The moving parts that influence the effectiveness of marketing.
Introduction: Why we have written this.
I keep reading dozens of questions from business people on Reddit saying stuff like; "I've previously spent 'X' amount on adverts and not seen any sales. Why?", and other similar comments which are essentially; "I'm doing marketing but not generating any sales".
There isn't a short or easy answer to these questions because there are so many moving parts. As a result, I decided to write this extensive post to explain the 9 moving parts that influence how effective marketing campaigns can be, as well as how successful your business can be.
This is a long article but I have tried to fill it with a huge amount of value. I have worked with dozens of businesses over the last 10 years and these are the constants that in my experience have effected the quality and results of marketing activity.
Note: There is no "1 trick".
Guides and gurus don't work.
There are so many "guides" and "gurus" that tell you "do this 1 easy trick to grow your business". All of this advice is bullshit. There are too many variables based on the product, industry, niche, financials, size/scale of your business, resources available and more. There are multiple moving parts in a business and your job is to try and positively impact each of them to the best of your ability.
I am writing NOT writing this to tell you how to grow your business but after 10 years of successfully growing dozens of businesses and turning failing companies on the verge of bankruptcy into profitable ventures, I want share with you the areas that in my experience have the greatest impact on how successful your marketing campaigns can be.
The purpose of this article is more to prompt you to ideas that you can develop yourself and to make you consider all of the moving parts of your business and how one of these might have been the area that has been holding you back.
Note: Everything plays a part. Marketing is only as strong as the weakest part of your business.
There are too many people that want a quick and easy trick to make millions. They want that 1 advert that they can run forever that will pull in hundreds of leads. The thing is that your marketing is only 1 part of the puzzle.
The dirty secret that nobody is talking about is this; business is hard and has lots of moving parts. You can't just run some Facebook Adverts and make £20,000 a month and anyone who says you can is a con artist.
You need to work on multiple areas of your business in order to get the maximum results from your marketing activity.
The success of any of your activity is limited by the weakest part of your business.
If you have an amazing product but nobody knows about it then you will fail. If you are making lots of people aware that you exist but you have no reputation or credibility then you will struggle. If you don't have any information available for people who aren't ready to make a purchase then your cost per acquisition will be really expensive and your options to market will be limited. One of my personal favourites; if you are doing activity purely to generate sales and not to bring legitimate value to those you are speaking to, you will fail. If you have all of the above but not enough supply of your product/service then you will fail to scale and grow. If your pricing is wrong then you will struggle to generate sales profitably.
There are lots of moving parts that all impact each other, and they all impact your success.
Now the intro is out of the way:
The 9 main areas that effect success in marketing
1. Your goal
2. Supply, operational capacity & finance.
3. Where to market, what to say & what to do (your strategy).
The actual marketing itself:
4. Setting the expectation.
5. Ease of conversion & journey.
6. Reputation & credibility
7. Genuine & useful information (both in the marketing & onsite).
9. Tips and tricks when advertising:
At the end of the guide:
1. Your goal.
Most people do marketing activity because they want more sales and as a result, they aimlessly do "stuff" and hope. They will put up some adverts, write some social posts then cross their fingers and wish for the best. This is not a great way to approach marketing or business.
First things first you need a finite goal such as "I want to generate £5,000 in sales next month for product X" or "I want to grow from £500,000 a year to £750,000 by the end of this year".
There is a very real reason for starting off with your goal; it makes you assess all of the moving parts before you start spending money on ads or doing activity. It makes you stop and think "can I source that much product", "what will my gross profit be on those sales" and most obviously, "how the hell do I achieve that goal". It will help you see and solve problems before you're 3 months down the road and screwed.
Additionally, having an initial goal gives you something to work towards and aim for. It helps you work out the numbers and judge if you're doing better or worse than you had hoped. Always start with a real goal.
2. Supply, operational capacity & finance.
Let's make some assumptions to turn this into a relatable story:
- Your goal is to sell £10,000 worth of product a month
- Your average order value is £30.
- Your gross profit margin is 25%.
This would mean that you would need to sell 333 products a month (10-12 everyday). Can you source that much product, store it & get it shipped out? Might you encounter any issues with stock running out or taking too long to get to you?
Let's talk about some of the financials:
333 sales for a total potential budget of £2,500 means you need to acquire each sale for £7.50 or less.
12 sales per day will generate £360, and will require a daily paid ad budget of £90.
