How to make sure the marketing dollars you spend are truly reaching your customers

Kevin Hourigan, President and CEO, Bayshore Solutions

It’s been more than a century since John Wannamaker, the founder of Philadelphia’s first department store, stated, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

In the last 100 years, and even more so in the last few years, a variety of technologies has shed light on marketing channels and waste versus productive spending.

“The key is to take action with this information and use it to your advantage,” says Kevin Hourigan, the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions, a Web designWeb development and Internet marketing agency. “The most basic question to address is: ‘Is my brand and message where my customers’ eyeballs are?’”

Smart Business spoke with Hourigan about how this seemingly simple question encompasses some complex details that are critical to a business’s success in this digital age.

How can I identify wasted branding ad spend?

Begin with a comparison of these two items: media where people are spending time/consuming advertising and media where ad dollars are spent. eMarketer cites the following stats: TV: 43 percent time spent, 43 percent ad dollars spent; Internet: 25 percent time, 18 percent dollars; radio: 16 percent time, 11 percent dollars; mobile: 8 percent time, 0.5 percent dollars; print media: 8.2 percent time, 28 percent dollars.

At first glance, this report seems to say that television ad spending matches up. Until you apply the current statistics (courtesy of Hubspot) that 86 percent of people skip TV ads. So are those eyeballs really exposed to and positively influenced by advertisers? With print media, once readers turn the page, your brand is out of sight and out of mind. Studies on print advertising consistently show that, on average, it takes a minimum of eight full-color, full-page ads for a person to remember it and associate the product or service. Most often, recall of the brand takes even more.

The key item to uncover for your specific business is: ‘Where are my customers spending their media consumption time, and are they hearing what I have to offer them?’

How do I make sure my marketing reaches my customers?

There is no doubt that the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people conduct their consumer behavior. Pew Research cites that 75 percent of U.S. adults are online; 69 percent of these for at least an hour per day and 35 percent for over three hours per day. Pew also shows that more than 60 percent of the U.S. adults online regularly engage in using a search engine, product research, getting news, buying a product, looking for ‘how-to‘ info and social networking. On top of that, statistics show that inbound leads cost 62 percent less than leads from traditional outbound sources.

More successful marketers are shifting budget away from ‘interruption advertising,’ such as traditional broadcast and print, to ‘influence and on-demand messaging,’ including search, subject matter expertise and social engagement. This means that in order to have more productive marketing, you should cut back on interrupting what people are interested in and instead give them what they are interested in. This requires a change in mind set, strategy and implementation.

There is a balance to strike with traditional and online marketing. However, if these general trends reflect the profile of your customer, you should seriously consider reallocating some marketing budget toward more impactful online tactics. Statistics show that spend in online marketing channels increased 20 percent over last year and is trending to increase 90 percent by 2015. It is quite likely that your competition is already shifting budget online, or planning to do so very soon.

What can I do to achieve more productive marketing?

First, understand your customer profile(s) and then evaluate all your marketing options alongside this. Second, track everything!

A great example of shifting smart budget from print to online is Internet ad ‘retargeting’ campaigns. This tactic trumps the ‘out of mind as you turn the page’ dynamic of print and allows your online ad impressions to keep showing up to people who have visited and moved on from your website. It does so at an exponentially lower marketing investment than funding more print ads to chase that brand message recall threshold. Google reports remarketing case results of 50 to 75 percent reduced cost per conversion. I have a case study of remarketing driving an 82 percent increase in search traffic and influencing 85 percent of sales.

There are also a variety of ways to interweave online and offline tactics. Every day we see encouragement to visit a website on radio, television and billboards. Creating campaigns that drive this kind of engagement brings a more interested prospect to you, and enables measurement of results previously unavailable with that medium.

Tracking is essential, and tracking tools are easy and affordable (Google Analytics is free). Also, separate, dynamic phone numbers can be assigned to specific media, campaigns and even keywords. Determine which metrics are the indicators of success to your marketing goals, as it is easy to get lost among the many available. Then apply and review them regularly. In the online world, this can range from hourly to daily to monthly. Choose a consistent and meaningful measure and use this to guide marketing adjustments and decisions.

There are literally dozens of online tactical and campaign opportunities and effective ways to attach meaningful metrics to them. Best matching these with where your audience engages online is the key to striking a successful marketing mix for your business. It also is worth mentioning that a prerequisite to success in the online space is that your business’s core Web presence needs to be solid, functional and optimized. With these in place, your business is primed to most wisely spend and receive the best return on its marketing and advertising dollars.

For details on the case study mentioned above, click to: www.bayshoresolutions.com/RetargetingSuccess.

For a snapshot of Bayshore Solutions’ Web marketing methodology, click to: www.BayshoreSolutions.com/method.

KEVIN HOURIGAN is the president and CEO of Bayshore Solutions. Reach him at (877) 535-4578 or www.BayshoreSolutions.com.