Building a resilient marketing function: putting website analytics at the heart of marketing decision-making

In a recent MPG Insights article, we covered why having a high-performance marketing website is essential to success when it comes to building a resilient marketing function. 

If your business has a well-designed website, with well thought-through and carefully mapped out customer journeys, as well as efficient back end/CMS functionality – you’ll be in a good place when it comes to building resilience into your marketing function.

An important aspect that should not be neglected, is how you evaluate the performance of your website – and thereby also your marketing.

Website analytics reports are critical for understanding your customers, and how they interact with your site, as well as your other marketing channels. This is the #1 marketing priority, as stated by MPG Founder & CEO Helen Coetzee in her blog from 1st January 2022 – In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing”.

Having a website analytics tool and a reporting dashboard set up and integrated into your marketing process is the only way to make evidence-based decisions to feed into marketing planning and overall business strategy.

Getting value from your website analytics requires going beyond basic stats from your Google Analytics report. Analytics dashboards should be set up for a deeper dive into what you need to know about your website visitors – going well beyond just the number of visitors, pages per session, bounce rate etc.

You need to use the right tools to collect and analyse the data available, so you can understand how your audience is engaging with specific pages on your site, as well as the marketing channels, campaigns, and tactics that brought them to your website in the first place. 

Getting the right setup and process in place for your website analytics helps build a resilient, growing business in 7 ways:

  1. Allows you to see what is driving people to your website.
  2. Enables a good overall customer experience when they get to your website.
  3. Allows you to create personalised customer journeys that deliver the most relevant, compelling, and engaging content to your customers.
  4. Delivers more conversions at an optimal conversion rate – so more web visitors do what you want them to do when they are on your website.
  5. Helps you identify the website content your customers most value, and therefore build strategies and operational plans to create more of the most valued and engaging content.
  6. Means you can leverage your best advocates and create a strong referral engine.
  7. Gives you visibility of which marketing approaches, channels, tactics, and specific campaigns are working best, in terms of driving high numbers of relevant people to your website; and then the specific ROI of each of these, based on website conversions and ultimate revenue these conversions deliver.

Quite simply: if you don’t have website analytics set up in the right way, you can’t know how any of your marketing initiatives are working, what return your marketing investment is delivering, how to improve the return, or how to invest more for growth.

So, if you’re unsure of whether your website analytics is set up correctly and you’re not seeing marketing reports based on these, we recommend you focus on this as your next area of marketing investment. Investing much more in marketing campaigns before their performance is visible to you is not a smart move.

In our next MPG Insights resource, we will be providing a practical guide on which metrics and KPIs you should be monitoring via our website analytics. Subscribe to MPG Insights to make sure you don’t miss out on the next resource, and future useful resources after that…

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to MPG about how to get your website analytics properly set up to help your business grow, please get in touch. Team MPG includes website and analytics specialists who can help you get great visibility of your marketing performance and ROI.

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Building a high-performance website for a resilient marketing function: a practical guide

In the last MPG Insights article, we covered the role your marketing website plays in ensuring you have a resilient marketing function – and therefore a resilient business. This week, we’re sharing a practical guide to building a high-performance website.

Helen Coetzee Quote

Here are our recommendations for following a common-sense, practical and systematic approach to building and maintaining a website that will deliver strong marketing results, and strengthen your business:

#1 Process, process, process

We can’t emphasise enough how important process is – in every area of marketing. If you follow the right process, you’ll get good results.

Mapping and following processes can sometimes feel tedious, but creating a step-by-step approach to building, maintaining and enhancing your website, and then following through consistently with rigour and attention to detail, is what will get you where you need to be.

Like so many necessary things, having a high-performance website is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration!

Here we share MPG’s step-by-step processes focused on ensuring you get the right website built in the first place, with a downloadable resource of the processes that Team MPG has used time and time again, for consistently good results.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE STEP-BY-STEP PROCESSES

Once you have the right website, built in the right way, including the customer journeys and functionality your customers and your team needs, frequent website reviews and ongoing optimisation should be baked into your ongoing marketing performance review and marketing channel optimisation procedures.

