Unless you are an international corporation with a designated marketing department working with a budget of £20m per year, you need to track track track all of your marketing efforts.
You need to be able to answer questions like ‘where do the majority of your leads come from?’; and ‘how many leads did that newspaper advert bring you last month?’. Unless you are testing and tracking all of your marketing campaigns you don’t know how effective they really are. And if you don’t know how well each campaign is performing, how do you know whether to kill it dead or scale it up?
This is the beauty of marketing over the Internet – everything is so easy to track! With the correct tracking in place you can see how many people looked at your website last month, you can see how many people took the action that you wanted them to take (e.g. bought something, signed up to your mailing list etc.), you can see how long they stayed at your site, you can see if they are a unique visitor or a returning one – plus much more. What other marketing channel allows you such transparency in terms of the actions of your prospective customers?
With these kinds of metrics you can see precisely how effective the copy on your website is in bringing you new customers. For example, if you run an ecommerce site and get 1,000 visitors a month but only make 10 sales. This would give you a conversion rate of 1%, not that great, but armed with this knowledge you can work on improving this. You could first look at your keywords that you have optimised your pages for – perhaps the traffic you are getting is not as targeted as it could be. So I would have a look at my analytics stats to see which keywords are driving my traffic. If people searching for red widgets are finding your site but you only sell blue widgets then this would perhaps explain why a lot of your visitors weren’t buying.
After keywords, I would also look at my buying process. Is it confusing? Am I making my visitors jump through too many hoops before they can buy? I would analyse the buying process of say Amazon and see if I could emulate theirs somehow as I bet they have had tons of experts design their shopping cart process. If it only takes 3 clicks to buy something on Amazon, and it takes 12 clicks to buy something from your site – then people are likely to be dropping out of the buying process before you can close them. Holes in your shopping cart = less sales!
And this is just the start of what we can do. I haven’t even discussed split testing yet where you can test one marketing message against another – I’ll save that for another article. But I think you would agree there is a lot that we can test, track, and improve when looking at marketing over the internet. If we compare this to a more ‘traditional’ form of advertising like Yellow Pages we can quickly see how very limited they are in what we can track.
You call up the yellow book people and tell them that you want to run an advert. They ask what size you want to run and may or may not send you a template to fill in. You send it back and they run it in the next print. Ok, now what? You sit their waiting for your phone to ring. There is little else you CAN do. Other than asking every person that calls you how they heard about your business, you have no way of tracking the effectiveness of your Yellow Page placement.
Say you do question every person that calls you (which can actually put off some potential customers) and discover that last month you got 5 leads from the Yellow Pages, and managed to close 1 of them (aside: I have exaggerated these numbers as one business I spoke to got less than 5 leads in one year from the book!) But say you had a decent sized advert and you did get 5 leads, how do you work out the conversion rate of that advert? You don’t know how many people looked at your advert before they called you, so how do you measure the effectiveness of it – answer: you cant.
Perhaps you give the helpful Yellow Page sales guy a call that sold you the placement and tell him that you aren’t getting very good results. His solution? Buy a bigger ad!! So now you’ve increased your spend on an advertising channel without even knowing if your advert was that effective in the first place. All you will have done is turn a small poor performing advert into a large poor performing advert.
In fact the biggest problem with all print advertising (not just Yellow Pages) is that you aren’t able to track ‘impressions’ i.e. how many people SAW your advert. Unfortunately, without knowing how many people saw your advert before they took action – it is impossible to test, track, and thus improve your message.
Just to bring it back to the Internet for a moment, Google offers you a free tool so you can track how many impressions your website got. Therefore you will be able to see, for example, that after 100 impressions 2 people buy. So you tweak your marketing message on your homepage a little bit – for example, you might change the text on your buy button from “Buy Now” to “Add to Shopping Cart”. After another 100 impressions you can see that you now made 4 sales. This is powerful stuff; you literally just doubled your business from only changing a couple words.