The way in which purchase decisions are made has changed forever. The internet has become the first resource for gaining information about products, services and the organizations that provide them. In fact, 70% of a buyers decision is made before the first conversation with your company. And, word-of-mouth recommendations are more influential than ever before. This new dynamic has pushed traditional advertising and marketing methods down the ladder of influence and put more pressure on such topics as: website structure, search position, website content and how your sales department is structured. Keeping up with these changes and the technologies that enable them is challenging for even the most seasoned marketing professional. Here are five signs it be time to update your marketing program.
1. Your company shows up on the fifth page in a website search. 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of an organic internet search. That means your website is likely irrelevant if you are not close to the top in the list of options. If your website lacks presence you are likely losing customers every day. Keeping your website fresh with new, relevant and targeted content is critical. If you do not have a program in-place to update your website content on a regular basis you are likely losing ground to your competitors.
2. You have not looked at the analytics on your website in more than three months, don’t know how to access your analytics, or don’t have a clue what I am talking about. Websites analytics are a tremendous source of information about the interests of your visitors. Even the most basic data will provide information regarding which web pages are most popular, how often people viewed each page, how long they spent on each topic and when they visited. Knowing what is of interest to visitors will help you fine tune your message and help convert visitors to customers. Continually review the activity on your website and attempt to correlate other marketing and sales efforts to that activity to determine how effective your overall program is.
3. You have no way to easily update your website. If the content on your website cannot be easily updated by at least one person inside your company, you likely do not have a user friendly content management system (CMS) in place. Without the ability to easily update, it is very likely your website content is outdated and not relevant to viewers. It is also likely that your website presence with search engines is slipping because the content rapidly becomes dated. Most important without fresh content your viewers will not have a reason to return to your website or go to it in the first place. Invest in converting your website to a user friendly content management system and committing to developing content on a regular basis. Often sharing responsibility for content generation among key staff members ensures content is fresh and relevant. Outside services can help edit or generate content as needed.
4. The organizational structure of your sales department has not changed since 2010. While 2010 does not seem long ago to many of us-there has been a world of change with respect to how people prefer to make purchase decisions. The days of effective cold calling on prospects is dying. Today, buyers are empowered by technology. They can easily find alternatives, and understand the features and benefits of your products well in advance of the first conversation. In fact, 70% of their decision is made before they ever have that first conversation with your company. This statistic can have important implications for your company. Here’s how. Prospects that come to your website for information are “ready-to-buy”. This effectively puts more value on the ability of your sales department to close sales rather than the “rainmaking” skills needed in the past. Internet marketing strategies are progressively taking over the lead generation role from sales. If your sales effort does not leverage the inbound capability of your website to cultivate prospects that are ready to buy you are likely missing opportunities every minute of every day. Lastly, this new sales dynamic could result in the shortening of sales cycles—from initial contact to decision—for prospects that are new to your company.
5. The person handling your marketing wears more than one hat. In today’s world of lean operations it is not uncommon for the owner, CEO or Sales manager to assume the duties of Marketing Director. The upside is lower overhead. The downside is marketing is in a state of rapid transition, and it is very difficult for someone who is not dedicated to the function to be proficient at it. To keep up with competitors requires your marketing effort keeps pace with change. Marketing is an indispensable and expensive prerequisite to maintaining the business you have and grow. New technology is more effective and more cost efficient than the old traditional methods. Your company could be spending more than you need to and getting less from the effort. Investing in marketing professionals whether in-house or on retainer will ensure your company’s marketing program stays on-track and keeps your competitors in the rearview mirror.
Pete Sitter is the founder and principal of PSM (Pete Sitter Marketing). His 30 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing is divided between work with consulting/advertising firms and executive positions with industry category leaders. PSM is a concierge marketing firm that limits the number of their clients to no more than six that are of interest. PSM offers Marketing Strategy, Creative and Marketing Management services.