Control of an Outsourced Marketing Company and Reporting – Striking a Balance that Maximizes Results
Marketing is a dynamic activity that requires continual control, monitoring and reporting to strike the right balance that maximizes results. The better a company understands the needs of its customers and how best to reach them, the easier it is to stimulate demand for a product or service when a cohesive marketing strategy is deployed. However, as the ability to measure marketing performance becomes increasingly reliant on constantly evolving technology, many companies have strategically turned to outsourcing their marketing efforts. An outsource marketing company is up-to-date with the latest technology tools and trends which helps to relieve the burden of a company’s senior executive team to remain current with these rapid technical advances. Yet, managing these relationships is vital to ensuring steady returns and requires a taut balance of control and reporting.
Just as employees are held to a certain standard of performance, so to should an outsourced agency that is depended upon to increase your company’s sales. Data and performance metrics lie at the core of managing the relationship of an outsourced marketing team. From the outset and throughout the duration of a company-agency relationship, there should be clearly defined targets rooted in quantitative measurement with progress being reported on a timely and consistent basis. What is the expected return on investment of a specific marketing campaign? How many leads were derived via online ads versus print ads? These are just a few of the questions that should be met with data-driven answers, bound by a degree of certainty.
For an external marketing team to be truly effective, a company must first be willing to place their faith in the process of managing external advisors. Trust is the basis for this process. To be effective, an outside marketing team will require context of historical basis from which to build upon. This requires understanding what marketing efforts have been applied to date, how leads are currently managed and followed up on, and what the company has done in the past to ensure high customer retention rates while targeting areas of potential growth. Only with access to historical sales and marketing data, can an outsourced marketing agency make an informed analysis needed to formulate a path that complements a company’s strategic goals.
Based on this initial marketing analysis, an external marketing team can bring a unique perspective to identifying opportunities for capturing a larger swath of the company’s target demographic, or for expanding the target demographic altogether. Just as a company evolves its product offerings, so to evolves the needs of the marketplace that its offering is designed to cater to. One of the primary roles of a company’s marketing agency should be to challenge past assumptions as a means of capitalizing on unforeseen opportunities, such as new product innovations or new channels for accessing untapped markets.
Optimizing a marketing strategy is ultimately a function of waste reduction. Dollars and hours spent communicating to an audience unlikely to purchase a company’s product or service is a wasted expense. Just as a manufacturer streamlines processes and eliminates waste from production as a means of mitigating its cost per unit sold, a company’s external marketing agency must be tethered to the notion of continuous improvement. Working in tandem to compile, analyze and report data on a marketing strategy, a company-agency partnership can collaboratively establish baseline metrics and assess where improvements can be made. By relying on a data-driven approach an executive team can feel assured about how resources are spent on an external marketing team.
In addition to deriving metrics from sales funnel analyses and pre-existing marketing analytics, data points that quantify impact can be used to optimize the effectiveness of specific advertising and marketing campaigns. For example, in choosing the appropriate medium for a campaign (internet, TV, radio, out-of-home, etc.), technology has afforded marketers with the ability to gauge what the cost per thousand impressions— commonly referred to as CPM— across multiple media. If the goal is simply to create brand awareness, a scatter-shot approach of low-CPM media may be called for, whereas if the goal is to access a tightly refined group of people who are dedicated to a specific web informational property, a higher-CPM initiative may be required. Similarly, once the campaign is completed, a marketing agency should accurately be able to report to the client exactly how much sales revenue can be attributed directly or indirectly to the effort.
Analytics can also be applied as a management tool for broader marketing efforts across the company such as website effectiveness. Using a set of tools that cater specifically to the needs of a company, an external marketing team can tell exactly how many people visited a website and at what time of day, how long were they active on the site, and what pages did they visit while they were there. Equipped with this data, the marketing team can then prioritize content and establish which methods of search engine optimization (SEO) can be used to drive additional web traffic.
Likewise for email outreach, marketers can surmise exactly how many peopled opened the email and proceeded to click on any relevant links provided. As this data is captured over a period of time, this becomes business intelligence for optimizing a company’s marketing strategy.
For an executive team to effectively control the output of an outsourced marketing agency, establishing a conduit of open and honest communication is paramount. Just as the needs of a customer evolves, so to do the needs of a company. Regularly apprising an external marketing agency of business decisions that may affect how a brand or product is communicated publicly will enable an outside agency to adapt and pivot their approach more adroitly.
Beyond the executive team, enabling access to other parts of the business is equally critical. If the research and development arm of an organization is witnessing trends in the market that will result in product modifications, giving the marketing agency advanced notice will allow the team to parlay such changes into a competitive advantage from a marketing perspective. Similarly, regular communication and feedback from the sales force, will effectively arm the outsourced marketing team with an understanding of the product attributes that are most coveted by the customer as a means of communicating how products are positioned in marketing materials.