Hiring a digital marketing consultant is a big decision. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can find plenty of reasons not to get help.
The reality though, is that your prospects and customers are relying on digital channels more and more for their purchases.
In fact, 64% of consumers use digital channels during their buring processing according to Deloitte.
Consumers and B2B buyers want marketers to help them make their purchases. The expectation now is that marketers help engage them in multiple ways from easy search to reviews and videos.
HELPING is the new selling... and customers service is the new marketing.
Deloitte found that smaller businesses with good digital marketing maturity has 20% higher revenues than others.
Big companies with good digital practices were 2.2x more likely to be top performers with high revenue growth, profitability, and innovation.
But for most businesses, the transition is not a smooth one.
The process often starts with a website update. PPC or Social Ads are next because there is a pretty clear link between action and activity.
Experiments and tactics are driven by logic but an overall strategy and efficient execution is often missing.
Digital adds to existing activity. Marketing organizations get stretched both financially and operationally.
What is really needed is a new vision for marketing, sales, and cusotmer support. This is where a digital marketing consultant can help.
Here are 15 reasons why Digital Marketing consultants are necessary for success:
- Digital is not easy
- Quick Wins
- Upskill Faster
- Continuous Movement
- Bigger Picture Pespective
- Flexible Help
- New Ideas
- Process Thinking
- A Kickstarter
- System Analytics
- Lower Costs
- Data-Driven Optimization
- Lean Campaigns
1) Digital is bigger than you think
A digital marketing project often triggers additional questions and even additional projects.
Is the target market, ideal customer, and value proposition clear?
What are the big market changes? What are the problems that might need addressed? How are your competitors responding?
What does the Buyers Journey look like? Has it changed? How will it look tomorrow?
Do we have all the work covered? Are the accountabilities clear with metrics in place?
Most of these questions need to be answered whether your business has hundreds of employees or you are a one man business.
The answers to these questions are likely to result in better business clarity, a cultural refresh, changed roles, and new technologies.
Digital marketing consultants have been through it before. This experience is extremely helpful.
2) You need quick wins
It's hard to keep up momentum without some early wins. A consultant will have the right processes and experience to make sure that you target the right areas for early impact.
Strategy and messaging is always priority. This process invovles taking a fresh look at the customers and how to get more them. This involves a process o quantitative and qualitative research to develop personas that define your ideal customer. You then need to audit your brand, messaging, and marketing strategy against these ideal customer definitions.
For most businesses, the clarity of focus comoing out of this process reguvinates a business creating foward momentum and an early win.
3) Faster skill transfer
The right consultant is completely comfortable with working themselves out of a job. The job is to create a self-sustaining scalable infrastruture, processes, and teams to drive revenue growth. Core to this is making sure that internal team members are quickly developing the necessary skill sets.
A consultant needs to balance the short-term need for results with the need for longer term sustainability. They are doers that can jump in to get things started but also coach and empower to transfer the skills.
Skill transfer is important to sustain improvements. The key is to transfer skills while getting the work done. As soon as possible, the internal team needs to be doing the work. People remember what they do and gain motivation from gaining new skills and delivering results..
Another part of the consultant’s role is to make sure that the culture embraces risk and failure. Doing new things will not always work. Discussing what didn’t work without blame or fear and then deciding on what to try next is key to success.
4) Improve standards faster
The culture of a successful digital marketing team is built on continuously learning. Digital marketing moves fast. It is often those that are early to new channels and strategies gain the biggest early return.
It is easy to settle in once you have a new strategy, tactic, or channel working. People get comfortable in their roles. This often leads to performance plateau.
Channels and tactics that are working quickly attract competitors. The formation of a competitive market in a channel for advertising or other promotion lowers returns and increases cost.
A digital marketing consultant should push you and your team to stay dissatisfied. To push on and try new approaches even if there is a risk of the short-term backward step. Companies need to continuously test new channels to maintain their competitive edge.
5) Benefits from a bigger picture view
Large marketing teams have defined roles and specialization. Small teams might use specialist freelancers. A consultant with expertise across all major marketing disciplines and digital channels helps maintain a coordinated approach within an overall vision.
