How to justify your marketing spend

In a time of tightening budgets, in-house marketing departments are feeling the pressure to justify their spend.

Historically, when balance sheets have been under increasing scrutiny and the focus has been on short term, rather than long term solutions, marketing and communications departments have often been the first to feel the pain.

Thankfully, times and technology have changed somewhat. The results of marketing are no longer invisible or intangible but a measurable outcome that can be shown in data analytics.

Who is visiting your website? Who is engaging with you through social media? Who is Googling your services and products? Marketers now have access to almost unlimited data to analyse this. This is a step in the right direction, and being able to show an increase in online activity around your company is welcome in any board report.

But without showing that this adds any value to your company in real terms, is it helping in-house marketers justify their jobs?

Help is at hand. It is now time to think differently about content marketing – and start using it to drive more customers to your business. Now that is something that will make bosses sit up and take notice, not only justifying the marketing budget, but making it a vital part of future forecasting.

How do you do this? Inbound marketing is how. Inbound marketing requires thinking about content differently. Instead of distributing information about your company, its products and services, it’s about placing the focus on your customers, making them central to everything you do and creating relevant content that is tailored to suit them. You can then utilise content to move potential customers along the buyer journey, from interested engager to happy client.

The first crucial step is getting to know your customers. It’s vital you know them inside and out. What are their challenges? How can you help them? Who makes the decision to use your company? Is it salespeople? Is it C-suite? Where do you these people consume content? Is it trade publications? Is it LinkedIn? How to they like to do business? Is it formal and official, or do they prefer a more personal connection with their suppliers?

Knowing all this (and more) about your customers is vital to creating content that engages them. Talk to existing customers, survey target clients and use online analysis to get as much information as possible, then use it to build personas for the different type of people you are targeting – we would recommend no more than three to start with – then use these to guide the creation of content and channel plans designed to engage them.

Once your content is out there it’s time to use tools to understand who is reading and engaging with it. Analytics are vital, but another useful tool is gated content, which helps you to gather some basic information about who is interested in your business..

Once you have a picture about who is engaging and showing interest in your content, your company, its services and products – it’s time to evaluate the potential business leads from the rest and pass these marketing qualified leads on to the sales team.

Thanks to technology, 60% of the buyer’s decision is made before they ever speak to a salesperson. By passing on details of those who are already interested in what your business can offer, it means the sales team have a much higher chance of success in converting them to a customer.

Aligning your campaigns to sales will not only help you justify your budgets, but cement them for years to come and generate a greater understanding in your company about the value of marketing.

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