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Natalie Lane and Misti Ferris kick off today’s Grow Live and it’s all about budgeting and tracking your marketing ROI. They share their thoughts on preparing for the unexpected and setting yourself up for success. Together, they realize CMO Matt Johnson could use a few lessons on tracking as well — time tracking that is!

Join the Spinstak gang as they tackle some of our industry’s biggest challenges when it comes to selecting the right tools and technology for big wins that don’t break the bank.

Watch, listen or read now and learn more about:

  • Planning ahead of time and establishing goals
  • Preparing for the unexpected
  • Navigating the overwhelming world of SaaS (software as a service)
  • Setting up tracking systems before taking content live
  • Tracking conversion funnels

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” — Matt Johnson, CMO & Managing Partner at Spinstak Growth Agency.


Check out these additional resources:

 

Today’s call to action: Let us know how we can help you find a better way to track your ROI with your team. You can schedule a consultation or send Matt an email directly at mjohnson@spinstak.com, or give us a call at 866-270-0810 to get the conversation started.

Do you love Grow Live? Show us how much you do by sharing this episode with your friends and colleagues! We’ll even send you some really awesome swag to say thank you!


Don’t miss next week’s show! Next week, we’ll discuss eCommerce Tips for Safety & Industrial Players. You won’t want to miss it!

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Read the Grow Live transcript... 

Natalie:

Welcome to Grow Live. This week we're going to talk about, where's Matt?

Misti:

Where's Matt?

Natalie:

We're going to talk about budgeting for technology and tracking ROI. Stay tuned.

 

Welcome to Grow Live ladies and gentlemen. My name is Natalie Lane; I'm the director of marketing at Spinstak.

Misti:

Hi, I'm Misti and I'm an accountant manager here at Spinstak.

Natalie:

Today we are going to talk about budgeting and tracking ROI for all of you business owners out there and marketing managers.

Misti:

Yeah. It's important for them too.

Natalie:

Yeah, it's totally. So we're going to talk about budgeting. Everybody knows that it's important. But before we get started, you can watch us online at letsgrowlive.com. You can also leave some comments and interact with us and if you do we may give you some swag.

Misti:

We have swag.

Natalie:

Yeah, and we have some winners too. So that's pretty exciting. So let's get started on the topic today. We're going to talk about how budgeting creates a foundation for success and everyone knows that but I don't think that they do it properly and throughout the year they find issues with their budgeting best practices or what they initially thought were best practices which causes some concern especially in today's day with the digital era being the center focal point of everything. There are new software system that come up that could help increase efficiency across your organization and if it's not budgeted for and there's no way to track the ROI on that, tracking your investment, the return you get on your investment, it can be one painful.

Misti:

Yeah, and you could lose out on the opportunity to capitalize on something when you see the need for it.

Natalie:

Yes. Absolutely. So let's dive into that. So budgeting, one, it allows you to plan ahead of time by department. So it doesn't necessarily have to just be about marketing. So make sure that you do that and you're always looking at your budget, doing that quarterly, doing it monthly, not necessarily weekly but have your minions if you will help you out with those processes. Always pay attention to your expenses, it's really important.

 

And establishing your goals, your business goals so that they align with your budget. As you guys are creating your budgets make sure that you're thinking about the strategy that goes behind creating your budget. So say you have a budget specifically for customer service, right? A lot of times we get brought in to implement new software for streamlining like a customer service, customer satisfaction. Establish what those goals are. Like do you want to see phone time decrease, do you want to see more emails come in rather than people being on the phone. There's different goals that you can set which will help you make your company more efficient.

 

So make sure that you at least have like three to five goals for each line item on your budget.

Misti:

And make sure that they're smart goals so whenever you're setting any kind of marketing goal, always make sure that it's relevant, it's timely, it's attainable, don't set those goals way too high, and that you can measure it.

Natalie:

Yeah, absolutely because that can ...

Misti:

Just leads to a bunch of run around. You're just doing nothing a lot of your time basically. So make sure you set those smart goals accordingly before you dig into any new projects.

