For the past several years, many industries have been abuzz with talk about sustainability, and for good reason. It’s a philosophy that’s influencing more and more companies that want to find better ways of doing things—more efficiently, and in a way that lasts. In digital marketing, we can also take inspiration from these practices to generate long-term value. This is what I’ll be discussing today.
When we talk about sustainable marketing, what are we talking about, exactly?
On the other end of the spectrum, unsustainable marketing focuses uniquely on immediate results. For example, once a traditional media campaign is over, users, much like the company, get no additional benefits from it. In other words, results are deeply linked to dollars invested in the short-term.
I am always surprised to see the extent to which companies prioritize short-term results to the detriment of more long-term assets. I often have the impression that companies want to throw together temporary solutions without necessarily planning for the future. Most of the time, we’re behind on our sales objectives and want to address the situation quickly, without thinking long term.
Allow me to shine a light on how important it is for a company to generate sustainable marketing assets, and demonstrate the value of this practice that can influence short-term results (yup!) while preparing you for future challenges (that are coming up faster and faster!).
I hear you talking about sales…
Regardless of your industry the main goal is, more often than not, to generate sales. But what causes sales to grow, and how can you increase conversions? Just by increasing your media budget?
It’s a safe bet that for the same budget, a combination of sustainable marketing practices will allow you to generate more revenue than investing 100% in media.
Of course, investing in media is a good idea, but right now, you can bet that most of your competitors are transferring their traditional media budgets into digital channels, and opting for the same ROI-oriented tactics. If we all do this without further pushing our strategic thinking, no long-term assets will be created. We’ll all spend more year after year, and the distributors of this world will be laughing all the way to the bank. To understand why you need to take a broader view in digital media than the famous ROI, I would strongly suggest this article by Philippe Boutin-Lizotte and Stéphanie Gélinas.
Under a sustainable marketing philosophy, if a portion of the media budget is allocated towards sustainable assets, you won’t come out empty-handed! So, what are the sustainable assets that will increase your sales and allow you to get a better return on your investment?
A content strategy will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, to be in sync with what really interests your users, and therefore to increase your organic traffic and the effectiveness of the dollars you invest in digital media. A perfect balance between content and media will ultimately result in generating more sales at a lower cost (remember that in paid media, you often pay per click). The impact on sales after the implementation of this type of strategy will be sustainable over the long term without a significantly higher investment. Your efforts will bear fruit for months and years to come!
With a content strategy, the average cost per qualified visit diminishes significantly over time.
You can also read this article by Julien Abadie where you can clearly see the effects of a content strategy on ROI. If you’re interested in learning more, here you’ll find a good overview of the key components of content creation.
By optimizing your conversion rate, you reduce your costs and will quickly be more efficient with your media budget. The math is fairly simple: How much are you prepared to invest to increase your conversion rate by 10%? By measuring the additional sales you’d get from this potential conversion rate increase, it’s clear that investing in this type of project is profitable. It’s a smart investment that will doubtless create value for the company, as well as generate results. Don’t hesitate to get started!
How can you make sure that your acquisition tactics are lasting, and not a one shot deal? Marketing automation is a technology used to collect and organize data to automate certain repetitive tasks. In concrete terms, this technology allows you to communicate in a personalized way on various channels with a user acquired at a certain price. The fact that you’re able to start a relationship with a user makes your acquisition tactics far more sustainable. The key elements of any marketing automation platform are sustainable assets for a company: database, automation tools, measurement tools. There is definitely a cost to implementing this kind of a platform, but once your database is properly configured and your business rules are in place, this investment creates long-term value for the company with a very high ROI. Here you can find more details on this popular marketing trend.
These different areas of sustainable marketing are all centred around the user, and should be accompanied by analyses. One piece that’s too often neglected is user research, which can nourish the strategies you put in place. This step is often missing from marketing plans. It’s an excellent example of a sustainable marketing asset that should be considered and evaluated as an investment and not an expense. (source: Infopresse)
A company that generates sustainable growth needs to position the human being behind the user at the centre of its strategy. In other words, the more information collected about the person behind the screen, the more this data can be used to benefit multiple departments in the company (sales, operations, customer service, etc.).
We’ve repeated this over and over again, but most companies are still working by channel. We see it in the structure of marketing departments, in relationships with suppliers and agencies, in the division of budgets and the way results are measured. This is no longer an approach that should be prioritized!
I invite you to think about these sustainable practices during your next budget planning exercise. They can make the difference between an industry leader and a struggling company.