4 Requirements For a Best-in-Class Marketing Plan
Last month I told you to ignore marketing trends and to put more focus on what works. Admittedly, I assumed you know what works for your organization in the first place. But here’s the deal: according to Kapost’s newest survey, most marketers are still wrapping their head around what that is exactly. While generating new leads and improving conversions are consistently top priorities for marketers, how to go about achieving those things is still up in the air.
So, let’s take a look at what the best marketers are doing to achieve great results now and how you can do more of what’s working.
1. Focus on Sales-Marketing Alignment
If people on either side of a boat are rowing in different directions, your boat goes in circles. And, sure, it feels like movement, but, ultimately, you go nowhere.
Getting sales and marketing rowing in the same direction has become a cornerstone of successful marketing programs. It’s why I insist on speaking to sales team members when putting together marketing strategies for my customers.
Alignment with sales means having a content strategy built specifically to each stage of the funnel. Once everyone’s rowing in the same direction, they’ll agree on two or three priorities, build a strategy that involves input from sales and marketing teams, and provide visibility into the entire process.
Setting up a centralized system that shows content planning, production, distribution, and analytics is a major step forward in getting everyone moving in the same direction (and one that many companies are still struggling to achieve).
2. Set Lead Generation Goals and Evaluate ROI
According to Kapost’s survey, nearly 25% of marketers don’t have metrics to assess the ROI of their marketing efforts. How can you know you’re successful if you don’t even know what you’re trying to achieve?
Now that sales and marketing are in alignment (you read above, right?), you need to have an honest discussion about what realistic lead generation goals look like. Then, tie those numbers to revenue so you have clear markers of success. You can do this by tracking four things:
- Revenue Driven by Marketing Leads
- Lead Quality
- Number of Leads Created
- Conversion Rates
Obviously, things like lead quality and driven revenue will be determined by your specific context, but conversion rates and leads created should be fairly cut and dried. And vanity metrics like traffic and time on page tell you very little, so only look at them as points of reference.
Measure what matters, starting with the four metrics listed above, and you’ll clearly justify your efforts when setting next year’s budget.
3. Establish Simple Content Organization Systems
Technology, as we know, can be a blessing and a curse. There are multiple solutions out there to solve a handful of problems we all have. On the positive side, they’re relatively cheap and easy to use. On the negative side, it means we all get shiny-object syndrome and tack on more and more. Most marketers are using too many pieces of software to be effective.
According to the survey, the best marketing programs keep it simple. They use three or fewer content organization systems.
Even this presents it’s own set of challenges, though. While the benchmark indicates we’re getting better about tagging and organizing content, there’s still a lack of visibility into how content mirrors the buyer’s journey (hint: for most, it doesn’t).
If you want to know what content is working and where your gaps are (so you can create pieces that resonate), take the time to map your buyers’ journeys, then create content to fill every stage of the process.
4. Don’t Waste Content Efforts
Without sales-marketing alignment, cooperation across departments, and visibility into content creation, everyone’s job gets harder. It becomes incredibly difficult to know when duplicate content is created or when previously created content is going unused.
The best marketers not only know what’s created in each department but are careful to minimize content waste, keeping each piece on-brand and highly leveraged.
In this sense, it becomes marketing’s role to manage, rather than create. A single point of visibility helps track who’s doing what and when.
As you make new commitments to content marketing this year, keep in mind where your own shortcomings have been, and then work to fix them.
I hope, at the very least, you’ll incorporate the four elements I’ve outlined here. And if you feel you’ve already got these four on lock, do yourself a favor and circle back. There’s no harm in making sure you’ve got the fundamentals in place too.
To get research-based insights into the past, present, and future of B2B marketing, download your copy of The B2B Content Strategy & Operations Benchmark now.