Natalie:

Absolutely. Prepare for the unexpected like we talked about earlier. A lot of people just say hey, this is how much we're spending. A lot of C.E.O.'s make this mistake. A lot of C.F.O. some financial advisors will come in and kind of rescue them. Thinking about this ahead of time will help you prepare. Leave a buffer for every line item on your budget.

Misti:

Especially in a marketing department because we're in a very shifting era right now when it comes to marketing for industrial suppliers, for safety suppliers, distributors. You don't know what types of things might come up and if there is no room in the budget and someone's, you identify maybe as a marketing manager or someone on the sales team even identifies an opportunity and they say here's maybe some great new software or here's a program I want to implement and there's absolutely no room in the budget. If it's going to wait until the next budget rolls around to be figured in, it's probably not going to be relevant any longer or maybe you haven't been able to jump on the train soon enough and your competitors are going to get that edge over something that you might have been able to jump in on if you have a little bit of more flexibility.

Natalie:

Especially in this industry like she was saying. A lot of people are behind the times, they have an old systems. You never know when that system could crash. Regardless of what it is. It could be your order management system, it could be your website, it could be inventory, whatever it is, however you have it siloed.

Misti:

That's a conversation that comes up with our clients often. They say, here, we've been notified by whatever software or whatever hosting services, we're no longer going to be providing support for you. So those clients are stuck in a position where they're trying to scramble to catch up and make sure that they're able to keep up with whatever the changes are happening.

Natalie:

Yeah. Well, look who decided to show up today.

Matt:

Hey everybody, I'm so sorry I'm late.

Misti:

We were having a great conversation.

Natalie:

Getting into the nitty gritty of budgeting.

Misti:

But we missed you.

Matt:

I think like a good C.E.O. sometimes I just show up 10 minutes late to the meeting. Anybody else can relate to that?

Misti:

Making sure to keep us on our toes.

Matt:

Yes, yeah, right.

Natalie:

We need to budget for extra minutes here.

Matt:

Awesome. So what are you guys talking about?

Natalie:

So we're talking about budgeting and building a foundation for success, preparing for the unexpected regardless if it's marketing, any department I guess where technology touches your department, it's really important to prepare for the unexpected. So I think that's going to roll into our next topic, which is setting aside money for new digital strategies and it really just talks about what we just covered.

Misti:

Has that happened to you? Like where you said, oh wow, this is awesome, I could really use this but it's going to have to wait until the budget opens up for it.

Matt:

I would say the first part, maybe not the second part because one of the things, I guess one of the things that I've always just had was like this realization that technology was my friend and it was always looked at as an opportunity. So I've always been fast to invest in technology if it made sense, which means sometimes I would even invest in it when it wasn't in my budget because it was that important. Now I realize that it's even more important to set aside unexpected budgeted dollars for something that could be a game changer six months down the road. You'll want to make sure that you can feel good about pulling the trigger and making a purchase if you've already got money set aside for it.

 

I think this is an area where our customers in particular have maybe struggled a little bit in the past because this is something they're not anticipating on, they're thinking about the core aspects of the business, my sales team, my customer service team, my fulfillment team and they're not thinking about what can digital technology do in terms of helping me get to the next level. If anything, they may look at it as a necessary evil that they have to go through and it's going to very disruptive. Unfortunately that limits them.

Natalie:

When it comes to saving money I think one thing they don't realize is that all of these SaaS products and there's thousands of them out there so it can be overwhelming and you can just throw it away and say oh, it's not even worth it to get everybody trained on this, that and the other. But, on the other hand, when you're looking at that soft or the hard cost, all of these resources that are available are subscription based, which is really nice. You don't necessarily have to come up with 75 to 100,000 thousand dollars up front, you know what I mean? So, there used to be that where you would have like a local install and a system would not be as friendly with your budget.

Misti:

Yeah, that's not really the way it works anymore.

Natalie:

No, no.

