Inbound Marketing Delivers Deeper Insight
Some time ago I finally managed to pass the test for a Black Belt in Karate. My Sensei handed me the belt and passed on his congratulations, but then he added: “Now you can finally begin learning properly.” In answer to my questioning look he said, “You have now learned enough to be able to teach yourself how to improve. Watch your form, power and speed in a mirror as you work out; analyze your performance and make it better, one workout at a time.”
Do you do the equivalent of watching your marketing performance and work on ways to improve it? Most people don’t. Most people design a campaign, website, Landing Page or Ad, put it into play and never evaluate its actual performance. They don’t monitor and measure it, analyze it and then improve upon it.
So, just how do you evaluate your marketing performance?
Pick the Marketing Element You Want to Improve
First select the aspect of your performance which you would like to improve. Best to work on one aspect of it at a time, as by changing only one thing at a time you avoid not knowing which change worked for the better.
Let’s assume that you want to generate more revenue (don’t we all?). Attracting more visitors to your website should increase the number of times you convert a visitor into a client and thus generate more revenue. But be careful; this only holds true if you attract visitors interested in your solution. Attracting just any visitor isn’t the answer; you want more qualified visitors to land on the site to convert more of them into clients. So your choice of metric to improve performance should not just be the number of visitors who land on the site, but it should include the number of conversions of these visitors into clients as well.
Use Tools to Track the Metrics
Google Analytics (GA) is probably the best-known tool for measuring traffic to a website. It’s free, gets more powerful via regular updates, and it reveals traffic trends via lovely graphics and charts. If you are interested merely in knowing about your visitors in the aggregate rather than the specific, GA is the tool for you. You can find out in general terms where your visitors came from, their average time on site, the average number of pages they explored, the most commonly explored pages and so on. GA is quickly installed on your site (your IT function will need to add its tracking code to your site’s pages – about 10 minutes of work).
If you want to know more about the behaviour of your individual visitors on your site, you will need to install an additional tool to track each one’s digital footprints across your site. Marketing Automation products like Infusionsoft, ActOn! or Pardot are the answer here. They record every page a visitor examines, the time spent on every page, his or her entry and exit points, and details of the content downloaded when they have converted from a nameless visitor to a prospect.
Analyze the Result
Now record your chosen metric for a specific time period and note any conditions that may have occurred and impacted the result (a public holiday, for example, or a special promotion you ran).
Think about the result and try to understand what it means within the context of your marketing efforts. If you are monitoring website conversions and traffic for example, if you attracted more people, focus on what you did to do that and see if you can pinpoint why it worked. Who did it bring to the site who has never visited before? Why?
Continuous Process Improvements
The mantra for CPI is: Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. So, as Barbara Bush was so fond of saying, “Just do it”. If you’ve taken the above steps to reach this point, you have already done all of this, but now you’re going to change something and try it all again. What do you change? That’s entirely dependent on what you are measuring and how and why it was better (or worse) than the last time you measured it.
For example, if you implemented an SEO project recently and are now seeing a steady rise in your rank on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages, but not seeing a similar increase in the number of your conversions, you should now focus on why people are not converting. Why are they not engaging with your content long enough to ensure that they convert? You should try adding some new content, perhaps, or a new Landing Page (or different copy or graphics on your Home Page which, after all, is just an important Landing Page). And when you make these changes, change just one element of the page (the headline, perhaps, or one image or one of the colors). Even better, use a Split A/B test to try out two variants (with only one difference between them) and see which one performs better. I can’t stress this last one enough: not only can you not improve what you don’t measure; you can’t improve it reliably by guesswork alone. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend reading a book by Claude Hopkins called Scientific Advertising. You’ll be amazed when you download your free copy to see it was written in 1923! Claude aimed his book at Direct Response marketers, but his words of wisdom are perhaps even more useful to today’s Marketing Automation suites with their built-in, real-time Split A/B tests. Claude, back in 1923 had to contend with a feedback mechanism which relied on the US Postal service; with today’s tools, you can actually watch the reaction as it occurs in real time! His book gives great advice on headlines, images, ad copy and much more and it will provide many alternatives for you to test.
Good luck and happy testing!
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