This will rely on
(1) Google Analytics, or a similar tool – set up in the right way
(2) A marketing performance dashboard – which we recommend you build in Google Data Studio

 

#2 Optimising for conversions

Conversion rate optimisation (CRO) isn’t only needed on your web pages focused on registrations, subscriptions and lead capture. Here are the four main areas of your website where CRO plays a very important role:

(1) Your homepage

This is where you make your first impression with many of your visitors and should clearly articulate your value proposition. Your unique selling point (USP) and value-focused benefits for your customers need to be very clearly and simply laid out high up on this page.

Your homepage should also include clear signposting to further content and information to keep your web visitors clicking deeper into your site, including prominent CTAs pointing to conversion-focused pages e.g. Subscribe Today, Book Now, Download Brochure etc.

(2) Content pages

Content pages should also be focused on conversions by pointing visitors to:
(a) Lead generation forms for downloadable sales materials e.g. Download Marketing Solutions Prospectus
(b) Lead generation forms to access premium, gated content e.g. Request a Demo
(c) Subscriber acquisition forms (free subscriptions) – where your audience can volunteer their data to have free or sample content emailed to them via a newsletter, or other types of email updates.

(3) Pages displaying your ‘packages and pricing’

Focus on simplifying the process for your user to understand what’s on offer and choose the best option for them. You need to make it easy for them to buy from you!

If there are different categories of purchasers with different prices e.g. for events you may charge vendors more to attend events, make sure you display the prices clearly.

And remember to signpost web visitors from this page to the landing pages dedicated to conversions and including forms…see next point.

(4) Landing pages dedicated to conversions i.e. with forms

These are the pages that need the most attention for CRO and where you should focus your testing efforts. Include eye catching, brand-enhancing visuals and engaging copy that compels the user to complete the form, highlighting the benefits to them of taking the time to complete the form and giving you their data (What’s in it for them to complete the form? What will they get?).

Avoid lengthy forms that request unnecessary information, or requesting the same information multiple times.

 

#3 Helping potential customers find your website

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an ongoing process to ensure your site is always ranking well for the keywords that are most relevant to your audience and product.

SEO is influenced by a number of factors like content, time on site, pages visited and device optimisation. Generally speaking, a good website means good SEO.  Here are some of the key components of the ‘good website’ as far as Google is concerned.

(1) Content, and UX around your content

The accuracy and relevance of your content, frequency of updates, how well your content is tagged, and how seamlessly it aligns to what a visitor is expecting to see (i.e. customer experience), all impact your SEO.

When producing content for your audience, you should always have top of mind both the customer needs and the objective of the content. And then you need to ensure that your marketing campaigns make the most of the content and the overall customer journey you have built.

(2) Technical set up and performance

You need to continually review the technical performance of your site. There are many tools out there, such as Lighthouse, which are an easy way to assess this aspect of your site.

Here are some of the key things to look out for that will impact technical performance:

  • Images and videos: search engines can’t ‘see’ what an image contains, so make sure that all images on your site contain alt text and captions. It is important to bear in mind that images and videos can sometimes have a negative effect on your SEO – especially when video and image files are large and take a long time to load, or when they are low quality.
  • Mobile responsiveness: if your websites are difficult to read and use on a mobile phone, your SEO will definitely be badly affected. Always consider all elements as they appear on a mobile, such as navigation, size of font, length of text, and usability of forms. Getting this right is a combination of good digital design, good functionality and good front end development.
  • Navigation: specifically for SEO, you need to consider how search engines’ bots crawling your website to create their rankings ‘understand’ what your site is all about. To make this work well, include keywords in your navigation elements such a URLs for specific pages, menu items, CTAs and headings.

SEO covers a lot more than what we have shared here, but what we’ve covered should help you get the most important ‘fundamentals’ on place!

(3) Back-links (or links from other websites to yours) are a sure-fire way of increasing your ranking – as long as they are linking from relevant sites. That’s because Google considers relevant back-links to be like positive recommendations to your website. Try to encourage advocates such as event speakers and sponsors, authors of articles you publish and partners to add links to your event on their websites, wherever appropriate.

 

#4 Creating a good customer experience on your website

User experience (UX) of your website will impact your marketing performance, and therefore your business resilience and performance.

