Why You Should Create a Long-Term Marketing Strategy
With a recession potentially looming in the near future, it’s possible that cutting costs has become a frequent conversation in your 2023 planning meetings. As an agency, we are acutely aware that marketing budgets are often the first to get slashed when finances are tight.
Marketing (especially digital marketing strategies) allows your brand to reach thousands of new prospective customers. Without marketing, brands are forced to rely on sales representatives to earn business – an expensive and hyper-focused effort that can fall short without a proper approach.
We understand why it happens. Upper management wants results, and they want them fast. Digital marketing campaign spending seems tedious to them, especially when results are slow to appear.
But why do marketing campaigns take more time to generate leads? Here’s the deal, and it might be a hard pill to swallow: pipeline building takes time.
The Sales vs. Marketing Fallacy
Sales reps have been holding capitalism up on their shoulders since the early 20th century when they were peddling snake oil from the back of a wagon. They provide a personalized touchpoint that is often guaranteed to lead to a sale, and usually pretty quickly.
These resources are especially valuable after intensive onboarding, training, and pipeline-building efforts. And upper management is happy to provide those opportunities for new sales reps because they know that understanding the brand story and how it solves customers’ problems is how they can convince people to buy.
Marketing, on the other hand, has the potential to reach people who have never heard of your brand and who are experiencing those same problems and searching for a solution. But marketing campaigns become more valuable after experimentation; content distribution channels, creative materials, and messaging all need to be tested before they begin converting. And that takes time.
Sales teams have goals to meet every fiscal quarter, and when they’re not met, they lose commissions or jobs entirely. Marketing campaigns have goal KPIs, and when they are not met, campaigns are tossed away as a failed effort.
But these practices shouldn’t happen! Instead of giving up on campaigns, you should be redefining your timelines and short-term expectations, allowing for testing, and having patience.
What is the Digital Marketing Pipeline?
Pipeline marketing efforts incorporate both sales and marketing data to convert leads into customers. The digital marketing pipeline makes the lead-generation process more efficient and less costly.
The traditional pipeline looks like this: LEADS > PROSPECTS > CUSTOMERS > SALES.
The sales come when leads turn into paying customers. Pipeline marketing focuses on that part of the process, as opposed to a blanket sales effort to generate leads.
We know that with many digital marketing campaigns, the bottom-of-funnel transaction rarely gets the opportunity to take place.
That’s because marketing leaders are constantly being asked for an immediate return on their efforts, so most marketing campaigns stop getting funding well before their true pipeline value is understood. This is a prime example of why it’s so important to create a long-term marketing strategy.
Achieving Pipeline Growth
Reaching the bottom of the funnel with digital marketing campaigns takes time and resources, but it’s worth it!
You need to:
- Develop marketing assets. This includes campaign creative materials, SEO content, social media schedules, email marketing campaigns, and content distribution plans.
- Build ongoing processes to scale. If something doesn’t work on one channel, that doesn’t mean we’re throwing in the towel on digital marketing completely. Test, evaluate effectiveness, adjust, and relaunch. Eventually, something will click, and campaigns will generate more leads that convert than a sales team could ever hope to achieve in one quarter.
- Get the right people to execute the plan. We know marketing can be a large cost, but it needs to be seen as an investment and not an expense to be cut. It requires a lot of time and resources, but it’s worth it. Marketing campaigns work if you have the right team behind the strategy, and enough time to let the seeds you plant, grow. This is where an experienced marketing agency can upgrade your campaign executions and demonstrate the results you’ve been hoping for.
Creating a Marketing Plan for Longevity
Unrealistic pipeline growth expectations from CEOs and boards of directors lead to the exact opposite result of what they are hoping to achieve. Marketing is often looked at as a quick fix, and many wonder why, after a 2-week campaign run, there isn’t an overflowing top of the funnel.
Don’t quit before you go through a full sales cycle, after first evaluating how long a sales cycle may be. Today’s consumers need up to 8 digital touchpoints before they make a purchase or complete a conversion action. Without longevity in strategic marketing plans, you may be losing out on customers who needed to see your brand just once more on TikTok, in a display ad, or in their inboxes.
The Long-Term Marketing Planning Process
Everyone wants success in the short term. Instant gratification makes us feel accomplished and (in theory) gets us budget allocation for the next campaign. But realistic marketing plans should celebrate both short-term and long-term wins.
Here’s how to build a long-term marketing strategy:
Think of Marketing as a Long-Term Investment
It’s time to shift the way we view marketing. Vanity metrics will be the death of us as we move into a year where every dollar counts. Let go of maximizing reach and embrace strategies that increase engagement, such as click-through rates.
Plan Quarters Ahead of Time
Marketing goals should reflect your business goals, but it’s time to separate them from the sales team’s cycle. Marketing campaigns planned quarterly will have enough time to test strategies, generate leads, and convert.
Secure Budgets for Paid Ads to Meet Short-Term Needs
Cutting paid media costs may seem like a simple way to save capital, but paid ads can give you short-term wins that keep upper management happy, and simultaneously help increase digital touchpoints (reminder of the marketing funnel). It’s important to devote some resources to short-term projects while maintaining scalable long-term marketing campaigns.
Pipeline Building Takes Time. Accept It.
Marketing has a longer duration than the average sales cycle, but it has the potential to reach your target market more efficiently than traditional sales efforts. We need extra patience, measuring more than vanity metrics (social followers, for example), especially in the initial stages.
Collaborate with Experts
Planning marketing strategies for longevity is a big task. Partner with an agency that knows how to test messaging, maximize channel usage, and create bottom-of-funnel success. At Crimson Park Digital, we execute and monitor campaigns for clients in a variety of industries and generated over 15,000 leads in 2022 alone.
Ready to fill your pipeline for 2023 and create a plan that makes the most of your marketing budget? Let us know the unique challenges your brand is facing in the new year, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long does it take to see results from Google Ads campaigns?
Google Ads campaigns begin to pick up steam after the first 4 weeks they run. Waiting at least a month to monitor campaign performance is important if you want your Google Ads campaign to create conversions.
What is A/B testing in marketing?
A/B testing in marketing campaigns involves creating two ads for the same campaign in order to compare their performance. The two ads may differ by the creative materials used, channels it’s distributed to, target audience demographics, etc.
Why should you use A/B tests in digital marketing?
A/B testing can help you understand the best ways to reach your target audience and to move forward with campaign strategies that are efficient and effective. Signs of a higher success rate in testing include higher click-through rates, higher conversion rates, and lower costs per conversion.