I wrote this blog post with the intention of addressing and explaining how a shift in your marketing program can leverage the infrastructure of current investments and move your marketing to a new level of engagement and action.
In a new reality of quickly changing marketing trends and rapidly eroding engagement via traditional media, it is critical that everyone embraces a new approach. If we do not move rapidly to engage communities and tell our story, then others will, and the community, customers, donations, and volunteers will rapidly erode. To build a solid marketing house for the future, it is necessary to build the foundation now. This foundation means embracing new techniques and approaches, thus arriving at a destination where we can be effective and diligent moving forward with our marketing spend.
The Traditional Model
Most of the business and non-profit world has traditionally used a “blanket approach” to marketing – chiefly through newspaper and magazine ad buys, online banner ads, radio spots, and other mass media. These mediums contact everyone in a demographic and geographic area, and by default (not precision) reach the intended audience. The vast majority of these impressions and ad dollars are wasted on those who have no desire to engage or are engaged, but not ready to act.
It is those who are engaged but not ready to act that are so important to us as this statistically counts for 30% – 40% of the viewing audience. These are the individuals that paid attention to the ad, care about the cause or message, but are not yet ready to purchase, donate, volunteer, attend an event, or spread the word. This group vastly outnumbers the roughly 3% who are ready to take this action. It has traditionally been necessary to continue a large advertising budget to consistently place your message in front of this group until they are not only engaged, but moved to action. Since this takes 10 – 12 impressions (number of times they see your ad or hear your message), this becomes a costly endeavor. Stop short of committing enough resources to engage each individual 10 – 12 times and your marketing dollar is wasted – it’s the equivalent of pushing a bolder up a hill, stopping short of the hilltop and simply having it roll back down to the base.
So how does an organization or business with a limited budget overcome this traditional marketing reality? The answer lies in the new marketing model. For purposes of this example let’s call it the bridge model.
The Bridge Model
For this new model, envision the bridges that connect the Florida Keys to the mainland. The mainland represents the starting point where a constituent is first engaged by your business or organization. Key West represents the intended destination; the point where the constituent takes action via purchasing, donating, volunteering, etc. Each bridge in this example represents a piece of marketing or messaging. In the traditional model, organizations try to move the constituent from Florida (engagement) to Key West (action) in one step via one “bridge”; a herculean feat in the best of circumstances. While some marketing bridges are able to move the constituent further and faster toward action than others through a well-crafted video or personal contact by an ambassador for example, the vast majority of marketing activity moves the user in smaller, incremental steps. These are akin to the many bridges on the highway to Key West that allow you to move from one island to the next and incrementally complete your journey to the final destination (point of action). These incremental islands represent stepping stone actions that have a lower barrier to action than purchases, donations, volunteering, or attending an event.
The call to actions of these stepping stones start simply: viewing a photo album, liking a Facebook page, or simply visiting a website landing page. The landing pages, in particular, are critical as they are unique to one marketing campaign. Regardless of whether it is an online campaign, an offline ad, or a newsletter, landing pages allow us to track the visits to that page, the actions taken and the overall effectiveness of that specific marketing campaign.
Another key difference is that via marketing automation we can track all actions across all marketing channels at once (website visits, social media engagement, clicks in e-mails). This provides a complete picture of user action and reveals not only what channels are working, but also what combination, order, and frequency of marketing touches that best moves the user to action. Furthermore, this allows us to segment the audience into three buckets based on their actions: One, those who are not engaged (approximately 50% – 60% of the audience); Two, those who have engaged, but not acted (roughly 30% – 40%); Three, those who have engaged and acted (roughly 3%). People in bucket one are set aside as they are not interested. People in bucket three are also put aside because they have already acted. People in bucket two however, are put into a follow-up queue of direct mail, e-mail, and targeted ads where they are exposed to the requisite 10 – 12 impressions needed to inspire action. Since we have cut out 50% – 60% of the unengaged audience before beginning the follow-up marketing, the advertising campaign is significantly more effective both from a cost and a results perspective. In this manner, we can significantly cut the traditional ad budget, as we are now reaching and capturing 33% – 43% of the audience rather than just 3%.
This will allow us to:
- Generate significantly better results with significantly fewer resources, specifically less reliance on highly inefficient traditional ad campaigns;
- Capture and track user behavior and engagement across online and offline ad channels;
- Create a clear picture of the path to engagement by understanding the combination of channels and messages that is most efficient in driving the audience from initial engagement to desired final action;
- Track the viewing audience (at a company level) even before they fill out a form. This can provide a hot list of companies to be followed up with by additional highly targeted marketing or directly by your ambassadors;
- Track the viewing audience (at an individual level) when they engage and act on a smaller “stepping stone” action, which in the process provides us with an e-mail address, Facebook like, other social media engagement, or contact information;
- Create highly targeted follow-up campaigns for a fraction of the traditional cost by only reaching out to those we know are already engaged with the channel and topic of most interest to them.
In this manner, we can begin to move the needle and take control of telling your story. In the process, we will create more engaged constituents, move them to the desired actions sooner and faster and build a strong marketing foundation for the future.