Email; The Lazy Person’s Digital Marketing Tactic

Think back to your early days of dating. You meet a great person and they happily provide their contact information in hopes of getting together soon. After you get home you call them. Then call again the next day. And the day after. And the day after. Wait, you shouldn’t do that! So why do so many companies think this is ok when we provide our contact information to them?

Email Marketing Is Great

Let us start with the good. There are few mediums out there where you have the ability to easily craft a specific message for a specific customer. Yes, display, text, social, and direct mail all have these capabilities, but email makes targeting easy. If you have obtained an email address it is typically because someone has given consent for you to contact them. Through tools such as MailChimp, Marketo, Constant Contact and others you can have emails sent automatically that are dynamically created to fit these customer’s specific needs. So the contact gave you consent and then you followed that by creating an email that matched their needs, reaching their direct inbox in seconds. Now that is powerful!

Stop Being Lazy Email Marketers!

Just this morning I received three emails from various arms of an organization I am intimately involved with. Yesterday I received just as many. None are connected. None speak to my specific interests of the organization. None get me excited about the brand. But I should not pick on a single brand. Recently I purchased furniture from a large online retailer. Since that purchase I have gone back to view other items that I may wish to purchase. As I browse the emails cometh at a rate of at least two per day. Again, no connection to me nor my browsing behavior other than simply reminding me that I browsed a product or category.

It’s Time To Do Better

Here are some keys to being a responsible email marketing guru;

  • Stop sending multiple emails per day; Send one that is a collection of the customer’s interests (and maybe only send 2-3 per week)
  • Make a connection; Put on your public relations hat and spark some emotion
  • Use retargeting less creepily; leverage other tactics to hammer the brand home, just don’t think that email is the only tool you have

Treat your email contact list just like that first phone number you received. You want to show you’re interested without being pushy. You want to remind them without smothering them. Be protective of your lists and remember that they receive tons of messages from others every day. In order to stand out be the one that communicates better than the rest!

Digital Marketing In A Recession

We’re data analysts at heart, so when the numbers are telling us something we tend to listen. Many economists agree that a recession is on the horizon. The size and length of such an event is debatable, but regardless of its impact you must be ready. Digital media tactics are agile, allowing you to make quick pivots to your marketing dollars with the click of a mouse. So as the economy weather changes you can act fast and maximize your digital spend.

Marketing Mix In A Recession

It’s hard to pull a television or radio ad. It is nearly impossible to pull a print ad or billboard. While these tactics certainly have their place they are not as easy to adjust when things change economically. It is not always recommended to have a 100% digital marketing marketing mix. It is instead important to have tactics that can be adjusted on a dime when economic uncertainty hits. On the whole we see about a 60-70% mix of digital tactics for most of our clients. Your mix may differ, but shouldn’t be too far away from those percentages.

Web Analytics Are Key

First, make sure all of your digital tactics are properly tagged with campaign tracking variables. Second, review your analytics reports weekly to understand the tactics that are working best. Third, ensure that proper attribution is applied to all tactics in order to understand the full impact of each tactic. If you have offline conversions ensure that there is a tracking mechanism in place in order to properly attribute your tactics.

Optimizing Digital Tactics

As economic forces shift leverage your web analytics data to maximize your digital spend on the tactics with the greatest impact to conversion. Evaluate your attribution funnels, or a multi-channel funnel report in Google Analytics, to ensure your spend is driving results. Decrease spend on those tactics that drive little to no tangible value as economic signs start to weaken. While brand awareness may require some spend, a recession event may not be the best time to do so. Track every dollar spent and if it does not at least assist in a conversion it is time to pull back the reigns. Through these optimization tactics you’ll weather the economic downturn better than most and be ready to spend big once things start looking up.

Need help optimizing your digital marketing during a recession?

Use the form on this page to contact us or simply click here and we’ll be more than happy to help you navigate the choppy economic waters.

How To Develop A Digital Marketing Budget

Sometimes it can feel as though you’re throwing darts blindfolded in order to develop a digital marketing budget. Should we spend more? What is our cost threshold? Or maybe you’re just throwing money at a tactic and hoping for the best. Fear not marketer as your friends from Bluefin Strategy are here to help guide you to something a little better than a dartboard.

Develop A Spend Threshold

You sell widgets for $100. Should you spend $100 on your marketing efforts? OK, that was an easy one (hopefully you answered no). Should you spend $75? $25? There is no right answer per se, although ‘typically’ a marketing budget allocation of about 25% is standard. However you shouldn’t just go for standard. First you need to understand how much it costs to create that $100 widget. Keep in mind all resource, sales, and operations costs. What is left over can be sheer profit or allocated to marketing. This allocation is whatever you feel most comfortable with and, as mentioned before, there is no real hard and fast rule to stick to. Just don’t spend more than you take in of course.

