With all of the demands of business, it can be tempting to set your marketing efforts on the back burner, or pull something together quickly when an urgent need or opportunity arises. The challenge with this approach is it’s more reactive than proactive, and can create stress that you’re losing key opportunities.
Developing a thoughtful marketing strategy and measurement approach ensures time and energy are spent on the right things. Insights let you compare and contrast which initiatives are most worthwhile and impactful, while providing a runway for quality work.
But what should you be asking and monitoring? If marketing isn’t your main area of expertise, you may not be sure what to ask or what to prioritize. Use the following four questions to analyze your efforts and set your marketing up for success.
1. What Is the Vision of Success?
As with any journey, you need to know where you want to go in order to get there. What are your three areas of focus for the business over the next 12 months? How do those distill down into goals?
Common search firm goals include lead generation, expanding into a new market (geography or industry), expanding relationships with existing clients, or establishing a position of influence within a certain niche or area of expertise.
How will you know if these goals are realized?
SMART goals — goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based — make it easier to plan strategies, implement timelines, and measure success. For example, your goal may be to increase leads, but how many leads… from whom… by when?
Articulating a SMART objective clarifies your aim: “Increase the number of qualified prospects by 20 percent by the end of year” plants a clear stake in the ground, while giving you and your team something to rally around. At the same time, it surfaces a critical question: who is a qualified lead?
2. Who Are Your Target Audiences?
Marketing outcomes hinge on action: someone visits your website, downloads a case study, calls your office… These actions move you closer to your business objectives. But who is that someone? Without knowing your audience, it’s difficult to create a meaningful dialogue that will leave your audience feeling seen and heard.
Many times, organizations use broad categories to define their audiences. As a search firm you may think of “clients” or “candidates.” These are great conversation starters, but all audiences are not created equal.
Your business has a certain area of expertise, business approach, service offering, and price point. These attributes separate you from your competitors, and draw a line in the sand. Certain audiences can (or can’t), will (or won’t) be able (or likely) to partner with you.
Consider existing and potential audiences for growth. Who are your established audiences (types of clients and positions placed)? Who seems promising? For established audiences, where does the lion’s share of your business come from? What types of decision makers or organizations are key to your business’s success? What types of audiences are essential to moving the needle on your desired goals? Your “client” audience bucket can likely be segmented into 2-4 specific personas (ie. industry and/or seniority).
Defining your target audiences as personas — helps you to put a face to each of these groups. Hone in on who they are as individuals, their goals, their challenges, what drives them, barriers to using your service, and use that to inform how you can approach messaging to speak to this specific audience.
3. What Does the Data Tell Us?
There’s no shortage of marketing dashboards, analytics, and tools to track every metric under the sun. KPIs (key performance indicators) will depend upon your business and goals. Use the following go-to marketing KPIs to get a better sense of how your marketing is performing:
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): How much it costs to acquire a new customer. Divide your marketing expenses by the number of new customers to calculate your CAC.
- Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Predictive measure of how much revenue a customer will bring to your business. Examining your CLV can help you to hone in on high-value personas as well as how much you should invest in the marketing/acquisition of this target audience.
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): A lead/prospect who has engaged with your firm and has the potential to bring revenue to your business.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQL): An qualified lead/prospect who is ready to speak with your business development team.
- Growth of social network following: Your investing time in sharing your perspective, expertise and content online. Whether you are using LinkedIn for business development or candidate prospecting you want to evaluate if the effort is paying off.
As they say, you move what you measure. Drilling down further into common search firm marketing channels and focus areas, the following questions, guides, and tools can help you to get a pulse on your current marketing efforts. Remember to set up your measurement program according to your marketing goals, so you’ll be tracking what matters most.
Your website is your virtual storefront and salesperson 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. How well is it performing? Use HubSpot’s free Website Grader to evaluate the state of your site in just minutes. With insights on key metrics such as performance, mobile readiness, and SEO, you can get a better idea of where you need to make improvements.
Google Analytics (GA) is the workhorse of web analytics — use it to track your website’s performance over time. You’ll want to set up goals (desired actions you want visitors to take, such as signing up for emails or clicking through to read a blog) in order to monitor goal conversions and page value, while also keeping an eye on KPIs such as traffic, bounce rate, and time on page.
GA also offers insights into where traffic is coming from (e.g., search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing), social media platforms, email) so you can better understand which efforts translate into results.
SEO, or search engine optimization, makes it easier for people to find your firm when they are searching online for recruiting companies. Is your firm visible on Google, particularly local (ie. Chicago recruiters) searches, or is your company buried online (page 10 of search results)?
Google ranks your website against 200 ranking factors, but fortunately you don’t have to track all of these. You’ll want to pay attention to metrics such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, and backlinks. You can reference SEMrush’s How to Measure SEO Performance and Results or Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO to gain a better understanding.
What content is getting traction and with which audience group? What pain points and challenges can you help solution? Blogging boosts your website SEO, while allowing your firm to share expertise. Keep an eye on Google Analytics KPIs such as traffic, time on page, click-throughs, and page value in order to publish more content that resonates with your audience and moves people through your marketing funnel.
Are people subscribing to your emails, and opening them? If so, what are they clicking on? What do they do after reading them? Email KPIs such as open rate, click rate, bounces, and unsubscribes allow you to pop the hood on your email marketing and fine-tune elements such as your subject line, calls to action, and content for better results. Dig into these key metrics with Mailchimp’s guide, How to Measure Your Email Marketing Success.
The success of your social media ties back to your marketing goals and the objectives of your search firm. Not only does social media allow you to stay top-of-mind with followers, it also nurtures engagement (likes, comments) and allows you to reach followers’ networks through shares.
In addition to these metrics, pay attention to which social media sites drive the most traffic to your website and other content investments such as video on YouTube.
You can track each of your social media platforms using their individual reporting platforms, or make things easier by centralizing things with social media management tools such as Sprout Social or a more robust CRM platform such as HubSpot.
4. Where Can We Improve?
In marketing (and business), there is always room for improvement. Asking questions and approaching your marketing with curiosity, you will make the necessary strides to ensure your marketing is goal-oriented, strategic, and results-driven. Like your business, marketing efforts and investments should always evolve.
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