Many business executives misunderstand marketing. Some equate it with sales, which is understandable. The two disciplines are not necessarily competitive. Rather, they are complementary and mutually dependent. It is very difficult to have one without the other.
Marketing is the process of identifying customers and making them aware of products and services they are likely to buy. While it isn’t an exact science, in the era of mass media and more recently the analytics-driven ad, it is much easier than it used to be, despite the fact the search engine was supposed to splinter the vaunted mass market.
In the world of online commerce, marketing is categorized by “channels,” which are, broadly speaking, combinations of inbound marketing, advertising content types and product categories. A successful channel will have inbound marketing with high response rates, advertising with high conversion rates and products that are popular and cost-efficient. The channel can then be evaluated in terms of its return on marketing and advertising expense and adjusted to maximize all its metrics by price, delivery costs, ad costs and overhead.
Some online marketers have more than one successful channel, which is to say they have marketing, advertising and product combinations producing positive returns for more than one product or product type. For example, an ecommerce business might make shoes and handbags available in two different catalogs. Each product type has its own marketing focus and its own ad campaigns. At the same time, the two channels are complimentary. A customer interested in buying shoes might be persuaded to buy a handbag too. This is where creating an effective multichannel marketing plan begins.
In any planning process, it is vital to be capable of determining if the plan was a success. Otherwise, even the most details plan is nothing more than a hypothesis. Did the plan work? It’s impossible to tell unless the plan is directed towards some kind of goal. If there are historical sales numbers available, that is usually the best place to start. A five percent increase in revenue over three months, for example, is a defined goal. If the plan as implemented achieves those numbers, then the next goal can be set. If not, then the plan can be adjusted and analyzed to determine why.
Some might contend that once a goal has been set, it is necessary to formulate a strategy. While that is true, the word “strategy” is too diffuse as a practical concept. Marketing strategies are usually quite similar. It is the tactics that differ, and tactics are entirely dependent on metrics. For example, if as an ecommerce business you know your response rate from a particular audience is five points higher than an alternative audience, that knowledge will alter your tactics without changing your strategy.
Without the metrics available to tell you the difference between those two audiences, there is no way to improve results or even measure improvement over time. There is also no way to interpret improvement or cause and effect. To market effectively, you have to know your numbers, and one of the best way to acquire those numbers is with tools from the Mageworx marketplace.
A marketing goal and the metrics necessary to measure and test it can’t exist without adequate documentation. Keeping track of what is going on is absolutely essential, especially if you are tracking multiple channels with potentially disparate sets of advertising numbers, goals and results. Good documentation and tools from the Mageworx marketplace are the keys to such a complex exercise. When it comes to something as potentially confusing as marketing and ad performance, its absence can be catastrophic. At worst, it can easily lead to a situation where valuable time is lost and unnecessary expense is incurred by not having the right data available at the right time.
The aforementioned shoes and handbag combination is a good example of what can be very effective integration between marketing channels. If a customer who buys shoes is likely to buy a handbag, those two channels can end up sharing both marketing and advertising. This kind of integration can have the very advantageous effect of slashing expenses while potentially increasing response and potential customer audiences for both products. This is one among many reasons e-commerce companies often bundle products to attract bargain-minded buyers and as a marketing tactic in its own right.
The process of designing marketing channels can and should be heavily influenced by this kind of potential integration. When selecting products, for example, some e-commerce sites using platforms like Mageworx find that natural combinations produce better results than if one or the other product is offered alone. In fact, selecting the products themselves can be considered the first step in effective marketing, and combining those products can be considered the first step in effective multichannel marketing.
Ultimately, marketing boils down to basic awareness. It isn’t something that can be guessed at effectively. A good marketing organization needs information and it needs a way to determine the results of its activities. The best feature of the average electronic commerce initiative, and especially those based on popular platforms like Mageworx is the fact information can be accumulated and analyzed very efficiently, creating a better overall outcome.