Budgets can be tight at the best of times. But these days, the leash has shortened. Times are tougher than many of us can remember. Money, manpower and consumer spending are in short supply. Chances are, your business is being forced to maximise every resource it can – and you have to do more with less.
It’s no surprise that almost half of marketers expect their budgets to be cut this year. When you quiz brands more generally on ad spend, 69% agree they’ll trim costs to stay in the black. Across every sector, industry and audience, marketing plans are in widespread disarray. It’s hard to know what to scale down or remove altogether to keep your brand building and demand generation ticking over.
Then there’s the consumer issue – people are more likely to be feeling the effects of furlough, unemployment or working on a reduced salary. Their spending priorities have changed. Econsultancy and Marketing Week report that as many as 75% of UK businesses have felt a drop in demand for their products or services. Buyers are being so much more careful with their money – focusing on essentials, avoiding impulse purchases, and doubling down on research for what they do want.
All of this has left marketers wondering how they can continue to encourage sales while curbing their spending to fit a new, reduced budget.
For marketers, it’s become more important than ever to understand the part each activity, campaign and keyword plays along the customers’ path to purchase, so they can use the information to trim the fat – not sales.
Marketers have turned to their analytics for answers. But when doing so, many aren’t seeing the full picture and risk making the wrong call when deciding which activities to cut and which to keep.
Because they’ve only focussed on digital channels when measuring their activities. Sales don’t just happen online. If you don’t pay attention to what’s happening offline, you’ll never see the real, complete value of your marketing activity – which means you can’t optimise properly and make sure your getting maximum bang for your buck.
Online to offline: close the gap
Most customers’ purchase journeys are complex and see them interact with both online and offline touchpoints. It’s rare that customers stick exclusively to online channels. In fact, just 11% of purchases can be classed as ‘online only’. Customers have options. Sure, they can visit your website and strike up a conversation with your chatbot. But they can also visit your premises and speak to a sales rep or do the same over the phone.
With the Coronavirus still hanging above consumers heads in-person visits are going to be treated with caution. But other offline touchpoints – like the phone – are still going strong. Customers always want to ask questions, and some still want to be guided through purchases by a human. But when customers go offline, marketers are left pondering the answers to some important questions. Where did they come from? How did they find my brand? Which marketing activity is responsible for the interaction?
As marketers, we’re very good at tracking online behaviour. But offline tracking tends to be left out. This creates a huge blind spot. Unless it’s cleared up, you could switch off your most effective marketing activities when making cuts without even realising it.
Why analytics gaps still exist
The reason this blind spot exists is simple. Offline engagement is difficult to measure. A report from the CMO Council discovered that 49% of marketers found connecting digital and physical customer experiences “selective at best”. There’s often just too much data to gather with squeezed resources.
With marketing teams more stretched than ever, clearing up the blind spot will be tough. But you need to do something about it – particularly because it’s set to get bigger.
Calls are likely to go up for the foreseeable future, not down. With fewer coins in the coughers and the risks associated with making a bad purchase greater than before the pandemic, it’s a safe bet to assume your customers will be wanting to make contact and have their concerns allayed before parting with their cash. Since convenience and safety are paramount, and nobody wants to spend an hour in a socially distanced queue for something they can ask for or do over the phone, you can expect customers to start dialling more frequently.
You need to find a way to tap into this data if you want to get all the information you need to make your budget work as hard as possible.
So, what can you do?
Listen to the experts
Recently, Arianne Donoghue (winner of 2019’s UK Search Personality of The Year) took part in an on-demand webinar we hosted, which focusses on helping marketers cut budget, not sales when trimming spend. She told marketers to “think carefully about the 89% of conversions that aren’t online-only, and how you can stitch that back into other marketing platforms, as well as how technology can help.”
Arianne also explained that “you’ve got to make sure that you’re looking at ways to upload data from your CRM, and leveraging tools like call tracking for your business really, really well. Otherwise, you’ve got no idea exactly what activities, campaigns or keywords are driving through to conversion.”
Call tracking gives you the information you need to start piecing the whole customer journey together. It eliminates the need for resource-intensive data collection while giving you the insight to make smarter spending decisions.
With call tracking, you’ll not only see what customers browsed, viewed or clicked before going offline and picking up the phone, but which campaign resulted in the call.
Some providers have features that will let you drill deeper into your data and build a clear picture of your ROI by tying calls to sales revenue. Meaning you can use the information to reduce costs and refine successes more accurately.
The bottom line
Whether you choose to leverage call tracking, or try to experiment with promotional codes, feedback forms and on-call questionnaires to work out where customers have come from, you need to fill in the blind spot in your analytics; ideally, before pulling the plug on any activity.
While it’s essential to save money in the current climate, poorly informed cost-cutting could see you throw the baby out with the bathwater and land you in a worse position.
Analysing beyond digital data is the only way to make the right decisions for your business. Find a way to fill the blind spot in your analytics and use the insights to safeguard the marketing activities that drive sales when making budget cuts.