// 15 mins read
As the global pandemic and mandatory quarantine caught everyone off-guard, companies across the nation scrambled to develop digital strategies to offset the decreased foot traffic. As marketers, we know that pandemic or not, developing and maintaining a digital strategy is an absolute must-do. (No–seriously, over 230.5 million people are projected to be digital buyers in the next year!1). But, to convince your leadership team of the value and impact of a digital budget, you have to speak their language.
Businesses are continually looking for ways to decrease costs. It’s easy to cut spending on tactics that don’t seem to bring a quick return, like digital marketing. In truth, digital marketing is typically more cost-effective, providing more leads, sales, and conversions for your buck. Here’s the problem: there’s a disconnect between what you find valuable and what leadership teams/clients find valuable.
Only 35% of marketers reported that understanding the ROI of their campaign is “Very Important” or “Extremely Important.” (HubSpot, 2020)
To maintain executive excitement (and investment) in digital marketing, it’s imperative to communicate value throughout the sales funnel using bottom-line metrics that matter to the business’ operating objectives. Doing this successfully should make ROI evident to your leadership team. Testing and learning what works may take time, but positioning insights gained along the way as ROI will help you and decision-makers feel confident in digital budget spends.
Let’s change the narrative on digital marketing results. Use the tools below to bring visibility and impact to your digital campaign reporting.
Be proactive with your digital strategy.
If the pandemic led to your company’s first significant investment in digital marketing, it’s time to plan the future of your digital strategy. As states begin to lift in-person restrictions, more and more people are returning to brick and mortar locations. It’s important to plan early and shift the digital perception from a temporary “just to get by” tactic to a consistent part of your overall marketing strategy. Getting approval for this means pitching the powers that be in your organization or to your clients.
Create a six- or 12-month digital marketing plan with a suggested budget that works for your company’s size and structure. Be clear about your goals with each campaign and relate them to overall business goals.
Before gathering impactful data and telling stories with your campaign’s insights, you’ll need a way to see everything. Monitor every click, every call, and every sale. Linking insights and actions directly back to your digital strategy means bonus points for you.
Without tracking digital tactics on all campaigns, channels, and ads, it’s almost impossible to connect the dots from each ad’s performance to your business goals. Even for campaigns that don’t perform as expected, walking in with a specific action plan can offset a less-than-stellar campaign report. You can’t measure what you can’t see.
To-Do: Track the individual actions that excite your biz dev team.
- Facebook Pixel – Installing a Facebook Pixel on your site or landing page helps develop an audience for retargeting, sales tracking, “add to cart” actions, and even offline events. You can also add a monetary value to each conversion to monitor the actual ROI for each ad spend. If you are running Facebook/Instagram ads without a pixel, set this up TODAY.
- Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager – Understanding traffic and user behaviors on your site provides a wealth of knowledge on your content, user experience, calls-to-action, and overall web experience. One common mistake is spending a significant amount of money on a media spend, only to send users to a site that doesn’t convert. Don’t let that be you. Set up Google Analytics with a developer’s help. Then, try Google Tag Manager to add tracking for all your campaigns in a streamlined view, with little development experience needed.
- Call Tracking – Does your company value phone leads over web leads? Use a call tracking software to monitor which ads or tactics lead to the highest volume of calls and/or most qualified phone leads. Don’t miss these leads just because they aren’t digital. We recommend CallRail as a call tracking service.
- Link Building for Attribution – Using a URL builder, add attributes specific to your campaign, and monitor them using Google Analytics. Building a unique URL for each ad allows you to discern where the most leads originate, and what content is the most effective.
These are just a few examples of tracking methods I use daily to monitor my campaigns. Find the right metrics for your team and keep tabs on them consistently until it’s time to compile them into something extraordinary. To really bring the story full circle, incorporate metrics from the sales team such as leads into a CRM software or shopping cart completions for e-commerce funnels.
Communicate the “learning phase” and manage expectations.
There’s a philosophy in digital marketing: ABT or Always Be Testing. Finding the right mix of digital tactics for your brand may take longer than leadership wants to wait. But, steady improvements with clear communication will earn their trust. As you use the previous tips to track your campaigns, you’ll likely change creative, adjust spends, and update targeting as the campaign evolves. Give your CEO a glimpse into that process as it happens, so they feel invested and confident in your success. The word of the day? VISIBILITY. The leadership team can’t champion what they can’t see.
Money is a sensitive topic; media budgets are no different. The creation, explanation, and execution of the media plan are paramount because uncertainty leads to closed checkbooks (remember those?). To reduce anxiety when asking for the big bucks, strategically explain your budget breakdown. Spending without efficiency leads to reduced budgets and a lack of financial trust, so always keep your ad account at the forefront. Like most ad strategies, performance increases with larger spending. Therefore, managing and succeeding with small funds lead to more investment and more ROI.
Think about your organization’s seasonality and communicate a timeline needed to provide a well-rounded action plan. If your company booms in the winter, account for the summer with an adjusted schedule and budget. The action here? Be PROACTIVE.
To-Do: Build a visual representation of your plan that shows the timeline, creative, media spend, and conversion goals you intend to see throughout the year, then pitch it with confidence.
Don’t just send a report. Tell the story.
While I’d love to talk CTRs and CPCs over coffee with you, it’s imperative to speak the intended receiver’s language. In your case, your receiver could be the sales team, your CEO, or even an intern. Return to those bullet points that made the biz dev team excited, and use your metrics to tell a story no billboard or print ad could provide.
A report with numbers is just that. With the right insights and a confident presentation, you’ll leave them feeling excited, not confused or disinterested.
A few ways to keep your report meetings lively include:
- Connect business goals to digital KPIs and consistently report on the bottom-line impact.
- Filter or remove metrics that don’t move the needle for your company, or require more technical learning to understand.
- Monitor and explain metrics that unveil customer behavior and desire. Find 3-5 priceless insights that lead your team to action.
To-Do: Pull a 30-day report from your campaign and find 1-2 unique findings to share with your entire team.
Remember, data should inform but not drive every decision. Use data to validate instincts, and human behavior to contextualize data. Where data and instinct meet, you’ll find insight. Keeping this philosophy top of mind, and sharing it with your team, helps everyone come to a decision.
- While digital seems like the obvious choice, the investment may seem questionable without the proof.
- Tracking all your tactics provides the best data set to draw insights and monitor KPIs related to your business’s goals.
- Build trust by keeping communication lines open before, during, and after a campaign launches. This helps your team be mindful of your pivots for average or low performing campaigns and thrilled when campaigns do their job.
- Keep your organization’s goals in mind and tell the story of each campaign through that lens. Granular metrics have a place, just not with a team looking for sales and leads.
No one knows what the future holds as far as the pandemic is concerned. I do know that with the right data, actionable insights, and smart reporting, you’ll own your digital marketing strategy during any unusual event–I mean, it IS 2020.