If you have a 2% conversion rate for that product/service then you would need 16,650 monthly visitors to generate your 333 monthly sales.
I hope this is an eye-opening moment for you because the vast majority of new clients that we work with are shocked at the volume and scale that effective marketing takes. Obviously this all varies depending on the cost of your product/service, the profit margin and the quality of the marketing activity, but for most ecommerce stores the above is fairly accurate.
Additionally, it's not just about the 1 time sale value from your adverts as your marketing has created 2 byproducts. (We will talk more about this in the marketing section of this article):
1. People who have bought from you that you can contact in a number of ways to increase the value to your business either with future sales or positive reviews to grow your credibility for future marketing campaigns.
2. Those who engaged with your marketing, visited your site and didn't purchase. You can use remarketing/retargeting to show highly relevant, cheap & targeted adverts to these people with messages to re-engage them. They might have been busy when they clicked your ad before and just forgot about you. They might have needed more information to make a purchase. The point is, just because they didn't buy from you on the first interaction with your business does not mean that your relationship with them is over or that the money you spent to reach them has been wasted.
The point is this:
It's not always just about your marketing. You need to ensure that your pricing is healthy enough to allow for the marketing spend to acquire your sales and that you have enough supply to run successful adverts for longer & increase the budget behind them to sell more aggressively. If your pricing is off then you will struggle to market profitably, and if your supply chain is limited/unreliable then you will struggle to sell at the volumes you need to in order to acquire a large income.
3. Strategy: Why it's important.
Ultimately, a great marketing strategy should always focus on the most relevant marketing efforts to best achieve your goal for the lowest cost in the fastest time with the greatest chance of success.
But, how do we go about creating a great strategy?
Note: This is a big topic that deserves its own full article. We will do our best to give you a brief overview now, but here are 2 links to further information on the topic of strategy:
Arguably the greatest military mind of all time, Sun Tzu, said over 2,500 years ago; "Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought. Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat".
"A well-planned strategy of deployment, mapped out to the smallest detail, is as much a guarantor of success as a hastily formed plan is a guarantor of failure. Success is pre-determined even before a battle begins. Every smart military commander knows this. Execution is wonderful, but planning — and the research that precedes planning — is paramount".
The same is true in business, business growth & digital marketing. It's not luck that decides which businesses will be successful or which will fail. It's careful research, planning & knowledge. The execution of the work is the easy part which matters the least. That's the bit that thousands of businesses and the vast majority of marketing agency do and why they struggle to get results. They just do the "stuff" and hope for the best.
You need to have a strategy of what you will do and what you hope it will achieve (based on your goal).
Strategy: The variables.
So, you have decided on your goal.
You have checked your supply chain and operational capacity to fulfill that goal.
You've checked the financials involved and you know how much money you will have to spend and what the cost per acquisition needs to be to achieve profitability for your efforts.
The next step is deciding what are the right marketing efforts to best achieve your goal for the lowest cost in the fastest time with the greatest chance of success.
Ultimately there are 3 types of people:
1. Those who want to buy what you are selling.
2. Those who know they have a problem or need a "something", but they're trying to figure out what the best solution is. Basically, they're education themselves to try and make the best decision. These people are not ready to buy, but they might be convinced.
3. Those who have no idea that they have a problem, no idea who you are & no sense of urgency whatsoever. Almost all of these people will not buy.
There are essentially 4 main types of digital advertising:
1. Be a solution to people who are actively looking for something (be that a product, service or information). (For example, Google ads).
2. Tempt people. (Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, and sometimes YouTube).
3. Be part of a conversation with people. (Organic social media, industry news & forums).
4. Giving people information that they have asked for (be that updates, news or special offers). (Email, SMS & organic social media).
Strategy: Pros & cons.
There are benefits and drawbacks for each type of marketing. It's about picking the right places to reach the right people with the most relevant intent to achieve your goal.
Reaching those who are ready to buy is more expensive and competitive than tempting people. Tempting is more expensive than being part of a conversation and giving people info that they have asked for is the cheapest and easiest option, but obviously it is reliant on people having asked for more information.
Additionally, there are far less people who are ready to buy than people who are researching for a solution - and there are infinitely more people who have no idea that they have a problem or know that they need what you are selling.
If you want instant sales from your adverts then you will want to reach people who want to buy right now in a place that they are looking for that product/service. A fair bet would be Google Ads or relevant Shopping channels (Google shopping/Amazon).
