Why marketers should embrace the ‘less is more’ mentality

For marketers, there can be too much of a good thing. Here’s how to narrow your focus and spend your money on the projects that matter.

Music legend Yngwie Malmsteen isn’t a fan of the phrase “less is more.”

In a 2011 documentary Metal Evolution, the guitar impresario, known for his over-the-top riffs, shares his feelings about the advice he sometimes gets to tone it down: “Less is more? How can that be? How can less be more? It’s impossible. More is more.”

“More is more.” Who can argue with that?

More vacations, more wine and more puppies might be the stuff of dreams, but if you’re a marketer, “more is more” is a poor strategy. More leads—if they’re the wrong leads—can do more harm than good.

Back when Groupon was still the rage, a lot of small businesses owners advertised steeply discounted deals only to lose a big chunk of change when customers began pouring through their doors. Many knew they might take a hit in the short term but concluded that it was worth it to gain new customers. Unfortunately, those elusive repeat customers never seemed to materialize. One London bakery owner lost $20,000—an entire year’s worth of profits—when 8,500 people signed up to buy a dozen cupcakes (102,000 in total) for 75 percent off the usual price. She called the Groupon deal her “worst ever business decision.”

In the same vein, marketers shouldn’t evaluate success by the number of leads they pull in or even how many new customers they attract. Instead of quantity, they should focus on quality—nurturing the right leads and the right customers. Google Analytics and other web analytics platforms can help marketers adopt a more customer-centric approach.

Here are three ways to better identify and land those “whales,” the 20 percent of customers who make up 80 percent of your business:

1. Understand your audience.

The first step to finding the best customers is to understand who they are. Start with your CRM to get basic information on visits and time spent on the site. You’ll want to dig deeper to better understand their needs and pain points.

Surveys are a great way to get to know your customers on a deeper level. If you want to avoid the hassle and expense of traditional surveys, Google Consumer Surveys provides real-time results through its publisher network and Google Opinion Rewards platforms. Whatever the method, you’ll want to understand what your customers do, where they come from and what they care about.

2. Segment the best customers.

With greater insights, you’ll be able to cull your data to identify the customers that provide the most value. Your CRM and web analytics programs can help you identify customers based on criteria, such as high-purchase value and repeat purchases (look for multiple, high-value sales).

At the same time, you’ll want to determine segments that aren’t performing well, which will help you reduce waste and make your marketing spend go even further. A high churn rate could indicate a problem with a product or service—but it might also signal that you are attracting one-time customers who gravitate to low pricing and offer little in the way of lifetime value.

3. Go for the low-hanging fruit.

If you’re looking to stretch marketing dollars, you’ll need to be smart about how you allocate resources. For most businesses, that means prioritizing existing customers and users who have interacted with your brand in some way. Web analytics platforms like Google Analytics allow you to deliver customized messaging to audiences—or remarketing—based on user behavior like viewing certain pages and products, or placing items in an online cart and then abandoning them. Beyond messaging, another option is to sync remarketing campaigns with surveys, allowing customers to provide critical feedback on why they left the site or didn’t complete the purchase.

As people, we are pre-conditioned to want more, but businesses should resist giving in to impulse. A marketing strategy rooted in actionable insights and data-driven goals will outperform one driven by “more is more” every time.

Bonnie Clark is the communications director for JConnelly, a full service communications firm. A version of this article originally appeared on the JConnelly blog.

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