Scott and Chris have joined since our last newsletter.

Scott works with Tikhon in the email marketing side of the business. Scott comes from a background in IT, education, knowledgebases and analyst work. He has previous experience in email campaigns for fundraising, along with databases and web development.

Chris works with Abby in our web optimisation operation. He is Google Certified in both Google Analytics and Google AdWords and is working across a range of accounts already.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – By Greg McKeown


I loaded this book up on my Kindle two hours before stepping onto NZ 245 for a nine-hour flight to Bali. Little did I know that my 15 year old daughter would fall ill during the flight so Claire and I would spend most of the flight helping her. Not a lot was read until we were settled in our villa in Ubud.

Heading away on leave is never easy for me. It takes me a good three to four days to start to relax. Thankfully, this book was a real help in speeding things up. Here are a few points that stood out for me.

The lie that “you can do it all”.
The book starts by shattering the illusion that what you believe you can do is actually possible. “You can do it all” is the first that gets a serve. You can’t – and thinking you can is a trap that many, me included, fall into.

Greg expands on this with theory about the “trivial many” compared to the “vital few”. I think we all live in a world where it’s hard to determine which task fits in what group. It’s not helped with a task list that grows each day, every task seemingly as important as the next. Finding your “vital few” is a key message of the book.

Understanding tradeoffs.
This concept hit home for me while I was stressing about what was happening back at base. There I was, away from work in a timezone that didn’t make it easy for the team to contact me while a large volume of work was going through the studio.

So what was the tradeoff for my stress? Well, Claire and my two teenage daughters were experiencing a new culture following a challenging home renovation project that pushed us all to the max. When I was a kid, my father took our family on regular holidays, and a lot of my fondest memories are linked to these experiences.
When I looked at it this way, the tradeoff was well worth it.

If you don’t set your priorities, someone else will.
So who has priorities? I guarantee all who read this newsletter do – but who sets them? If you are not actively setting them then someone else is. Perhaps this is not necessarily the right way for you?

Sleep – protect the asset
I left Auckland absolutely knackered and with a chest infection that was starting to gain an edge. We were all tired and slept a lot over the next few days. By day six I was coming right and I felt fresher than I had in a while.  I read a lot. The Kindle got a serious workout and the ideas started to flow again; ideas that would never have arrived if we had not taken the break.
I finished the book with my personal list of the vital few and some strategies to manage the rest. For me it was the right book arriving at the right time. Funny how this happens sometimes.

sixsense“So what can I expect from working with a company like yours?”

It’s a common question I get asked. Sometimes it comes at the very start of the sales process and sometimes at the end – just before the person commits. I can understand why it gets asked. Most who ask it have never engaged an online marketing partner before and are unsure about what comes next.

From taking dozens of companies through the process I can answer by outlining four simple but key stages clients work through with their account manager. Get to the end and the chances of success are greatly enhanced. Faulter mid way through and – well – things become harder.

Here’s the list

Stage #1 – Lots of exciting new knowledge to understand.
Stage #2 – A similar volume of information delivered from the client to us.
Stage #3 – An even greater volume of information regarding their markets coming to both them and us.
Stage #4 – All three information sources producing a task list to be completed in a set sequence.
Let me go through each stage and add some detail.

#1 – Lots of exciting new knowledge to understand.

The process starts with creating a bedrock of reliable website analytics data. In some cases, we tune what already exists; other times we are producing something for the first time. Whichever path we take, one outcome is certain – a bucket load of information on what is happening within the current environment.

For instance, we may uncover paid advertising campaigns that have been running for a while, costing plenty but delivering few sales or leads. Or an email newsletter campaign that is contributing the most to e-commerce sales, but thanks to resource limitations is being sent only on an ad hoc basis.

Then there’s the fundamental issue: nobody has trained those that matter in how to read the relevant reports. So they may have noticed the 80% bounce rate on their website’s homepage, but not realised that it was such a big issue.

All this represents a steady stream of new information and insights coming at you from the Ark Advance team. Some insights may prompt quick action – for instance, pausing the advertising campaign that is producing nothing, or ensuring that newsletter is sent out each month.

Other issues may take longer to resolve – the 80% bounce issue, for example. Nevertheless, think of those first few months as lots of “stuff” coming your way as our team teaches you more and more about how the Internet is reacting to your website.

#2 – The tables turn – your turn to give back as good as you got.

The more we know about your business the better. That’s why at times during the kick off process we will shut up and listen while you answer questions we’ve posed in order to pull the good stuff out of your head and into our planning system.

Half an hour doing this across multiple meetings gives us a good understanding of what you offer to whom. But on its own, this time is rarely enough to make a sizable difference.

So as we dive deeper into your keyword selection, or work to uncover the real cause of a poorly performing landing page, we will need to know even more. For example, what are the benefits most people are looking for? Or, what problems are prospects trying to solve with these benefits? And even, how do you differ from your competitors?

These can be dastardly difficult and annoying questions to answer. Especially when all you want from us is a simple Google ad next to your competitors that will drum up some business NOW.

