Back to Marketing Masterminds

How to Optimize Your Marketing Strategies and Grow Revenue

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale and an award-winning marketing professional.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How to Optimize Your Marketing Strategies and Grow Revenue

How to Optimize Your Marketing Strategies and Grow Revenue

Today, we’re thrilled to have James Kaatz, co-founder and CEO at Illumination Marketing, join us to discuss various aspects of modern marketing strategies. We will explore the critical role of CRM integration in enhancing customer interactions, uncover unexpected successes in social media tactics, dissect essential PPC metrics, and reveal effective email marketing techniques.

Additionally, we’ll discuss how to align content creation with marketing objectives, the importance of web design, common pitfalls in marketing, leveraging data analytics, emerging trends, and the transformative use of ChatGPT in marketing. Let’s dive in!

CRM Integration

MTS – How does integrating CRM into marketing strategies enhance customer interactions?

James – It’s vitally important because you have to be able to track every step of the customer lifecycle journey — even the transition from marketing to sales. If you don’t know what you’re talking about in advance, it’s a lot harder to tailor the conversation to that prospect’s needs.

MTS – Do you need to understand your customers’ niche and needs in order to adapt your strategy?

James – Absolutely. The best marketing solves a very specific problem for a very specific person. The more that you know about that person in advance, the more you can tailor that marketing to that specific pain point that will get them to take action in the next step, whatever that next step is.

Social Media Tactics

MTS – Can you share an unexpected success story from one of your social media campaigns that surprisingly increased sales?

James – When we started our businesses about seven years ago, we talked to a bunch of restaurants. There was one locally, and we told them that if they harness the power of social media, they’ll see a massive jump in revenue almost overnight. This is especially the case in the restaurant industry because it’s such a low-ticket item, and the barrier to entry is much smaller. Someone’s willing to plop down $20, $30, or $40 to eat a meal vs. $2,000, $3,000, or $4,000 to do a high-ticket offer.

We started this whole social media campaign with them and used a multifaceted approach. We wanted to make sure that we were getting in new customers while getting old customers to come back — and we did it through social media and advertising. We created a lot of marketing collateral for them (high-quality pictures, social media posts, and banners that could go up to help with that ad set). When someone saw it, they could recognize the ad, and if they came into the restaurant, they would see that same ad. Recall is what we work so hard on in marketing.

Long story short, we put all these things into the process, and in the first 30 days, they saw an increase in revenue of 23.3%. Within 12 months, they had doubled their revenue at that restaurant, and within about 18 months, they had opened two more locations. That’s the power of marketing with social media — if you hit the right message at the right time with the right person, and you know the data of the industry that you’re going after, the effectiveness and the revenue that comes with it skyrockets through the roof.

I do a lot of public speaking around here, and I tell everybody that the magical formula of marketing is reach x frequency x messaging = effective marketing. You have to reach enough people who are interested in your products. That’s where knowing your customer avatar (ideal customer profile) comes in. You have to reach them enough times. All the industry data points to the marketing rule of seven, which says someone has to see a message at least seven times before they’ll take action on it. You must also reach them with the right message for their pain point.

If you hit all three aspects, it’s just a matter of numbers and math. You know that 1% to 3% of the market is ready to buy at any given time, so if you target that 3% of the market and you reach them enough times, at the end of the day, it’s very, very predictable as far as marketing goes. It’s not taking a shotgun approach of spraying and praying. It’s taking that sniper approach and ensuring you hit your target.

PPC Metrics

MTS – Which metrics do you consider most critical in evaluating PPC campaign performance and why?

James – Revenue. Ultimately, it’s all about revenue. As far as the campaign’s effectiveness goes, it’s got to be conversions. You have to know how much it costs to acquire a client, and that’s how much you can spend on marketing and advertising. You have to have a positive return on that over a longer time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a one-to-one upfront, but if you know your client will spend $1,000 over a year, you can pay whatever your margins are to acquire that client (e.g., $200 a lead).

Many small businesses, especially, fall short when they see that. They think they have to have that $200 in month one. No, not necessarily. If you get enough of these people over an extended period, then you’re making money in the long term.

Email Marketing

MTS – What has been one of your most effective email marketing techniques?

James – Great question. Testing and measuring is the number one thing to do. So, I’ll put it this way: We have vast experience working in our agency. We’ve worked with everything from restaurants to salons to healthcare to very long-term projects. We’ve also worked with rolling ticket projects (e.g., mortgage brokers). Tailoring that message through knowing your customer is the best approach.

