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The comprehensive guide to investing your
digital marketing budget
As any marketing professional or business owner working
today can tell you, there’s never been more pressure to be so
many places at once.
Surf over to any digital business blog, and you’ll see article
upon article recommending new and different marketing
channels – all of which, they claim, deserve your attention.
If you’re a business owner working on your own, making sense
of these myriad, ever-changing recommendations can feel
overwhelmingly impossible. If you’re leading a marketing
department, that same pressure is amplified by knowing that
your boss will be looking over your shoulder, evaluating your
performance based on the results you drive.
Knowing how and when to prioritise different marketing
channels is critical to your company’s success, but it isn’t easy.
What you need is a clear, no-BS plan of action – and that’s
exactly what I’m about to share.
What You’ll Learn
After taking the steps I detail below, you’ll:
Understand the most common digital marketing channels used today.
Be able to determine which channels are best suited to your business.
Be comfortable analysing the performance of any channels you’re
currently using.
Have a plan for prioritising different marketing channels.
Be confident revisiting and revising your plan as needed to ensure it’s serving your company as effectively as possible.
Before putting together a plan, it’s important to understand the options
available. With that in mind, I’ve started with a breakdown of the most common
digital channels, outlining their strengths and weaknesses, as well as when to
use them.
Here are the channels I cover;
Email Marketing
Digital PR
PPC Advertising
Guest Publishing
Affiliate Marketing
Content Marketing
Viral/Referral Marketing
Organic Social Media Marketing
Free Web Tools & Apps
Paid Social Media Marketing
Online Community & Forum
Influencer Marketing
Begin with Proper Optimisation
In order to understand potential channel returns, you need to know how
your website performs (and, ideally, that it’s been optimised to be maximally
That’s where CRO comes in…
Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) refers to a testing program that’s designed
to make your website as effective as possible through the deployment of
incremental changes.
Often times, it’s even worth considering whether your website needs a
significant overhaul – that’s a conversation for another time though.
I bring this up now not to get into a tutorial on CRO, but to emphasise that if you
haven’t yet done conversion rate work on your site, you should invest in this
area before spending your budget on channel campaigns. If you’re really in a
rush then do them simultaneously, but make sure that you at least do some.
Even if you’ve done CRO in the past, it’s often worth taking a fresh look at user
behaviour on your site, as it tends to change over time.
Key Takeaway:
Start by improving what you have through the
proper implementation of CRO, then move on to
investing in modern marketing channels.
CRO should be considered an ongoing process independent of individual marketing
campaigns. However, many businesses using CRO see their strongest conversion rate gains in
the first few months of testing, making a focused period of CRO appropriate before investing
in new marketing channels.
Getting to Know
Modern Marketing Channels
So, what exactly do I mean when I say ‘modern marketing channels’? And how
can you decide which ones to invest in?
Below, I’ll cover a few of the standard customer acquisition channels you may
see mentioned online – or that you may already be trying to choose between.
For reference, I’m only covering digital channels here, since they’re the easiest
to measure and should be visible in your Google Analytics account. Traditional
marketing channels (such as print ads, TV adverts, etc) may also play a valuable
role in your campaign, depending on your target audience.
Email Marketing
Email marketing is just as it sounds –
sending messages to people who have
expressed interest in receiving email
communications from you, typically with
the intent of encouraging sales or other
types of engagement.
Email Marketing
Email marketing can take a number of different forms. For example:
Website visitors who sign up to receive your newsletter can be sent
ongoing, content-based email sequences that nurture them and educate
them on your company.
Highly-engaged email subscribers – for instance, those who regularly open your messages or who have purchased from you in the past – can
be segmented and sent special discount opportunities or VIP offers.
Shoppers who have abandoned their carts in your ecommerce shop
can be sent personalised emails that lure them back to complete their
Average costs:
You’ll need an email provider like Drip, Vero or Mailchimp to run a campaign;
expect that to cost you $20+ per month, depending on the package you
purchase. You may also incur a one-off cost if you choose to have an HTML
email template designed (stock templates and plain text messages work for
many businesses as well).
Further, if you hire out the creation of the messages that populate your email
sequences, expect to pay between $50-$400+ per email; this isn’t strictly
necessary, as you can write them on your own if you have a talented,
conversion-oriented copywriter internally.
Acquiring email addresses to send to may represent an additional cost as well,
if you aren’t using free methods for driving opt-ins. Sending solus emails –
essentially, emails sent to someone else’s database – will incur fees based on
the size and demographics of the audience you’re targeting.
Time to see results:
Depending on the size of your email list and the type of emails you’re sending,
you may see results immediately or you may need some time to get traction.
Some marketers suggest that it’s possible to generate $38 in revenue for every
$1 spent – a 3,800% ROI – with email marketing.
Email Marketing
When to use it:
From the start. Email marketing pairs well with many of the other channels
mentioned in this guide by enabling prospects to form an ongoing relationship
with your company.
According to some estimates, it takes a prospect 6-8 “touches” (or engagements
with a brand) to become a viable sales lead. Techniques like PPC, SEO and
content marketing (discussed in the following sections) will get people on your
site, but they won’t necessarily keep them coming back. Getting permission to
email visitors directly gives you the opportunity to make these necessary
appeals over time.
Main drawbacks:
Email providers are cheap, but setting up true email automation can be
confusing – and mistakes made in who receives which messages, and when,
can leave subscribers frustrated.
PPC Advertising
PPC stands for “pay-per-click,” and if
you’ve seen results appear above Google’s
organic search results with the little green
“Ad” tag, you know what this channel
looks like in the wild.
PPC Advertising
This particular form of advertising is considered to be highly-targeted,
as you bid on the specific keywords you want and reach potential customers
at the exact moment they’re interested in your product or service (or use a
programmatic advertising service to handle these negotiations for you
PPC ads are most often seen in the form of search results listings (on Bing,
Yahoo, and other search engines, in addition to Google).
However, the term can also encompass display network placements, banner
advertisements, retargeting campaigns, and other tactics that involve a set fee
that’s charged whenever a web user clicks on one of your company’s ads.
PPC Advertising
Average cost:
PPC ad click costs depend on your industry and the particular keywords
you’re advertising for (understandably, it’s more expensive to place an ad for
“shoes” than it is for “womens trainers in sydney,” as there are more companies
competing for general, top-level keywords than there are bidding on more
specific, targeted “long-tail” queries).
Extrapolating from Wordstream’s CPC data, Australia’s average CPC falls
somewhere between $.98 and $1.96 on the search network.
