Why you need a marketing audit, and how to do a good one.

As with every function in your organisation right now, marketing needs future-proofing. But, in a very uncertain world, trying to prepare for ‘what’s coming next’ is really tough. How do we identify and manage our greatest risks? And how do we spot and invest in your biggest opportunities?

Marketing needs particular attention in your strategising and planning because it requires significant and ongoing investment, and is (or should be!) a key driver of revenue. In a recession, marketing becomes even more important. According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review article:

Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it. But they did change what they were spending their marketing budget on, and when, to reflect the new context in which they operated.

#1 Why should I do a marketing audit?

The question you should NOT be asking yourself right now is “How can I cut my marketing spend?”.

The CORRECT question is “What marketing investments should I be making – to survive and thrive?” To answer this question, you probably need a marketing audit.

A marketing audit helps you ensure your marketing approach and investments fully support your business strategy. A well executed audit focuses attention on the data points and benchmarks that show you what’s working, what isn’t, and where your key opportunities are to bring more efficiencies, economies of scale and effectiveness into your marketing function.

#2 How should I approach a marketing audit?

To have impact, a marketing audit needs to be rigorous, and based on an analytical, evidence-based approach.

A marketing audit should consist of the following distinct stages:
Stage 1: Definition of objectives and scope
Stage 2: Information and data gathering
Stage 3: Analysis and benchmarking
Stage 4: Delivery of findings and recommendation – including an operational plan to ensure the right investments are made in the right areas, at the right times, and with the required measures in place to ensure a good ROI.

#3 What should I include in a marketing audit?

The following elements of marketing should be reviewed within a marketing audit:

  1. Your overall business strategy and goals. It is essential your marketers have a thorough understanding of what you are aiming to achieve as a business, otherwise your marketing efforts won’t be well focused.
  2. Your target market, especially their profile, size (total addressable market, aka TAM), and your current penetration of TAM. Your TAM should ideally be divided into market segments that are then prioritised.
  3. The value proposition of your brand(s) and product portfolio(s). What are the ‘problems to be solved’, or ‘jobs to be done’ that mean your highest priority target market segments need and value your product?
  4. Your competitors, and your positioning against your key competitors, with a focus on your core differentiators and USP(s). These should relate directly to the ‘problems to be solved’ and ‘jobs to be done’ – as per above point.
  5. Your marketing objectives, and how success against these objectives is measured and visible at all times. Remember that these need to line up behind your business goals, with marketing metrics that should tie clearly and directly into financial results.
  6. A ‘warts and all’ SWOT analysis of your marketing function – incorporating an evaluation of:
    1. Insight on your customers i.e. what 1st party data you hold on customers, starting with the most basic information stored in your database about your TAM (see point 2 above), and also covering the most advanced useful information you have about levels of engagement and propensity to purchase.
    2. Your marketing systems and integrations for data flow i.e. martech platforms, digital marketing platforms, analytics tools, etc.
    3. Your brand assets i.e. visual branding, messaging, consistency of touchpoints, customer experience of your brand.
    4. Marketing channel and tactics deployed to date, and how these have been optimised to date and how they have performed so far.
    5. Your marketing processes i.e. manual and automated, within your marketing function, between your internal marketing function and external partners (e.g. marketing agencies) and between marketing and other business functions. This includes how marketing strategies and plans are created, and how campaigns are managed and executed.
    6. Your marketing people i.e. overall level of internal resources, skills and team structure (also considering that some ‘marketing tasks’ may be done by people not in the marketing department); external resources/expertise you rely on for marketing to work; and how your marketing function communicates/integrates/collaborates with key external parties and other functions for overall synergies,

Key activities a marketing audit process should include are:

  • 1-2-1 interviews with key stakeholders
  • Group Q&A sessions to gather all the information (sometimes called ‘workshops’)
  • Review of relevant documentation and reports, including org charts, job descriptions, financial data, customer survey findings, process maps, supplier agreements, samples of collateral and content, etc.
  • Review of system set ups and relevant data within systems (via direct access into systems)

#4 Who should conduct a marketing audit?

There is no escaping personal and/or confirmation bias if someone ‘internal’ conducts a marketing audit. Therefore, a marketing audit should be conducted by a suitably qualified ‘3rd party’ i.e. someone not involved in the day-to-day of a business (or business unit), but with a strong background in marketing, in a similar kind of organisation, with a similar business model or product set.

This 3rd party could be a central marketing resource within a large organisation, or a trusted external partner.

#5 What should I expect the output to be?

The party conducting the audit should present findings and recommendations within a comprehensive report, including:

  • Executive summary
  • For every relevant area of marketing (as above) – key findings and recommendations, with clear link between recommendations and ROI to be expected from implementing these. These pages should link to detailed appendices, examples, templates, and analysis as relevant.
  • A recommended investment plan for filling gaps and ensuring marketing is set up for success.
  • A high level recommended operational plan, or ‘roadmap’, on how recommendations should be executed in terms of priority, sequence and timeline.

Be prepared: conducting a marketing audit will in itself require investment and time as it needs to be approached skilfully, and with a good level of rigour. A ‘half baked’ audit will probably do more harm than good, but a well conducted audit should give you incredibly valuable insights, and help you make good decisions about how to invest well in marketing – which should pay for itself many times over.

If you’d like to have a chat about how best to approach your marketing audit, please drop us a note on info@mpg.biz.

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Google Analytics is changing – in a big way. GA4 is coming and you need to pay attention

By this time next year, you won’t be able to collect any more tracking data via your Google Analytics account – unless you have implemented GA4. On 1st July, 2023 Google Analytics will only process new data via their GA4 (Google Analytics 4) properties – meaning you can no longer track any new data via UA. Google Analytics 360 properties will receive a one-time processing extension ending on 1st October 2023, instead of 1st June 2023.