The more favourable an interaction your potential user has with your site, the more likely they are to purchase from you and also refer your products to others. The key elements to be mindful of in creating a positive customer experience are:

  • Navigation: the age old adage, ‘don’t make me think’ is well known in the world of UX. Your website user should be able to very quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for on your site, with minimal effort.
  • Design: when we talk about design, we are not just talking about having lovely imagery on your site. Good site design also includes fonts, colours and imagery that are consistent with your brand guidelines, are visually pleasing in how images are combined with text, and contribute to telling a story that will lead them down the path to conversion.
  • Customer journey: mapping out the customer journeys (the paths users take through your website content) is essential in creating a site that converts. Always consider how different entry points affect the experience. As other marketing channels are pushing users directly to specific pages on your website, it is important to consider the full customer journey including all their touch points with your brand, even before they hit your site.

If you get all of these things done consistently well, your marketing function – and your organisation – will be more resilient!


Do you need help optimising your existing website? Or maybe the time has come to build a brand new website?

MPG’s digital marketing experts and website team of web project managers, designers and developers know what it takes to create and optimise a website for high-performance marketing that converts. We also know how to optimise sites on an ongoing basis in a practical, systematic way that keeps your website in ship shape, and high up in search rankings.

Get in touch today to find out how MPG can help you attract and convert enough of the right customers to help your organisation grow and be more resilient.

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MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


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Build a resilient marketing function: start with your most important marketing channel

As the pandemic rages on, challenges and opportunities continue to emerge for B2B media and events businesses.  

From Team MPG’s vantage point, it is clear that the most resilient businesses, and those that have started growing again, have certain characteristics – including: a belief in the strategic importance of marketing – shared by the whole senior leadership team; a strong understanding of what good marketing looks like and should be expected to achieve; and a commitment to invest well in marketing for sustainable growth. 

This was the focus of Helen Coetzee’s blog published on 1st January: In 2022, the most resilient organisations will have relevant and resilient marketing. In this article, Helen highlights specific areas that require focus and investment for building relevance and resilience into your marketing – and therefore into your whole organisation. 

One of these specific areas is your website, or more specifically, the website or web pages that serve the purpose of marketing your brand, value proposition and products.

The companies that have invested heavily in building high performance marketing websites, are standing out as resilient and winning organisations at this time. 

And by ‘high performance websites’, we’re not just referring to a beautifully designed ‘look and feel’ for your site – which is usually the calling card of slick creative and digital agencies very good at selling their sizzle (and making things look nice). A well designed, nice-to-look at website is an absolute must, but far too many organisations we talk to have fallen in to the trap of spending a fortune with a ‘shiny’ agency (confusing style with substance…) on a website that just looks lovely, but doesn’t actually work in terms of:

(1) Optimised customer journeys in the front end – to acquire more customers and generate more revenue, and
(2) Back-end/CMS functionality that makes the website practical and efficient (and viable!) for marketers to manage in the manner required for the website to work well within a content-led, integrated marcomms approach. 

There is a very specific, specialised set of functionality requirements that B2B media/events businesses need built into their marketing websites that can be very poorly understood by many business leaders (and often their marketers too), and by the too many agencies trusted with this kind of work.

These specific functionality requirements are focused on the extremely important role your website serves as the hub of all your marketing efforts. If you want to be a resilient  and growing business, your website needs to do all the following – really well:

  1. Positioning: host impactful messaging – in words, pictures and sometimes video and/or audio – that positions your brand and value you deliver in exactly the right way. For this you need a strong messaging strategy.
    See: Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide
  2. Conversion rate optimisation (CRO): have well structured navigation and CTAs that draw customers through your marketing funnel – getting them to share their data, become a customer, and also share your content.
    See: 4 Things you should do for a high performance website
  3. SEO: use relevant messaging, content and good UX to organically attract relevant people from search engines – to then become exposed to your positioning and converted to engaged prospects, customers and advocates.

A well-optimised site attracts the right visitors, in required and sustainable volumes, and clearly communicates your value proposition – which is more important now than ever to cut through all the noise on digital channels. 

Remember that your website is the hub of all your marketing activity. Every time you post on social media, run a PPC campaign, or send an email campaign – you should be pushing relevant people to your website so that they become visitors, engaged audience members prospects, and customers. 

If your website is not in the best shape possible, all of your other marketing channels will be much less effective than they should be. There is almost no point deploying any other marketing channels (especially PPC!) until you have a website in place that looks great, and works exactly as it should in terms of functionality needed to deliver customers and revenue to your business.