It’s also worth noting that the best way to get results is to send any new visitors
you acquire via PPC to a targeted, specific landing page. You may already have
one that’ll suffice, but investing in new ones (either by hiring out the design or
through a service like Unbounce) can drastically improve the conversion rate
and ROI of PPC advertising.
Doing so may represent an additional cost, but it may be recouped in your
overall campaign performance.
PPC Advertising
Time to see results:
With PPC advertising, you can start seeing visitors to your website as soon as
your campaign is launched. You will, however, need to plan some extra time
managing these campaigns, to ensure your customer acquisition costs don’t
exceed their average lifetime value.
When to use it:
Use PPC when you have the available budget to do so, when you have internal
expertise to manage your PPC campaigns profitably (or access to external
guidance that’ll do the same), and when you’re relatively confident in the funnel
you’ve built to channel new website visitors into deeper engagement.
Main drawbacks:
PPC can get expensive – fast – and costs can spiral out of control if it’s not
regularly maintained and optimised. It’s also linear in it’s scalability, meaning
that it doesn’t get much cheaper the more you do (beyond the benefit of
ongoing optimisation).
SEO, or “search engine optimisation,”
involves making changes to your website
that are designed to make it more
appealing to the search engines.
The theory goes that, if the search engines understand the content of your site
and believe it to be valuable to the people querying them, they’ll “rank”
you higher in the results displayed whenever users search for terms that are
relevant to your business, resulting in an influx of new site visitors.
Ranking higher comes with tangible benefits. In a previous company a few
years ago, I saw a keyword that earned a 5% CTR for paid ad position #1, but a
33% CTR for the same keyword in the #1 organic spot. That was before Google
started withholding keyword performance data, but it remains clear that there’s
value in earning top rankings, apart from paying for them with PPC ads.
There’s also a separate set of local-specific SEO best practices, which is most
often used by small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations to ensure their
sites are displayed whenever local search terms are queried (such as “best ice
cream shop in melbourne”).
Ultimately, though, SEO tactics can be broken down into three sections:
Link building
Content creation
On-page optimisation
Average cost:
If you have the skills, time, and experience, you’ll be able to implement many
SEO best practices on your own for free. If you’re outsourcing the work then
you could be paying $75 – $250 an hour. Bear in mind, as with anything else,
the price often reflects the experience of the provider, and quality of the work
With harsh penalties handed out by Google for websites that take shortcuts to
‘trick’ the algorithm, I would strongly suggest SEO is not the place to pinch the
Time to see results:
According to Forbes contributor Josh Steimle:
“Many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6
months to start seeing results. That’s generally
accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start
seeing results, and SEO results grow over time.
Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months should
be considerably less than what you’re getting at 12
Part of the variability inherent in SEO campaigns is that the practice is largely
dependent on the search engines’ algorithms. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others
are continually refining their strategies, forcing SEO to evolve along with them.
As an example, take Google’s recent prioritisation of mobile websites. As the
engines’ algorithms grow and change, marketers must change their priorities
as well to keep up.
When to use it:
Bake SEO into the start of your campaigns, preferably from the launch of your
website. Beginning with a proper SEO foundation saves you time down the road
(versus having to undo costly errors), in addition to amplifying the impact of
other on-site promotional methods.
There’s little point, for instance, in investing in content marketing if the search
engines’ automated indexing programs aren’t able to read your site’s content
properly due to an SEO error. This is typically a quick fix you’ll make when you
start an SEO campaign, which is why it’s important to implement proper SEO
from the start.
Main drawbacks:
Focusing on SEO exclusively as a promotional channel takes time, and changes
in the search engine algorithms can instantly negate your work if you follow
manipulative grey or black hat practices. The constant changes also mean that
what’s worked well in the past won’t necessarily work now or in the future,
even if it is white hat.
As a rule, it’s best to keep SEO best practices in mind as you carry out any
promotional strategies, even if you opt to begin with others in order to drive
traffic faster.
Content Marketing
The Content Marketing Institute defines
content marketing as: “A strategic
marketing approach focused on creating
and distributing valuable, relevant, and
consistent content to attract and retain a
clearly-defined audience — and,
ultimately, to drive profitable customer
Content Marketing
Content, as used for digital marketing purposes, could encompass, among other
Blog posts
White papers
Case studies
Taken together, these content pieces can be used to support a number of
marketing goals:
Educating your ideal customer on how your company can help them
Getting your brand in front of people who haven’t heard of you yet
Positioning your company as a thought leader in your industry
Building an email database through the deployment of gated lead
magnet content pieces (such as downloadable eBooks or other resources)
Helping your organic SEO efforts by educating search engines on the products and/or services you sell.
Essentially, using content marketing gets you in front of new top-of-the-funnel
audiences and continually engages them with new content as they move
through your sales process to an eventual conversion. Achieving these goals
requires the creation and implementation of a defined content marketing plan.
While 73% of the most effective content marketers have a documented
strategy, only 28% of Australian companies using content marketing believe
they’re doing it well.
Content Marketing
Average costs:
The costs required to carry out a content marketing campaign will vary based
on the amount of work you take on yourself. If you have the time and skills, you
can create content yourself at no cost – just look at success stories like Gary
Vaynerchuk and Brian Dean. If you decide to outsource your content marketing,
you’ll either work directly with a freelance content creator or with an agency
that operates on a monthly retainer. Freelance bloggers, for example, generally
charge between $0.05 to $2.00 per word, depending on their skill and expertise.
Outsourcing work on an infographic could cost you $1,000 or more.
The promotion of this content is then a further additional cost. The rule of
thumb is that you should spend as much promoting the content as you did
creating it. That cost can come through advertising (for example through
Facebook) or through free channels (like email outreach) with various expected
levels of success. Should you choose to go the outsourcing route, take the time
to ensure that whoever you’re working with has both the necessary skills and a
clear understanding of the goals you have for your content’s performance.
Time to see results:
In general, content marketing can take up to six months to start driving results,
depending on your goals.
When to use it:
Use content marketing when you have access to talented content creators
in-house, or when it’s important to your brand to build up the perceived thought
leadership that comes from releasing high-value content. Content marketing
can also be used as a natural complement to SEO, as publishing great content
supports the search engines’ explicit goal of prioritising useful results.
Main drawbacks:
Content marketing takes time, and few of the pieces you release will be
successful. Our Web Profits U.S. co-founder Sujan Patel, an expert content
creator, still estimates that only one out of five articles he publishes goes on
to be successful.
Organic Social
Media Marketing
Organic social media marketing (also
known as creative social) involves
creating profiles on the sites where your
target customers are most active, and
publishing updates intended to engage
these audience members.