Because GA4 is VERY different to UA, it is very important you pay attention to this change now and start putting GA4 in place as a matter of urgency. If you assume you can just ‘switch’ or ‘upgrade’ with a click of a button, – you’re wrong. If you want to continue tracking, you will need to set up GA4 from scratch, including new filters, conversions, ecommerce tracking etc. Because GA4 data is structured differently to UA, depending on your set up, this may require custom development to ensure everything is tracked according to your business needs.

After 1st July, 2023, you will still be able to access your previously processed data in your UA property for at least 6 months – during which time Google suggests you export your historical data. Eventually, they will stop giving you access to your UA reports in the analytics interface or access to your UA data via the API. This is a big change, so make sure you have an analytics expert – with specific training/know-how in GA4 working on this for you – asap.

The 3 most important things to be aware of:

#1GA4 is a brand new system

GA4 is a brand new system and has to be set up from scratch (you can’t just ‘migrate’ or ‘upgrade’ your current GA set up). It will also take time to get it properly set up and optimised for your business to give you the data you need.

#2No historical data from UA will be available within GA4

No historical data from UA will be available within GA4. So if you require easy year-on-year comparisons, you need GA4 at least activated at a basic level now to start capturing data.

#3You should set up GA4 now

You should set up GA4 now so it starts capturing data straight away, so on 1st July, 2023 you have historical data to use in the reports. We recommend running GA4 alongside UA for a while so you can use UA for your existing reporting while you fine-tune your GA4 set up.


Do you need help putting GA4 in place and optimising it to capture the data you need to run your business well?

MPG’s web analytics experts are trained and experienced in GA4 set up and optimisation, so we’re a safe pair of hands to help you make this critical transition well.

Please get in touch with Team MPG.

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4 Things marketers should focus on for international growth

As Chair of Renewd International, I recently had the privilege of chairing the first Renewd International virtual roundtable. These roundtables, as with other Renewd International events, are designed as a confidential space for senior executives from specialised media and events businesses to meet and share insights – with a focus on international growth strategies.

You can read the full ‘key takeaways article’ written by Renewd International Committee Member Carolyn Morgan here. Following Chatham House Rule, Carolyn has only directly referenced, with permission, the contribution of one of the speakers – Andrew Hatcher, Mentor in Residence, Cambridge Judge Business School. Andrew shared some very useful and relevant frameworks and models that apply to growing internationally. These got me thinking about how marketers need to support the international growth of a business. Four important things stood out:

#1 Marketers must have a deep understanding of the ‘What, Why, Who and How’ for an international growth strategy to work, with a focus on the ‘Why’ and the ‘Who’.

What? Who? How? Why?

Having marketers who understand your customers very well is business critical. Every person in your marketing team should know exactly WHO your customers are in terms of demographics, so they can identify and target the right people.

And then having ‘deep knowledge’ of what your customers value most about what you have to offer, and, therefore, WHY they buy from you when they do, is essential for every marketer. 

It is impossible for your marketers to get the right message to the right person at the right time (i.e. do effective marketing), if they don’t take full responsibility for always having a strong understanding of the WHO and the WHY – especially as these change as a business grows and enters new markets.

It often surprises me how many business leaders don’t hold their marketers accountable for gaining and deploying this knowledge in the right way – especially if they’re looking to grow internationally, and as the stakes get higher.

#2 Marketers need to understand how customers currently perceive your value proposition, and what value attributes customers see as priorities.

A good marketer can list the value attributes implicit in your value proposition. A great marketer knows that in order to do great marketing, customers need to be asked how they rate a range of value attributes. 

What is most important to the customer in what you do and how you do it? What is least important? And, as we well know, it’s all about perception..

How do your customers feel about you?

The only way to fully understand the value a customer places on specific attributes of your product, is by doing good customer research. The very best marketers I have ever worked with will push for and champion this kind of research – for very good reason. 

The Renewd International discussion group had some quite firm views on research methods that deliver the most valuable findings – included in the article

Having an optimised martech stack, will also provide you with analytics and behavioural data that should give you some valuable customer insight as you see how customers are engaging with your products (the beauty of digital!). A good marketer gets this and makes it happen.

Using findings from your customer research, along with behaviours visible with a good martech stack and data setup, will enable your marketers to not only target the right people, but also develop a very effective marketing messaging strategy to engage them well. 

When growing internationally, customer insight is especially important as new customers in new markets may well value different things and behave differently to your more traditional customers.

#3 The best marketers know how to leverage your existing value proposition and existing market presence to build ‘growth marketing’ strategies.

There are several ways a product/brand can grow, and leveraging what you already have in place is often the smartest move.

Growth choices

Marketers who can successfully leverage strong engagement and support from existing customers to gain new customers in new markets are winning! 

A key success factor for marketers is being able to capture customer data in a marketing database that makes their marketing work better over time. 

See the recent MPG Insights article on how a well-structured, growing database supports a resilient and growing business.

#4 Marketing leaders, and business leaders, know that good marketing skills are valuable and in short supply. A progressive approach to building a hybrid marketing function can support international growth.

When launching new or existing value propositions into new markets, the question is often raised about whether or not to hire people based in those markets, particularly sales and marketing people. The normalisation of remote working through the global pandemic has changed the game, meaning it doesn’t really matter where your marketers are based. The most important thing is to have the right marketing skills and resources applied to your growth opportunity.

And building a high-performance marketing function doesn’t mean that you need to increase your head count or overheads. We’ve seen a hybrid approach to strategically building a high performance marketing function working well for many organisations, all over the world. 

A hybrid approach, executed in the right way and with the right partners, means that you can focus on maintaining a ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp marketing activity up and down, and adjust expertise plugged in to your marketing, as needed – with carefully selected, well embedded and well supported external partners . This approach allows for a much greater focus on the ‘science’ elements of marketing, such as marketing strategy development, data, and analytics – which are absolutely critical when enabling any kind of growth, and even more important when ‘future proofing’ international growth initiatives. 