Matt:

Most tools you can either purchase for as little as one year at a time or a monthly payment structure and it really reduces the risk long term. So I think that we're seeing more and more great tools that are available that cost less than a thousand dollars a month total investment and that's really nice.

Natalie:

A good practice for budgeting for that is to get with your accounting department and have them amortize, if you're preparing it, amortize that over the year so that it doesn't hit the books all at one time and you can easily see what your investment looks like on a month to month basis. So that's a good practice.

Misti:

Probably helps for reporting purposes like when you're trying to report on the investment such you've made, you're allowing them to get the view that spread out over the year instead of seeing chunks of your expenses taking out at one time period.

Natalie:

It's not as scary to take the lead.

Misti:

That's what I meant. Takes the edge off of it.

Matt:

I've talked about this before but the idea of companies that are looking to grow and prepare for the future versus companies that when they look at a technology investment are really shied away by it, those kind of companies, I just wonder to myself like what's going to happen to them in the next five to 10 years because-

Natalie:

They're going to be out of business. You've said it a million times and it's so true. They're either going to not be relevant or they're going to be out of business, and if they're not relevant that end time is coming very shortly.

Matt:

The question then is really not how can I afford this software, the question is how can I afford not to implement the software. How can I not afford to implement digital strategies in my operations.

Natalie:

Yeah, exactly.

Misti:

It's what we're talking about, getting into that mindset that says I need that in my budget just as much as you understand-

Natalie:

That you need pencils and Post-its.

Matt:

People still use pencils?

Natalie:

I do.

Matt:

I've seen a lot of Posts-it so I know that. But yeah you're right. Instead of like this thing coming up and waiting till it's an absolute pain point until sales are falling and opportunities are being missed, until you wait till you're feeling it, why would you not plan ahead and make sure that you've got the budget, and make sure that you have a strategic initiative in place and give somebody the authority to go find the solutions because there's a lot that goes into that, right?

Natalie:

Oh, absolutely.

Matt:

First of all, you have to do the research and then you have to, you'll have to talk to several of these companies, listen to their sales pitch, run through some demos. So there's a lot that goes into it, not just from a pure cash standpoint but there's a lot of resources that need to be spent and investigating and eventually making the acquisition of maybe a digital tool or new software.

Misti:

And as a bonus that person can then be a great part of transitioning that out to your team because they've learned it all on the back side so.

Natalie:

Yeah, get your people involved. A lot of times people hold on to that too which makes that budgeting look scary, oh, who's going to take care of it. Well, get some more people involved once you make those high level decisions.

 

I guess now we're going to bump into the next topic.

Matt:

We're finally getting to the exciting point in my mind, like ROI. This is what every C.E.O., president, owner out there wants to know is how am I going to track my return on the investment. How am I going to show that this was a money maker instead of a cost on the balance sheet, right?

Natalie:

Yup. That ties back to what we talked about before is building a foundation for success when you're planning your budget because you're going to have those goals already there so you started that process of tracking ROI. You know what it is exactly that needs to be tracked in order to indicate that you are successful using this new software, whatever it is.

Misti:

Right. The way you prove that ROI or track it is going to be different based on the initiative. So, whether it maybe your inbound or you've got some new software or whatever, even if you just use social media campaigns and ads, something like that, the process for tracking that ROI is going to look different depending on what it is.

Natalie:

Function, the function.

Matt:

You think it'd be useful to kind of talk through a real life example of how you would be able to prove ROI and track it all the way back to like real dollars so that I can see like hey, if I invest in a social media platform or like a marketing tool like HubSpot for example and I'm creating all these marketing campaigns and I'm generating leads. How does that equate to me, like how does that turn into money for me as the owner of the business.

Natalie:

Speaking to our industry, and this is like not a #metoo conversation like we were talking about, right? I think this gets overlooked a lot. When you're talking about social media, make sure you just have somebody install those tracking pixels. First, let's start there, there's ways to track. All of these software systems have tracking pixels, they have automated tracking. Make sure it's turned on and working before you go live and look at it. Look at the results from a high level, right? Just see how it's reporting into your system first and then keep an eye on it.