More importantly, taking a step back brings all aspects of the business open for review. From a brand audit through to developing and executing a marketing plan. A good consultant will keep bringing a team back to the key elements that make up the full picture.
6) Extra help when you need it
Digital talent is in demand. Hiring great talent for internal roles is not easy. Bad hires can be expensive. It takes a while to find the right person for new roles.
The market is also dynamic. A new market opportunity can change priorities. A new product launch is often tough to manage with all the other work.
A digital marketing consultant gives you the flexibility to get things done. The right consultant should be a doer -able to pitch in when needed, cover skill gaps, and advance the team.
7) Get new ideas from outside your industry
Experience with your products and industry is invaluable. This needs to be balanced by an outside perspective.
Standard practices in your industry may be out of step with customers’ emerging needs. Digital marketing consultants work across customers in different industries testing new techniques and strategies. You get the benefit of all this experience.
Consultants can bring an important perspective to prevent Groupthink. Groupthink occurs within a group of people where a fear of conflict leads to weak analysis and a lack of critical analysis. A consultant can introduce new ideas more easily. These ideas accepted or rejected with fear because they come from someone outside the company’s hierarchy.
Industry knowledge is important though. You will get a better ROI from longer term relationships as your consultant becomes more knowledgeable about your business.
8) Benefit from process and organizational thinking
Success with digital marketing is about applying a consistent process. Consultants can add discipline to organizations that have multiple priorities and pressures. New strategies and technologies can be introduced in a planned way with an organized trial and roll out.
You need to think organizationally as well making sure that roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities are clear with coverage of key functions. This organizational thinking can not just cover marketing. Growth requires a seamless marketing, sales, and customer support / success organization with clear transitions as the customer works through the funnels from prospect to lead to customer. Getting culture right is critical to success. An outside consultant can help businesses redefine “how things are done around here”.
This process and organizational focus need applies equally to very small businesses and marketing teams in larger organizations.
9) Increase productivity
Diversity of experience will also help you put together the campaigns faster with less waste.
The right digital consultant will have: proven processes, experience with fitting the right person to the right role, and a better understanding about how different channels work together over a customer lifecycle.
The right digital marketing consultant will have experience beyond just marketing. They will take a holistic approach. Sustainable organic growth requires developing in-depth customer insights. Growth only happens when you combine those insights with practical expertise.
Schedule a consultation about your business as you plan to grow in 2017 and beyond.
10) Kick start results
Marketers say their external partners are currently doing a better job than their internal team.
A recent Accenture survey found that consultants are bringing more creative ideas and understanding CMOs’ businesses (34%).
They are also assuming more responsibility for digital marketing programs being a strategic driver and partner in the planning process (31%).
The survey found that marketing leaders are looking to upskill their own people and bring more core marketing functions inside. The dynamic nature of digital marketing gives consultants focused on the area an edge. For now, higher productivity is often driven by outside partners.
11) Take a systems approach
Most digital marketing focuses on acquisition like growing traffic and leads. True digital transformation looks to grow all aspects of the customer lifecycle from acquisition through to referrals.
Dave McClure’s AARRR framework is a good way to think about full cycle metrics.
A – Acquisition
Think of this as the first step that a user takes based on interest in your business. This could be a relatively easy step like clicking on an ad or a newsletter signup or something more significant like booking a call. The quality of the acquisition step determines results right through the funnel.
Your funnel is only as good as the leads that you acquire at the first step.
Acquisition is unlikely to be one step but a series of steps that might happen over a period of weeks or months.
Channels / Tactics
- Content marketing
- Biz Dev
- Free trials / downloads
- Guest posts
- Direct outreach
A – Activation
Activation is when your lead starts their on-boarding process. This usually means that they understand your product / service and understand how you can help them. They may not realize that they have begun on-boarding. You might invite them to one of your client processes or systems so you can analyze their situation. It could be as simple as an initial meeting or a free offer. The net result is that they have already opted into your client experience.