At MPG we believe the marketing function should be held accountable for directly supporting a business strategy, and that a strong investment in marketing is essential for growth. If your strategy is focused on international growth, and you have the best marketing skills integrated into your planning and execution, you’re more likely to get a great return on your international growth investment!

If you are a senior executive in a specialised media/events business, with an interest in international growth strategies, make sure you join Renewd and sign up to our next Renewd International virtual roundtable.

 


 

Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight , VP Licensing, Informa Markets

 


Do you need help defining a marketing strategy that drives growth and delivers strong ROI?

MPG’s marketing strategists have a wealth of experience and expertise in developing high impact marketing strategies for B2B brands. Get in touch to find out how we can help you build a robust marketing strategy that drives revenue growth and consistently delivers against business objectives.

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Building a high-performance website for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

In the last MPG Insights article, we covered the role your marketing website plays in ensuring you have a resilient marketing function – and therefore a resilient business. This week, we’re sharing a practical guide to building a high-performance website.

Helen Coetzee Quote

Here are our recommendations for following a common-sense, practical and systematic approach to building and maintaining a website that will deliver strong marketing results, and strengthen your business:

#1 Process, process, process

We can’t emphasise enough how important process is – in every area of marketing. If you follow the right process, you’ll get good results.

Mapping and following processes can sometimes feel tedious, but creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining and enhancing your website, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

Like so many necessary things, having a high-performance website is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration!

Here we share MPG’s step-by-step processes focused on ensuring you get the right website built in the first place, with a downloadable resource of the processes that Team MPG has used time and time again, for consistently good results.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESSES

Once you have the right website, built in the right way, including the customer journeys and functionality your customers and your team needs, frequent website reviews and ongoing optimisation should be baked into your ongoing marketing performance review and marketing channel optimisation procedures.

This will rely on
(1) Google Analytics, or a similar tool – set up in the right way
(2) A marketing performance dashboard – which we recommend you build in Google Data Studio

 

#2 Optimising for conversions

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) isn’t only needed on your web pages focused on registrations, subscriptions and lead capture. Here are the four main areas of your website where CRO plays a very important role:

(1) Your homepage

This is where you make your first impression with many of your visitors and should clearly articulate your value proposition. Your unique selling point (USP) and value-focused benefits for your customers need to be very clearly and simply laid out high up on this page.

Your homepage should also include clear signposting to further content and information to keep your web visitors clicking deeper into your site, including prominent CTAs pointing to conversion-focused pages e.g. Subscribe Today, Book Now, Download Brochure etc.

(2) Content pages

Content pages should also be focused on conversions by pointing visitors to:
(a) Lead generation forms for downloadable sales materials e.g. Download Marketing Solutions Prospectus
(b) Lead generation forms to access premium, gated content e.g. Request a Demo
(c) Subscriber acquisition forms (free subscriptions) – where your audience can volunteer their data to have free or sample content emailed to them via a newsletter, or other types of email updates.

(3) Pages displaying your ‘packages and pricing’

Focus on simplifying the process for your user to understand what’s on offer and choose the best option for them. You need to make it easy for them to buy from you!

If there are different categories of purchasers with different prices e.g. for events you may charge vendors more to attend events, make sure you display the prices clearly.

And remember to signpost web visitors from this page to the landing pages dedicated to conversions and including forms…see next point.

(4) Landing pages dedicated to conversions i.e. with forms

These are the pages that need the most attention for CRO and where you should focus your testing efforts. Include eye catching, brand-enhancing visuals and engaging copy that compels the user to complete the form, highlighting the benefits to them of taking the time to complete the form and giving you their data (What’s in it for them to complete the form? What will they get?).

Avoid lengthy forms that request unnecessary information, or requesting the same information multiple times.

 

#3 Helping potential customers find your website

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process to ensure your site is always ranking well for the keywords that are most relevant to your audience and product.

SEO is influenced by a number of factors like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Generally speaking, a good website means good SEO.  Here are some of the key components of the ‘good website’ as far as Google is concerned.

(1) Content, and UX around your content

The accuracy and relevance of your content, frequency of updates, how well your content is tagged, and how seamlessly it aligns to what a visitor is expecting to see (i.e. customer experience), all impact your SEO.

When producing content for your audience, you should always have top of mind both the customer needs and the objective of the content. And then you need to ensure that your marketing campaigns make the most of the content and the overall customer journey you have built.

(2) Technical set up and performance

You need to continually review the technical performance of your site. There are many tools out there, such as Lighthouse, which are an easy way to assess this aspect of your site.

Here are some of the key things to look out for that will impact technical performance:

  • Images and videos: search engines can’t ‘see’ what an image contains, so make sure that all images on your site contain alt text and captions. It is important to bear in mind that images and videos can sometimes have a negative effect on your SEO – especially when video and image files are large and take a long time to load, or when they are low quality.
  • Mobile responsiveness: if your websites are difficult to read and use on a mobile phone, your SEO will definitely be badly affected. Always consider all elements as they appear on a mobile, such as navigation, size of font, length of text, and usability of forms. Getting this right is a combination of good digital design, good functionality and good front end development.
  • Navigation: specifically for SEO, you need to consider how search engines’ bots crawling your website to create their rankings ‘understand’ what your site is all about. To make this work well, include keywords in your navigation elements such a URLs for specific pages, menu items, CTAs and headings.

SEO covers a lot more than what we have shared here, but what we’ve covered should help you get the most important ‘fundamentals’ on place!

(3) Back-links (or links from other websites to yours) are a sure-fire way of increasing your ranking – as long as they are linking from relevant sites. That’s because Google considers relevant back-links to be like positive recommendations to your website. Try to encourage advocates such as event speakers and sponsors, authors of articles you publish and partners to add links to your event on their websites, wherever appropriate.

 

#4 Creating a good customer experience on your website

User experience (UX) of your website will impact your marketing performance, and therefore your business resilience and performance.