If you have a visual product/service then tempting a relevant audience could be a highly effective and much cheaper way to market yourself; so Facebook Ads, Instagram and Pinterest might be a better option than Google text ads - but remember these people aren't actively looking for a solution so it might take longer to get them to the point of converting. They might need more information and/or convincing to make that purchase.
Email marketing & organic social media posts are a really good way to engage past customers and people who want to hear from you again, but if you don't have any followers or anyone to email then it's a complete and utter waste of your time. If however you do have thousands of followers and hundreds/thousands of email subscribers than it is basically a free method of generating sales & keeping people aware that your business exists.
If you are getting a lot of traffic that is spending time on your site and not bouncing straight away then consider remarketing (Google Ads) or retargeting (Facebook/Instagram) to show past visitors new and extremely cheap adverts with relevant messages to what they interacted with - maybe taking them to a page with more information or some of your case studies, reviews or feedback.
Create a strategy that can work based on your budget, assets, timescales, type of customers you want to reach at the stage of their journey. Only pick marketing channels that can legitimately work towards your goal (stop writing social posts when nobody is listening).
Creating a successful marketing strategy is not an easy or simple thing to do but it is essential for your success. It's better to spend time coming up with an effective strategy than it is to keep randomly doing "stuff" and hoping it will work.
Now, the actual marketing:
4. Setting the expectation & understanding the stage your audience are at.
Do you click on every advert that you see and rush to the checkout or get in contact? Obviously not. Most people (97-99.9%) will not buy from you straight away, especially if they have never heard of your business before and/or have no urgent requirement.
Following on from the previous point about strategy; every piece of marketing work you do has to set the right expectation with the right information for the stage that the people you are reaching are at in order to get them to care.
You have to give an incentive to get those who are seeing your advert to care, but that incentive has to be honest and true to what they will be receiving when they click the advert. For example, we've all clicked an advert to read about some research or something interesting and then there's some big popup demanding your details before you can read it. How frustrating is it right?
Also remember to set a relevant expectation to the types of people that you are talking to and the stage of their journey. If you're speaking to people who have done their research and know exactly what they want then you don't need to sell them on the product, but you need to sell them on the fastest delivery time, the best price or the huge volume of positive reviews that you have. If you're running ads to people who don't know that they have a problem yet then you need to get them to understand that there is a problem that is worth fixing, and that you have the solution.
Additionally, it is important to meet the expectation that you have set in the marketing on the actual website/landing page too. So many times businesses will run some generic adverts to a generic audience and send them to a standard page on their site that doesn't actually talk about what the advert spoke about. This is why bespoke landing pages are so important. It is far more effective to spend an hour creating a bespoke landing page for a marketing campaign that talks about what the advert spoke about, talks through the pain points, value ad information, credibility/reputation/reviews and then prompts them to take an action - as apposed to a random product page with some details and a buy now button.
5. Ease of conversion.
(Your website is part of your marketing).
As much as the adverts that you run play a part in the success of your marketing, so does the place that you send the people that click the adverts/marketing activity.
The greatest piece of advice when looking at improving conversion is to remember that every page on a website is a step in a journey. It is not the goal of every page to get a sale, and it is not the job of every advert to get a sale.
You need to always think "what is the purpose of this page and what's the next step in their journey to help them learn more, find out more information or to trust my business". Think of it like a points system where when they know enough, trust you enough & are in the right place, they can then place an order or get in touch. Put a few clear calls to action throughout their journey to relevant information, credibility about your business and - most importantly - to the next logical step of their journey.
Simple techniques include using clear headings to set the expectation of the next section of information, don't clutter your pages too much, provide up to 3 options for the next step in a journey to make the users experience easy, seamless and relevant. Use contrasting colors to drawn attention to important areas/calls to action - but the most important step to increasing conversion is to stop thinking "I have to get this sale in one click". Work on the journey and think how to make it smooth.
6. Reputation & credibility.
Once upon a time the seller had all of the power in a buying situation. They could simply demonstrate the product/service and the customer would have to make a decision there and then. Nowadays however, there has never been more information available for customers to check, compare & educate themselves.
It's not just about you anymore. It's about the previous experiences of other customers. It's about trust - can you deliver on your promises?
Almost every visitor requires some form of proof of your reputation or credibility before they will make a purchase. This is now a fact.