However, now is the time to flip the tables and send more information our way. This will allow ads to be re-written to include your point of difference for a particular service, or even landing pages to show why to purchase this product over another. We need to get through this stage so we can properly enter the next phase – where the fun really starts.

#3 – The market speaks – ready to listen?

So we have given it our best shot. Every piece of content is now in alignment with your key messages and is being presented to the right audiences. This just leaves us to sit back and “listen” to what the market has to say.

Silence is one possible result. A muted response is another.

Yep, prospects may not be as interested as you are in what you offer and how you do it. How your competitors present their services could be way more appealing. Insights like this can be a hard to take.

And some will believe that, given enough time and money, they will convince the market to want what they have for the reasons they believe are important. These people tend to have both lots of time and money.

Others might go into denial with statements like “online marketing is not for us,” or “let’s find another online marketing company so they can make this work”.

If you see your competitors using online marketing that’s tempting evidence that it works. And finding a new supplier? They will most likely bid on the same keywords as your current one, sending traffic to the same web page and providing you with a similar result.

Nope, now is the time to listen to the market and discover what needs to change in your marketing. Doing this also has you enter the final phase of the process.

#4 – All three information sources producing a list tasks that are completed sequentially.

So now the magic begins.

Information from all parties – you, ourselves, and your market – is mixed together. From this, a list of tasks is created. Some will be simple; for instance, we may stop bidding on one keyword because you get a better return from another.

Others will come with a challenge. Let’s say a specific service after much promotion through advertising just doesn’t generate any new business. Kill it, or rework it – what’s the best option? Working these tasks one by one – over the months ahead – is the focus of your online marketing.

If this sounds like a lot more work than you originally envisioned, you are probably right. But I can assure you it does get easier as you live in the final stage each and every month. With time, you will develop a sixth sense of how the online market reacts to your products, your messages and their engagements with you.

Give us a call today if you’d like to start the process.

Last month I wrote that in order to improve your site’s conversion rate you need to avoid the illusion that there’s just one type of prospect visiting your website, and they are looking to fulfill just one set of needs. This illusion has many website owners create only one advertising message that pushes people to one landing page.

In reality, multiple groups want to solve a range of problems. Your best opportunity to serve them is via a range of marketing messages leading to a range of targeted landing pages.

This month I’m going to take a crack at another illusion of simplicity: the journey the customer takes to reach your front door.

Let’s say a hypothetical someone wants to buy a sofa for their living room. They start their hypothetical journey by walking into a furniture store near their home. They then meander about, sitting on everything on display (sofas, that is). A very helpful salesperson helps them choose a delightfully retro model in leather and chrome (and talks them into a faux leopard rug while he’s at it) and in a matter of minutes they walk out $2500 poorer but excited about the extra comfort and style coming their way when their sofa and rug arrive the following weekend.

Enough hypothesising – let’s do a reality check now. Would you buy a sofa this way? Probably not.In fact, few people would. To emphasise the point, here’s a picture from a 2011 Monash University study that shows the journey through different advertising channels that a purchase like this can typically entail.

Purchase Channels

At first, I was surprised by this model’s complexity. However, when I look back over some of my recent purchases I can see this “dance of channels” clearly.

For instance, a few weeks back I needed to find a place to stay in Melbourne for a couple of nights. It had to be within walking distance of the conference centre, clean and with good WiFi access. In this case, I didn’t use Google or Tripadvisor. Nope, I texted my mate Martin who visits Melbourne a lot and asked for his recommendation. In a few minutes I had a message with three options. I then visited the website of each. One I liked, and set up a live chat session to ask about the WiFi. They answered my question and the booking was done and dusted in 10 minutes. Channels used: SMS, web, chat, and then the sale.

Then there’s my little portable GPS thingy. I bought this a year ago to counteract my directionally challenged nature – ie, it’s easy for me to get lost :). So when I decided to take up trail running – well, you can see the problem, right? So I needed a relatively inexpensive way to find my way back to civilisation (ie, coffee) from places with no cellphone signal.

A quick internet search helped me gather a list of options. Then I walked into a shop to see how big these things actually were. Then I spent the next few weeks watching umpteen Youtube videos of Americans explaining the pros and cons of each option. Only then did I find the one for me, upon which I walked into PB Tech in Penrose and made the purchase. The person behind the counter had no idea what I was buying and didn’t really need to. I had used a price comparison website and knew the price was good.

So how do you think your customers find their way to your door?

Is it as simple as typing in a search term into Google, ending up on your site and making a purchase or requesting a quote? I would hazard a guess that it may not.

Here’s another slide from the Monash study that helps connect various channels with different stages of the purchase cycle. Knowing that mobile, for example, is commonly used about a month before purchase, how might that affect your thinking about the messaging you deliver through the mobile channel?

Connecting Channels

The more you understand the journey your customer takes, the more you can influence them along the way. To get started, this month why not ask a few customers about their journey? Then start to map the typical customer journey – or journeys – that you see emerging. Good luck – and do share with us what you discover along the way.