The more favourable an interaction your potential user has with your site, the more likely they are to purchase from you and also refer your products to others. The key elements to be mindful of in creating a positive customer experience are:

  • Navigation: the age old adage, ‘don’t make me think’ is well known in the world of UX. Your website user should be able to very quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for on your site, with minimal effort.
  • Design: when we talk about design, we are not just talking about having lovely imagery on your site. Good site design also includes fonts, colours and imagery that are consistent with your brand guidelines, are visually pleasing in how images are combined with text, and contribute to telling a story that will lead them down the path to conversion.
  • Customer journey: mapping out the customer journeys (the paths users take through your website content) is essential in creating a site that converts. Always consider how different entry points affect the experience. As other marketing channels are pushing users directly to specific pages on your website, it is important to consider the full customer journey including all their touch points with your brand, even before they hit your site.

If you get all of these things done consistently well, your marketing function – and your organisation – will be more resilient!


Do you need help optimising your existing website? Or maybe the time has come to build a brand new website?

MPG’s digital marketing experts and website team of web project managers, designers and developers know what it takes to create and optimise a website for high-performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise sites on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your website in ship shape, and high up in search rankings.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation grow and be more resilient.

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MPG built a great marketing website for HBI that integrates our membership and flagship event. We’re very pleased with the design and functionality, the automated data flow between our website and other systems, and the user-friendly CMS. Team MPG has also set up analytics to give us good visibility of the performance of our website and our other marketing channels. A recommended solution for an B2B membership-led brand.

Julian Turner, Chief Executive, Healthcare Business International


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Growth Marketing Hacks: 8 things you can do to convert registrants (non-paying subscribers) to paying subscribers

Download My Guide

It’s fascinating just how much faster things move in a mostly digital world. Meetings done via web calls seem shorter and snappier, events and training courses are compressed into hours rather than days, and marketing campaigns are being planned and executed at lightning speed.

‘Hacking’ has become a buzzword again. Marketers are being asked to make ‘short cuts’ and ‘quick wins’ to deliver a rapid and strong return on what is often a low marketing investment.

Growth marketing hacks are certainly being sought in the world of B2B subscriptions. From the work MPG has done in the B2B media community, there is no doubt that subscriptions are an important growth area and – without much additional marketing investment – have also been growing faster than pre-COVID-19 times. But with so much competition from free online content, how will this growth be maintained?

Two key things marketers can and should do to maintain and ideally further accelerate strong subscriptions revenue growth are:

  1. Identify the prospective subscribers likely to deliver revenue fastest – with least effort and expense.
  2. For this group of prospective subscribers: optimise every step of the customer journey to convert them to paying subscribers.

The obvious place to start is with your most engaged ‘free subscribers’ – usually people who have subscribed to a newsletter or access to some free content on your site, and are regularly consuming the free content you are making available to them.

Then apply these growth marketing techniques to move them into your paying subscriber base:

#1 Optimise your automated email to new registrants

#2 Use remarketing and uploaded list PPC targeting to hit leads with subscription offer messaging

#3 Offer paid subscription immediately after form completion on ‘thank you’ page

#4 Include paid content in emails and PPC ads

#5 Include a paid subscription ad in all free content

#6 Target all members of decision-making units (DMUs)

#7 Create a dedicated landing page on subscription benefits

#8 Segment PPC by industry/job role for more refined targeting

Get Detailed ‘How To’ Guide

To find out more about how to execute the above growth hacks to boost your subscriber revenue, download MPG’s guide here.

 


Do you need a robust B2B subscriptions marketing strategy?

Join the MPG Academy B2B Subscriptions Marketing Masterclass to learn how to grow recurring subscriber revenue with robust, data-led marketing strategies and campaigns.

Get Your MPG Academy Prospectus’ Guide

 


“Operationally, MPG are knowledgeable, focused, open-minded, creative and disciplined. Strategically they are good thinkers, blending an ambition for the possible without losing touch with the practical. I highly recommend the MPG team as value creators and a safe pair of hands!”

Tim Lucas, Managing Director B2B, Bauer Media Group

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The 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B

To be truly agile and perform well, marketers need to embrace the power of analytics. This is often easier said than done, especially for inbound marketing initiatives such as website optimisation, social media and PPC (pay-per-click).

You may have previously tried to track and analyse too many metrics and ended up wasting valuable time with little show for it. This can create ‘analysis paralysis’, where analysis takes endless hours and decision making is paralysed because of the sheer volume of data available.

To be effective, marketing performance measurement and analysis must be a constant and ongoing process so that you can back your winners and stop wasting time and money on things that are just not working. The longer you wait to find out what is and isn’t working, the more you’ll not only be throwing good money after bad, but underinvesting in areas that will give your business a boost.

Below are the 15 key marketing performance metrics MPG recommends every marketer should measure and analyse. We do not suggest these are the only metrics you track and analyse, but if you have limited time and want to get a high-level view, these are the ones that matter most and should definitely be scrutinised closely on a regular basis – at least weekly.

To determine how well your digital marketing is doing, MPG advises that for all these metrics, you use internal benchmarks based on relevant, historic performance, and where possible, also relevant external benchmarks (to find out what ‘good’ looks like in terms of digital marketing benchmarks for your organisation, please get in touch with MPG via the form on our website) or email info@mpg.biz.

 

15 key digital marketing metrics:

Website performance – engagement and conversions

Your website is your most important marketing channel – by a long way! The ultimate purpose of all other marketing channels and activities is to drive potential customers to your website, and it is on your website where you will properly engage them and convert them to become leads and customers.