Next week we will share a practical guide to building a high performance website. Subscribe to MPG Insights to get notified when the next article is published.

And in the meantime, if you’d like to speak to an MPG website expert about how to optimise the site you have, or build a brand new, high performance website – please get in touch. Team MPG includes website designers, developers and website project managers who have a deep understanding of B2B media/events business models and marketing. We know how your website needs to work to grow your customer base and your revenues. Read more about MPG’s website design and development services.


MPG provided excellent design and functionality recommendations for our website – helping us immediately put into action initiatives that would help us gain more customers and move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Founder & CEO, Outsmart Insight


 

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5 Strategic investments being made in B2B marketing in 2021

Team MPG has unique insight into how leadership teams are choosing to invest in marketing at any point in time.

Right now, we can see first-hand how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed marketing to the forefront of the ‘bounce back’ strategies for B2B brands, and how transformation of marketing in organisations of all sizes has been accelerated.

This article covers 5 areas of marketing where we’re seeing the greatest focus and investment at this time.

 


The state of B2B marketing in May 2021

As parts of the world start emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, senior executives  are seeing that making strategic investments in marketing now is essential – not only to recover lost revenues, but (more importantly), to take advantage of the new opportunities our ‘new world’ presents.

Organisations focused on serving and monetising professional communities have a particular set of opportunities to go after: building strong, engaged communities online and offline; growing high quality, engaged, paying subscriptions & memberships; and delivering a strong portfolio of events year round in digital, in-person and hybrid formats. Marketing budgets that were previously being locked down are now being released, but with this spend being focused in areas previously ignored or under-valued.

The work Team MPG does with a range of organisations globally (B2B media, B2B events & professional associations), and the ongoing conversations we have with the community, gives us a strong viewpoint on where B2B leaders are placing their marketing bets.

Here are five investment areas that have dominated these conversations:

Investment #1: Marketing strategy development

In the pre-pandemic times, many marketing functions mostly (or only) delivered tactical marketing. The job of marketing was to just ‘get campaigns out’ – at speed and scale.

But the events of the past 14 months have forced senior executives to carefully evaluate the role of marketing in their organisations. At the start of the pandemic, those who believed their marketing had mostly tactical value swiftly cut their marketing budgets when faced with a prolonged period of risk and uncertainty.

As the pandemic fog lifts, it seems there are two types of organisations that are emerging well:

  1. Those that put their marketing function at the heart of their pivot – leveraging the digital expertise marketers have to create and execute their strategies to survive & thrive. These organisations understood that marketing is all about putting the customers’ needs and pain points first, which has been a common trait for organisations coming out of the pandemic in good shape.
  2. Those that realised after a few months of trying to work out what to do next, that a strategic marketing approach is critical for future-proofing their organisations. These organisations have started the process of rebuilding their marketing functions in a deliberate, thoughtful and sustainable way.

I urge you to reflect on your own organisation. Are you one of the above types of organisations? Or do you still see marketing as a cost to be reduced, rather than an investment to be managed and optimised?

If you’re aiming to be more strategic in your marketing approach, here are a few points for you to ponder:

  • The bedrock of every successful marketing strategy is understanding the composition of your market, or your community. This all begins with a robust and up to date market map.
  • Community marketing is coming to the fore. It is important to understand what this means for your organisation. The recent MPG Insights blog on how B2B communities work and our webinar exploring community marketing strategies and MPG’s community marketing model have been some of our most read and watched to date.
  • Once the market or community you are serving has been properly analysed, you need to find a way to cut through the noise in a very competitive space to grab and keep attention (i.e. get good engagement!). This requires a strong messaging strategy.
  • Having the right combination of strong marketing skills in your team is essential. Marketing is complex and the skills you need are varied – from very analytical and technical, to those strong in creative and communications. These are very rarely found in one person. Here are a couple of relevant MPG Insights blog articles:

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you develop a future-proof marketing strategy.

Investment #2: Marketing technology stack optimisation 

The reality is that many organisations have martech challenges – usually including one or more of the following: the wrong tech tools; martech not implemented well in terms of system set up or new process adoption, and now needing remedial action; missing or misfiring integrations and data flows; or key pieces of tech missing altogether. Any one of these issues will mean what should be automated is painfully and expensively manual and slow.