Organic Social Media Marketing
The most commonly-used social media platforms for brand marketing
purposes include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest,
Snapchat and Google+. TapInfluence offers three statistics demonstrating the
importance of developing a presence on at least one of these channels:
GlobalWebIndex reports that the average internet user spends 28% of their online time on social media sites.
47% of Millennials say their purchase decisions are influenced by social
84% of social media users worldwide have “liked” or followed a brand or
product on social.
Average cost:
Organic social media marketing is essentially free, apart from any investments
you make into creating custom content to be promoted on your profiles. Take
social video, for example. An analysis by BuzzSumo of 25 million Facebook
posts found that, over a one-year period:
“Average shares [of video content] have more
than doubled since last August. This may be due to
Facebook’s focus on video, the auto-playing of
videos and similar factors but whatever the reason
the data is quite clear.”
Organic Social Media Marketing
Video content, according to their research, has driven significantly higher
shares over time:
Image Source: BuzzSumo
Especially relative to link share posts, which have declined in terms of
engagement-driving shares:
Image Source: BuzzSumo
Organic Social Media Marketing
This makes sharing video content on social channels an appealing prospect. If
your company doesn’t have the resources to create video internally, you’ll need
to either invest in a tool like Animoto or hire an outside company (which could
run you $1,000-$3,500 per finished minute).
Time to see results:
Organic social media marketing often requires a wait to see results, given
declining organic reach rates on many networks. Ash Read, writing for
Unbounce, shares Ogilvy data on Facebook algorithm changes, stating that
between October 2013 and February 2014:
Image Source: Unbounce
“Organic reach dropped to around 6% for all
pages, and for large pages with more than 500,000
likes, the number was just 2%.”
Organic Social Media Marketing
Unfortunately for marketers, Facebook’s organic reach stats have improved
only slightly since then, with Ignite Social Media reporting bumps as high as
3.5% of fans reached.
Image Source: Ignite Social Media
While it’s possible to score a quick viral hit, it’s unlikely (and it’s even less likely
that doing so will result in lasting brand recognition). If you plan to go the
organic social media marketing route, expect to spend at least 3-4 months
getting to 100 organic visits daily.
When to use it:
Because many consumers expect brands to provide support via social media,
it’s a good idea to maintain an engaged platform on your industry’s preferred
sites regardless of whether you focus on social media marketing as a growth
channel. In other instances, consider your audience’s behavior. If your followers
engage regularly on social media, it may be more important that your brand be
an active part of the conversation there. If they’re largely silent on social, your
efforts may be better invested elsewhere.
Main drawbacks:
The low reach of organic social media marketing can make it feel a bit like
shouting into a void. Further, opening up your business socially gives those
who are unsatisfied with your products or services a public forum for airing
their complaints. Have a plan in place for dealing with negative reviews,
feedback or comments before launching a social media marketing campaign.
Paid Social
Media Marketing
While organic social media marketing
takes time to build engagement, paid
social media marketing captures views
immediately with ads that put your
message in front of Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram or LinkedIn users.
Paid Social Media Marketing
Paid Social Media Marketing includes:
Facebook Ads
Twitter Ads
Instagram Ads (managed through Facebook’s platform)
LinkedIn Ads.
Pinterest offers a Promoted Pins program to advertisers in lifestyle niches,
while Snapchat have recently launched a self serve ads platform.
Average cost:
Paid social ads are typically billed on a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per
1,000 impressions) basis, and vary by the ad type and network chosen. On
Facebook, for instance, FitSmallBusiness reports that ad costs “can be
anywhere from $0.16 to $1.00+ per click, depending on your industry, the size
of your audience, and the quality of your ad.” In addition, they offer the
following breakdown of ad costs by industry:
Image Source: FitSmallBusiness.com
Paid Social Media Marketing
Time to see results:
As with PPC ads, paid social media ads can begin driving traffic and
conversions immediately upon launch. It may, however, take some time for
your campaigns to become profitable as you test different creatives and
targeting options.
When to use it:
Use paid social media advertising when your audience is active on your
targeted network, and when you have the appropriate systems in place to turn
followers who click on ads into leads.
With ads often resulting in views of your profile, they tend to work best when
combined with a strong organic social media strategy.
If possible, pursue paid social ads when you have someone internally who has
the analytical nature needed to design split tests and track ROI results (or who,
ideally, has past experience running these types of campaigns). Like PPC, the
learning curve for paid social campaigns can be steep and expensive.
Influencer marketing aims to circumvent
the challenge of building an audience
online by encouraging established
industry authority figures to share
your product or service with their
existing followers.
Influencer Marketing
In practice, influencer marketing shares similarities with both social media
marketing and referral/advocacy marketing (discussed later in this guide),
though it retains enough unique characteristics to qualify as a separate
channel in its own right.
TapInfluence points out the difference:
“The best way to understand the difference is that
advocate marketing focuses on encouraging or
incentivizing already-loyal customers to share their
love of your brand or product.
The sharing might happen by way of product
reviews and customer references. With influencer
marketing, you’re more focused on finding
influencers—not necessarily current customers—to
spread your message.”
In theory, influencer marketing makes sense. An influencer, sharing your
content with their audience of millions, is going to drive better results than
you pushing the same information to your social followers – not just in terms
of volume, but in the implicit authority granted by the influencer’s
The beauty industry is one example where we see this theory play out in real
life. Pixability reports that “86 percent of the most-viewed beauty videos on
YouTube were made by influencers, compared to 14 percent by beauty brands
themselves.” In fact, their influence has grown so powerful that, according to
ION, “57 percent of beauty and fashion companies use influencers as part of
their marketing strategies, while an additional 21 percent are also planning to
add this strategy to their campaigns in 2017.”
Influencer Marketing
Average cost:
Building relationships with existing influencers (or investing in your own
influence) is, technically, free. As with social media marketing, however, you
can speed the process up by partnering with services that solicit paid
recommendations from established authority figures (at least, you can for now).
Time to see results:
Influencer relationships aren’t built overnight (and they don’t come from firing
off a message to your industry’s top prospect saying, “Retweet me!”).
The process can be sped up with the use of paid promotions, but it can also be
expedited by targeting the appropriate influencers and having a product or
service that’s genuinely valuable to the influencer’s audience.
When to use it:
Make influencer marketing an ongoing part of your promotional efforts by
cultivating relationships with authority figures well before you ask them to
share your information. As a “hack,” incorporate influencer marketing into any
content marketing efforts you undertake by referencing popular authorities in
your space within the content pieces you publish. Demonstrating your respect
for their expertise and, effectively, promoting them for free to your audience
may make them more likely to share your work.
