By Michael Bush, Commercial Director, Climb Online
According to the latest statistics, the average business spends between 5 – 12% of their annual turnover on marketing.
While millions of organisations – particularly those operating in B2C sectors – perceive digital marketing as fundamental to driving sales and resulting business growth, other business owners still need convincing of its value, and often have preconceptions of the return on investment [ROI] required to make it worthwhile.
However, the digital marketing world is shifting, which means the mindset of business owners should too – where instead of focusing on ROI as a measure of success, there is growing weight on the value of customer experience and acquisition.
The omni-channel approach
In recent years, the average time spent on a screen has increased significantly, as advances in smartphones continue to shape an ‘always on’, 24/7 connected society.
In fact, over the last 12 months alone screen time has accelerated by 76%, which means consumers are spending more time on their devices – on social media and online – than ever before.
Whilst this presents a clear opportunity for brands to directly engage target audiences via a platform they consistently interact with, it also presents a clear challenge as competing businesses battle for the same digital space.
The solution is to shift focus from one marketing stream, such as Facebook ads, and to create an omni-channel strategy, which integrates as many relevant channels as possible to create a seamless customer experience across every single touch point.
Aside from increasing brand awareness, an omni-channel strategy not only reaches and engages a higher proportion of your target audience but is proven to increase customer acquisition and resulting brand loyalty. However, it isn’t a short-term fix and, instead, business owners must be prepared to play the long game.
Customer experience = customer acquisition
When customers experience a seamless journey from point of contact through to point of sale, they are far more likely to remain loyal to the business in hand, particularly if the same positive experience is consistent post acquisition.
For too long, businesses have committed marketing budgets to standalone campaigns, such as social media advertising or paid media [pay-per-click] and quickly get frustrated when they don’t reach the level of sales or enquiries required to secure a fast ROI.
In reality, short-term stats like click-through-rate and impressions should be utilised to assess and improve the performance of the ad itself, whereas the real focus or measure of commercial success should be placed on the cost of customer acquisition, and the resulting sales that could be generated over the life span of the customer as a result.
Holistic, data-driven strategies
Ultimately, business leaders need to approach digital marketing in the same way as any other key function of their organisation – with commitment and consistency.
Standalone, inconsistent campaigns need to be replaced with holistic, commercially driven strategies that maximise all relevant channels to increase brand awareness, engage target audiences and form a fundamental part of the sales and customer retention process.
Only in doing so – and in maximising the data available – will businesses actually gain insight into both the cost of customer acquisition but also the true value and potential opportunity for growth each acquisition presents.