Trust, reputation & credibility can come in many forms. The most common is reviews, but being talked about by industry leading publications, winning awards and simply demonstrating you know what you are talking about and showing results are highly effective too.
If you're a new business and lack reviews & testimonials then consider showing how you do your work. Video your process and explain why what you do is so important and effective. Think of as many ways as possible to build trust and show that you are credible, and as you generate business make sure to ask for reviews & feedback to grow your reputation over time.
In an ideal world you will end up with thousands of glowing reviews, hundreds of testimonials and dozens of case studies - and this is something that you absolutely want to start working towards because reputation and credibility are becoming the currency of the future in regards to customer acquisition.
7. Genuine & useful information.
The information that you provide is literally how you are speaking to your visitors. Think of your website like a shop and the information that you provide as the person who greets the visitors.
Does it answer all of their questions in a helpful & useful way? Is everything that you are saying easy to understand? Does it point them to the right area for their needs?
The job of every single web page is to build a relationship filled with trust and honesty. Tell them what your product/service can do for them, how it works & how many people have used it previously. Show them it in action or explain how to use it effectively for the best results. Don't hold back; give them answers & build a relationship.
It effects conversion & SEO; so it's 100% worth spending the time to work on information & content.
Adding useful information to your website can dramatically improve conversion when done correctly, but it can also significantly impact your rankings in search engines through an improved user experience & long tail keyword targeting.
It's not just about blog posts and writing for the sake of writing. It's about bolstering the main pages on your website which your customers will actually interact with and painting a clear picture for them. Don't hide useful information in the back of your website. Incorporate it as part of the journey.
In short, working on the information that you provide can help directly increase your sales, but also increase your traffic. It's a win-win which most people neglect.
8. Advocacy, past customers & re-engagement.
This section follows on from the "reputation & credibility" section as advocacy is the process of you encouraging your past customers to speak about you.
Don't be afraid to contact previous customers and ask them for a review. Be honest and tell them how valuable it is to you if they take just 10 seconds to write a short review and give their comments.
Additionally, give your past customers the option to follow your social channels or to subscribe to special offers just for them. Enable them to be a part of the future conversation. This takes very little effort, is basically free and (once you grow an audience to speak to) can be incredibly lucrative in the long run.
It's not all just about your past customers as there are also methods to re-engage those who didn't buy from you. Remarketing and retargeting are super cheap methods of advertising on Google & Facebook/Instagram in which you can show highly targeted ads to people who have interacted with your business in a certain way.
If they made a purchase from your ecommerce store then you can show specific and cheap ads saying "We hope you loved your order - would you mind leaving a review and sharing your experience?". If they abandoned a checkout then you can run ads to remind them that they didn't purchase (it could be that they are waiting for payday, didn't have their wallet to hand or just got distracted at the time). If they looked at a product/service for more than 30 seconds and then left then show them an advert reminding them about what they were looking at, and maybe have this advert link to a page with more information or reviews/credibility.
So many businesses spend a premium getting people to their site and then just forget about them. This is such a waste of money and if done correctly your advocacy campaigns can bring a huge amount of value to your business.
9. Basic tips and tricks when advertising.
This section includes some basic but powerful bits of advice from our experience spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on adverts and running hundreds of marketing campaigns. This by no means includes everything, and if there is enough demand we will do an in depth article for every marketing channel.
Incredibly powerful for most businesses but it requires a fair amount of testing different products/services to different audience combinations to get the most out of your spend.
Additionally, Facebook Ads almost always perform poorly for the first £100-£150 spend. It takes likes, positive comments & shares for people to see your advert and take it seriously (just like your reputation, credibility & trust, it is the same with the actual advert itself).
Once your ads have lots of likes, good comments & shares the cost per acquisition usually plummets. This being said, always test new ads to find out what works the best.
Purchase intent searches are very expensive and competitive. If you want to compete on these searches then have a bespoke landing page that sets an expectation, has value add information, plenty of credibility and a clear call to action. Never just send these expensive and competitive terms to a generic page.
Longer-tail searches are normally much cheaper, but they require legitimately useful information on the landing page. Competing for a wider range of cheaper searches can provide more sales and greater profitability if you have the information available.
Make sure to add negative keywords to your campaigns too. You don't want to be spending money on irrelevant searches for what you are selling.
