Advertising and marketing – they’re related but distinct.
When you choose online advertising, you’re investing a certain amount of money on the probability of getting “overnight” traffic. Getting the traffic doesn’t guarantee it will convert into sales, but if you’ve got lots of data on your audience, you can calculate the return on investment from an ad.
This works because advertising is a straight line from A to B. You can see your ads. You can see what you spent. You can watch people who just arrived on your website to understand exactly what they do next.
In other words, you have complete visibility. This is why, when ads don’t deliver the expected results, your marketing agency can intervene fast. (Compelling use cases for online advertising have gotten a lot rarer, especially for small businesses.)
Marketing doesn’t work like that. If someone tells you it does, they’re misleading you.
Because it has a wider scope, potentially involving thousands of touchpoints, there is no way to capture all the data you would need to attribute ROI to marketing. Even if you could, changing your strategy can eliminate a lot of the good along with the not-so-good. Everything is interconnected.
Let’s zoom in closer to demystify how this works.
Marketing Doesn’t Connect Point A and Point B – It Also Includes Points X, Y, and Z
The entire sequence of events that takes a person from prospect to lead to customer is called the buyer journey. There’s no way to foresee how any one buyer’s journey will play out, but it usually breaks down into three distinct stages:
In the days of yore, this process could play out in a single day. A consumer becomes aware of a problem, they know what product solves that, and they go to the store and buy it. In today’s world, things are much more complex. The buyer journey can take months and may have hundreds of inputs.
Say you have 30 blog posts on your website. You have five social media accounts, each of which posts 2-3 times a day. You have a dozen videos on your YouTube channel. You send out an email a week to each of three different email lists – for leads, current customers, and long-term repeat customers.
Which of those things “led to a sale?”
The answer is simultaneously none and all.
It’s literally impossible to know which content a lead consumed in which order and how much each one contributed to the final decision. Add to that the fact that all your competitors are also producing tons of content and the buyer journey becomes totally unpredictable.
No less an authority than top global consultancy Gartner called it spaghetti bowl buying.
The days of tracking leads from Point A to Point B (while figuring out which billboards they saw along the way) are over. If you limit yourself to methods where ROI is perfectly clear every time, you’ll soon end up head-to-head with enterprises with much larger ad budgets. Your marketing ROI will be less than zero.
Where, When, and How Someone Converts Doesn’t Indicate Marketing ROI
Ideally, you should be tracking engagement metrics throughout a marketing campaign. Current metrics compared to pre-existing benchmarks will tell you which approaches to your audience really resonate.
For instance, there’s no purpose in launching an all-out social media firestorm on Facebook if all your customers are actually on LinkedIn. Modern marketing isn’t about doing a little of everything. Instead, you let data guide you to the most important things, and refine as you go.
Data is good at eliminating what just won’t work. But it can’t tell you which of the many, many things that “may” work had the biggest impact. Let’s say a lead reads one of your LinkedIn messages. Then, they buy. Was the LinkedIn message that effective, or was it the last snowflake in the avalanche?
This is why marketing is so much more than any one tactic.
There are dozens of channels and hundreds of ways someone can connect with your brand.
In most cases, there’s nothing special about the last step they took before they made a purchase. Yes, they might be reacting to a limited-time offer. But even then, the end result still relies on all that came before. Remove any of those other steps and the outcome looks very different.
As people and businesses make decisions in increasingly complex ways – so complex that even one of the top consultancies in the world can’t figure them out – ensuring you have marketing coverage in as many places as possible is what determines success, not any one ingredient in the stew.
A Marketing Agency Delivers the Consistency You Need for Successful Marketing
Here’s why most small and mid-sized businesses should consider a marketing agency:
- You need the widest possible span of marketing coverage across channels and content types
- Each individual blog, video, social media post, and more needs to reach a level of excellence
The fact that no one piece of marketing makes a decisive difference means everything you do counts. You must understand your customers’ burning questions and pain points. You need to know how they want to be addressed, where they can be found, and who they trust.
Most companies simply aren’t equipped to achieve this. They may have brand basics down – the colors, the fonts, the tone – but spinning that off into an ongoing conversation with your customers is a lot to ask. It can take years to build an in-house marketing team, and years more for peak efficiency.’
Plus, a marketing director alone costs more than $7,000/month on average.
If you don’t have years to wait to realize your ambitions, a marketing agency gets you on the right track fast. With an award-winning marketing agency in your corner, you can rest assured you’re getting advice from a team that knows your industry and customers inside out.
That not only includes consistent branding across the full spectrum of online and offline content, but the ability to convey tone, nuance, and emotion – to tune in to your exact audience so they’re left nodding along and saying “that’s me!” That part is more art than science, and only experience can deliver it.
You just can’t narrow that down to one piece of content or one interaction.
But once you’ve got it right, the results will speak for themselves.
Don’t Wait for Lightning to Strike: New York Ave Empowers You with Marketing that Works
If you’re chasing after old-fashioned definitions of marketing ROI, it’s going to be a long wait.
But you don’t have to take a blog’s word for it. Whether by video or in person, you’re invited to discuss your needs directly with the experts at New York Ave. We’ll help you uncover the best path to your goals – and show you exactly what you should be measuring along the way. Contact us to begin.