Whether It’s This Month, Next Month Or Later, You’ll Need This Checklist To Ramp Up Marketing
For most of you, I’m hoping you followed our advice and it’s business as usual when it comes to marketing this month and next.
But for others who have laid off marketing team members, canceled agency contracts or shuttered ad spend, ramping that back up again is going to be critical to jump-starting your company’s sales efforts.
If you sputter to get things going, you could kill your chances to catch up for lost time and sink any attempts to make your second quarter numbers. Even worse, if the ramp-up drags on, you might negatively impact your overall 2020 revenue performance.
To prevent that horrible scenario, here’s our checklist for getting your marketing ramped up quickly, efficiently and in the most productive way possible:
- Plan for 30 days and 90 days
- Turbocharge your ad spend
- Move forward with marketing and sales technology
- Make adjustments and upgrades to your website
- Rework your email schedule and topic calendar
- Continue to lean into social media
- Add video to your asset library
- Create new educational content
- Turn on chat (if you haven’t already)
- Meet with sales and arm them with new tools
- Benchmark performance and set new goals
- Adjust your budget accordingly
Here are details on all 12 of our checklist items:
Plan For 30 Days And 90 Days
You want to avoid random acts of marketing and you want to make sure you’re still thinking before you act or spend. Strategy before tactics is still in play. In fact, it might be more important than ever.
Start by looking at the next 90 days. The further out you go, the less certainty you’ll have related to business and economic conditions. But by looking at May, June and July as a collection, I think you’ll be able to limit any massive uncertainty.
What are your goals over the next 90 days? Let’s say you want to ramp up lead generation to pre-virus levels and provide sales with enough qualified sales opportunities to hit their revised goals for the next three months.
That’s going to require you to: reconnect with prospects; adjust your message on your website; engage with website visitors; provide new educational content to drive conversions; give reps the best leads to follow up on and close quickly; and use video and social to tell your story. That’s a lofty set of goals and associated tactics.
Now break those up into three 30-day sprints. Prioritize work over the next 30 days and start to push work into your second 30-day period. Now you have a list to tackle immediately.
Turbocharge Paid Ads By 30%
A lot of companies have reduced or even eliminated paid media spends over the last few months. If that was you, turn those ads back on immediately, and if you want to catch up, consider upping your budget by at least 30%.
Make sure your ads are story-appropriate, meaning if you haven’t adjusted your messaging since the pandemic started, now is the time to make sure it’s culturally sensitive, timely and appropriate.
Now is also a great time to adjust your ad strategy. If you’ve been sending people to your homepage, fix that by sending them to a landing page. If you’ve been promoting the back end of the buyer journey offers, fix that by promoting more educational content.
Now is also a good time to audit your spend, negative keywords, branded keywords, overall keyword strategy, clicks vs. impressions and other ad management components.
Some of your assumptions from a few months ago might have changed, or the auction environment might have changed, too. It’s possible you can get many more clicks for the same budget, so this might not be about spending more but about optimizing your campaign to drive 30% more leads.
Move Forward With Marketing And Sales Technology
If you were planning on adding marketing automation, sales CRM or website CMS tools to your revenue generation tech stack, now is the time to move forward. If you were thinking about replacing marketing, sales or customer service technology, now is the time to move forward.
First, you’re still going to get aggressive discounts and deferred payment terms from almost every software provider.
Next, while things are a little slower, now is the perfect time to replace old or outdated tools with new tools that will allow you to market, sell and service based on the new normal.
For example, you won’t be visiting prospects in person anytime soon. You won’t be headed off to that big industry trade show either. Your customer service teams will need to continue to go above and beyond to keep customers happy. You’ll need new tactics for marketing, sales and customer service under the new normal.
Starting these remove-and-replace projects now means in a few weeks when business starts to return to pre-virus levels, you’ll already have these tools in place, your team will be using them and they’ll start to pay off big time with efficiencies and improved results across all three areas of your business.