Spend about 80% of your time on the most successful campaigns to get the most out of them and 20% on improving the bad ones/setting new tests live. Capitalise on what's working to maxamise your return.
Before you send an email campaign, send 3 subject lines to 10% of your list and see what gets the best open rate.
Take the best subject line and send 3 different emails to another 10% of your list and see what gets the best click through rate/conversion rate.
After you know the best subject line, send time & email content - then send to the remaining 70-80% of your list. You will get a far better result.
Google's job is to return the best result for a search and with the rise of machine learning this is becoming a lot more qualitative. Positive user experience and behavior is becoming more of a positive ranking signal. It's not just about technical checklists & links (although both are important) - but ensure that you are providing the best journey/experience for your customers. Provide lots of clear and useful information to legitimately help them make a decision.
The biggest tip for success in SEO is to be 100% honest and to provide as much value as you can to the customer. Don't try and bend pages to target keywords that aren't 100% relevant to that pages' purpose. If you need a different page to talk about a different topic then create it and link to it from the other relevant pages to make a journey that provides a huge amount of value to your users.
Our advice to make the largest impact to your sales through marketing:
(In order of greatest value).
Make sure you have the basics of a good converting website in place:
Increasing the conversion rate of your website from 1% to 3% will literally triple your sales. This is absolutely the best place to start to make a dramatic increase to your financial success.
Ensure that you have clear headings, useful information, credibility & contrasting calls to action to take the user to the next stage of their journey.
Clean and simple is best, but don't skimp on adding value.
Ensure you have information for those who aren't yet ready to make a purchase.
Don't try to hard sell at every step of your website - remember to educate, help & provide value with a journey that ultimately leads to a conversion event.
The goal from 90% of your website is to help paint a picture in your visitors head of what is possible, how they can be better off and how you can make that happen for them.
Remember that most people aren't ready to get their wallets out yet. Think at every stage; "what can I do here to make them one step closer to wanting what it is that I am selling".
Set your goal & make a strategy.
Set a goal of what you want to achieve from your marketing before you start doing any activity.
Think of the best channels for reaching the people that you want for the lowest cost in the least time with the highest chance of success for achieving your goal.
Plan how you will generate awareness, what pages you need to send them to (and what information you need to provide), how you will re-engage those who didn't convert and how you will grow your reputation.
Don't just randomly do stuff and hope for the best. Take a day to plan the next month of activity. Figure out how to get it to work before you start.
(We are phenomenal at building effective marketing strategies. If you need help,take a look at our strategic services here).
Check your financials for the product/service you want to market, and make sure that it is viable before you start.
Now you have a goal and a strategy. Please, check that you have a supply chain to match the sales you are aspiring for.
There is nothing as frustrating as finding a truly amazing marketing campaign that is acquiring you a huge volume of sales but you run out of stock after 3 days and you have to wait 6 weeks for more stock.
Furthermore, double-check your financials for the product/service you want to market. Make sure that you have the profitability to allow for the cost of the marketing campaign.
Set an honest, valuable & powerful expectation in your adverts.
Don't try to bullshit in your adverts. Be honest and tell your audience why they should care and then meet that expectation when they click.
You can be outrageous, controversial or blunt - just make sure that what you are saying is true and that you can prove it when they want to find out more.
Finally, remember to tell your audience why they should care. Make the advert about them and not about you. Don't talk about your product/service but talk about what it can do for them.
Test, learn & improve.
Don't put £10 on an advert and expect to be balling.
Don't expect to run 1 advert and you're done.
Don't expect to work on your website once and be done.
Don't expect that everything will go well first time round.
Run lots of tests and try stuff out to see what works the best and what fails terribly.
It's taken years of experience, training and trying stuff out for us to learn what is likely to work and what won't. It's taken hundreds of hours of research and planning for us to figure out how to build amazing strategies based on your data & external market data.
The point is that a successful business is not a goal but a process. It takes time, trial and error and mistakes - but as long as you are learning and improving then you can get there.
I hope this info has helped!
I appreciate that this is not a detailed guide into every marketing channel, every type of marketing campaign and every industry/niche - but I hope that this article has provided some useful information to help you develop your business and future marketing campaigns.
I would love to write a full article on every channel, industry, campaign type, CRO, SEO & UX for every type of site - but they would be so long and take a lot of time to write. If there is enough demand then I am happy to look into it, but for now if you have any questions or want to know more about anything then get in touch with the form below, or book a call with me: