As any marketer will tell you, planning isn’t something that happens once a year. In fact, when it comes to your marketing activities, planning is a continual, on-going activity – in order to be responsive, marketers are called upon to constantly review and reconfigure their plans. Because of that, knowing how to plan your marketing programs is crucial – if you’re going to use a process 365 days a year, you want to have that process down cold.
To get to the heart of this issue, Marketo recently ran a survey of nearly 500 marketing professionals (from both the B2B and consumer marketing space), diving deep into the latest trends, tactics, and techniques being used to plan marketing programs today. Read our report, Marketing Trend Watch: 2014 Planning Edition, to get the full results of our investigation.
Running Multi-Channel Marketing Programs
We define programs as the individual activities – your email sends and paid programs, your physical and virtual events, your Pay-Per-Click ads, your social campaigns – that marketers plan to achieve their goals. As we’ve recently discussed on the blog, consumers today are living in a multi-channel (or even omnichannel) world and their relationships with brands need to develop on social, mobile, through email, on websites, and beyond. The same goes for B2B transactions – even if you’re selling to a company, you need to influence the individual decision makers on multiple fronts.
So as marketers plan those individual programs, finding the right mix of channels is a top concern. Where should you invest your budget? Which channels are most effective? And are you reaching your audience in the right place?
With those questions in mind, we asked our survey participants about their own use of email, social, physical and virtual events, webinars, and Pay-Per-Click ads.
As you can see, email programs were by far the most popular channel – 32% of our survey takers said they used it “frequently”, and only 14% said they never used email. This didn’t surprise us – thanks to increasingly sophisticated marketing solutions, email has become the go-to channel for marketers, simple to both execute and scale. Social marketing was also popular – 48% of our survey takers said they used social media “very often” in their marketing programs.
Physical events (like tradeshows, user conferences, or roadshows) were the third most popular overall, but we also noticed that they were more popular for bigger companies than smaller ones. 35% of the largest companies frequently ran physical event programs, compared to only 10% of the smallest companies. This is probably because physical events are both expensive and time consuming – even staffing a small booth at a tradeshow requires a big investment of money and time. This also points to major consideration in your program planning – what can you company afford to invest?
At Marketo, we use our multi-touch attribution capabilities to measure the return on investment of every marketing program we run. This helps us see how all of our marketing programs work together to impact sales – for example, if a prospect clicked on a PPC ad, downloaded an ebook sent within an email program, and then attended a webinar before becoming a customer, all three of those programs get credit. We can also easily see that if a certain program is expensive, but isn’t touching many sales, it may be time to either adjust or eliminate that program.
The Right Number of Programs
Running the right number of marketing programs is another top planning concern. When we asked our survey participants how many programs they run each month, here’s what we found:
And as you can see from our results, the smallest companies ran the fewest programs, most likely due to limited bandwidth and limited budget. This is actually one of the places that a marketing automation platform can make a huge difference. Sophisticated solutions make it easy to clone your programs – meaning that you can take a previously successful campaign and repeat every involved program in a new context, without having to start from scratch.
But small teams weren’t the only ones struggling to run a high volume of programs – 42% of all of our respondents said that ran less than five programs a month, and we noticed that companies don’t always increase the number of programs as they grow. For one, larger companies are more likely to have agencies run programs on their behalf; for another, larger, longer-established companies may be less experimental or aggressive in their marketing than smaller, newer organizations.
Ultimately, there’s no magic number of programs to run, but we’ve observed that marketers are most successful when they run enough programs to continually experiment, test, and optimize their marketing mix. As we talked about in the previous section, marketers hoping to reach their customers in the most relevant way also need to market on multiple channels, which is difficult to do if you’re only running the bare minimum of programs each month.
How many programs does your organization run each month? What channels do you use most, and how do you determine their ROI? We’d love it if you’d share your own insights in the comments below.
To learn more about the latest trends in program planning, read the full report: Marketing Trend Watch: 2014 Planning Edition.