Main drawbacks:
Popular influencers can be difficult to connect with, as you can imagine.
Mishandled influencer marketing campaigns also run the risk of being
perceived as inauthentic by audiences that crave natural, unbiased
Whenever and however you take these campaigns on, do so with a “win-win”
attitude that ensures all resulting promotions benefit both your company and
any influencers involved.
Digital PR
Digital PR refers to getting your company
mentioned on top industry websites.
For instance, a software company might
benefit from being profiled on Mashable
or TechCrunch.
Digital PR
Average cost:
Costs can be low if you handle media inquiries yourself. Hiring a digital PR firm
on a retainer generally starts around $2,000 per month.
Time to see results:
The average time to see results with digital PR can vary wildly. If you’re
able to score a top story in a major publication, the immediate impact can be
tremendous. But if your product isn’t noteworthy, you may only ever see
marginal returns from long-term efforts.
When to use it:
Engage in digital PR when you have something genuinely worthy of being
promoted. You’ll face much less of an uphill battle trying to get your stories to
catch on than you will by pushing uninteresting or mediocre messages.
Main drawbacks:
PR is never a guarantee. Investing in paid ads, for example, at least guarantees
that your message will get in front of a targeted audience (whether or not they
ultimately engage with it or with your company in general).
With PR, however, you can invest significant time and energy into promoting a
message about your company and wind up with very little to show for your
Guest Publishing
Guest publishing is an offshoot of digital
PR where, instead of trying to get other
publications to cover your story, you
become a guest author and contribute
articles to these same publications.
Guest Publishing
For instance, a software company founder could publish articles to
Entrepreneur.com, which would position them as an expert, while also
driving interest in the company’s product. By doing this, the company gets
instant access to Entrepreneur’s large audience, along with the longer-term
SEO impact of the magazine’s backlink.
Average cost:
If you handle guest posting on your own, the costs can be minimal; essentially,
all that’s required is your time to create and submit guest articles. If you hire an
agency to perform the work for you, expect to pay either a per-article fee or a
monthly retainer.
Time to see results:
Again, the length of time to see a payoff with this strategy will vary according
to the calibre of publications you’re able to attract, as well as the time it takes
for each of your articles to be published. Web Profits’ Sujan Patel estimates that
it took at least six months before his guest posting campaign delivered results,
and 18-24 months before its full impact was seen.
When to use it:
Once you’re comfortable with creating and promoting your own content, it’s
a good idea to reach out to others to publish your content. Having examples
and results can make a huge difference to your chances of having a guest post
accepted. It should also be used to supplement your content marketing and SEO
efforts. If there are no opportunities for you to contribute guest articles – or if
your target audience members aren’t accustomed to getting information in this
way – you’ll find that your efforts are better invested elsewhere.
Main drawbacks:
As with digital PR, there are no guarantees that your guest contributions will be
accepted or published. In some instances, you may be required to submit a full
draft of your proposed article for consideration, which means you’ll be on the
hook for creating the content without any advance knowledge of whether or
not it’ll be accepted (though, you can always use unpublished articles within
your own campaigns, if necessary).
Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is similar to referral
marketing in that you’re basically
encouraging others to become your
Affiliate Marketing
But where referral marketing programs grow based on user interest (perhaps
in exchange for a defined bonus), affiliates promote your product or service
because you pay them to do so. Typically, affiliate marketers are compensated
with a percentage commission based on the number of conversions they send
your way.
Depending on how your affiliate program is structured, affiliates may be your
existing customers or they may be professional affiliate marketers who make a
living out of connecting prospects with products like yours.
They may also find you through affiliate networks like Tapfilliate that facilitate
affiliate exchanges in return for a commission.
Average costs:
Implementing your own affiliate marketing can be done inexpensively by
partnering with a service like ShareASale. You can also pay to host your own
affiliate program on your web servers, and you’ll need to account for the
commissions to be paid out to successful affiliates when calculating channel
Time to see results:
The traction of your affiliate marketing program will likely progress at the
same pace as your company’s overall success. Most affiliate marketers want to
represent products that are proven successes – they may not be willing to take
chances on your program if your product is relatively unknown.
When to use it:
Consider the norms in your industry. Are there existing affiliates promoting
products? How widespread are these types of promotions? Don’t go to the effort
of creating an affiliate marketing program if you aren’t confident there will be
active affiliates to carry out the eventual promotions
Affiliate Marketing
Main drawbacks:
You have to trust that the affiliates you bring on will sell your company and its
products correctly, and that they won’t make false promises you can’t actually
deliver on.
Because they aren’t your employees, you won’t have the same strength of
relationship you’d have with real salespeople, nor will you have the same kind
of loyalty. Affiliates often represent multiple products, so you may not get a full
share of their attention – especially if your offer doesn’t perform well for them.
Further, expect that you’ll need to put time into engaging and motivating your
affiliates. With the number of affiliate promotion opportunities out there, you’ll
need to make your offer stand out to top earners – and releasing a few banner
images to use as collateral isn’t going to do it.
In my experience, most affiliate programs end up being a high number of
affiliates each delivering a small number of leads/sales each. However, you
occasionally find a partnership that works really well and can then build a
relationship from there which benefits you both a lot more.
Viral / Referral
Imagine if every one of your customers
referred two more customers – and that
the cycle continued ad infinitum. That
type of effortless growth is the principle
behind viral and referral marketing.
Viral / Referral Marketing
“Viral” marketing encompasses any strategy designed to provoke these viral
loops (you’ve likely seen case studies of Dropbox and Uber’s viral success),
while referral marketing typically refers to structured programs that incentivise
customers to send other new buyers your way.
Average costs:
In addition to the time required to set up and run these campaigns, you may
also have costs associated with any referral platform you use and with any
incentives you offer new customers.
Time to see results:
If your program is structured well, you may see results very quickly. Dropbox, as
an example, went from 100,000 registered users in September 2008 to 4 million
users 15 months later, thanks to the implementation of its referral program.
When to use it:
Do not undertake a viral or referral marketing campaign until you’re confident
your existing customers are happy with your offering – and that they won’t
be offended by the request. Some consumers will be happy to naturally make
referrals on their own, but may be uncomfortable with such a direct request.
Main drawbacks:
Successfully launching a viral or referral marketing program requires a number
of difficult decisions, such as choosing an incentive that’s appealing enough to
prospects to provoke action without cutting too deeply into your profits.
