6 min readManage Your Digital Marketing Better
Consumers’ insatiable appetite for instant information and on-demand access to expert advice requires companies to constantly evaluate how well each of their digital marketing channels serve those needs and at what cost.
“There are a lot of ways to waste money,” says Justin Bowen at The Great American Home Store, a furniture and mattress retailer with several stores in Tennessee and Mississippi. As their Web Content Manager for the past five years, he says the store has pretty much tried all of the main marketing and advertising avenues, learning valuable lessons along the way.
The digital marketing domain continues to rapidly change as technology improves, giving companies a plethora of online marketing options to consider and data to manage all at once. Digital marketing strategies that don’t keep pace with these changes tend to go stale fast.
As Bowen puts it, what worked in the past won’t work now. Your audience changed, the way they consume information and communicate changed, and how they decide what to buy changed.
I asked Bowen and a host of other PERQ clients, partners and digital marketing experts what do’s and don’ts they’ve learned through their online experience and put together this three-part blog series full of digital marketing tips. See firsthand what’s worked well for them, what advice they give other business leaders, and how they’ve improved the way they manage digital marketing. Let’s start this series with marketing management.
Follow the Sales Data & ROI
Tying a marketing campaign to an actual sale used to be a pipe dream for most industries. Marketing agencies and PPC vendors can tell you how much organic traffic visited the website and time spent on site, or how many people clicked your digital ad, shared your social post or saw it on their newsfeed, but they can’t connect revenue with online leads. Many don’t even deliver specific leads and only track anonymous traffic, leaving you to simply hope the consumer reaches out or comes to visit in person after encountering your brand online.
“There are more and more ways to track down a lead to a real sale becoming available,” Bowen says. “You have to do your due diligence. Make sure you have a way to measure any digital marketing you try. Hold your advertising accountable, set up metrics, and ask vendors point-blank what they can do to get you as close to tracking actual leads to sales as possible.”
Once you know exactly what digital advertising efforts end in a lease or sale, your marketing department can use that data to start targeting customers with messaging and platforms most likely to convert, as well as use the analytics reports to better manage your digital marketing channels based on what’s working and what’s not giving you a good return on your investment.
Marketing Automation to Improve Customer Experience
Today’s consumer desires an easy shopping experience, starting online and seamlessly flowing into an in-person interaction. They prefer personalized emails and texts, and love websites that seem to know exactly what they’re looking for before they know.
Sound like way too much for your sales team to handle, at least effectively? Marketing automation can make managing all of your digital marketing channels much easier, and works around the clock to move leads closer to a conversion before they ever reach out to a real person at your retail store or leasing office.
“The multifamily industry is continuing to evolve and improve the approach, as well as giving more focus to the customers’ digital experience,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, which manages rental communities in 13 states. She says that while other industries have long provided consumers with a “tailored online experience” that offers real-time availability, pricing and specials, property management companies are only beginning to play this highly personalized digital game.
You can easily add AI technology to your website to automatically guide prospects along the consumer journey with interactive, engaging tools and content that’s tailored to their search. Not only does it make it easier for consumers to do their own research and take immediate action, it also gathers quality lead data from those visitors.
“We have found the appointment setting-feature is excellent and provides the customer the best opportunity to immediately schedule a tour of the community while finishing up their research on our property website,” Richard says. “Our website now allows us to offer an enhanced experience for the customer, and provides us with the data on those interactions to help our teams ensure a better experience.”
Richard says Glick’s leasing consultants use consumer profile data to connect with individual prospects in a conversational way, versus collecting information in a checklist approach that’s impersonal.
Bowen agrees that current marketing trends call for a personalized approach. “It’s all about individualized service — all sales are going toward conversational,” he says. “You have to have the tools in place to know where the customer is at in the sales process though. You really need as much data as possible to know where they’re at and what they want, or you can’t really talk one-on-one otherwise.”
Digital Marketing Cloud Centralizes Data, Automates Lead Nurture
A marketing cloud offers one of the most powerful technology tools for companies looking to better manage digital marketing, as well as automate much of the lead nurture process through email and text messaging. By centralizing data across all digital platforms and integrating it with revenue reports, a cloud solution gives companies a holistic view of their online advertising and marketing ROI, in-depth consumer profile information and detailed analytics that factor in every touchpoint.
On the flip side, customers receive customized information to move them along the sales funnel until they’re ready to commit to your company in a digital format they prefer, leaving your sales teams with more time to better engage those leads who are ready to buy or lease.
“The time to start is now,” Bowen says of text messaging and other innovative marketing technologies now available to smaller retailers and privately held companies. “People already prefer [communicating in a digital format] but most of your competition isn’t doing it, so it’s a prime opportunity.
“The technology is already there. It takes getting people in the organization out of their comfort zone, getting real buy-in from the sales team, and forging new processes for communication,” Bowen says. “Automation is helpful to fill in the gaps around a very knowledgeable staff, which is what makes us different than the bigger companies or some of our local competitors.”