How to Avoid Marketing ROI Pitfalls (Hint: It Starts with Execution!)

marketing-roi-pitfallsMarketing is the foundation for businesses today. It’s one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness and connect with your audience, but it can also help you grow your business and generate viable leads—if you do it right.

Lack of strategic sales and marketing execution is preventing many businesses from enjoying a greater return on investment and profit growth. In this post we’re going to discuss marketing ROI pitfalls, and what you can do to avoid them.

It’s planning season; don’t make the same mistakes as last year.

ROI Starts with Execution

Yes, tracking is important, setting goals is critical, but it really comes down to one core factor — execution. The key to getting results from your advertising is to make sure you’ve executed your campaign properly.

It’s important to remember that not all advertising works. If you have a poorly planned strategy, bad creative, the wrong schedule, or are targeting the wrong audience, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at advertising, you’re going to find that your precious dollars are being wasted on an ill-prepared campaign. Below are advertising pitfalls to avoid, and subsequent marketing ROI best practices to implement.

Late Starts

When planning your marketing strategy, make sure you're dedicating enough time to compose a strong, researched, and effective plan. A main misstep for many businesses is getting a late start on planning. There are many challenges that may emerge during this process, for example, failure to get consensus on goals or marketing spend. All of this could be mitigated by allotting more time for discussion.

For marketing departments that align their operations to the calendar year, 2016 doesn’t actually start on January 1st. Sure, implementation of the strategy begins then, but that effort is preceded by months of careful planning and research.

Losing Track

We live in an incredibly dialed-in and connected world. With the invent of dozens of tools to track clicks, conversions, and everything in between, there’s no longer an excuse to not know precisely where and how your budget is being spent, and what the effects of those efforts are. Knowing your baseline and historical data will better help you plan for a future marketing campaign and help you better understand where your budget is best spent.

Keeping track of your marketing campaign metrics, including budgets, click through rates, and conversions is imperative to understanding and monitoring your marketing ROI. There are many great tracking gadgets you can use to better understand where you stand. Below are a few freebies we love.

  • Google Alerts - This is a great tool for keeping track of what other sites are saying about you and your brand or product. You can create multiple alerts to keep an eye on anything you want on one of the millions of sites and pages that Google indexes every day, which can help you track any marketing campaigns you currently have running.

  • Google Analytics - Google Analytics is a useful tool that lets you monitor ROI both via desktop and mobile – so you can track your data anywhere in the world. Thanks to their tag management system, you can quickly and easily update your site’s tags and mobile apps for free at any time.

  • Facebook Insights -  Facebook’s Insight platform offers a detailed analysis of your page’s insights once you reach 30 or more followers. You can quickly and simply see how people discover and interact with your posts thanks to anonymized demographic data that lets you analyze trends and tailor your message to help maximize your marketing ROI.

Not Setting SMART Goals

Crafting sound goals is key to managing your marketing performance. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is defined as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound. While these sound very simple to implement, you’d be surprised how many businesses fall victim to this best practice. Below is a definition of each of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria.

S — Specific: This is the what, why and how of your marketing efforts. Goals should be simplistically written and clearly defined.

M — Measurable: From the start, marketing and advertising efforts should be measurable (trackable) so that you have tangible evidence after the fact to analyze results.

A — Achievable: Marketing goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slightly so you and your team feel challenged, but defined well enough so that they can be attained. An example of failing to meet this goal is number two of our Advertising Failures series: Big Reach, Small Budget.  

R — Results-focused: Marketing goals should measure outcomes, not activities. As a result of this goal, your team should be able to more competently evaluate performance and build on results to craft a stronger campaign next time.

T — Time-bound: Goals should be connected to a specific timeframe that creates a sense of urgency, or results in tension between reality and the vision of the goal. Without such urgency, the goal is unlikely to produce a timely and relevant outcome.

Missing the Target

It’s important to face the reality that you cannot be everything to everyone. Instead of wasting your time and money trying to over-target, or target the wrong audience, focus your efforts on finding your core demographic. Once you’ve understood your ideal customers — you need to target them appropriately and shape your strategy for them.

Not all consumers resonate with the same messages and media. For example, if Hispanics are a big part of your target audience, it’s important to know that they are 20% more responsive to reading product reviews and making online purchases via their mobile devices compared to Caucasians at 13%.

If your advertising is targeting an audience that consists of people who are not interested in your products or services, or are not near your location or service area, you’re not going to get the results you want (and need). Using keyword suggestion tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to match your ads to what your target audience is searching for. You can also use this tool to see what people are visiting the most in terms of products and services, brand names and more.

Bad Creative and Calls-To-Action

Ask yourself these questions before sending off your creative to your media partners:

  • Is it right for this medium?

  • Is it right for this audience?

  • Is it high quality?

  • Is it relevant?

According to a CBS news article, consumers are exposed to as many as 5,000 ads daily, up from about 500 back in the 1970’s. Figure out where your creative went wrong, and then craft a compelling, attention-grabbing ad to cut through all that clutter.

Having strong, creative, and stellar copy is not a suggestion — it’s a necessity. One of the most important parts of your creative is your call-to-action. Having a killer CTA directly related to your end goals tells your audience what to do next. Make sure that the CTA is clear, to the point and trackable. For some great CTA pointers and best practices, check out this article by HubSpot.

Failing at Frequency

This brings us back to another advertising failure we recently posted — #1: The Desire For Instant Gratification. It’s an innate desire, to have what we want, when we want it, but that is simply not how advertising works. Many business owners try running advertisements once, and when they don’t see an immediate return, they assume it doesn’t work. Well, you know what happens when you assume…

In order to have effective advertising, you’ll need to understand that frequency is key. Accepting that consistency in advertising is a necessary part of your marketing efforts will save you lots of headaches and money down the road. Just as repetition is the foundation of any learning process (think about studying for a test with note cards), it’s no different for consumers learning about your product or service — they need to see your message often. Remaining top-of-mind in the market will help you develop and strengthen your brand awareness in the short and long-term.

From Pitfalls to Profits

This post ideally showed you how to avoid marketing ROI pitfalls, and turn them into profits. With media constantly polluted with bad, loud and irrelevant ads, make sure you’re following these tips to stand out as a strong contender in your industry.

If you have riveting and relevant advertisements, targeted to the right audience, on the proper platforms, you’ll virtually make competition insignificant and eventually disappear. Don’t forget to implement ways to track your efforts so that you can analyze results to better understand what your audience does and doesn’t resonate with. And most importantly, start strong with a well-thought-out marketing execution. If you’ve taken the time to ensure your delivery is solid, everything else will fall into place much easier.


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