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marketing to salesDigital spending now dominates marketing budgets, according to a report by Econsultancy in partnership with Oracle. Seventy-seven percent of companies are spending more on digital marketing in 2015, an increase of 8 percent from the previous year. Most of this increased spending is going toward content marketing, lead generation, SEO and email marketing for customer engagement and retention.

Companies are spending more on digital marketing because it works. But in order to make digital marketing work for your business, it’s important to take steps to make sure your increased marketing efforts translate into more sales.

Leveraging Inbound Marketing

It’s no coincidence that the methods attracting the biggest budgeting increases in Econsultancy’s study are inbound marketing methods. In contrast to outbound methods such as cold calling, traditional ads and paid mailing lists, inbound marketing leverages activities prospects are already engaged in, such as searching Google, following your blog or reading emails from a list they have opted into.

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Inbound marketing methods such as this generally yield a better return on investment because they attract prospects who are already interested in your subject, making them more predisposed to buy. For example, HubSpot has found that companies who blog are 13 times more likely to see a return on investment from their marketing expenditures. Blogging boosts your search engine results and also gives you an opportunity to attract social media followers by syndicating your blog content. For instance, Lifelock has generated over 300,000 Facebook likes by syndicating its blog content.

Analyzing Your Traffic

Inbound marketing methods such as blogging work best when combined with analytics tools that provide information about who’s visiting your site. For example, Texas-based jeweler Brian Gavin Diamonds saw dramatic benefits from using Google Enhanced Ecommerce. The company’s e-commerce site generates 95 percent of its business, most of which comes from couples 18 to 45 shopping for engagement rings.

They used Google’s analytics tools to study customer behavior to discover what customers did before checkout and what prompted them to leave a product in the shopping cart without making a purchase. By tracking this information, Brian Gavin Diamonds identified $500,000 in lost revenue and made adjustments to improve user shopping experience, translating into a 60 percent increase in customer checkout rates.

Qualifying Your Leads

Focusing your sales efforts on qualified leads can multiply the effectiveness of your marketing. Network security provider Blue Coat shifted its marketing focus to qualified leads by taking steps such as adding profiling information to its lead-capture forms. By adopting lead-qualifying strategies, Blue Coat grew its contact database by 11 percent, increased its marketing-qualified leads by 25 percent and reduced lead rejection rate by 20 percent.

Turning Leads into Conversions

Getting leads is half the battle in winning at sales; converting leads is the other half. Making adjustments to your sales funnel to boost your conversion rate will boost your marketing efficiency and increase your sales. For instance, contact import software provider CloudSponge had a webpage design showcasing three features and a sign-up button. By designing a new look with an added demo button and checklist of benefits, CloudSponge increased its lead conversion rate by 33 percent.

Cultivating Repeat Business

Your marketing bread and butter is your repeat customers. How well you turn one-time sales into loyal repeat business will ultimately determine your sales performance. Online shoe and clothing provider Zappos generates 75 percent of its sales from repeat business by combining strategic real-time inventory management with superior customer service that includes overnight delivery and free returns. Gearing your marketing strategy toward keeping your repeat customers satisfied will pay off in repeat sales.

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