Channels / Tactics
- Email nurturing
- Social retargeting /Advertising
- Trial sign ups
- Assessment requests
- Call requests
R – Revenue
Your lead is now officially a customer. They are using your product / service, see the value, and made their first payment.
Channels / Tactics
- Term contracts
- Upsells / Cross sells
- Customer count
- Customer mix
R – Retention
The first sale is good but the repeat sale shows that you have succeeded. Having a large number of customers who use your product or service once and never come back means that you business model is likely to fail. Two concepts are important here.
- Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
Customer acquisition cost is the amount of time and effort needed to win a new customer.
- Lifetime Value (LTV)
Lifetime value is the average profit that you make on each customer or customer type.
Your business needs to have a high lifetime value than your cost of customer acquisition to be successful. Help Scout wrote this great post on 20 tactics to help improve retention. Here’s some others.
Channels / Tactics
- Do a before and after study
- Educational email automation
- Proactive customer service
- Number of purchases
- Average length of customer relationships
R – Referral
Referrals help any business. The acquisition cost of a referral is close to zero so the economics of a business with good referral traffic are usually very good. Businesses who acquire users who often become advocates have a built-in growth engine. You can do a lot to encourage referrals. Tools like Net Promoter Score surveys can help you identify customers that are likely to refer new customers.
Channels / Tactics
- Loyalty programs
- Net promoter score surveys
- Referred new customer count
- Virality coefficient
12) Lower costs
Cost is often a concern. Hourly rates of $100 – $200 for digital marketing consultants are common.
It is important to consider the loaded costs of employees. Benefits often add 20% to salary costs.
Then there is impact from time invested.
Consultants have limited time to generate results. They push and move fast.
The right consultant will bring new tools and strategies that will improve the productivity of your team.
Accountability for internal team members can be unclear. Factors like company politics can also make motivations for internal teams more complex. A marketing consultant is very clear about the goal. Future projects and referrals depend on the project’s success.
A good consultant will be aware of the internal culture, politics, and history. However, a consultant is motivated to work to change anything that is lowering performance. .
14) Data-driven optimization
Optimization and testing is often skipped by busy business owners or overworked marketing teams.
A digital marketing consultant’s job is to enforce the discipline of using data for insight and optimization.
There are challenges to effective optimization. Many businesses do not have sufficient activity to do true split testing or AB testing and reach a statistically significant result. Even with larger business, low traffic pages and products or emails with small lists can not use split testing models.
In addition, all businesses need to come up with hypotheses to test. This requires data driven techniques to gain insight.
A good digital marketing consultant finds a way to keep decision making focused on data not opinion.
Conversion XL’s ResearchXL™ conversion optimization framework is a great process to adopt.
- Heuristic analysis
A structured walkthrough focused on relevancy, clarity, value, friction, and distraction of a page or email can reveal areas to explore further.
- Technical analysis
Techniques likes cross-browser and cross-device testing as well as page speed audits can drive quick wins.
- Digital analytics
Google analytics can be a source of insight if correctly set up. Tools like Heap Analytics can add additional value.
- Mouse tracking and recording tools
Heatmap and sessions recordings tools can generate issues to explore.
- Qualitative surveys
Asking questions can be very powerful. Hotjar offers a simple one question surveys like “Did you achieve your goal on this page”? Simple surveys like Net Promoter Score can provide insight also.
- User testing
User testing is another technique that any business can use. Defining a specific task, broad task, or completing your entire funnel process can show issues.
15) Applying lean
Digital marketing means that you can move faster.
Lean manufacturing was first pioneered by Toyota. Lean principles are now used in software, startups, and other areas. In every case, Lean delivers better performance.
The lean marketing campaign concept is, most simply, the application of the scientific method to drive market insight and discovery.
The key is to start with good ideas to test with an empowered marketing team.
The results can be dramatic.
- Faster growth with more successful campaigns.
- Higher productivity with campaigns developed and executed faster.
- Better ROI with lower cost campaigns and less waste.
A good digital marketing consultant will work with you to apply lean.
Time to get a digital marketing consultant involved with your business?
Schedule a Free Consultation today!