In addition, you’ll need to provide for the proper tracking and distribution of
referral bonuses, either by hand or with the use of an automated tool you’ll need
to both choose and install.
Free Web Tools
and Apps
You may be able to create a free app or
web utility that site visitors like so much
they share it with their friends, prompting
referral growth. Technically I would
consider this a form of content marketing
but, given it requires a much bigger
investment of time and effort, I have
kept it separate.
Free Web Tools and Apps
Average costs:
Unless you have talented full-stack developers and UX/UI designers in-house,
expect this method to get pricey. Even basic web apps cost $5,000-15,000 to
develop; more extensive projects can easily run from $60,000-$200,000.
Time to see results:
As long as you’ve developed something people actually want to use, this
strategy can drive fast, scalable results after its launch. Take the case study of
Zillow, the real estate website, and its home price evaluation tool.
Zillow’s chief marketing officer, Amy Bohutinsky, describes how she was given
six months after the launch to take the site from zero to one million monthly
visitors – with no ad budget – in an interview with VentureBeat. Thanks to the
site’s first-of-its-kind home valuation tool, the company hit five million visits in
its first month post-launch alone.
Free Web Tools and Apps
When to use it:
Building a web tool is a costly endeavour – and it’s one that’s not guaranteed
to pan out if your audience isn’t interested in what it does. Adopt this strategy
when you see a clear hole in your market for what you intend to offer, as well
as when you can afford the necessary investments of both capital and project
management time.
Main drawbacks:
The web is littered with free tools performing nearly every conceivable
function. In addition to the costs mentioned above, there’s a very real risk that
you’ll struggle to get your app noticed within this crowded market (unless, of
course, you’re willing to throw even more at it with a paid ad campaign).
Community & Forum
Like social media marketing,
participating in online communities
and forums is an opportunity to “be
where your audience is.”
Online Community & Forum Participation
Except, in this case, instead of posting to sites like Facebook and Twitter, you’ll
join conversations in online communities where your audience is active.
For example, if you’re involved in digital marketing in any capacity, you might
decide to develop a presence on the message boards of Inbound.org and/or
GrowthHackers.com. You may also decide to participate in conversations on a
broader Q&A network like Quora or Yahoo Answers.
Average costs:
Participating in online conversations requires only the time you put into
monitoring the communities for relevant threads and the time it takes you to
compose responses.
Time to see results:
Results with this tactic will depend on how active your chosen community
or forum is, but because of the “one-to-one” nature of this approach (you’re
responding to a single person, even if others in the community view your
comments as well), expect these results to be incremental and cumulative over
the long-term.
When to use it:
Use community and forum participation when your audience is especially
active on these channels, or as an opportunity to gain early insight into a new
market. Apart from using this channel as a way to develop your perceived
authority, you can view the questions being asked as insight into your
audience’s questions and needs.
Ultimately, I like to think of this as a “growth hack” as much as I do a marketing
channel. If you have no budget, lots of time and small targets, it could get you a
few customers. Airbnb, for example, did something similar in their early days
by leveraging Craigslist ads (though they did so using automated tools, rather
than manual responses). If you’re a larger, more established company, however,
know that this isn’t really a scalable approach, and that your investments are
likely better spent elsewhere-although it could have a positive impact on your
Online Community & Forum Participation
Main drawbacks:
Apart from the question of scale, there’s an issue of inconsistent engagement.
Some forum threads or community questions get thousands of views; others
get just a handful. You won’t know which is which, however, until after you’ve
invested the time into answering, so look at this tactic more as an ongoing
supplement than a marketing channel that’s going to drive your company’s
entire success.
Key Takeaway:
If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t panic.
Not all channels will be a fit for every business,
and you don’t have to participate in all of them to
be successful online. If you’re just starting out, it’s
often better to invest in a select few where you feel
your advertising budget will have the greatest
Even as your company grows and your campaigns
mature, you may find it in your best interest to
adjust your channel mix.
Select the right
Marketing Channel for
your business
The process of choosing marketing channels can
be difficult, that’s why we prepared a four step guide
to make these decisions easy.
Your Business’s Needs
Before you can begin the process of
choosing marketing channels, you need
to understand your business goals, your
budget and your area(s) of expertise.
What are your business’s goals?
This is, effectively, the most important question you need to answer when
deciding between marketing channels. What constitutes success for your
company might be very different from another business – even if that business
is in your industry.
Begin by examining what your business needs in order to be successful. If,
for example, you’re running a software company, campaign success could be
measured in new website visitors, new free trial participants, and new paying
customers. However, your goals may also include, among others:
E-commerce sales (or other types of sales/conversions)
Email sign-ups
Engagement with particular web pages or marketing assets
Lead magnet downloads
Lead generation form completions
On-site video views
Social media followers
Social media shares
Brand mentions
Inbound web links.
Bear in mind that, even if you select multiple goals on which to focus, some
goals – naturally – will have greater importance than others.
In my opinion, driving sales, leads, or sign-ups should always be the overall
primary objective. All other goals, and the channels that deliver them, are a
by- product of ultimately building to sales, leads, and sign ups.
They can serve as good indicators to future performance of the primary
objective, so long as they are followed up with tactics that help deliver them.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to separate out your “key goals” from others that
you’ll track to measure the health of your campaigns.
Understanding which metrics most clearly demonstrate your marketing
success will also help you prioritise your marketing spend when difficult
decisions must be made regarding how and where you’ll allocate your
How fast does your business need
these results?
If you’ve just launched a new company (or if you’ve been missing your targets
for some time), you need results fast. If, on the other hand, you want to invest in
building your company’s brand authority, you may be thinking more long-term,
with targets that you’ll need to hit 6-12 months down the road.
The speed at which you need to drive results will influence the channels that
are most appropriate for your campaign.
Who’s your audience?
You should know this already but, if you don’t, you also need to consider
which channels are most likely to drive great results based on who your target
customers are and how they behave online.
Imagine that you’ve settled on social media as a possible channel – maybe
because you’re already active there or because someone on your team knows
social media marketing. Now, what would happen if it turns out that your target
customers aren’t particularly active social media users (or, alternatively, that
they’re extremely sensitive to being advertised to on these networks)?
What do I mean by ‘extremely sensitive’? Here’s an example for you… I’ve
spoken to several female friends in their early 30s who are very angry at having
been shown ads for fertility clinics in their Facebook feeds.
Talk about inappropriate! As women in their 30’s with no children (or none
listed on Facebook, at the very least) they technically fit into the target
audience. But they have chosen not to have kids at the time and found the ads
assuming they have fertility issues to be quite offensive.
