For a long time, an integrated marketing strategy meant events, advertising, direct mail, public relations, telemarketing, and even a website if you were really on the cutting edge. Success metrics were dubious, but that didn’t matter so much as long as the department was busy and producing materials. How fast things change.
An integrated marketing strategy today is more often defined as blogging, webinars, search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, email marketing and other online activities. To be certain, there is still value in traditional forms of marketing, but our research shows the growing prevalence of online marketing.
Consider the following from the report Online Marketing for Professional Services Firms:
- More than 77% of firms generate some new business leads online
- Firms generating more than 40% of their leads online grow 4X faster than those with no online leads
- The greater the online lead generation, the greater the profitability
Impressive Numbers for Management Consulting
While the statistics above favor an online path for firms, they also offer an interesting snapshot of management consulting and the online activities of that segment of professional services.
For example, management consulting firms generate about 16% of new business leads online, and they experience substantial growth and profitability rates (45% and 25%, respectively). Given the importance of the relationship we found between online leads and financial health, there is great potential for even more profitable growth.
Online Tools With the Biggest Impact
What are these and other high-growth firms doing – and what can they do more of? The research offers perspective.
Topping the list is SEO, web analytics, blogging, usability testing, white papers, social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) and email marketing. Advertising, either through banner ads or pay-per-click (PPC), trended toward the bottom of the list. Even with the additional interaction that comes with online ads, advertising doesn’t get the same level of result as narrative-based content so it has less of a place in today’s integrated marketing strategies.
Other techniques used by high-growth firms are updating their websites regularly (once a week), and re-designing their websites with some frequency. More than 80% of high-growth firms redesigned their websites within the last year.
The high-growth firms also provided online contact forms for visitors use. These are the primary ways to convert visitors to leads, and they should be part of any online and integrated marketing strategy.
Start Small or Start Big?
Implementing an online marketing program with all these elements takes time and resources. Many firms don’t have the resources to start or escalate a fully loaded program, so they opt for doing one project in hopes of understanding the process making some progress. However, in our experience, it’s better to embrace a few of the techniques even at a lower intensity.
For example, blogging without a content calendar, SEO and an offer strategy (e.g. “click to download a Guide on this topic”) means the content may not be consistent, focused on a theme, or even be seen by many visitors. For visitors to become leads, the techniques have to work together because they reach prospects in different places and at different times of the buying cycle.
The takeaway: pick the online tools that you can comfortably handle, and bundle them together with a reasonable quantity of deliverables. This will serve as its own integrated marketing strategy and then start a lead flow.