Make Adjustments And Upgrades To Your Website
If you’ve added COVID-19 content to your website, it might be time to take it off. It’s also a good time to revisit your story and make sure it’s disruptive, emotional and compelling. With only 10 seconds to get someone’s attention, why not take another look at your website and make some changes?
Then look at the rest of the site.
Is educational content strategically deployed across the site?
What is the site-wide conversion rate? How are your landing pages performing? If they’re not 40% or higher, they might require some attention.
Are you showing up in searches for your top keywords, phrases and questions? Again, it might be time for a new look at search engine optimization.
Have you deployed any pillar pages? These have a chance to rank quickly, driving visitors and leads for your company.
It’s probably a good time to look at the entire site, especially if it’s more than 18 months old. It’s possible a site refresh for design might be required, or a complete site rebuild might be necessary if the visitor experience isn’t smooth or effective at turning visitors into leads and sales opportunities.
Adjust Your Email Marketing Calendar And Schedule
You’ve probably increased the amount of email you’re sending, so now is a good time to take a look at opt-out rates, open rates and click-through rates. Just because you’re sending more doesn’t mean it’s working better.
You probably increased the frequency and adjusted your editorial calendar a few months ago, too. How do you want to change that going forward? My suggestion is to not go back to previous topics and schedules.
Instead, push yourself to create more compelling storylines and promote those in your email campaigns. Don’t give up entirely on coronavirus-related content, but make your emails align with other more positive storylines.
Consider some themes, like promoting customer success stories with video. This does wonders to help cross-sell and up-sell additional products and services to current customers, and it tells your story to prospects.
This is also a good time to look at segmentation. By segmenting your list you can send fewer emails to everyone and have the emails you do send perform at higher clips because they are more targeted and more personal.
Keep Publishing On Social
Almost every company has leaned into posting content on social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are exploding with content. Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but most of it is highly self-promotional.
Prior to the pandemic, most companies didn’t know exactly what to do with social media, and other than posting blog articles it was becoming a forgotten channel or a channel flooded with paid advertising.
The pandemic has caused a lot of companies to use social as it was originally designed — to post personal stories, to engage audiences and to share relevant content.
To continue getting full value from your efforts on social media, lean into the idea of conversation starters, micro-content and video. Take a stand, share an opinion, give your perspective on a topic and work harder to engage your audience.
This is the best bet for growing an audience and drawing attention to your company, goals for any productive marketing tactic.
Add New Videos
This one is a little trickier. You need more video. TikTok, Quibi and Snapchat are all popular for short videos. They are influencing how we use and make videos for business.
Before the virus, a production company would show up, shoot for a half day or full day and produce your desired videos. Without the ability to get together in person, you’re going to need to produce these in-house and, in some cases, at home.
You’re going to need different equipment, different software, different editing resources (partners) and a slightly different strategy around what videos you want to produce.
But there is a lot of good news. The video equipment, apps and editing capabilities available today will allow you and your team to shoot videos at home and quickly get them on the web and integrated into your marketing campaigns.
What you should be thinking about is this: What questions do you want your videos to answer? Who can act as a subject matter expert? Do you have the tools to shoot the video on your phone? How can you quickly get the videos edited and out?
For more information on how to lock down your video plans, check out this DIY guide to creating killer video content at home.
Create New And Timely Educational Content
We all adjusted our content calendars once we realized the old content was tone deaf to the real world. It’s time to take a look at that calendar again. With businesses opening and people going back to work, you need another adjustment.
I wouldn’t go back to your old schedule. There will be issues that take longer to rebound. For example, people won’t be traveling as much, conferences and events will remain canceled, and remote working is going to be here to stay.
Your content calendar will need to move way from some content and toward other content. Keep this calendar flexible. Look at it every 30 days. The speed at which you create content will have to increase, which means you’ll need resources at the ready to create something quickly, get it out quickly and track its performance in real time. If you’re missing those capabilities, add that to the list of things to do this month.
Turn On Chat (If You Haven’t Already)
I’m shocked to see so many websites without chat available. More and more people are looking to converse with your company while on your site. They have questions and they want answers. They’re looking for something specific and they want direction. They need clarification, and you should be able to offer that.