Key metrics:

  1. Conversion rate (%) = number of web visitors that fill in a form or ‘sign up’ to become a lead or subscriber, or complete a purchase on your website and become a customer. A higher percentage indicates a more effective website, but if it is too high it means you’re not driving enough traffic to your site.
  2. Sessions (#) = your session count indicates number of visitors and engagement, and should increase or at least remain steady over time. If you’re looking for overall growth in engagement, customers and revenue, then an increase in # sessions is definitely needed, roughly in line with the growth you’re looking for.
  3. Bounce rate (%) = the percentage of people who ‘bounce’ (leave without clicking anything) off your website. A lower figure indicates more engagement with your website as they’re visiting two or more pages after arriving on your website. However, if bounce rate is too low it may indicate you’re not attracting enough visitors to your site in the first place.

 

Website performance– SEO (search engine optimisation)

The higher your website ranking is in search engines, the more traffic you will get to your website. And this isn’t about paid for rankings with Paid Search in Google. It’s about getting your website to rank well organically. It’s very important to monitor your ranking as this will also inform and help you determine the impact of future improvements you choose to make to your website.

Key metrics:

  1. Organic search (#) = the number of people coming to your website from search engines. A steady increase indicates effective SEO implementation, especially an increase in new visitors via organic search.
  2. Bounce rate (%) = definition as above. The reason this is important for SEO is that Google favours a lower bounce rate when ranking sites.

 

Email marketing performance

Email is your most important outbound channel and is essential to proactively drive the people with the right ‘profile’ to your website. This ‘profile’ should be based on their demographics indicating they are a good match for your value proposition, and also ideally behaviours that indicate they are engaged with your brand and interested in your product. It is essential to closely monitor your email performance as this can tell you a lot about how positive your target market is about your brand and product.

Key metrics:

  1. Deliverability (%) = the percentage of people you have sent the email who have received it. A low and/or falling deliverability is cause of concern and indicates your database needs cleaning.
  2. Unsubscribe rate (%) = the percentage of people receiving your emails who are unsubscribing. A high or increasing rate of unsubscribes means your audience is not only become less engaged, but they’re telling you quite explicitly they are not interested in your brand or products and don’t want to hear from you anymore (or they’re telling you that your emails are annoying and/or not adding any value to their lives).
  3. Open rate (%) = percentage of people opening your email. This typically indicates the overall level of engagement with your brand and quality of your email list and also how well your audience is responding to your subject line, sender name and pre-header text – usually a combination of all three.
  4. Click to open rate/CTOR (%) = percentage of people who open your email and then also click on it. This is a more important metric than the more basic ‘click through rate’ (CTR) as it is tells you how relevant your messaging is to your engaged audience.

 

PPC performance

Often broadly called ‘digital advertising’ or sometimes even ‘performance marketing’, PPC (pay per click) allows you to pay only for every click on your online advert. If you are not closely monitoring, analysing and benchmarking the metrics below, do not spend any money on PPC or it will be wasted.

Key metrics:

  1. Conversion rate (%) = the rate at which people who click on or see your ad convert to a lead, subscriber or registrant by completing a form or purchase on your website. It is essential to have the full tracking set up all the way through to conversions to understand how your PPC is performing. Don’t let your PPC agency tell you otherwise!
  2. Influenced conversions (#) = PPC is just one touchpoint. This metric helps you understand how often PPC influences conversions that happen via other channels e.g. email or social media. A ‘must measure’ data point to ensure you understand the full ROI on your PPC spend.
  3. Click-through-rate/CTR (%) = the percentage of people who see your ads and then go on to click them. A higher CTR typically indicates a strong ad and/or good targeting.

 

Social media performance

Almost 4 billion people worldwide use social media and more than 4 in 10 consumers use social media to research new brands and products. To understand which of your social media platforms is performing best and which ones are a waste of time (and money) – make sure you track – even at a basic level – the following metrics:

Key metrics:

  1. Social traffic (%) = the percentage of total web sessions that are generated by social media. If this is growing in line with an overall increase in web traffic, it means you have a strong marketing engine working well across your whole funnel.
  2. Engagement (#) = the number of clicks, likes, shares and comments your social posts are achieving. Steady growth over time is only a good thing!
  3. Follower growth (%) = percentage growth of followers of your social accounts. This should see consistent growth over time, before hopefully kicking in to an exponential growth curve when your social media hits the tipping point of becoming amplified and achieving growth via followers themselves doing most of the sharing of your content (as opposed to you having to do most of the sharing…).

 

We’d love to hear from you about your digital marketing performance measurement achievements and challenges. MPG has developed a dashboard that means we track all these metrics (and more) for our clients on a weekly basis – comparing to internal and external benchmarks. If you’d like to find out more please get in touch via our website or email info@mpg.biz.

 

The in-house training, consultancy and outsourced marketing MPG has delivered for Bauer over the past few years has been brilliant. We’ve enjoyed working with various MPG marketers and specialists – they’ve become part of our team!

Chris Lester, Event Director, Bauer Media Group

 


Bespoke In-House Training

Are you running an event soon? Does your team need training on how to measure digital marketing performance and how to achieve consistently strong results? Take advantage of the bespoke, in-house training MPG Academy offers.

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PPC for B2B virtual events – a step-by-step guide

PPC in virtual event marketing – how well does it work?

From our experience, PPC is a worthwhile investment for virtual events. But only when used in the right way. When used to generate direct registrations, convert registrants to attendees or encourage form completions for lead generation and database building (or all of the above) – PPC can be a powerful and cost-effective channel within your digital event marketing mix.

In this post, we outline the six key steps you should take to maximise the effectiveness of your PPC for virtual events.

Step #1: Understand what you need PPC to achieve

PPC can be used to achieve a number of different things for virtual events, including:

  • Generating direct registrants for your virtual event – with PPC campaigns pushing your target audience to your virtual event website and online registration form
  • Encouraging conversions from registrant to attendee
  • Generating leads via web form completions, so that you can then email individuals to nurture and convert leads to registrants
  • Increasing awareness and influencing consideration in your target audience, thus supporting the performance of your other channels

Depending on your virtual event targets, marketing budget and overall objectives – you may use PPC to achieve some, or all of the above. The important thing is to know what you’re aiming to achieve and what success looks like when it comes to PPC for your virtual event. If your PPC approach is not informed by well thought through objectives, it can be very easy to spend a large portion of your budget ineffectively.

