planningFor many of our customer this month has been a lot about planning. We work with some super smart business owners, so it’s been a pleasure to push tactics aside for an hour and look at the strategies needing online marketing attention for the months ahead.

After being involved in over a dozen such sessions, I see definite trends, including things that people find easy, and things that are a struggle. And while I don’t present to be a strategic wiz, looking from the outside has provided some insights worth sharing. Here goes:

Basic Business Strategies – there are a few of them and none sound exciting

Online marketing is a space in love with tactics. Social media, paid advertising, email marketing, content marketing – tactics all – and each and every one is rewarded with blog posts galore each and every day.

From what I see, the real magic does not reside in each channel individually, but in the how they are collectively applied, and their relevance to the overall business strategy.

It’s easy to be seduced by online marketing tactics, but there are problems when they are not correctly linked to the right strategy. Or, worse still you end up flitting from one tactic to the next without regard to whether any will actually support the overall strategy that is called for.

This is probably why, when we kick off a planning session I’m often being peppered with questions on what keywords we are thinking of bidding on in the paid advertising space. Or how an email template can be improved to to drive more clicks. Both are ideal tactical questions, but neither determine if you are on the right strategic track.

As business owners we all struggle with limited time. To get the most bang for our time, we need to neatly align all our sexy tactics with our strategic goals.

Yes, it may sound boring. Here are a couple of snore-inducing strategy names that sexy named tactics could be applied to – increase customer retention and deliver new customer.

Man, those tactics sound so cool in comparison. But start with a strategy focus first and you will achieve more in the

Measurement Tools Don’t Naturally Support a Customer-Focused Approach to Strategy

I if asked you how many visitors came to your website last month I would guess that over 80% of readers would be close to the correct figure. But if I asked you how many of those were already customers, I would expect a lengthy pause.

Most businesses need a strategy that has its customers as its focus. It could be about driving greater retention, increasing order size or helping customers refer new business to you. Whatever the strategy to measure its effectiveness, you will need to filter your statistics so you can “see” customers in your data.

Unfortunately tools, like Google Analytics don’t make this easy.

There’s not a button to press that magically shows you all visits split by customers and prospects. And while it’s not difficult to configure it to do this, it does require some work from companies like Permission to set it up.

Once this is completed, you will then be able to see what percentage of visitors were: a) customers, b) customers who bought for the first time and/or c) prospects who came and left without buying.

Google Analytics is not the only measurement tool lacking here. Login to the back end of most e-commerce websites and you will see reports galore on all the transaction information you require. Sales by day, week and month. However, ask them to report on customers who purchased for the first time in the last 30 days, or customers with the most transactions over the last six months, and it will struggle.

Yes, there are tools you can “bolt on” to some of the top e-commerce engines to deliver this information, but you still need to know where they are and how to correctly attach them. It makes it hard to measure what should really be quite simple to measure.

From experience it’s only the “customer committed” that make changes like these work. My suggestion is to be in this group. It’s a lot easier to sell more to your existing customers than to convert new people to purchase. Yes, I know it’s an old saying, but it applies nicely to your online marketing too.

That’s it for insights. If you are a Permission customer and haven’t gone through a planning session with me, then push an email through and we can schedule a session. If you are considering us and would like to know more, then give us a call today on 0800 893 477, and let’s talk.

Yes, I know the title of this article is a tad confusing. But trust me, what’s to follow will explain a simple trick that I’ve seen work many times before for anyone wanting their website to deliver a steady stream of leads rather than actual sales.

This simple strategy doesn’t need any complex programming. It will work with anyone running the standard installation of Google Analytics. And all up, I expect it to take around 30 minutes to get up and running.

Sound too good to be true?

Well it’s not. But before I get into the specifics of what requires changing and where, let’s look at the main issue lead generation sites have to deal with – reconciling the amount spent on advertising with the amount gained in leads.

Let’s say the numbers go something like this: You spend $2,500 in online marketing and optimisation each month and receive 20 OK-quality leads. Of those, let’s assume 10% go on to become clients, each responsible for $65,000 per annum in sales. You spend $2500, you receive $130,000. Sounds like at an aggregate level the system is working well. But how do you squeeze even more goodness from a system like this at the super detailed level? For example, what keywords do we need to bid more on and, conversely, which ones are costing us too much?

The answer lies in a simple modification to how your Google Analytics (GA) account treats goal completions. A goal is an action a visitor takes on your website that you have configured to be tracked. They usually represent all the good stuff you want your visitors to do, like subscribe to your newsletter, request a contact, download a PDF, play a video and make a purchase.

For most people, setting up a GA goal is the start of achieving better results online. Now they can see, for instance, what type of traffic delivers the most goal completions – direct, organic or even paid. And for paid advertising, what click produced the most goal conversions.

The next configuration step is to assign a dollar value to each goal. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Just bash in some arbitrary amount and you are done – just something to fill up the space. Well that’s where you’re wrong. To get the most from this simple configuration you need to align the dollar amounts with reality.

Now I realise that not all goals have the same business value. For instance, someone downloading a report is more valuable than someone not; but they’re probably less valuable than a prospect completing a Contact Us form.

I advise allocating a value to the most valuable goal and working back from there. For most of us this will be a Contact Us or Quotation Request.

Now to get a number that makes sense, just work out how many of these you need to win a new customer. And then, for each new customer, how much money are you willing to allocate to their cost of sale?

Your numbers could be something like this. It takes five Quotation Requests for every new customer and each new customer is worth $200 of marketing spend. So
simple maths makes each goal completion worth $40.

For all your lesser value goals – for instance newsletter subscription, PDF download, and video plays – you can then discount from the $40 mark – say 50% for downloads and newsletter subs (depending on how good your email marketing is) and 10% for video plays.

Do this correctly and you should end up with an expected dollar of “lead value” your website has created each month. Good stuff. Now you can tap into the extra reporting GA has to offer, like the Page Value Report.

page value

Google creates this report by tracking a visitor’s path around a website until they complete a goal conversion. Then it takes the dollar value of the conversion and shares it across all the pages that were viewed along the way.

It’s a gem of a report when you offer a range of services, each with its own web page, and when the goal completions is the simple quote request form. Without the report, all you will see are the general engagement values for each page (visits, time on page, entrance and exit rates) and goal conversions as an aggregate total for the website. There will be no way to see which web page or service is more likely to generate a quote request.

However, with the report running you have a dollar value for each page, revealing those that are more likely to provide the action you want.

Adding dollars to your goals will help improve your paid advertising too. Your Google Analytics account will, of course, follow those visits from the initial click right through to the conversion – that’s the normal stuff. But with this change, it can also grab the dollar value for each conversion and report it as an effective ROI on your ad spend. Surely this is the ultimate way to manage this channel.

There are a few more examples of how this small change can produce some powerful reporting options. But to keep things brief these two should be enough to convince you to make the change this month and begin to add dollar amounts to your conversion choices.

It should take you just a few moments. Let us know how you get on.