Driving Marketing Efficiency: How to Do More with Less

To truly scale a company’s marketing impact, leaders often set their sights on the holy grail of marketing: delivering increased volume and improved efficiency. In today’s operating environment – with rising interest rates, increasing media costs, longer sales cycles and heavily scrutinized budgets – many marketing leaders feel pressure to prioritize efficiency and plan budgets with a clear directive: do more with less. To guide your planning efforts, we recommend assessing your marketing strategy, operations and tactics to help renew focus and increase efficiency, whether measured by return-on-ad-spend (ROAS), pipeline-to-spend ratios, marketing as a percent of revenues, lifetime value to customer acquisition cost (LTV:CAC) or your own ROI calculation.

Strategic Considerations:
Zoom Out for Big Levers

When looking for efficiency, it’s often easy to dive straight into tactical and operational optimizations. While these will contribute to incremental gains and compound over time, it’s important to start with a review of strategic choices that have the potential to provide a greater leap in efficiency.

Consider your company’s unique value proposition and current performance — and how each might be impacted under different, hypothetical scenarios.

  • Are you targeting the best-fit buyers? Has that profile changed due to the current environment?
  • Could messaging or positioning be sharpened to better appeal to your target market?
  • Would you have more success by narrowing your geographic or industry focus?
  • Would introducing a new product or feature unlock massive gains?
  • Is there an opportunity to raise or adjust your pricing and packaging?
  • Would shifting resources to expansion and retention be prudent?

Answers to these questions can help inform your tactical and operational path, including where to focus your resources, when to experiment and how best to execute, and ultimately lead to step-function increases in marketing efficiency.

One common strategic adjustment we’ve seen drive increased marketing effectiveness and efficiency: reframing your marketing message. As buyers’ priorities shift, you may find that framing your value proposition around protecting current revenues — instead of accelerating growth — may resonate well with your customers and prospects. Consider, too, whether certain sectors or target market segments are likely to prove more resilient in the current economic environment and may be worth increased focus.

Tactical Considerations:
Audit and Optimize Your Funnels

With your strategic priorities in place, you can consider an overhaul of tactics and operations. Begin first by taking stock of your marketing funnels and contributing tactics. Diagram your customer journey — from first impression to revenue — and conduct a quantitative and qualitative audit to measure which journeys have the most volume, where dollars are being spent and how conversion rates are trending between each step. Where conversion rates have declined, understand any changes that have occurred and how those could be remediated. Often, going through the journey yourself or watching replays of users interacting with your website or product can illuminate qualitative takeaways and points of friction not visible in a spreadsheet.

Equipped with your audit, you can prioritize steps to optimize your customer journeys. One of the fastest ways to drive efficiency is to reallocate media spend. Our 2022 marketing benchmark analysis – which includes data from growth stage companies across multiple industries — showed that while very few marketing teams are decreasing media spend, nearly all are reallocating budget to core performance areas, high-confidence tests or programs driving more incremental lift. For example, many consumer businesses are holding spend on Facebook flat and instead testing channels like TikTok and TV, or moving remarketing dollars to prospecting. In the B2B landscape, our data show many companies shifting budgets away from lead generation toward more high-intent channels and targeted paid social. Besides media reallocation, we’ve found that working backwards through the buyer journey and focusing on the most common conversion paths often yields the quickest time to value. Even simple headline tests on top web pages or new creative can yield massive improvements.

*Note: Summit portfolio companies can access these benchmarks, industry-specific funnels and more tactical funnel recommendations here.

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Operational Considerations:
Assess People, Process and Tools

Often, examining your tactics uncovers opportunities for operational improvement, too. At Summit, we frequently use the lens of people, process, and tools to help uncover efficiency gains.

People: Do you have the right individuals focused on the right projects and programs? Some leaders have found benefits from reorganizing their teams or leveraging outsourced contractors or agencies instead of adding headcount. Others have found cost savings by insourcing, especially in paid media management. You may also get more yield by focusing your team on optimizations and edits instead of net new production — updating existing website copy instead of writing new content or editing existing video footage into new cuts instead of producing more.

Process: In our experience, speed and collaboration can also drive efficiency. Look for ways to streamline your processes and share learnings by considering ways in which your team might move more quickly and get changes to market faster. Embrace experimentation, decentralize decisions and move quickly on easily reversible choices.

  • Are there meetings that can be eliminated or approval steps that can be streamlined?
  • Would adding a forcing function like a daily or weekly scrum actually create momentum?
  • Are your team members communicating and collaborating effectively?
  • Are you sharing learnings within your marketing team and applying learnings from one team to another?

Wins in paid search can often be applied to SEO and vice versa. Insights from social media can inform more effective messaging. In B2B marketing, enhanced collaboration can improve the handoff between the marketing and sales teams, helping to prioritize the highest-intent opportunities (note: time to contact has a dramatic impact on conversion rates!) and to better inform targeting.

Tools: Finally, assess the tools your team relies on to execute and any potential gaps. Are you getting the most out of the resources you have in place? We often see improperly configured tools with messy data lead to poorer decision making or customer experiences. Are there tools you can eliminate — ones you’re paying for that go unused month after month? Create an inventory and poll your team on which are truly needs vs. wants. Are there additional tools or functionality already in place at your organization that could help your marketing team be more efficient? A 2022 Gartner survey reveals marketers leverage only 42% of their martech stack capabilities vs. 58% in 2020. Refreshing an email automation, launching new triggers, or simply increasing the frequency and reach of your CRM marketing can provide surprising boosts.

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Cae Keys

Marketing efficiency can be improved strategically, tactically and operationally — and in our experience, some adjustments will yield results faster than others. Like any marketing program, it’s important to take a portfolio approach to your improvement plan, with a mix of short-, medium- and long-term initiatives, and to consider the time horizon and halo effects of each. While reducing your spend may quickly drive short-term efficiency, it may harm future growth. Conversely, investing in content production, organic and referral initiatives may initially lower return on investment, but ultimately yield considerable benefits. To help drive efficiency in omnichannel environments and account for halo effects, we recommend monitoring multiple metric levels — blended, marketing program-specific, paid vs. non-paid, channel-specific, etc. — and monitoring not just how metrics are trending in silo, but in relation to one another. And in B2B in particular, you may need to rethink your attribution method.

A commitment to do more with less forces us to pause, evaluate and identify what is mission critical to effectively reach and satisfy customers. This is often an opportunity to identify waste, address weaknesses, and become more effective and stronger going forward. Organizations that can do so at scale will achieve the greatest marketing efficiency and be in a better position to grow.

Related Experience

The content herein reflects the views of Summit Partners and is intended for executives and operators considering partnering with Summit Partners. For a complete list of Summit Partners portfolio companies, please click here.

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