It answers questions prospects have about you 24/7. It’s accessible from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. It accepts visitors to your company you would never have found with outbound calling or networking. Yet….
If a web presence is such a powerful tool, why do so many companies invest so little in its management and evolution?
We have a theory at Marketing CoPilot: Our theory is that business owners and CEOs are still struggling to understand the ROI of investing in a web presence versus other outbound sales and marketing tactics. And furthermore, they aren’t sure of the right way to invest or how much to invest.Â So we have identified some key areas for building out your plan.
If you want your web presence to be your best sales tool, you have to look at the investment the same way you would if you were investing in a sales rep. It requires the same time, money and resources for it to be successful.
Clearly define your goals
The first step to allocating your online marketing budget is to clearly define your goals. What are you trying to achieve this year? You need to consider both strategy and quantitative goals. You need to clearly define what you are trying to achieve and think about the spectrum of success.Â For example: the best case scenario would be 30% increase in revenue vs. the worst case scenario of a 5% lift in revenue. Budget and plan for the best case scenario and focus on achieving it.
Sketch out your big plans
The next step is to think about what big products, services, marketing campaigns, press releases & communications, events etc. you have planned for your business for the year. What online and offline activities will you need to support them?
Determine what a lead actually costs for your business
How many leads does your business generate each year? Where do they come from and which ones take the shortest time to close? Many companies do not have easy access to this data, but when we help companies reverse engineer this data, we find out that leads coming through the website were better qualified and faster to close that leads that were chased by outbound calling.Â In one instance, a client of ours determined it was costing $80 to secure a booked appointment for a sales rep using in-house telemarketing. Yet the leads coming trough the website to achieve a booked appointment, were costing $50/appointment, were better qualified and closed faster. Understanding your cost per lead and cost per acquisition is paramount to understanding what to invest.
When prospects find you online, they dictate the buying process. When you chase someone in your target demographic you have to do the work. Your web presence will return greater ROI because the prospect feels they are in control.
Determine how important your web presence is to deliver your business plan
The next step is to think about how important your online presence will be in supporting your plans and achieving your goals to help figure out what your online marketing budget should be. Many CEOs grossly underestimate the importance of their web presence. You need to consider how important your online presence will be in quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively disseminating communications to both your prospects and your current database. Online marketing is an extremely inexpensive investment to get your message into the hands of your ideal target – whether it be through social media, content marketing, AdWords campaigns, press releases, organic search or email campaigns. You also need to think about the tactics that support the campaigns like website strategy & development, keyword strategy and Google Analytics analysis & reporting.
97% of B2B buyers will search online and 100% of them will hit your website before they buy from you. It is crucial to have your web presence house in order to make sure that prospects see what they need to see when hitting your website so they will buy from you versus your competitor.
Look at your historical data to determine the connection between your sales wins and your online presence. The likelihood is that you don’t realize how big an impact it has on getting you a sale. Imagine if you had a clear focus and the right budget… your web presence really can be your best sales tool.
Be realistic about how much it will cost to achieve your goals
Last week, we had a client tell us that this year’s sales projection was to sign up 40 new customers. I asked how many they had signed last year (answer 5) and what they were going to do and how they were going to spend differently to achieve this new result. The answer was “add another sales rep”. While this solution might return a few results, it is assuming some pretty unrealistic things such as:
- the sales rep can get up to speed within three months and return 30 or more sales within 12 months
- the sales rep understands the Go-to-Market strategy and knows exactly where to find enough leads to make the sales numbers
- the sales rep has all the right sales support material they need to support the buying and sales process of a prospect in order to move them through the sales cycle (many companies barely have case studies to use)
- that the sales rep doesn’t need a website to educate prospects or customers on why they should buy
Our point is that too many CEOs and entrepreneurs are completely unrealistic about what they are investing and how they are investing in their sales and marketing programs.
B2B businesses marketing budgets are historically too low and this inhibits achieving the growth in your business that you want. MarketingSherpa reports B2B marketing budget to be 4-11% of total gross revenue. MarketingSherpa also indicates the recommended investment your online marketing budget should be between 50-60%.Â So, if you are B2B company with $5M revenue, you should be allocating at leastÂ $100,000 annually to your online presence. Ideally, you should be investing upwards of $300,000 if you are in a new product or service category and need to gain market share.
How much budget will you really need to achieve your goals this year?Â Are you going to invest internally or outsource your web presence?
Investing in a web presence versus a sales rep is NOT an either/or
Finally, your sales team needs your web presence for support during the buying process. Having all of the right content on your website to support the buying process at all stages makes it easy for your sales team to access and distribute the right information to the right people at the right time. Â Also, it makes closing a sale smoother and a more likely scenario.
Investing in your web presence is a smart growth strategy
If you invest enough in your online presence, you will be able to drive leads and support sales. Invest enough to test, analyze and determine what is delivering the best ROI for your B2B business. This will allow you to redirect budget from lower performing tactics and provide even better ROI from your marketing engine. If you don’t invest enough, you are never going to see the returns.