Today, businesses are increasingly marketing-led. Sales teams are being replaced by bots and online sales processes, and so marketers are in the spotlight more than ever before.
In the good old days the marketing team would pass the leads to the sales team. Not anymore, marketing find the prospects, drive the traffic, qualify the leads AND make the sales. Most marketing activity is trackable, measurable and therefore the marketing team is under constant pressure to perform.
As a business owner, it’s essential that you not only have a well-performing marketing department but that you also stay up-to-date with the day-to-day operations of your team, and that you are confident that they really know what they are doing.
These are the guys who are generating your sales, your revenue, and turning customers into fans. Is your team good enough?
Here are 5 questions to ask your marketing team and what to watch out for to check they are really firing on all cylinders.
1. What are your marketing department objectives and how do they relate to the business goals?
A good marketer will not only know what the point of their job is, but also how it fits into the big picture. A marketing department without clear objectives that are linked to the business’ goal is doomed to fail.
A good answer to this question would show that your marketing team understand these three things:
- Your company objectives – what is the overall mission of your company and how do you define success. Are you mostly concerned with increase in revenue or profitability?
- Their department objectives – what is the marketing team’s main function? For example is the plan to increase new business, sell more to existing customers or ensure churn is low?
- Their personal goals – Do they all understand who is responsible for what activities, are hey able to execute the marketing plans effectively and are the strongest skilled people being put to work in the right places?
It comes down to understanding what the success metrics of the business are and then building campaigns that support the business objective. A common success metric is increase in revenue, but it would also be normal to find a combination of retention, conversion, number of qualified leads, newsletter sign-ups and sales. In subscription businesses you’ll find the marketing team most concerned with their CAC (customer acquisition cost). You want to ensure that your CAC is lower than your lifetime value – i.e. you make more than you pay to acquire them. And then you would also look at your CAC recovery rate – the number of months you need to keep the customer paying for the subscription to break even.
Working without clear business, departmental and personal goals can lead to all sorts of mayhem and disjointed activities that simply don’t work, and when this happens you will find that no-one can quite work out what’s gone wrong.
2. Can you talk me through your marketing plan and budget for the next quarter?
Every marketing lead should have a detailed tactical plan that describes the actions they will take to achieve the business goals.
It should describe the techniques, tools, and technologies that they will use and it should be accompanied by the numbers that also tell a story of how they plan to hit their targets.
For example, you could ask how much budget is being allocated to paid social ads on Facebook. What is the expected CPC and lead volume from the campaign. What is the budget, what ad types are the spending it on. How many new customers does that get, over how much time, and at what rate do you expect them to convert to paying customers, or even repeat customers.
A good marketer will use a combination of historical data and their own experience to predict conversion rates and expected results with reasonable accuracy.
3. Which is your strongest marketing channel?
If asked to double down on a channel and suddenly increase traffic/leads or sales your marketing team should be able to tell you fairly accurately which channel or combination of channels to pick.
Some marketing channels, for example, are out of your control, such as direct web leads, so to double those would be pretty much impossible. However, there are other channels, such as PPC and email outreach that many businesses can turn on and off, and tweak the various levers to generate volume quickly.
It might mean spending more money in the short-term, but if the goal is to find new customers quickly the business might accept a higher CPA (cost per acquisition) in exchange for the burst of new customers.
4. What are your customer retention rates or churn rates?
A good marketing team will focus effort on retention as well as generating new business. After all, a high customer churn rate is not good for any business. And it’s much easier to sell again, or more to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one.
Many marketing teams focus on the top of the funnel – acquisition, and neglect the bottom of the funnel. By asking about retention rates you should uncover whether there is an active retention strategy in place, or whether it’s been left in the hands of the Gods.
Rewarding loyalty and looking after customers in today’s world is a must.
5. Which of your competitors has increased market share recently?
All marketers should be keeping an eye on the competition. Not every day, but a review once a quarter is always a good idea. Asking about the competition will uncover whether your team are really entrenched in your market or whether they are simply going through the motions.
You want marketers on your team who are passionate about what they are doing. And being on top of the competition is a clear signifier of genuine interest and ambition for your business.
Value your marketing team, give them your time, and make sure you all agree on their objectives and the measures you are using for success. A valued marketing team is usually an effective marketing team and that is worth its weight in gold.
If your marketing team are responsible for driving sales make sure they get credit for it in the same way a sales team would have in the old days.
Lucy Smith is founder of DigitalGrads a platform that trains graduates in digital marketing and then connects them with employers.
Support for this article was provided by Cal O Donnabhain