For a restaurant, if you put a picture and say, “This is the greatest food in the world, click here to reserve your table,” it’s going to work a lot better than a long story-based framework of man who says, “I was so hungry, and I decided I needed to go find somewhere to eat, so I researched all the places around, and lo and behold, I found this one restaurant with five stars on Yelp.” 

At the same time, you can’t translate that over to something like us with a marketing company where I post a photo in an email and say, “Click here to schedule a call.” However, if we take a story-based approach, it works so much better for our industry. Here’s an example — let’s take a client who had no idea where to start with his marketing dollars, so he reached out to us. We took him through a tailored process. After trying it himself, he realized he should have just gone to us in the first place, and then we would have been getting him leads from day one.

So, the best email marketing tips and tricks are knowing your customers and how they interact with your content in order to drive results. It all boils down to that customer. There is no one-size-fits-all best practice with email campaigns other than that one. It’s about what kind of business you’re trying to sell. Are you selling shirts, or is it some complex solution like marketing services that, over time, requires you to develop trust with the customer? For a $10 shirt, you don’t need nearly as much trust as you need in a $5,000 or $ 10,000-a-month marketing company.

Content Creation

MTS – How do you ensure your content is aligned with your marketing objectives?

James – That’s a great question as well. Response rates would be the best way to see how people respond to what you do. No matter if it’s social media, direct mail, or even a television ad (if you’re still going the traditional route), if your call to action at the end of each ad is to go to this one website address or call this one phone number and it’s tracked specifically to that ad, you can see the response on how effective it is. How many people clicked on this link? How many people liked it? How many people shared it? How many people watched the video? What percentage of the video did they watch? Did they go to your website? Did they take this action that you’re trying to get them to do? At the end of the day, it’s how you’re influencing people, and that’s marketing. That’s the only way to figure out if it’s working or not.

Web Design

MTS – How does effective web design contribute to higher sales funnel efficiency? 

James – It’s absolutely crucial to the whole process. I previously worked in the automotive niche and was in management for a very big agency. I used to joke with car dealers, telling them that a good website won’t sell a car, but a bad website will keep them from selling a car. It’s all opportunity cost.

A good user experience (UX) has so many benefits. It will help with your conversion rates because it will get people to take action. Also, it will help you with your search engine optimization in the long run, as it reduces pogo sticking and bounce rates and signals to Google that your content is effective. If someone can find what they’re looking for quickly and take action to the next step, it’s a win-win for everybody, and it becomes the core of all your digital marketing activities.

I like to ask people this: If you run a social media ad, where do you point people back? It’s your website. If you run a pay-per-click ad, SEO, television ad, radio ad, direct mail piece, flyers, or billboards, you point people back to your website, so user experience becomes vitally important for everything that you’re doing. You need to take care of your website first before you even think about doing any of your other marketing activities. 

Common Mistakes

MTS – What’s a common marketing mistake that companies should avoid to protect their brand and overall sales?

James – One thing that a lot of brands and people don’t necessarily understand is that posting on social media doesn’t mean marketing. Marketing needs to be very strategic in what you do and how you’re trying to build what people feel and think about you. Small businesses are especially terrible with that. They believe that if they have a pressure washing business and post that they have a pressure washer, it’s great. They don’t promote it to anyone, and it doesn’t reach anyone. They don’t put it in Facebook groups or anything like that.

That’s not something a big brand (like Coca-Cola) will do. Big brands are going to be very strategic about what they do at whatever time of year it is, and they’ll make sure that it all goes in line with their brand promise and the other advertising and marketing they have. For example, Coca-Cola used the polar bear campaign a few years ago. Everywhere you looked, there was a polar bear holding a Coke, so that ad sense carried through.

So, one of the biggest mistakes we constantly see businesses make is not being strategic and well-thought-out enough to build a brand. Direct response is not enough to solve the problem or at least see the doubt in someone’s mind that they have a problem that that company can help them solve.

Data Analytics

MTS – How do you leverage analytics to refine your marketing strategies?

James – We look at everything we can — our Google Analytics, social media data, CRM data, what closes on what campaign, how many phone calls we got from each campaign, the website visits that we get from each campaign, and how it translates into how many pages they go to, how much time they spend on our site, etc. That goes just beyond how many lead forms they put in.

