, text, and/or direct mail.Â This is focused on keeping contacts interested and engaged.
- Inbound Messaging: This is generally email-based, and allows for internal personnel like sales reps to be alerted when a contact behaves in a certain way.
HOW STRONG MARKETING INFRASTRUCTURES IMPROVE BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
What makes setting up a strong marketing infrastructure so powerful is the way that it can impact and inform so many aspects of your business’s performance, from the ability to increase conversions to the ability to understand how effective your marketing efforts are.
One of the easiest ways to persuade individuals of the value of strong marketing infrastructures is to show the many ways in which it enables improved customer conversion outcomes.
Close Marketing Loops An extremely common user behavior is to visit a website and then bounce. That is, to visit a single page on a business’ site and then immediately leave. This “ding dong ditch” behavior could mean losing this user forever, which is extremely painful if you’re using paid media and paying for that visitor to come and then run away.
However, by actively capturing that individual’s email information you can now engage in short- or long-term email marketing. This means potentially getting that bounced user to eventually come back and convert, helping improve visit-to-customer conversion rates.
Support Long-Term Nurturing A related challenge in many businesses is the long cycle time between when a user first learns about a product or service and when they ultimately become a paying customer. This is especially common in B2B sales and high-ticket B2C sales. If you do little-to-no-work to continue engaging with users during their exploration process, it’s possibly they may forget about their interest or, even worse, choose your competitor instead.
However, by intentionally capturing that user’s contact information and know what they’re actively exploring, you can regularly send them tailored content by email to keep them engaged and nurtured. Whether that’s sharing something as simple as press releases and new product announcements or more in-depth blogs, white papers, or case studies, the infrastructure ensures you can send them relevant information to keep your business top-of-mind over the long haul.
Implement Lead ScoringÂ Related to nurturing is understanding when someone might be ready to have a sales conversation…but hasn’t yet asked. This is where lead scoring comes into play. Common in B2B settings, lead scoring lets you assign numeric values to user behaviors such as visiting certain pages on your site or engaging with content. (Of course, it’s that contact database coupled with all that great information you’re capturing via your forms that let you do this!)
When the score hits a certain number, your marketing infrastructure can alert sales reps, letting them proactively reach out and jump start conversations. This can decrease the time it takes to bring in leads and help drive up new customer acquisition.
Strong marketing infrastructures also provide the raw data you need to drive intelligent business decisions.
Assess Customer Acquisition Cost, By Channel A critical answer to nail down, especially in young businesses, is how expensive it is to acquire a customer. Knowing how much money it takes to bring in a new customer tells you how much budget you need to allocate towards marketing, and if it’s even financially feasible.
With a strong marketing infrastructure, you’ll be able to record the number of customers that come in over a period of time and compare that to your marketing budgets to determine the cost of customer acquisition. Further, with attribution tracking in place, you’ll be able to hone in on customers acquired from specific activities (e.g. Google Search, Facebook Ads). By comparing just those customers to the amount of money spent on just those activities, you’ll know the money needed to acquire a customer from any given activity and, once again, gain intelligence as to whether that activity is viable in the long term.
Assess Customer Lifetime Value, By Channel Another important metric in nearly all businesses is a customer’s lifetime value. That is, the amount of profit you’ll make from any single customer over their time spent buying products or services from your business.
Having a database that captures your customers’ revenue information over their lifespan will give you insight into how much money you actually make per customer, and therefore how much you can spend to try and acquire them. And, as we mentioned above, by honing in on customers acquired from specific activities, you’ll be able to pinpoint if those customers are more or less valuable, letting you determine if you can spend more to acquire them.
Assess Optimization OpportunitiesÂ There are always ways to grow and improve. With a strong database in place, you’ll have information on average order values, purchase cycles, and other key variables that impact not just your ability to acquire a customer but also reap the most profit from them. Once you know what these metrics look like for your business today, you can set your marketing strategy around improving them, and you’ll have objective benchmarks in place to see if you’re trending towards your goal.