More importantly, some of them want to speak with a sales rep. They want to accelerate their buyer journey. They have immediate needs and are looking for immediate help.
There is almost no scenario and no company where chat won’t create leads, generate sales opportunities and accelerate the sales cycle.
Chat is very easy to turn on. Most marketing automation platforms come with chat. Other add-on chat technology is easy to turn on, easy to set up and easy to use.
Yes, hundreds of enhancements can be made to make the chat experience on your website more remarkable, but simply offering it, monitoring it and responding to people who want to use it can provide a big lift as you start to ramp up your marketing through the end of this month and the rest of 2020.
Meet With Sales And Arm Them With New Tools
Perhaps no team in your company has been impacted more over the past few months than sales. Cold calls don’t work because no one is in their office. In-person visits are out because no one is traveling and everyone is working at home. Networking events are canceled. Trade shows are canceled. All company events are canceled. Sales and salespeople are shut out.
But progressive companies quickly shifted from an in-person sales process to a remote, Zoom-enabled sales process. Don’t think things will return to the old ways for sales anytime soon. In fact, it’s likely that sales will never return to its old ways.
Many executives will never return to their offices, making it that much harder to reach targeted people at targeted accounts. Most executives are far more sensitive to unsolicited emails, and some companies have tightened their spam filters.
In-person selling and travel in general will likely be one of the last tactics to return, and we could be well into 2021 before people are comfortable hopping on a plane or having a one-on-one meeting with people they don’t know or who have just traveled.
This means marketing and sales are going to have to work much closer going forward. There is no reason to double the amount of leads generated if sales doesn’t have a revised sales process designed to qualify and handle the extra lead flow.
Sales is going to need new tools, new video options, new content offers and new ways to qualify prospects before they invest a ton of time walking them through your new touchless sales process.
Now is the time to meet with sales, talk about their new process, evaluate their needs and start arming them with the content they need to move people through the buyer journey, qualify prospects quickly and get prospects to feel safe when shaking hands is off the table.
Benchmark Performance And Set New Goals
This is a tricky one, but it’s mandatory. You can’t skip the track-and-measure step. But first, you have to reset your goals for the next few months. You probably originally set these in mid-December. Now all bets are off. You have to start again.
Worse, you can’t really use the last few months to help you set the next few months. Regardless, take your best guess at where you think you’ll be in May, June and July for leads generated, sales opportunities created, visitors to your website and site-wide conversion rate.
I’d expect May to look similar to April, with perhaps a slight increase. I’d expect the same from June and July as people get back to work and as work returns to normal — whatever that normal is for your customers.
If you have traditional seasonality in your business (for example, the summer is historically slower), you might need some investigation. It’s possible that this summer looks different than most summers. Try to plan accordingly.
Then make sure you have the marketing and sales support tactics to back up your numbers. Stay close to the numbers and review them in real time more frequently than you might have before. Weekly is probably advised, but you might want to look at some of the numbers daily.
Staying close to the numbers will allow you to adjust your plans accordingly and give you a better chance to avoid missing those numbers down the road.
Adjust Your Budget Accordingly
I’m sure the budget you started the year with is not the budget you’re currently looking at today. Almost everyone experienced some degree of budget cutting over the past 90 days.
Now you have to make that budget last through the end of the year. But in some cases, you might be able to make the argument that your budget needs to return to pre-pandemic levels (or at least a review of the new lower budget is worthwhile).
It’s especially important to make sure budget expectations are aligned with growth expectations. Lower budgets generally mean fewer tactics, less support and fewer leads.
If company leadership is expecting you to catch up for lost months and make up for March and April with a strong June and July, then you’re going to need that budget increased to support those goals.
Go into that budget meeting with your plan. Know what you want to spend that increased budget on, and have a solid idea around what more budget means in terms of leads, sales opportunities and new customer revenue.
Now that you have a checklist for what needs to happen to reopen your marketing, you can go about tackling these items over the next few months. Of course, the more you can get done and the sooner you can get it done, the better your results in a shorter amount of time.
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