Matt:

I think there's even some, obviously setting up the tools and using them the right way, there's integrated dashboards that you can use to help track those key metrics like based on the goals like you said. But then I think there's some business accounting that has to happen so that you can really start putting a number on the investment, the return on the investment. So for example, I need to know a couple of key numbers, I need to know conversion rates from leads to customers. That's something that most sales team, you should be able to get that information from them.

Natalie:

Yeah. You need to know like if you're spending X amount on a Facebook ad, how much is that conversion worth to you and that's where a lot of that jargon comes in from people who are helping you sometimes, that can be hard to understand what's my cost per acquisition. Have them put it in simple terms. How much is it costing me. How many dollars am I getting for X amount spent.

Matt:

I really am a fan of just breaking it down really simply because it really is, it should be no more difficult than this. If I give you 100 leads, how many of those leads turn into customers and on average how much are those customers worth to you over the lifetime of doing business with them. If you can give me those numbers then I can create an ROI case for you and that's where I think we do get sucked into all of the analytics and the dashboards and the reporting.

 

We make it really complicated but at the end of the day, if your sales team is converting 10% of 100 customers, so I'm getting 10 new customers out of 100 leads and those customers are worth $100,00 over the course of their lifetime and I have a profit margin built in, I take that number and I divide it by how much it cost me to get those leads including the marketing teams time, the ad dollars that were spent, the software costs and now I have a really clear understanding of it cost me this much to get the leads but at the end of the day my net margin on these new customers was this over the lifetime of a relationship.

 

What I would say is this is something that a lot of companies are not doing well and I'm just going to go ahead and say it, I would love to have this conversation with you guys. I would have this conversation and I would not charge you a thing because this is something I feel like adds a ton of value to a company because if they're not doing a lot of marketing, which in our industry they're not. So they're not thinking about how do I track this stuff. And so I would just say let's sit down and let's look at those numbers, let's look at your average customer lifetime value, let's look at your sales conversion percentage and let's work together on figuring out how much marketing budget you need to start planning for the next year.

Misti:

It's going to point out too, I've seen you with some of our clients, you actually walk them through the process of figuring those things out if they're not sure what the lifetime value of the client or if they're not sure what their conversion rate is. You can kind of walk them through the process of figuring out.

Matt:

Yeah, at the very least. At the end of day, I don't care that much that you give me your marketing budget. What I care about is that you actually understand what the lifetime value of your customer is and how many customers you need to acquire in order to grow your business and stay relevant.

Natalie:

It's simple math, it really is. It's really convoluted.

Matt:

It has to be simple because I'm like an eighth grade math level. It can't be any more complicated that.

Natalie:

There's so many tools online. If you go online and you just type in like budgeting and ROI tracking, there are so many automated tools that you can just download for free and that will at least get that process started for you but it is good to have somebody that you can just knock on their door and kind of get their feedback, that's the best, that's the best kind of feedback.

Matt:

We've set Misti, we've set up dashboards on a platform called Databox where it actually will pull, it's a pretty cool product by the way, a little shout out to Databox, not even sponsoring the show. You can take Google Analytics numbers, you can take numbers from your marketing software, from your C.R.M. and you can integrate it into Databox.

Misti:

All of your social medial platforms?

Matt:

Yup. All social media so that I can have a holistic view of my entire pipeline. So I can see who's at the top of my funnel, who's visiting my website, who's turning into a lead and which of those leads are converting into customers because I'm tracking it through the entire lifecycle of the buyer and I can even see based on like who's coming to my website where are they coming from. Are they coming from my emails, are they coming from social media, are they coming from organic or paid search. And now you can get smart about where you're investing your dollars because you can see wow, look at that, we're getting all of this traffic from paid search but it's costing us a fortune. Maybe we need to invest a little more on organic search because those organic visitors are turning into customers more frequently than the paid search.

 

That's where you can start to make adjustments and realize wow, I can actually save us a ton of money. Cut out all of this paid traffic and work on my SEO, just as one example.