 

Step #2: Create a solid strategy

Once you know your objectives, you need to formalise a high-level PPC strategy. The aim of this strategy is to provide direction for the more detailed campaign plans that will come next.

In this PPC strategy, include:

  • The objectives: it’s important to detail these in your strategy to ensure the decisions you make on specific campaigns are directed by your overall goals.
  • The channels and campaign types: based on what you want to achieve and your target audience, be clear what channels and campaign types are likely to work best. In the below table we’ve listed the most common channels, campaign types and targeting methods based on level of engagement of audience groups. But every event is different, so consider this a starting point:
Reaching new contacts Reaching website visitors Reaching existing data
Google Ads Paid Search (keywords) Google Display LinkedIn
LinkedIn (professional attributes/groups) LinkedIn Facebook
Facebook (lookalike audiences) Facebook Twitter
Twitter (follower lookalikes) Twitter Google

 

  • The budget: split your budget by channel and campaign type based on your priorities and where you are in the campaign timeline. PPC is very scalable when it comes to budgeting, so you can commit a small amount at first (£100-200 per channel) to test the waters.
  • The timeline: map out when your campaigns will start and finish. Due to a sense of urgency and FOMO, virtual event PPC campaigns tend to be at their most effective in the final 2 weeks before the event – so allocating more of your budget to this period is a sensible move. It is also important to hold some budget back for after the event to encourage people to engage with the content on demand, especially if the number of people who watch the replays are important for your event model.
  • The campaigns: briefly outline the role each campaign needs to play in your timeline. Consider your whole marketing funnel and targeting of contacts at various stages of engagement with your event.

 

Step #3: Create detailed campaign plans

Using your PPC strategy from step #2 as a guide, lay out specific campaign plans by channel. This is where you get more tactical and detailed with your planning.

These plans should include – in detail:

  • Campaign objective(s)
  • Targeting
  • Campaign budget
  • Ad content (text and images/videos)
  • Any ad modifiers/extensions

When creating these campaigns, your primary consideration should be relevancy. To achieve relevancy, ask yourself these three questions, in this order:

  1. Are we targeting people who are very relevant to our virtual event, or is there a risk we include too many irrelevant or ‘not relevant enough’ people with our targeting options?
  2. Are the ads we’re running relevant to challenges and/or opportunities this audience is facing right now?
  3. Are the ads considerate of where the audience is in our marketing funnel? Is this the first time they’re seeing our virtual event information? Or are they likely to already know about our event (e.g. if they have already visited the event website)

It’s best to complete these detailed plans just before setting up each campaign so they are as current and relevant as possible. You’ll then want to factor in and apply any learnings from your results as you go (more on this in step #5).

 

Step #4: Set up and set live campaigns

This step seems the most straightforward, but there are two important things to consider.

  1. There are numerous settings to get right when setting up every campaign. The potential issues an error in setup can cause range from a campaign running for more days than you have planned or budgeted, to an ad group targeting completely the wrong people. It’s vital to get a second pair of eyes on your campaign setups to ensure your campaigns are pushing the right people to the right places at the right time (MPG has this baked into our internal process checklists so that a campaign one of our team sets up cannot go live without someone else checking every detail of the setup first).
  2. Every PPC channel offers varying levels of automation. These can be simple start and end date triggers and budget caps, but can also include more complex elements like auto-populating audiences that exclude registrants and smart bidding strategies that maximise conversion rates. Make use of these systems to free up marketing resource and reduce the possibility of human error in campaign changes.

 

Step #5: Monitor and optimise your campaigns – every day!

While the strategy and planning elements of PPC are vital, do not be afraid to adjust your approach as you go. You’re very unlikely to formulate the perfect plan and set up the best performing campaign first time. For PPC, assuming you’ll need to improve on what you initially set up is part of the process.

In practical terms, this means re-allocating budgets to the channels and campaigns that are performing best, adding and updating ads to campaigns that are performing well, as well as the myriad of other tweaking options that PPC platforms provide around locations, devices, demographics and bidding strategies.

It’s often easier to further improve winning campaigns than it is to fix underperforming ones. While you shouldn’t abandon your struggling campaigns immediately, the real ROI growth often lies in maximising your star performers.

Paying close attention to what is and isn’t working will allow you to uncover the optimal formula for your PPC. The importance of this step cannot be understated.

 

Step #6: Measure and analyse results – feed this intelligence into your marketing strategies

Right from the first campaign going live, PPC should be included in your marketing performance reporting and analysis. Key metrics to track are:

  • Cost-per-conversion (CPC): the amount you pay for each conversion (registrant, form completion) per channel. This should trend down as a result of your ongoing optimisations.
  • Conversion rate (CR): the percentage of people who click on your ad and then convert to a registrant, attendee or lead. This should trend upward.
  • Click-through-rate (CTR): the percentage of people who click on your ad after seeing it. Higher CTR indicates high relevance.

It’s not enough to just report on the raw data. A layer of analysis needs to be applied to pull out insights that enable intelligent, data-led decision making and create actionable steps to further improve the campaign ROI.

 

A winning formula

This article shares MPG’s winning approach to PPC campaigns for virtual events. Follow these 6 steps with consistency and rigour and we’re confident you’ll see a good return on your PPC investment!

 

MPG have taken our PPC to another level with their strategic approach and excellent customer service. PPC is an important area of investment for us as we expand our global reach and launch new products. We’re very pleased to have Team MPG on board and recommend them highly as a safe pair of hands.

Roy Maybury, Global Head of Event Marketing, PEI Alternative Insight

 

Interested in learning more about how PPC can work for events?

Commission an in-house, tailored PPC training programme for your team where our PPC experts will create and deliver a bespoke course that meets your exact requirements, and exclusively for your in-house team.

