Online Marketing Success: It’s in the numbers.

1If you want your company’s online marketing to be successful you need to pay attention to the numbers. I would argue with anyone that the ability to quantify, test, and optimize is what makes digital marketing trump all other forms of marketing. I do believe there is value in other forms of marketing but no other form of marketing can match online marketing for its capability to be measured and improved upon.

The idea for this post came when I was at the gym the other day. I have been on a getting fit mission for about 8 to 9 months now. Although I am definitely not a fitness expert I do know that much like anything else you want to achieve you need a clear set of goals. You cannot just say I want to get a flatter stomach or I want to get toned. How do you really know when you reach a goal that is that generic. No the true magic comes when you tie your goals to numbers. In my case I set a weight loss goal of reaching 200 pounds (after all I cannot be an overweight superhero). Once I set that goal the obvious next question was – How Do I Reach That Goal? That answer to that question also revolved around numbers. I decided I would set a calorie burn goal for my gym trips. I started with a goal of 300 calories per visit. After a few trips I realized that calorie burn goal was just not going to do it for the time I wanted to obtain my goal by. I went from 300 to 500 and tested that goal. Once again I realized that goal to was to low to obtain my goal. I went to 700 calorie goal and then started to see the results I wanted.

Okay, enough about the fitness. Let’s get to how that story relates to online marketing. It amazes me the amount of business owners I meet that have not even tracked the traffic to their websites. After all Google Analytics is free. It is not enough to track your websites traffic however.

To really make a difference in the success of your online marketing efforts you need several things

  • A clearly defined set of goals – What do you want to achieve?  Do you want to average 100 visitors a day to your website? What percentage of those visitors do you want to convert to leads or sales? These goals need to be S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable,Attainable,Relevant, and time bound) goals.
  • A strategic marketing plan created to reach those goals. Once you know where you want to go, you can start to define the steps to get there. Several factors come into play here
    • Who is your target market and what is the best way to reach them online?
    • What methods do we apply our budget to in order to get the most bang for our buck?
    • Who in your organization is going to be responsible for various aspects of your online campaigns or do you outsource it to a marketing agency?
  • Is your website ready? There are two aspects to the answer of this question. First from a technical standpoint can the current structure of your hosting plan handle the influx of traffic that will be produced from the marketing efforts. The worst thing that can happen is that your online marketing starts working like gangbusters and then your website goes down resulting in loss of leads, sales, and reputation. The other part of the answer revolves around optimization. When I say that the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is search engine optimization. Although important that is not the sort of optimization I am talking about. What I mean is website optimization. Some aspects of website optimization are listed below.
    • Is your website user-friendly? – Is it easy for end users to navigate.
    • Is the primary functions of your business clear? Many company websites come across as vague and/or try and say too much or in terms to technical for their target market.
    • Do you use landing pages to send visitors to targeted solutions? (Especially if you offer multiple services or products)
    • Is the format and structure conducive to generating  leads and sales?
    • Is your contact information easily accessible and clear?
    • Do you have good calls to action in place?
    • Is a method for tracking in place and set up to focus on numbers defined by your goals?

Once you have a clear set of goals, a strategic online marketing plan, and your website is at least ready for the initial traffic you can then begin to study the data. Once you have a good amount of data you can start to implement tests to optimize your results.

Some online marketing tests that can be instituted include

  • A/B Split test of landing pages to test numerous elements of the page including calls to action, images, colors, format, copy, etc.. It is important to only test one aspect of the page at a time for the best results. You should also determine an adequate amount of time to run the test to get a large enough sample of data.
  • Ad headlines, graphics, and copy. If you are using display ads, search engine marketing ads, remarketing ads, or other offsite ads these can all be tested and optimized.
  • Website changes – You can test everything from layout, colors, call to action placement, intake form placement, images, headlines, offers, navigation, opt ins, etc.. Once again don’t test more than one thing at a time.
  • Inbound marketing – If you are doing content marketing you can test various distribution channels, content types, formatting, calls to action, opt-ins, etc..

There is even more that can be tested and you should always be testing and optimizing.  Do all your testing and optimization with your businesses primary goals in mind.

Here is a scenario to show how you can start to apply goals to numbers and apply action to increase these numbers and hence obtain business goals.

In examining your analytics for the first quarter you see you had 15000 overall visitors. If you see that month to month you were seeing an increase of 10% more visitors a month a reasonable goal may be to increase overall traffic in the second quarter by 20%. So you can set your goal for the second quarter to 18000 visitors. Now lets say also during the first quarter you converted 6% of all web traffic to leads (900 leads from 15000 visitors) . If you converted at the same rate for the second quarter you will have increased your lead total by 180 (1,080 leads over 900 in the first quarter).  To achieve the increase in web visitors you can look at your traffic sources and decide what may be the best source to tap into. Let’s say your top three traffic sources came from organic search traffic (40% or 6000 visits for the quarter), email marketing traffic (20% or 3000 visitors) , and pay per click traffic  (13% or 2000 visits).  Looking at the conversion numbers for each Organic – (180 leads 3%) Email -(180 leads 6%) PPC- (80 leads 4%)  we can see that organic and email are bringing in the same amount of leads but email is doing it at twice the conversion rate of organic search traffic. PPC is bringing in less leads at what is more than likely a higher cost. We wont go into it here ( Good topic for next post) but you will need to determine your cost per lead as well s % of those leads that turn to sales in order to correctly determine your course of action.

So based on these numbers we can determine the best action we can take to bring in more email traffic as that not only will that increase traffic but convert more of that traffic into leads. To do this we could increase email frequency,  increasing the size of the list (via opt ins, cross promotions, buying a list, etc..) or both. We will want to monitor this due to adding new people to a list or increasing frequency may decrease the conversion percentage. Lets say that via current trends we could expect at least a 15% increase to our traffic number for the second quarter from all other traffic sources. That puts us at 17250. 750 short of our goal. That means in order to make our goal we need to generate 750 more visitors from email marketing an increase of 25%. With that number in mind you should be able to determine the amount of subscribers you need to add and/or the amount of increased emails you need to send. To obtain that increase you may need to do both. Be warned however that you don’t want to increase frequency so much that you “burn” the email list making it less of an asset.

So I hope this helps put the value of numbers and tracking your online marketing into perspective.

We know this can be overwhelming and often too much for small and mid size businesses to handle in-house. If you feel you need a Super Team to help you reach your business goals via online marketing we are here and ready to serve – Give us a call at 843-606-0336.

About Doug Greathouse (aka Captian Arcimedia)

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