Estimate Your Percentages

Now it is time to dig into your web analytics a bit. Do you have a historical Conversion Rate or Click Through Rate? These will vary wildly based on your business model, but here are some averages we have seen:

Conversion Rates

  • Lead Generation~2.5%
  • Ecommerce ~4%
  • Free Signups ~20%
  • Webinar Registration ~30%

Click Through Rates

  • Display Ads ~0.35%
  • Social Media ~0.90%
  • Paid Search ~2%
  • Email ~5%

Sample Digital Marketing Budget

Now it’s time to put all of that together. Enter the numbers you developed above into our handy Digital Marketing Budget Calculator to get your estimated Cost Per Click and Cost Per Impression Thresholds. Once you have those you can do keyword research to see if the CPC’s align with your thresholds or see if your display ad provider falls under your maximum CPM.

Where Will 2019 Take Us?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics only about 50% of small businesses survive after five-years. It’s a shocking statistic and why nearly four-years ago we started Bluefin Strategy. We wanted to help small businesses succeed online and help them grow beyond the five-year mark. However, as we ourselves enter our fifth year it is time to reflect on how we were able to get to that elusive mark and what we’re planning for the future.

Thank You!

First off, there are too many people to thank individually for our success, so as to not leave anyone out we will simply give a large blanket thank you to everyone who has helped us get to this point. To our partners, our clients, and our friends, it has been an amazing ride thus far and we couldn’t have done it without you.

How Did We Get Here?

A small business must pivot from time to time and Bluefin Strategy has been no different. We have matured into an organization with values and one with a clear focus. Starting off we thought we could be everything to everyone and that just isn’t feasible. So this past year we spent a lot of time crafting our goals for the business and ensuring those goals align with our core values. Most importantly we are here today because we have cared for our clients and have always ensured that their best interests have aligned with ours.

Where Are We Going?

The next year is going to be exciting as we will be introducing two new business offerings to help small businesses. First, we will be unleashing a new product to automate website data analysis, saving small businesses time and allowing them to focus on the things that matter. Secondly, we will be introducing more one-on-one digital marketing education and coaching sessions to help small businesses save money and become more agile by optimizing their digital strategy themselves.

Thank you again to everyone who has had a hand in our success thus far. We are so honored to have worked with so many great companies and we are immensely excited to see what the next year holds. Here’s to a prosperous 2019 to us all!

How To Import Google Analytics Data Into Google Sheets

If you’re like us sometimes you just want to play around with your data a bit more than Google Analytics provides. Maybe you want a different type of chart or simply want to combine your data with some other source. While Google Data Studio is a super useful tool for this type of task, there can be a learning curve in order to get the exact type of data you seek. Enter the Google Analytics Add on for Google Sheets.

What can you do with this data?

If there’s data in your GA account you can pull it into Google Sheets with this plugin. Dates, goals, users, sessions; it’s all there for the taking. What we like to do with this plugin is to leverage this data to create better dashboards than what GA provides as the Sheets plugin allows you to schedule this data to be pulled automatically and thus you can send your team a link that they can access at any time to see fresh data in the format you wish. While the Sheets charts have a long way to go in order to be as useful as Excel, there is still plenty of visualization options at your fingertips.

Take a look at Google’s documentation and tutorial to see what is possible. Then, start putting questions on a white board that your Google Analytics data can provide answers to. Once you know what you’re asking from your data you can begin to query the vast Google Analytics API easily using the Dimensions & Metrics Explorer. As you click on different dimensions or metrics others will gray out if no correlations are available. This Add on is a simple way to start seeing your data in a whole new light and providing better visual insight into new opportunities!

How to Leverage Zero Based Budgeting in Digital Marketing

As a myriad of items swirl around the economy these days and idea is beginning to surface in many company boardrooms. Zero Based Budgeting is essentially the review of budgeting line items to ensure viability and efficiency. There’s obviously more to it than that and you can read a great article from McKinsey about the 5th myths of zero-based budgeting to learn more. However, for our intent and purpose we want to leverage this methodology to ensure you’re thinking through your digital marketing expenditures. We’ve written a lot of about budgeting recently and the reasoning is that as we approach the end of the year it is imperative that the budgets you create for 2019 are accurate and viable.

How to Apply Zero-Based Budgeting to Digital Marketing

What is your goal? We ask that a lot, I know. But it is a fundamental question that often is never fully fleshed out. Zero-Based Budgeting forces organizations to think through their goals and revenue targets so that each dollar that goes out is accounted for. It all starts with the organization understanding and agreeing on specific targets, then each department is forced to be accountable to those targets. So to begin, ensure that you understand the revenue goals set by the executive leadership. Secondly, work backwards from your revenue goals (ensuring margin is calculated) by estimating conversion rates and click through rates to determine your overall cost threshold. Lastly, track to these goals by evaluating your return on ad spend on a week-to-week basis. If you’re not on target then evaluate which tactics are throwing things off course. Is it Pay Per Click Advertising? Perhaps it’s particular keywords driving up your cost? Knowing your revenue targets and budgeting to them is job number one as marketers and can ensure that you become a leading voice in the zero-based budgeting game!