Understanding your audience is another piece of the channel prioritisation
process. Begin by asking yourself the following questions, and gathering the
data needed to answer them with your own analytics reports or online
What are my target customer demographics?
What pain points do my customers have that my product or service
Where are my customers spending time online?
How receptive are my customers to advertising?
What types of offers are my customers most likely to respond to?
We like to compile a buyer persona or customer avatar, both to answer these
questions and to check the targeting of future marketing campaigns. Hubspot
has a great template to use when you’re ready to go through the process.
What’s your budget?
Some channels are more expensive than others. Launching a PPC campaign
(with a landing page) or building a free web tool requires an upfront investment,
for example, while content marketing and guest publishing can be done
practically for free if you’re able to write and promote the content yourself.
But don’t just think about upfront costs – think about the time and costs
required to successfully optimise each channel. Coralie Wood of Vertical Leap
shares the results of a PPC campaign her team ran over an eight-month period:
Image Source: Vertical Leap
Remarking on her results, Wood states:
“Yes, PPC can boost your brand awareness and
raise visibility from day one, but a truly profitable
campaign can take months of careful and
considered optimisation before the true potential
of your PPC campaign becomes apparent.”
As you’re planning your channels, you’ll need to account not just for your initial
costs, but for the level of spending you’ll need to maintain until you’re able to
successfully leverage them. You may not need eight months to optimise your
PPC campaign, but unless you’re a PPC wizard, you shouldn’t expect to be
instantly profitable from day one.
If you have more time than money – or if you aren’t able to sustain the
requisite spending of some channels over the long-term – you may be better off
selecting channels that require a higher time cost versus their dollar cost.
You’ll also need to take your budget into account as you decide how many
channels you’ll invest in. If your budget is small, you’ll get more bang for your
buck by doing one or a few channels well than you would trying to spread it
across every place your customers spend time online.
Finally, consider the opportunity costs of choosing each channel over another.
If you’re a software company with less than six months of runway left, you may
not have the 6-12 months to wait for channels like content marketing and SEO
to deliver results. That doesn’t mean you should ignore these channels entirely;
it just means that any budget you have to allocate should be invested in the
channels that will deliver sales as quickly as possible in order to keep your
company afloat.
What expertise does your team have?
The question of “time versus money” above indirectly relates to another: what
expertise exists within your organisation that can be leveraged for marketing
purposes? This is easiest to visualise with an example: if you have a strong
writer on your staff, embarking on a content marketing campaign will be less
expensive for you than it’ll be for a company that has to bring on a writer.
Similarly, if a member of your team has worked on SEO campaigns in the past,
diving into this channel will be easier and cheaper for you than for a business
that must bring on an SEO firm.
Around the time I started at Web Profits, another guy came onboard from
LinkedIn. Even though the company had been using LinkedIn before, we were
able to pick his brain extensively and invest more in the channel to make it
even more successful.
That said, understanding how your expertise applies to your marketing channel
selection is about more than past experiences. If you’ll be branching into a
channel that’s totally new to your team, you’ll still need to consider how your
skill sets and experiences will be best used.
Ask yourself the following questions about your team’s experience:
Do we have the knowledge to implement the channels? Think of
knowledge not just in terms of your team’s skill sets but also in terms
of your broader understanding of the role each marketing channel
can play in your campaign and what it’ll take to execute it. Learning a new channel from the ground up costs much more in terms of your time
than one you already understand – even if only at a surface level.
Do we have the technical skills required? Many of the channels
described above require creating media assets, new web pages, ad
campaigns and even – in the case of releasing free web tools – new code.
Gauge the level of technical skills your team has from an objective
perspective, and use this insight to determine which marketing channels
to pursue.
Do we have the right characteristics? Are the members of your team more data-driven or creative? Do you have a mix of both onboard?
Employing workers with strong creative skills might cause you to lean
more in the direction of channels that involve written or visual content
(such as content marketing or social media marketing), while a wealth of
analytic thinking skills might send another company down the path of
PPC advertising (which requires substantial data analysis to be
Certainly, having expertise in a given channel isn’t a requirement, as all of the
needs above can be outsourced to a freelancer or an agency. You can also try it
yourself and could generate some great results if you’ve got the time to try and
get it right.
If email marketing really is the best channel for your company, but nobody
in-house has ever touched a drip campaign before, you can outsource the task.
You’ll just need to be sure these additional expenses are accounted for within
your budget, and that your estimated channel performance is likely to offset the
costs involved.
Key Takeaway:
There are many factors that go into channel
planning, and no two companies will come up with
the same answers to the questions above.
Take the time to understand your business’s unique
characteristics, and use the insight you’ve gleaned
to begin forming a plan for your future channel
Evaluate Your
Current Channel
In addition to understanding what your
business needs and what skills you have
that can be put to use, you need to
know how your current marketing
initiatives are performing.
This information will tell you which current investments you should keep and
which ones you should kick to the curb as you move forward.
It’s also worth noting that this analysis can help you find missed opportunities
within individual channels. For example, if you’re doing PPC successfully but
your campaigns are meeting their daily budgets, increasing your budget could
help you get more leads. It’s basically the same thing as doing CRO – just on a
channel, instead of a website.
Generally, we recommend spending 80% of your time on your most successful
channel and 20% on new ones. If you’re totally new to this process or if you
don’t have any historical data, skip down to Step 3; otherwise, complete the
following process:
Identify your inbound visitor sources
Use an analytics program to track where people are coming
from when they arrive on your website or landing pages. In Google
Analytics, for example, you’ll see a breakdown by traffic type on the
Acquisitions Overview dashboard:
From here, you can dig deeper into your Organic Search, Direct,
Social, Referral, and Other reports to identify the specific sources
of your traffic. Clicking on the Social link, for instance, leads to a
breakdown of the specific social networks that have sent traffic:
The specific traffic sources you’ll want to track via analytics should
be tied to your marketing channels and the goals you’re tracking. If
you’ve defined success as the number of website visitors who have
arrived on your site via Facebook, the chart above will be helpful.
If you’re more concerned with organic search traffic, pull a report
focused on this channel:
Create a channel tracking spreadsheet
Finally, put your numbers into a spreadsheet so that you can track
them over time, along with any supporting data required to
compare channels against each other.
In the following example from Codeship, three channels –
Twitter Ads, Perfect Audience and Referral Campaign – are
measured against each other based on the following data points:
Unique visitors
Paying Customers
Image Source: Codeship
Between each stage, Codeship has calculated the conversion rate,
enabling the team to see where customers fall out of each stage
by channel. In addition, they’ve divided the total campaign spend
against the number of paying customers each channel has
acquired to determine the average cost to acquire a new customer.
