Several scaling SMEs with a strong emphasis on direct to customer marketing programs in addition to other indirect marketing channels.
After having worked on many B2C and B2B brands over the past 20 years, Curiouser founder and consulting director Ben Hammond has been responsible for scaling acquisition activity to drive growth in a range of industry and competitive settings from professional services and B2B SME lending through to online streaming entertainment services and direct to consumer OEM manufacturing.
These engagements have a common thread; how to scale growth – typically top of funnel lead generation – while improving marketing efficiency and capturing the learnings to better understand ROMI (return on marketing investment) and how to optimise total marketing spend across channels and activities.
Once an appropriate brand or marketing strategy is in place which sets out the targeting, positioning and marketing objectives, attention turns to how to deliver the short-term acquisition targets for the year ahead and what kind of investment is realistic in order to achieve what is planned.
Typically, these businesses have been growing organically with limited marketing spend prior to developing a clear marketing strategy and setting their sights on more aggressive growth targets. While it often demonstrates that there is strong product-market fit for their offering given the organic growth and advocacy they have enjoyed it also means that their channel strategy and understanding of “what good looks like” for acquisition marketing performance is limited.
That could take the form of not understanding their current acquisition costs at a granular level, a limited view of the end-to-end conversion metric across their marketing and sales funnel, or no reference point around targets for CAC (customer acquisition cost), CLV (customer lifetime value) or ROMI (return on marketing investment) – and moreover their drivers and the relationships between them.
The development of an acquisition marketing framework is the foundation for gaining that understanding, forming hypotheses about how future investment should be deployed and evaluating the investment profile by channel and activity.
There is a three step process to developing this activity:
Audit & Analyse: taking existing data and working with internal teams to develop an agreed “last/best” view of current channel performance with the information that is to hand. The outcome is a view of the spend by channel, cost per lead (MQL and SQL), and the performance of that lead through the funnel to a converted sale, and downstream from that the customers likelihood of a repeat transaction or ongoing revenues/profitability.
Recommend: based on the business growth targets for top line new customers (acquisition activity) and the historical performance of specific marketing channels, a recommendation can be developed that secures the baseline of acquisition activity and builds on it with additional investment. This can be through increasing investment in existing channels or adding new channels to the mix. Any investment at this stage must be referenced against expected performance – whether that is historical or planned. In short, for every dollar invested, there is now a framework to understand what the return on that investment will be in the context of the broader business growth objectives, and how it will be reflected in the P&L.
Implement & Optimise: once the investment and channel plan is agreed, it is down to execution of the strategy. Of course, there are many nuances and detailed implementation and execution parameters that must be managed, but ultimately the performance of the acquisition activity can be levelled by viewing all activity through the lens of the acquisition performance framework. Typically, at an operational level the activity is optimised on a weekly basis (tracked daily through the first 4 weeks post launch) and then a monthly dashboard aligned to the P&L is produced for cross-functional leads to discuss how to improve and surface learnings from the front line teams (whether customer service, account management, BD or sales) and a quarterly review is undertaken with the senior leadership team
It’s worth calling out the importance of alignment between sales and marketing teams, and in fact, any other function that has a demonstrable impact on the lifetime value of the customer. Lack of alignment here leads to disagreements about the value of marketing leads, the capability and capacity of the sales teams and basically keeps the organisation focused on internal issues rather than finding and converting high potential leads.
In any case, the purpose of the acquisition marketing framework is to focus on all stages of the funnel to understand where there are areas to improve, and when to ramp investment in different activities
Better understanding these drivers and dynamics of performance provides the evidence base for objective discussions across functions and within the senior leadership team about how to improve performance.
It also provides the insights to understand whether the actions taken are having an impact.
That said, by understanding where to invest and which channels are providing the greatest return (often top line numbers are misleading when CLV is fully considered), we have been able to deliver between 38% – 400% improvements in marketing efficiency to clients depending on the maturity of their existing marketing operations.
B2B & B2C, Various Industries