Digital Strategists & Zero-Based Budgeting

As any digital strategist worth their salt will tell you, we’ve been doing this for years. The ability to track costs and follow that through to conversion is the cornerstone to any digital marketing plan. More importantly, digital marketers have always had a clear understanding of the full conversion funnel and ensuring that each step along the way is tracked. This gives us a unique opportunity to become leaders within a zero-based budgeting organization and ensure the entire organization accounts for each and every dollar that goes out the door!

What Do You Stand For

At a recent breakfast event several of us got to talking about how many businesses focus on tactics versus actually thinking through their business goals. Additionally, it came up that many businesses do not really stand for anything other than making money. Hey, don’t get me wrong, making money is great. However the truly successful businesses focus on their values and don’t often stray from their mission. After all, if you don’t stand for something you stand for nothing.

Start With Goals & Work Backwards

We have always started engagements by asking an organization defining their business goals, but so many businesses come to us wanting to implement a specific tactic or two. Our process starts by sitting down and helping our partners really think through A) What do we stand for as a business B) What are our goals as an organization (e.g Why are we here?) and C) How does our unique position in the market help solve the pain points people are suffering from? Then (and only then) can you decide what tactics to use to target your audience. Take the time to go through this process and I assure you success will follow!

How to Calculate Cost Per Acquisition

Are you willing to buy a $10 bill for $50? Probably not. But if so please email me. Unfortunately many businesses do this transaction every single day by not understanding their true Cost Per Acquisition. It is a very simple task to undertake and ensures that your paid media strategy maintains profitability.

How to Calculate Revenue per Lead

You may have to do some ballparking here, but basically you have to look at your customer base. How much revenue on average does a customer bring to your business? Let’s say that number is $1,000. Next, what is our business margin, meaning; how much can we afford to spend and still stay profitable. Let’s say that number is $250 (eg: a 25% margin). Now, on average how many leads turn into clients? (Leads being calls, form fill outs, etc) Let’s say we average about 75%. The math is pretty simple from here: (Revenue Per Client * Margin) * Lead Conversion = Cost Threshold (for our example; $187.50)

How to Calculate Cost Per Acquisition

Now that we have a Cost Threshold we can work backwards to understand how much we can spend to acquire new leads. We need to review the analytics a bit here to determine our website’s Conversion Rate. Then we can do the math to determine how much we can spend per Conversion; Cost Threshold / Conversion Rate  = Cost per Acquisition (for our example $18.75)

Tis The Season of Change

As summer begins to draw to a close and it starts getting “not so hot” outside we have begun to do a bit of reflecting. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, which most of your are I’m sure, you’ll note several articles noting the digital agency business as a whole. It’s all about tactics this, theory that, cool new buzzword there. It’s hard for any marketing department to keep up. This is why we are making a change!

Changing the Digital Agency Landscape

The tough thing about purchasing digital strategy services is that you often don’t get a tangible item in return. Even worse, how many times has the agency set the success metrics for you when it comes to the tactics they are handling? These things bother us and we have decided to change the way we operate. So starting in the very near future you will see our website morph from being ‘all about tactics’ to being focused on strategy and processes. You’ll clearly see our values as a company, our vision, and our process we implement for every engagement. Our goal is to be a trusted advisor, a part of your team, an expert at your disposal. We are there to guide you through the rough waters and help you come out on the other side with a bounty of fish!

So stay tuned and see how Bluefin Strategy will be changing the digital marketing agency relationship for good!

The Digital Agency Relationship

Not long ago I wanted to rock six-pack abs for beach season. Like many people do I got a gym membership and hired a personal trainer. My trainer gave me a list of things to do, including exercises, what to eat, when to eat, and even had the audacity to tell me I couldn’t drink alcohol. When beach season rolled around I simply rocked my dad-bod, cancelled my gym membership and broke up with my trainer.

Why Digital Agency Relationships Fail

My rock hard abs are your conversions. An elusive goal that seems far-fetched, but you know one day you can achieve it. The problem is that it requires work and we just aren’t good at that. Just like the personal trainer, an agency will give you a set of recommendations and strategies around achieving your goal. That is expected by both parties, but where the expectations differ is who is responsible for implementing them?

Is It Your Responsibility or Theirs?

The answer is that it depends. Many agencies out there do a great job at implementation, others are great at developing strategies, and some claim to do both well. However, rarely is it the case that a client can simply be hands off and things just get done. I would also argue that even if it were to work that you’d be implementing your digital strategy in a vacuum with no cohesion with the rest of your team.

How to Make Sure Your Agency Relationship Rocks

Set expectations up front. Who will handle tactical implementation? How many meetings will there be? How many of those meetings will be on-site? Most importantly, set clearly defined goals at the time of contract negotiations. We’ve always shied away from defining goals in our contracts, but now we welcome them in every proposal. It doesn’t mean payment is null and void, it simply means that we are both on the same page as to where we are trying to go. Sometimes we’ll miss the mark, and that’s ok, but at least everyone has a clear understanding of who is doing what, where we’re going, and what happens when we get there.

Until then, I’m off to the gym… then maybe the wine store.