In the example above, campaign spends are obvious – in the top
row, the amount spent on Twitter Ads equals the total campaign
spend. If, however, you’re using a channel that requires significant
manual overhead (for example, spending several hours writing a
blog post), consider including a campaign spend based on the
value of your time.
Bear in mind also that channels like content marketing or SEO can
take significant time to deliver, and the conversion may not always
be easy to track back to the activity. The Codeship example works
best for channels with short, trackable returns.
Analyse results to identify your current most
important customer acquisition channels
With these simple calculations complete, measure each channel
against the others. Your goal is to find the channels that are
cheapest and attract the most successful customers.
Image Source: Ryan Gum
In the chart above, “desirable” customers are measured based on
retention and churn – common metrics in the SaaS and
subscription-based business worlds.
However, your own definition of success may be different. It could
be repeat customers, for instance, or it could be any other metric
you’ve defined in the process above.
Let’s revisit Codeship’s sample data from above:
Image Source: Codeship
Here, we can see that referral campaigns drove the most paying
customers (15 total, versus 2 from Twitter Ads and 5 from Perfect
Audience) while also having the lowest cost per customer
acquisition (despite having a larger overall campaign spend).
Ideally the Codeship spreadsheet would also look at the Lifetime
Value (LTV) of a customer from each channel. Referral campaigns
are great, but if the customers churn really quickly then the low
CPA could be a misleading result. Try to draw similar conclusions
from your own data – we’ll use them in the next step of the process.
Key Takeaway:
Analysing your current channel performance
requires the right data. If you aren’t yet
using an analytics provider on your site, get one
installed and set up the necessary goal-tracking
features to measure the metrics you defined in
Step 1 of this process.
Invest time in understanding your provider’s
reporting features – they’ll play a critical role in
your ability to properly plan and shift your
channel allocations.
Create a Channel Plan
Now, with all the information you’ve
gathered about your business, your
customers and your current marketing
channel performance (if applicable), it’s
time to create a channel plan.
At the end of this process, you should know:
How many channels you’ll invest in
Which channels you’ll work with
How you’ll define the success of each channel
How you’ll allocate your marketing budget to each channel.
How many channels should I invest in?
This is a tricky question to answer because… it depends. If your budget is large
and your in-house team is skilled, you’ll naturally want to participate in more
channels than a young startup with a limited budget and staff.
If you’re completely new to digital marketing, start with 1-3 channels. Again,
you don’t have to be everywhere at once. You’ll benefit more from becoming
really good at a single channel than spreading yourself too thin over several of
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve hit the point where you’re ready to
invest in multiple additional channels, use the process described in the
following example to “reverse engineer” the estimated returns of every channel
you’re considering. Then, gauge their priority according to your budget.
Imagine you’re Codeship, and you have a monthly budget of $10,000. If you
know your goal is to reach 100 new customers each month, and you know that
new customers acquired through referral campaigns, on average, cost you
$67 – using the data above – spending $6,700 on generating referrals would,
theoretically, meet your goals, while still leaving $4,300 to expand to other
channels and diversify your traffic sources.
However, the truth is most channels can’t just scale up infinitely-there comes
a point where you exhaust the volume that can be generated through that
To use another channel as an example, there will only ever be a limited number
of people searching for a particular keyword. You may continue optimising
so that you get as many people as possible clicking on your ad, and then the
maximum number of those clicks turning into conversions/sales, but it will
get to the point where increasing your budget will not get you additional
That point could be in the very distant future, but it’s always worth testing
a couple of other channels to find out where you can get the additional
conversions from in the future.
Which channels should I invest in?
You may have developed a gut feel for the channels that’ll best suit your
company by going through the channel descriptions and Step 1 (“Understand
Your Business’s Needs”) above. Running the calculations on how many
channels your budget can support may have also left you with an
understanding of the right approach for your company.
That said, if you’re still on the fence, there’s an even simpler approach I
recommend: ICE Prioritisation.
The original RICE system was developed by Sean McBride, product manager
for tech communications startup intercom.io, originally with the intention of
helping product developers decide which features to add to their offerings in
the face of multiple requests.
I’ve found, however, that with a few tweaks, the methodology is just as
applicable to those making decisions about marketing channel investment.
The process below gauges possible decisions against three criteria, modified
from the original product development application to better suit the needs of
marketing managers:
Impact – The size of the opportunity, based on audience reach, search volume and other factors.
Confidence – How confident you are in your ability to capture and
convert that audience.
Effort – How much effort you anticipate each channel will take to
These three variables can then be brought together to assess a final ICE score
for each channel. Let’s work through a practice example to see this process in
Let’s pretend that I’ve decided to sell Fidget Spinners online to people in
Australia*. Suppose I already sell them through AdWords but I want more sales
and I’m trying to decide between two channels: paid Facebook Ads and SEO.
* I would never do this, I have an irrational hatred for the things, that is
probably borne out of the fact that I just don’t understand why they’re so
popular. Like Kim Kardashian or Justin Bieber.
The question here is, which channel could drive the most traffic to my site?
Facebook: At last count, Facebook had 16 million users in Australia. Though not
all of them are interested in buying fidget spinners, it’s a safe assumption that
most people who would buy one, uses Facebook – that’s a pretty big potential
SEO: The potential impact is limited by the number of people actively searching
for fidget spinners online. Having a look at the Google Keyword planner, I can
see what this volume is:
(I’ve kept it simple by focusing on just these two keywords. If I really was using
AdWords already, I’d have much better keywords and idea of numbers). Given
their popularity online, I would assume there are more than 800 fidget spinners
sold online each month, so I think Facebook has a lot more potential for driving
fidget spinner-related traffic back to my site.
Now that I’ve thought about the potential traffic I could generate, I apply a
score for “impact”. If I’m only working with two channels then I would keep the
scoring simple at 1-3. If you use more channels or it’s really difficult to choose
between them then use 1-5 or even 1-10.
Facebook would get an impact score of 3, as it has higher potential for
generating leads.
SEO would get an impact score of 1, as search volume isn’t that high.
To assign a confidence value, I need to think about how likely it is that the
traffic I drive back to the site is going to convert into sales.
Traffic from each source lands on your site with different intent. Paid search
traffic has really high buying intent due to the nature of their search. For
example anyone who searches “buy a fidget spinner” is highly likely to do just
that when they land on your site (if your site is good enough).