Misti:

But sometimes you'll find the opposite. But that's what the Databox or a tool like that provides you, that flexibility to be able to see what is specific and relevant to you at that given time and make adjustments as you go.

Matt:

I also like a tool like that, whether it's Databox or something else because it gives you the ability to customize it and just put the numbers in that are relevant to maybe your senior leadership and that way they don't have to like jump from Google to the marketing platform and as a marketer you can give your ownership or your C-Suite, you can give them a very high level view of the sales and marketing funnel and that's really what they care about.

Natalie:

I'll talk about some other tools that you can use and ones that you already have in place most likely and if you don't they're free. Google Analytics. So I would say 90% of the people there have Google Analytics installed, in our industry, right? So, you can create custom dashboards right inside of Analytics, which include everything from your conversion funnel so you can see how many people are going to your car, how many people are dropping from your car and then you can also like track yes, your traffic and how many people are coming and what sources they are. It's better to take it one step further and actually look at that conversion funnel, what does that look like, how many clicks and visitors to conversions am I getting.

 

That's all done inside of analytics free and it's really simple. So perhaps we should do a follow up blog on how to do that.

Matt:

Yeah, that's a great place to start for sure. If you're not really doing any sort of tracking, Google Analytics it's the crawl, you have to start somewhere.

Natalie:

And as you get more in tune and like familiar with Google Analytics you'll realize it only tells you about 25% of the story. Doesn't really give you the full view. You'll get ready for looking at like that next level of conversion, whatever that is.

 

 

So there are things that you can get like Crazy Egg which shows you heat mapping and recording on your website so you could see-

Matt:

You like that, don't you?

Natalie:

I love it. You can see how people are actually navigating through your website.

Matt:

You love all the stalker tools.

Natalie:

Yes. I do. If they're there why not use them.

Matt:

Exactly.

Natalie:

A lot of people get afraid of that. They get afraid of that red tape but unfortunately why do you think you can't like those ads that pop up on your phone to buy that pair of socks or whatever. It's not because-

Matt:

Which I bought.

Natalie:

... your phone read your mind.

Matt:

So comfortable.

Misti:

Bombas?

Natalie:

They're so cool.

Misti:

You got the same ad. Shout out to Bombas.

Matt:

We must be in a similar demographic.

Natalie:

So yeah, Crazy Egg is a really good one and then there's another tool that I really, really like. I can't remember the name of it now that we've just ...

Matt:

Maybe should have wrote it down.

Natalie:

I should've wrote it down.

Misti:

With your pencil.

Natalie:

Yeah. We'll do a follow up and we'll put it up on the blog for you.

Misti:

We can put it in the show notes for you guys.

Natalie:

Yeah.

Misti:

With a list of resources.

Natalie:

There's tools that will show you like how customers are flowing through, where they're getting stock. Do you have links that are broken. You can consolidate all of those things into one tool. But that helps you track your ROI when you're budgeting for new technology and new initiatives and at the end of the day that's the only way to justify the money that's being allocated towards that channel, right?

Matt:

And did you mention the idea of tracking all of these software as a service products and doing a regular inventory and analysis on them because just to be transparent we're doing that right now with ourselves. I was thinking we're not the only ones who are probably struggling with this because, I'm assuming if you're even watching the show you're on the up and up and you're trying new things and you're innovative and you're looking to grow the business and so you're trying a lot of different software tools. Well, you may realize this or you may not realize this but most of these are built on automatic renewal systems. So, a lot of times you start, you buy the tool and the next thing you know, six months you stop using it but you're still paying for it and it's just slipping under the radar because it's like a $30 tool every month.

Natalie:

You need somebody to own that.

Matt:

Yeah. That's what I was trying to get at, and you've been owning it for us, so thank you. Thanks for saving us money. That's the idea is that you need to continually stop maybe quarterly and look at okay, what tools are we using, are they still all relevant, are there better solutions that can save us money and maybe help us do our job better.

