How to Prepare Your Business to Expand Digital Marketing
So you’ve decided that it’s time to hire a digital marketing agency. If you’ve never worked with an agency before, the thought of outsourcing so much of your marketing can be daunting. Luckily, there are many things your team can do internally to ensure a successful partnership from the beginning. Here is your handy guide for how to work with a digital marketing agency.
Establish a Budget
Before you can launch any campaigns with the agency, you need to know what your budget will be. According to an infographic released by Wordstream, businesses that have been around for one to five years should set aside 12 to 20 percent of their gross revenue for marketing, while more established companies should allocate 6 to 12 percent.
One major reason for this is that newer companies will likely need to spend more on marketing in order to generate more brand awareness at the outset. In addition, startups and new businesses will have more trial and error involved in digital marketing, since they do not have the benefit of looking through their past marketing history to optimize results.
So for example, if upper-level management in a three-year-old company is projecting $2,000,000 in gross revenue for the next fiscal year and wants to allocate 20% toward an aggressive marketing strategy, you can calculate $1,000,000 x .20 to arrive at a marketing budget of $200,000.
Keep in mind that this will also include labor costs and agency management fees, which are separate from the advertising budget that directly pays PPC platforms.
- Work with upper-level management to ensure sales and marketing goals and KPIs complement each other. For example, the marketing team should not launch any campaigns that are at odds with accomplishing the sales team’s goals (such as relying too heavily on marketing that involves discounts). Since collaboration starts from the top-down, the sales director and marketing director should open that conversation first so that they can ultimately lead their respective teams more efficiently.
- Host meetings at regularly scheduled intervals to ensure that both sales and marketing teams remain on the same page. Notably, the sales team should always be aware of marketing campaigns that are going out, and how this might lead to an increase in customers contacting the business as well as an increase in sales.
- Ensure that both the sales team and the marketing team have access to key technology like the company’s CRM to track customer engagement with the sales team as well as marketing collateral like emails. Salesforce, Oracle, and Hubspot are a few CRMs that are particularly well-regarded.
By laying the foundation for strong communication within the sales and marketing departments in your business, you will be better equipped to adapt to working with an external agency partner.
Understand the Stage Your Business is In
There are five main business stages: seed/development (which occurs prior to launching the business), startup, growth/establishment, expansion, and maturity. By understanding the stage your business is in, you can also set proper expectations about digital marketing results.
For example, if your business is in one of the early stages like development or startup, there could be a more extensive market research process involved at the outset, as well as additional time for setting up a website, social media accounts, and other brand activations.
These are all marketing initiatives that an agency like Pacific54 can work with your business to implement. As previously mentioned with budgeting, business owners with newer companies should expect to spend a higher percentage of the company’s gross revenue on marketing in order to reach the target audience.
By contrast, if your company is in the growth or expansion stage and has already done some marketing that’s working well, you might be looking for agency expertise to optimize campaigns, reduce cost per click, expand your customer base, or grow sales from existing customers through email/text campaigns or remarketing.
For example, an established and expanding company like Uber can send email marketing campaigns to upsell to existing customers. Below is an example of an email that a recent Uber rider might receive in order to convince them to use the company’s UberEats app. To sweeten the deal, email marketing includes a discount code.
One stage is not better or worse than another; it just affects what those marketing dollars will be used for and what your desired outcomes should be.
Understand Your Sales Cycle to Properly Set Expectations of How Fast You Can Get Results
Most sales cycles will undergo a process that involves some variation of the following: drive awareness of the brand, create demand for the product or service, and encourage the customer to take an action (usually make a purchase). But different industries have different sales cycles, and the length of the sales cycle will determine how quickly your digital marketing strategy will affect the bottom line.
To find the average sales cycle for your industry or company profile (B2B, B2C, etc), you can consult research reports such as those published by Marketing Sherpa or request benchmarking data from firms like Insight Squared. To figure out your company’s average sales cycle, follow this formula:
(Add the total number of days from each customer’s first contact with the business to that customer’s purchase) / (number of purchases) = number of days for the Average Sales Cycle
Some industries, such as higher education, will have a much more drawn-out sales cycle than an e-commerce store that sells home goods. For example, higher education marketing follows a specific recruitment and enrollment period. A prospective student might start researching colleges in the fall of their junior year of high school, start the application process in the fall of their senior year, and submit their enrollment deposit in the spring of their senior year. That process can last almost two years!
To determine the average sales cycle, the university would need to analyze when each student first came into contact with the university (a CRM is most helpful for finding this information), calculate how many days it took for each student to enroll, add all these days together, and then divide by the total number of students. Not surprisingly, a longer sales cycle will require a longer timeframe to fully analyze and test performance.
By contrast, e-commerce sites or brick-and-mortar locations that offer consumer goods like clothing will have a much faster turnaround for getting results. Compared to industries like education and healthcare, consumer goods are generally less expensive and customers are more inclined to make impulse purchases. Ecommerce sites, in particular, can shorten the sales cycle by sending abandoned cart notifications, coupons, and similar incentives to encourage customers to buy.
Keep in mind that if your sales cycle takes too long within your industry, you could be missing out on potential revenue. By understanding your company sales cycle and how it compares to your industry overall, you can work with your agency partner to find strategic marketing interventions (retargeting ads, abandoned cart notifications, geo-fencing campaigns, etc.) to increase the possibility of closing the sale.
Set Realistic Expectations for the Effectiveness of Campaigns
In addition to understanding sales cycles, you should understand how likely your target audience is to convert. To get an idea of a realistic expectation for conversions or the sales close rate in your industry, use this free calculator from Hubspot. According to the calculator, the average close rate across all industries is 19%.
When you launch a marketing campaign, usually one of your goals will be to exceed industry benchmarks as well as your company’s previous performance. Keep in mind that most of the time, you may not see an immediate impact on your sales after you launch a marketing campaign, especially when your sales cycle is longer as with higher education. However, you will able to see incremental movement in web traffic, sales, or other KPIs.
In order to see the effectiveness of all your digital campaigns, you will need to track everything. We recommend using UTM links for all digital advertising placements, requesting benchmarking data and campaign metrics from any third-party media, and integrating all Google Ads campaigns within your Google Analytics platform. An agency can also help with analyzing all these metrics together and suggesting optimizations to maximize your advertising spend.
An agency partnership involves an ongoing conversation, so it’s important to communicate openly to express pain points, challenges, and goals.
For example, if your agency partner has launched a new e-commerce site for you but users still have difficulty navigating the product filtering function, say so! If you are promoting multiple clothing products in your Instagram marketing, but one product is outperforming the others, let the agency know that you want to focus more of the marketing efforts on the successful product. It’s okay to pivot based on your business’s changing needs, and a good agency will do its best to realign the digital marketing strategy to your new goals.
Designate a Person or Team to Communicate with the Agency
Even though agencies are a way to outsource some of your marketing, the agency will still require input from your company’s internal team for strategy approval, branding guidelines, and sometimes creative assets too. When determining how to work with a digital marketing agency, we recommend assigning at least one person within your company to communicate with the agency, answer any questions, and give the final stamp of approval for a campaign.
Before you start any campaigns, clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations that your liaison should have when working with the agency. We also recommend keeping records of all documentation in case this “point person” changes over time.
Ready to expand your digital marketing strategy? Contact Pacific54 today to speak with a representative.