Volume vs Efficiency: Which Marketing Strategy is Right For You?

Volume vs Efficiency: Which Marketing Strategy is Right For You?

Mike RozelleMike Rozelle

March 23, 2022

Success in marketing comes down to putting the right strategies in place to meet your desired goals. In general terms, you want to gain a larger audience, increase sales, cut costs, and attain a higher ROI. How to achieve that success can vary depending on what your goals and marketing strategies are.

An important thing to remember is that regardless of the stage that your business is in, to be successful, you should have a good picture of what success looks like for you and have a good plan for how you’re going to get there. Knowing what you need to do to be successful can be the difference between you and your team being wildly productive or actively losing time, money, and bandwidth.

Volume vs. Efficiency in Marketing

You’ve probably heard something similar to this before:

“Over the next two quarters, I want to scale x-metric (qualified leads, on-site sales, app installs) and drive down my acquisition costs by x-percent.”

This sounds like a reasonable goal, right? And this target can be applied to any business. The goal is simply to increase the number of customers and decrease the cost to attain them. Sounds like a perfect plan. But if we take a closer look, we find that two opposing forces are at work here, and you and your team will have to make a decision about which way to go.  

The marketing strategies at war with each other are volume vs efficiency.

The issue is that to increase the volume of customers, you’ll likely have to increase costs. By the same token, to decrease the costs, you most likely won’t be able to attain more customers. So, the problem comes down to quantity vs quality. In your quest to achieve your goal, it would be nice to have both. Both are important and both can spell success for your business. Unfortunately, volume and efficiency have never been great travel partners.

Planning for your home runs in marketing

You can think of volume vs efficiency in baseball terms. Everyone knows the name Babe Ruth. He’s a home run hitting legend. In his 22-year career, he racked up 714 home runs with 8,399 at bats. Yet, what people don’t remember is that he also struck out 1,330 times in his career.  

Now, let’s pretend that you are Babe Ruth and you’ve just finished a great season. But you’re already planning for next year to be even better. You want to hit even more home runs than this year. To reach that goal, you have two simple options:

  • Swing at more pitches
  • Swing at fewer pitches

You can do one or the other, but you can’t do both. Either of these strategies can help you achieve your goal, but each one requires a different set of tactics, cost, and level of risk.

Pros and Cons of Focusing on Marketing Volume

If you choose option 1 and you’re going to swing at more pitches, you are choosing volume over efficiency. By swinging at more pitches, you will be increasing your chances of hitting more balls out of the park. This also means that you’ll be willing to swing at some balls that are low and away or high and inside. In other words, you’re going to swing at some less desirable pitches because the sheer volume of swings you take might help you put more balls over the fence. On the other side of the coin, you will also be increasing your chances of swinging and missing. Your stats are probably going to be more volatile next year due to the placement of the ball, how many options you have, and your willingness to swing at more of them.

In marketing terms, a strategy of increasing volume comes down to increased testing. You will be willing to test new channels, new audiences, and new creative. Volume marketing can lead to more potential customers and higher sales, but you will also likely incur higher costs and devote more time and effort to a strategy that might not pay off when you compare the results to your existing benchmarks. The more tests you run, the more risk you assume. You will have to be prepared to see volatility in your key metrics.

Pros and Cons of Focusing on Marketing Efficiency

If you choose option 2 to swing at fewer pitches, you are choosing efficiency over volume. By choosing to swing at fewer pitches, you will be looking to only swing at those that are in the sweet spot. These are the pitches that will give you the best opportunity to knock one into the left-field bleachers. The odds that you will hit one over the fence will go up.

Putting this option into marketing terms, you and your team will be looking for the best opportunities for success rather than swinging for underperforming audiences, channels, and creative. Cutting out audiences that spend less with you, channels that cost too much, and creative that doesn’t resonate as well will free up resources, time, and capital that you can pour into the audiences, channels, and creative that work.  

Your Marketing Goals Determine Your Choice

Think of it in terms of :

       B2B: high-quality leads that represent the highest contract value

       B2C / eComm: high-value audiences that represent the greatest AOV or LTV

You can grow your business either way, but the tactical implications of choosing one over the other are not insignificant or trivial. It can be hard to rely on one or two channels to drive volume, but it can be equally hard to invest in those that aren’t delivering on your targets.

Your marketing success ultimately comes down to your goals, your risk tolerance, and employing a sound strategy regardless of whether it’s volume or efficiency-based. The key is to clearly outline your strategies and expectations and optimize your resources, time, and capital to give yourself the best opportunity for success. Remember that you and your growth partner must be on the same page or you might run into some very unpleasant conversations when it comes time to report on progress.

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