I’ve found Facebook traffic to be hit and miss. You have to get really granular
with the targeting to get a high conversion rate, but even then it will be lower
than PPC because you’re catching someone off guard to make a purchase,
rather than when they’re actually searching for it.
With that in mind, I’ll give Facebook Ads a confidence score of 1.
SEO doesn’t convert quite as highly as paid search as you often rank for
long-tail keywords as well as the higher intent short keywords. It does convert
well though. I’ll give SEO a confidence score of 2.
Finally, I’ll grade the effort I expect to put into each channel. This can be
measured in a number of ways but it essentially comes down to the time and
money and you have to put into the channel to make it work.
Facebook Ads are relatively quick to set up, and I probably already have a
landing page from the PPC campaigns I’m running. It will take a bit of time to
find the perfect audiences but I’m sure I’ll get some results in the meantime.
I will however have to pay for each click, so there is some effort involved. I’ll
give it a score of 2.
With SEO, I know I’m going to be putting in a lot of effort to optimise my pages,
rework my content, implement schema markup and recruit backlinks. I’ll also
probably have to create and publish content. There’s loads of people selling
these online so competition for page 1 and the first few spots is going to be
really high. For these reasons, I’ll assign SEO a score of 3.
ICE Prioritisation
Now that I’ve assigned each channel a value for each criteria, I can bring them
together to give an overall score. Just a reminder of the values I assigned:
To get your ICE score, the formula is (Impact x Confidence) / Effort
So for Facebook ads: (3 x 1) / 2 = 1.5
And for SEO: (1 x 2) / 3 = 0.66
According to these calculations – based on assumptions about my business –
it’d be more effective for me to prioritise running paid Facebook Ads over
investing heavily in SEO.
Of course, remember that your ICE scores are only one factor in the channel
prioritisation process. Definitely don’t spend too much time assigning values,
it’s intended as a quick guideline more than anything. Don’t treat them as your
set-in-stone commandments. Instead, use the scores you generate as one piece
of the puzzle that is channel allocation.
Key Takeaway:
Initial channel selections are, ultimately, part data
and part gut feel. Don’t overthink things too much.
Pick a handful based on what’s performing best
for you or what your estimations (ICE, RICE or
otherwise) suggest would be best for your
company. Focus your efforts on those channels
alone for at least 1-3 months, monitoring your
results as you go.
I actually use this method of prioritisation for my day-to-day work too. “Should I prioritise
writing that broadcast email, or create a wireframe for a new landing page?”. After doing it a
few times you should be able to get to the point where you can run rough calculations in your
head but when you don’t have a lot of headspace, and have a lot of tasks you think are urgent
then it can be very useful to write them down and give them an ICE score to prioritise.
Evaluate & Evolve
Gather performance data based on the
length of time you expect your chosen
channels to perform, taking into account
any personal time-based restraints on
when you need results.
Repeat the process detailed in Step 2; then, with the data you’ve gathered on
how each channel performs according to the success metrics you defined, ask
yourself the following questions:
Are any of my channels significantly outperforming others?
Are any of my channels falling short of my expectations?
Have my interactions with customers over the testing period revealed other channels I should explore?
What are my average CPAs and LTVs by channel?
Have my available resources changed, and if so, how should that affect
my channel plan?
Now, just because you see one channel outperforming another doesn’t
automatically mean you should chuck the underperformer in the waste bin.
Instead, you need to dig in and see what’s causing the disparity.
Are temporary factors influencing your
Suppose you’re an eCommerce seller who started analysing your channel data
in November, and repeated your analyses in December and January. Several of
your channels lost steam in January, so you should replace them, right?
Not necessarily. Think first about what could have been occurring during this
period that might have caused the decline.
You probably see what I’m getting at here with the example of the holiday
season, but holidays aren’t the only temporary factors that could influence
channel performance.
Maybe you sent out an email blast with a one-time promotion. Your channel
reports for that month would likely show email marketing as a major driver of
sales conversions, but those results may not be replicable if you only run these
types of promotions twice a year.
Are there any signs I should pull the channel
Generally speaking, you should launch a channel with a relatively modest
budget and then ramp up (if possible). This should circumvent you spending
large amounts of money and not seeing results, but it’s important to keep an
eye on performance at the early stages of launching a channel.
That being said, if you are not seeing any results (that are aligned to your goals)
after spending a significant portion of your budget, you should re-assess.
There may be a problem with your tracking but it could be an issue with your
implementation of the channel.
If after assessing you think you’ve done all you can and you’re still not getting
results, it doesn’t make sense to keep the channel running for the full length of
the experiment.
There may be other factors too that you’ll need to use your judgement to assess.
You may find that posting on Facebook leads to a lot of negative comments and
publicity. It’s best to try and deal with it as much as you can, but if it gets out of
control then there’s no point in continuing the experiment and damaging your
Just come back to it later after you’ve ironed out the issues.
Could this channel work again in the future?
As you go through your analysis, record how and why your individual
channels did or didn’t work. Review your notes periodically, as you may find
that changing conditions over time make channels that weren’t successful
before a better idea.
As an example, running a Facebook Ads campaign may not be profitable at
first if you aren’t familiar with the platform’s best practices, but imagine that
six months in the future your business hires a marketer with expertise in this
area, or that you bring on someone with Photoshop skills who can design
significantly better images for your ads.
Because your notes show that the earlier failure wasn’t due to the channel
itself, you may find it worth revisiting.
Key Takeaway:
Channel selections should never be considered
set in stone. As your company changes and you
gather performance data, your marketing mix
should evolve in order to improve its results.
This kind of ongoing iteration is only possible,
however, if you document what you’ve done and
why it worked or didn’t work.
Mapping Your Marketing Mix
Channel allocation is something that even experienced marketers struggle
with. Successful marketing campaigns, however, require several channels
working together in unison. Take, for example, a content marketing campaign
that drives traffic (via Facebook ads), links for SEO purposes, email marketing
opt-ins and an email sequence that leads to conversions.
You may build out each of these components individually, but you’ll really start
to see the benefit when they work together.
Don’t let that scare you, though. The worst thing you can do is to take no action
in light of this information. Set your starting point and begin. With practice,
you’ll start to see how different channels support your business, as well as how
you can measure their impact and improve their results.
Or, if you need a helping hand to guide you through the process, we’d love to
chat. At Web Profits, one of the things we specialise in is “Fluid Marketing” –
that is, marketing strategies that seek to allocate your monthly budget to the
channels that are performing best for your specific goals.
Get in contact with one of our strategists for a no-obligation chat on how
we can help you make sense of modern marketing channels and develop a
strategy that maximises your ROI.