Enquire about MPG Academy’s in-house training here.

 

Or…do you need to outsource PPC for your events?

MPG can create the strategy and detailed plan for your event PPC, and we can manage and measure it for you too. If you want direct support from our team of PPC specialists, please get in touch about your requirements.

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Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach

Marketing is on the chopping block. As businesses seek cost savings, marketing spend is reduced (once again) in favour of what are often seen as more ‘core’ areas like sales and product development.

Although marketing is a vital driver of both short and long term performance, it can be frustratingly nebulous in various ways: how much resource is needed, what skills are most valuable, and most importantly – what ROI can be expected. It is no surprise that Finance Directors usually look at reducing fixed costs on marketing before looking elsewhere.

Building more flexibility into marketing investment is the way forward for most organisations.

External partners, such as marketing agencies, are an attractive alternative to build in this flexibility. But how do you balance and integrate internal expertise with 3rd party support? Do the benefits of working with external partners outweigh the risks? How do you select and integrate an external partner (or more than one partner), effectively, for short and long term gain?


In-house vs (and) outsourced: the structure of a winning marketing function

If you can’t only afford a single marketer (or FTEs) and no – or very limited – agency spend, then a mostly outsourced marketing approach is likely best. A single marketer will not have both the breadth and depth of knowledge that is needed in modern marketing. Expecting one person to handle all strategic, tactical, digital and technical responsibilities is a recipe for failure.

If you can’t afford multiple in-house marketers (or FTE) and/or have a decent budget for agency spend, a hybrid model is probably your best option. Appoint an internal ‘generalist marketer’ (or have someone in your team take this on as part of their role) and then bring on board external marketing expertise and muscle. This should enable you to extract maximum value from your marketing function (as long as it is done in the right way of course!).

This will allow you to ramp up resources when needed, assuming your external partner has a team of a decent size. Larger agency teams (10+ people) should have the flexibility, breadth and depth you’ll need. Agencies are most effectively deployed when their skills complement what you have in-house, so make sure have access to both extra (flexible) capacity as well as expertise or skills that don’t exist within the business.


The hidden costs of in-house marketing

While you may feel having a fully in-house marketing team is a less risky and possibly more cost-effective solution, consider the myriad of hidden costs involved. Recruitment processes are often lengthy and costly, and ‘maintenance and overhead’ costs like IT equipment, HR, training, management, holidays/sick days, PAYE etc. must all be covered. Consider the risk of a new hire under-performing, and how draining and distracting this could become on the business.

Agencies can remove, or at least simplify these issues. Agencies carry all the recruitment, training, management and overhead costs themselves. They also have to make sure the people working on your marketing are performing well – and if they aren’t, the ‘people management’ issues will not be yours to deal with. A good agency will be able to offer tangible evidence of past performance, often spanning various industries, geographies and specialisms, and will also hold themselves accountable for marketing ROI.

Perhaps most valuable of all is that full-service agencies are the ‘perfect’ marketing team. They can expertly deliver all elements of marketing, constantly honing their skills by being involved in so many projects with a range of clients. Small, in-house and mostly ‘generalist’ marketing teams often can’t match this level of experience and expertise, as they’re usually stretched too thin to develop deeper knowledge and better skills. Some businesses can afford to support these marketers with in-house specialists in more technical areas like data and digital – but this is quite rare.


The case for a hybrid approach

The issue is not binary. You do not have to choose between in-house marketers and external partners; the best approach is probably hybrid. Even if you favour a fully-outsourced model, you will still need some level of oversight of, and support for, the agency’s delivery.

The demand for marketing resources within most businesses tend to vary over time, with some periods where internal teams are not paying their way due to being over-resourced, and other times where they can’t keep up with demand and become over-burdened. A hybrid approach is the best way to maintain the ‘minimum viable’ internal resource while having the option to ramp up capacity and expertise when needed.

The best kind of external partner will work in a transparent and collaborative way, enabling your internal team to gain valuable marketing knowledge and skills while working in an integrated way with your agency.


How to make outsourced marketing work

Employing external resources is not simply a case of signing a contract, throwing some money across the table and watching the results coming in. Careful selection and diligent support for, and management of, your partner will ensure optimal returns. Here are 4 things to always do when outsourcing some or all of your marketing:

  1. Look for expertise and a proven track record. Don’t fall for flashy sales pitches and hollow promises. Look for the proven substance in a track record and clear approach to make an astute decision on who you should work with.
  2. Onboard your outsourced team as strategic partners. A big mistake is to think of, or position, your agency as ‘a supplier’. From day one, treat them as part of your team, enabling them with the same kind of support you would give an internal marketer. Make sure everyone in your business understands their purpose, their skills and how to utilise them. A good strategic partner will see your business goals as their own goals, and will strive to help you achieve them by playing an active role in your business.
  3. Give an internal person overall responsibility for ensuring the partnership is successful. This does not mean this person is the main or only point of contact for the agency. The role of ‘partner relationship owner’ is ensuring the required outcomes are achieved from the partnership. This is achieved via strong, open communication and ensuring each party is delivering according to their role and responsibilities. Both sides need to be collaborative and accountable.
  4. Insist on transparency and accountability. As you would with an internal marketer, make your expectations clear from the start. Set clear objectives and agree specific deliverables to align on desired outcomes. Ask for weekly reports and hold weekly meetings to ensure the required progress is being made and good, visible results are being achieved. This weekly meeting is also essential to ensure the project team is working well together.

In these financially stressed times, the question should not be ‘should we use internal or outsourced marketing’, but rather ‘what does the most effective and cost-efficient marketing composition look like for us?’.

A hybrid solution is – in most cases – the answer. This offers the flexibility of external resource, while maintaining the baseline internal marketing function required. Marketing is a critical function. Maintaining your marketing strength now, and being able to scale up when opportunity knocks, may just give you the competitive edge!

Topics:

Excellent project management: a game-changer in event marketing

Why is project management so important in event marketing?