Natalie:

I think vetting that out when you're budgeting and figuring out what software to use, that's like the second step. When you budget for the unexpected because those are the things that pop up and then the vetting out, like how we were talking about, do the demos, having your people do the demos and whatnot, you are going to get so overwhelmed and like all of these software, all these software as a service, the SAS products are going to get thrown in your face. Like Silicon Valley's having a great time just throwing them in your face and saying here's a solution, here's a solution.

Misti:

There's so much out there. There's a lot available.

Natalie:

Yeah. Use the ones that are popular. Why? Because they're going to be cheaper, they're trusted, you're going to see better reviews on them. Don't get one that's like, don't pick the software as a service or a solution for a certain particular aspect of your company that's new, that isn't reliable and doesn't have very many users. Give it some time to nurture.

Matt:

I just thought of and I wanted to ask you Misti because you were at Inbound last year. Were you in the conversation with Dharmesh who is the co-founder of HubSpot where he was talking about HubSpot it started to brand itself as the all in one marketing tool and then he was like well, that was sort of a mistake, no software company can do everything. That's a thing, right? Definitely keep that in my mind when we're out there looking for tools, right?

Misti:

Right. You don't want to over-complicate what you're doing. You can't be an expert in everything, you have to identify those places where something makes the best sense for you and that's where you have to channel your energy.

Natalie:

It's just like evaluating an employee, right? That person can't do everything.

Matt:

That's right. That's why by the way, that's part of the reason why we changed our name is because it was this idea that you can't have one thing that does everything. You have to have a stack. So there needs to be a technology stack in place and so you have a great marketing tool, you have a great C.R.M., you have a great website platform. Maybe there's a platform for B to C. Maybe there's a wholesale channel platform. There's no one size fits all solution. So, there really is a need more and more for somebody in the organization to own technology and to develop a full stack solution with the best tools in the industry for their specific use cases.

Natalie:

Yeah. You want to have a stock but you don't want to have, you don't always need what they call big macs.

Matt:

Triple-decker.

Natalie:

No triple-deckers.

Matt:

Oh man.

Natalie:

Just load up that peanut butter and jelly with the best stuff. Whatever.

Matt:

No club sandwiches?

Natalie:

Yeah.

Matt:

Oh man. All right, cool. Well, we should probably get wrapping up for today. I think this was a great conversation and I'm excited about learning more from you guys so I think the call to action today would be let us know how we can help talk through the concept of tracking ROI with your marketing and sales teams and I would love to have that conversation. Even though I have eighth grade math level, I do enjoy breaking down the numbers and showing you how you can grow your business in an economical way. So it's a fun conversation to have. So I would encourage you guys to do that. You can hit me up on the website with just the scheduling and consultation or just email me at mjohnson@spinstak.com. Would love to hear from you. Or just pick up the phone and call.

 

Then we'd also like you to engage with the content here today. We do send out our swag on a regular basis to people who love the show enough to comment or leave the review on iTunes or comment on YouTube or on a Facebook Live video, so we'd encourage you guys to do that and we will hook you up for sure.

Natalie:

That's what happens when you're not here. I don't know where people to go to listen, I can't remember. I'm not good on camera. I'm good about making the topics.

Matt:

We have a full stacked media solution. YouTube, we have podcast on iTunes and you can go to our blog at Spinstak.com. So, that's the big mac version of the show Grow Live. So we hope you guys enjoy it and we hope to see you soon here on Grow Live.

Natalie:

Yes. Thanks.

Misti:

See you guys next time.

Matt:

Bye bye.

Natalie:

Hey everybody. Thanks for joining us. If you're just getting started with us on Grow Live, be sure to check out some of our favorite episodes in the show notes.

Matt:

And don't forget that you can see us live on Facebook every Wednesday at noon or you can find us on YouTube and binge past episodes in full H.D.

Natalie:

If you found this helpful and you want to see more, leave us a review and we'll enter you for a chance to win some Grow Live swag. Thanks again, everybody.

 

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Topics: Grow Live, digital marketing, resources, industrial marketing, marketing tips, marketing tools, traditional marketing, sales professional, Sales, smarketing, sales enablement

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