A key opportunity cost of not having a fit-for-purpose martech stack is a poor customer experience – which is something no organisation can afford in what is becoming a very competitive digital world with lower barriers to entry and fewer ways to differentiate.

So, smart business leaders have spent much of the lockdown getting their martech stack in order. Rather than slashing marketing spend altogether, they spotted a gap to make strategic, impactful investments in getting their martech stack working well to monetise and scale their audiences and offerings in a more digital world.

And they have also recognised this is not a ‘one off’ exercise. Martech stacks need ongoing maintenance and regular tweaks and upgrades as new tech emerges and their businesses grow.

Good things will come to those who have fully embraced martech and invested well, and continue to invest well, in this area. Well done if that’s you.

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get, and keep, your martech stack in good order

 

Investment #3: Stronger marketing databases

Marketing databases are often neglected for three reasons:

  1. They’re not well understood
  2. They’re hard to manage well
  3. They’re not as exciting and visible as the creative parts of marketing

But, having a strong marketing database that is always growing, and is well maintained, is essential to B2B marketing success. The best creative comms in the world won’t work if you’re not getting them in front of the right people – and this is where your database comes in.

We’ve seen a definite trend in senior leaders suddenly paying attention to their marketing databases. They have recognised that being more digital requires good database management. 

Marketing automation, which is critical for effective monetisation and scale, just isn’t possible if your marketing database is not well set up and well managed on an ongoing basis. This was particularly important for virtual and hybrid events, where a much larger pool of potential customers and marketing automation is needed to achieve good attendance rates.

It is therefore no surprise that many of my recent conversations with CEOs have been about how best to invest in their databases, and MPG’s database and marketing automation experts have been in high demand.

What is also clear is that organisations of all sizes have similar needs and require a similar approach when it comes to setting up, growing and maintaining their databases. Over the past 12 months, MPG has worked with very large and very small organisations (and all sizes in-between) to successfully implement the tried & tested database development methodology we’ve used since we launched MPG in 2014. Even back then it was GDPR-proof!

We’re hoping to release an ‘explainer video’ soon about MPG’s database development methodology. So, make sure you subscribe for MPG Insights emails to be notified when this resource is available!

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat with MPG about your database.  We love all things data!!

 

Investment #4: High performance websites optimised for search engines and conversions

Large parts of our lives have been lived online over the past 14 months. And a legacy of the pandemic is that most of us are likely to stay more ‘digitised’ in behaviours and preferences.

Having a marketing website that is substandard in any way is therefore no longer an option. Your customers will judge you on how your marketing website looks and works – fact!

Your brand, messaging, content, lead generation mechanisms and, in many cases, sales – are now hosted mostly on your website. And all your other marketing channels drive traffic to your site. So, if your website is not optimised for search engines and conversions – on an ongoing basis – then you have a big problem.

What has been interesting about conversations I have had with CEOs about their websites in recent months, is that they now understand how important it is to plan, build and optimise a website with a strategic marketing mindset. Before the pandemic, websites were often largely left to the tech team, with tech people making key decisions about how a website should look and work.

Let’s hope the change to treating websites as the most important digital marketing channel is one that sticks!

MPG can help you optimise your existing website, or build a new one that works really well, to drive high performance marketing. Get in touch to find out how.

 

Investment #5: Pay-per-click (PPC) via Google and social channels

PPC is a category of marketing tactics where MPG has seen definite increased investment. To fund this investment increase, it seems marketing spend is shifting from direct mail, and in some cases ‘cold calling’ sales – to Google Ads and paid advertising on social media.

However, this seems to be poorly served by dedicated PPC agencies at present as marketers are switching regularly from one agency to another, and in many cases pulling PPC in-house.

I believe the reason PPC is not working as it should – even with more investment – is that too much attention and money is going into clicks spend, rather than strategy and planning.

Once again, as per Investment #1 in this newsletter, you need a strong marketing strategy to make your PPC work well. PPC needs to be well integrated with all other channels and it needs to be carefully measured, and performance analysed in the context of the full marketing mix. This is where most PPC agencies go wrong:  they just focus on tactics and clicks spend, rather than delivering PPC services that are an integrated part of a robust marketing strategy.

M