Marketing an event is a complex process. The end deadline is immoveable, multiple channels must be kept aligned and firing at optimal times, the product evolves daily with new speakers, updated sessions and new features and customer data must be continually updated to ensure marketing messages hit the right people, at the right time.

With all this complexity, it isn’t surprising when event marketers struggle to meet deadlines, or sometimes don’t achieve or demonstrate a good return-on-investment in their marketing efforts

A high-performance event marketing function relies on strong project management.

Without effective project management, you’re missing key campaign opportunities and limiting the return on investment you get from your marketing function.

In this blog post we outline best practice in project management for event marketing campaigns, and how you can ensure that your marketing team has the right skills, support and tools to deliver high performance marketing campaigns – on time, every time.


What does good project management for event marketing look like?

  1. The marketing manager is given full ownership of project management to enable their campaigns
  2. The wider event team – content producers, sponsorship salespeople etc. – are encouraged to support the marketers as project managers
  3. The marketing manager always works to a solid campaign plan, with key deadlines and tasks – visible to the whole team
  4. The marketing manager takes responsibility for coordinating the campaign contributions of all stakeholders
  5. The marketing manager works well ahead to build in all the steps needed to develop and deliver strong marketing collateral and campaigns – incorporating the contributions of various stakeholders.
  6. The marketing manager breaks down project elements into individual project tasks, with a clear brief and deadline for each task.
    Top tip: invest in a project management solution for your marketing team. These are not expensive and are highly effective in driving efficiency and effectiveness into your marketing – when used correctly. We use ClickUp, which has been game-changing for MPG !
  7. The marketing manager runs a weekly project meeting, for each event, for all key internal stakeholders – usually the event director (P&L holder), content producer and head of sales. Ahead of this meeting (ideally the day before), the marketing manager should circulate a report on event performance and an agenda of key points to discuss to ensure marketing stays on track.

If you put these essential ingredients of good marketing project management in place, you will start seeing results.


But do be mindful of the top three things that could prevent your marketers from being effective projects managers:

1. They’re not fully supported or enabled by senior management or the wider team
2. They don’t have the skills or experience needed to create a strong event marketing plan, or run complex campaigns effectively
3. They lack the confidence and/or gravitas to lead a project team

Well-supported, rigorous and disciplined project management can make all the difference to the performance of your events. Enabling your marketers as project managers helps them gain the support and input they need from other team members to deliver effective campaigns. They will be able to hit deadlines and manage their workloads effectively across multiple events.

By ensuring your event marketers are also good projects managers, you’ll improve marketing productivity while also preventing marketers from burning out. It’s the best (and possibly the only) way to improve your return-on-investment from marketing and to ensure you retain your best event marketers!

About the author

Helen has over 2 decades’ experience in the B2B events space. She is now the proud CEO and Founder of two high-performance marketing agencies – MPG – designed to address the most pressing exhibition and conference marketing challenges facing organisations today.

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How are event marketing leaders creating high-performance teams? Insights from MPG’s Round-Table

Event marketing is being transformed.

Organisations are becoming more customer-focused, and attention is shifting from outbound to inbound strategies amid changing customer expectations and rapidly downsized databases due to GDPR. In this new era, where marketers have more data, technology and influence at their fingertips than ever before, the strategic impact and responsibilities they hold within organisations is growing exponentially.

It is up to marketers to ensure all stakeholders understand just how important best-practice marketing is to the future success of a business, and to build the most efficient and skilled marketing functions to deliver on this potential.

MPG’s round-table, held on 9th November 2018, brought together some of the UK’s most influential B2B event marketing leaders to discuss the key challenges involved in building a high performance event marketing team.

 

Round-Table Discussion Participants:

Nicole
Abbot

Nicole
Abbot

IQPC UK

Matt
Ackroyd

Matt
Ackroyd

The Telegraph

Babak
Daemi

Babak
Daemi

GovNet

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Lubtcho
Dimitrov

Capacity Media

Vivian
Linecar

Vivian
Linecar

Haymarket

Hannah
McCulloch

Hannah
McCulloch

Hanson Wade

Matthew
Termlett

Matthew
Tremlett

Pageant Media

Sharise
Wilkinson

Sharise
Wilkinson

KNect365

 

Key Insights from the Round-Table Discussion

MPG have put together an overview of the key points from the discussion, providing valuable insight into the following areas:

  • The shift to more customer-focused organisations
  • How to increase event marketing’s contribution across an organisation
  • Why it is so important for the marketing function to have an investment mindset
  • The value of marketing performance measurement
  • Ongoing changes in tactical and strategic marketing practices
  • The opportunities tech and data offer marketers
  • Marketing’s evolving role in project management
  • Challenges in staff recruitment and retention

DOWNLOAD KEY INSIGHTS

Event Marketing Leaders Round-Table Series

MPG runs a series of events dedicated to marketing leaders. These gatherings enable discussion and the sharing of ideas around the most important challenges and opportunities in event marketing today, as well as important trends impacting the future of event marketing.
Sign up to event updates to join our community:

SIGN UP TO EVENT UPDATES

Topics:

#11 | Rigorous Execution: Event Marketing Strategy Success

In this blog series we’ve delved into a huge range of strategy, tactics and skillsets that can take your event marketing to the next level.

Hopefully, event marketers following our posts have been able to pick up plenty of ideas and guidance they can successfully apply to their own working techniques.

(more…)

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#9 | B2B Event Marketing: Measure It To Manage It

One of the most underrated skillsets in event marketing is agility.

Marketers who possess the ability to intelligently adapt strategy and fine-tune tactics in the heat of a campaign will always outperform those who take time to change direction or hesitate under pressure.

To be truly agile, marketers must embrace the power of analytics and continually measure what return on investment (ROI) their campaign is generating. This allows them to proactively refine campaign tactics on the go and ensure their event has the best chance of success possible.

(more…)

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