Whenever we post a video of the average length, we see if someone is engaged in a video. We know that that’s an engaged customer, so we can retarget them through different means to get analytics through an enhanced response. We measure something every step of the way — how many emails get opened, what subject lines get the best open rate, what kind of photos and colors we use — in order to make sure that we’re putting the most efficient and effective ads and marketing messages together to help our business grow. 

Future Trends

MTS – What emerging marketing trends should businesses prepare for?

James – Generative AI is probably the biggest thing right now, especially with OpenAI and the API keys. Every program in the history of everything uses those APIs. Facebook has generative AI, and Google has generative AI answers, so if you’re doing search engine optimization, it will significantly change in the next twelve months.

As far as putting out content, you can now create AI videos with the snap of your fingers. That has significantly shifted the world. Going beyond marketing, you can now use AI voices to do cold calling, and large language models can have intelligent conversations with people on the phone. Half the time, people don’t even realize it’s AI. Going even a step beyond that, you can clone a voice through AI; you can take one of the most famous actors in the world, like Morgan Freeman or Matthew McConaughey, and put a minute of their voice into AI, and it can clone it and say everything in their voice and phrases.

The way AI is going is kind of scary. You can almost duplicate anybody without them having to do anything. When you look into the future, you wonder how that will impact us and where we’re at in two, five, and 10 years. AI is getting better and better every year, so you may wonder if people become obsolete at that point or if the only thing that matters in marketing is the best prompt engineer. These things are coming down the pipe that we haven’t even begun to explore as a society, or at least as marketers. We are just now hitting the tip of the iceberg, but it will go much deeper, and it’s an interesting time to do what we do.

MTS – Are you scared that traditional marketing will become extinct in the era of AI, or will there always be jobs for good marketers?

James – I’m not afraid at all. I don’t think jobs are going away. I believe the jobs that we do are just changing. When Alexa came out and voice searches started, everyone thought it would kill SEO and Google. Turns out, people don’t use it all that much to search stuff online and they still go to Google. Just because something might look intimidating up front doesn’t mean it will fundamentally eliminate jobs. All it does is change the way that we try to structure things.

As an example, even though they’re putting SGE answers in Google right now, as long as there’s a Google, there will always be a way to optimize an answer to be number one in Google. Also, there will be so many people who don’t trust the SGE answers and still want to go to the organic results or ads. As long as there’s a Google, Facebook, or television, someone will always want to consume their media that way. When people want to consume their media in a particular way, there will always be someone who helps you get your message in front of the people on those platforms. That’s my thought on it.

Here are more examples: We had the radio 100 years ago, and then 90 years ago, the TV was invented. It didn’t kill the radio star, even though people thought it would. Fast forward even more, and 40 years ago, the internet was created, and people believed it would kill radio and television completely. It didn’t. Then Google was created in 1998. Facebook came in 2004, and everybody thought it would kill Google and radio. YouTube started in 2005, and Netflix as a streaming service in 2007. Everybody thought it was going to kill television and movies, but it didn’t. It only killed Blockbuster.

Yes, AI will change everything for the better as long as we go in that direction. As far as what we do at our agency, SEO is the core, and it has become infinitely easier since ChatGPT came out in 2022. It will get easier and harder at the same time, as those who understand it and the interplay between how the algorithms work will be able to get further ahead more quickly, but it will also close the gap for those willing to learn.

Using ChatGPT in Marketing

MTS – What is the best use for ChatGPT in marketing, and what are you using it for?

James – We use it for everything — to flesh out ideal customer profiles and help with customer avatars, to help with ad hooks, to help with copywriting, to help with long-form stories, and to help with SEO article outlines.

We use the MACE framework. It does such a great job in a minute, which would take us an hour to research. Also, it’s comparable on that level where there is a little bit of a difference between human writers and AI writers right now, but AI writers are getting better and better every day.

With some tools, it’s difficult to tell the difference between an AI writer and a human writer. At this point, AI is only as smart as you train it to be. Those who understand that can engineer their prompts to help them achieve their jobs. Life gets so easy for them, and it’s infinitely easier than it was two years ago. It goes so much further beyond that, too. You can code programs with ChatGPT. Good Lord, who knows how far it goes? I only look at its marketing aspects, but, in theory, AI can help with every aspect of society.