Department store tycoon John Wanamaker, who died in 1922, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”
Of course he didn’t. Unlike you and me, Mr Wanamaker didn’t have the benefit of online marketing.
But before we get too smug, let’s remember one important point. While online marketing is far more measurable than the methods Mr Wanamaker had at his disposal, it still has its limits.
For example, if someone makes a purchase after first spotting a service online, it’s difficult – if not sometimes impossible – to attribute that sale to online marketing.
Said another way, measurement systems fail when the sale occurs face-to-face rather than browser-to-web page. And face to face is how most service businesses operate.
So what’s a service-oriented business owner to do?
They could do worse than talk to us. Ark Advance now offers new tracking technology that solves this age-old problem and finally closes the loop between online activity and actual sales.
For the first time, we can link your advertising activity directly to your CRM system and allow the two to talk to each other.
For example, let’s say we create a sales lead for you on Day 1. As per normal, this enters your CRM system telling you what campaign it came from and the search terms that were used.
For 30 days, that information sits within your CRM, waiting patiently like an heir to the throne for its day to come.
On Day 30 the lead picks up the phone and does business with you. You pop a bottle of champagne (this step is optional). Then you update your CRM system to record an accepted quote and the revenue involved.
Then our technology kicks in, linking the sale back to your Google Analytics account so you can attribute the revenue directly to the campaign that created the lead in the first place.
You don’t have to do a thing. It’s all technology driven.
And now, for the first time, you can automatically measure the effectiveness of your online marketing in driving face-to-face sales. Even when days, weeks or months have lapsed between the online lead and the face-to-face sale.
And, unlike poor Mr Wanamaker*, you can then tweak your advertising spend so that any wastage is minimal.
To find out how you can close the loop on your marketing, get in touch and we’ll be thrilled to talk you through it.
* Don’t feel too sorry for “poor” Mr Wanamaker. He died with a personal fortune of $1.5 billion in today’s money.
A couple of years ago I wrote about a Google tool called Life Events, which interprets people’s search activity to anticipate what they’re likely to do in the near future.
When you think about it, that’s a bit of a superhero power to own. Marketers love to know what people are doing right now. Knowing what they’ll do soon is like taking that ability and dialling it up by a factor of 10. It means you can get the jump on your competition by connecting with those customers before anyone else does, but without investing months or years of relationship building to make the sale.
In 2017, when Life Events was still in nappies, the range of life events (eg, moving home, buying a car) that it could predict from people’s online behaviour was limited. Since then, like any healthy child does, it’s grown bigger and more able.
In the process, it’s become especially useful to any marketer who sells into the home.
Life stages that Live Events can now alert you to include:
If you’re wondering how big a deal this is, the short answer is it’s a really big deal. Traditional marketing targets demographics – millennials, baby boomers, and so on. But that model’s becoming more outdated thanks to tools like Life Events, which use machine learning to predict what people will do in the near future based on what they’re doing now (or just did).
In the words of one blog writer, if you’re still targeting millennials, you might as well be targeting buyers by their star sign. “Consumers going through life events are much more likely to have similar purchase needs than consumers that are merely in the same age, gender or income demographic,” said research company Networked Insights.
Sonos, a company known for pretty cool home sound systems, saw these results from life events targeting:
If you market products for the home – anything from cat food to high-end electronics – and are considering spending money on search advertising, stop now. Your competitors are doing that already, and all you’ll achieve is being listed alongside them in search results. That’s not bad – but you may be able to do much better.
Talk to us about Life Events. It may be a great way to get a serious edge on your competition and boost sales by identifying people just before they’re ready to open their wallets – at a time when your competitors are still ignoring them, the poor fools.
Online marketing has changed the world, especially for the small to medium business.
Being able to target your goods or services specifically and directly to your customers has revolutionised advertising and they way people do business.
Are you a lawyer specialising in immigration? Boom, a simple Google search of “immigration lawyer” will allow local people to find you. People know what they want and you have done the work to ensure you’re easy to find.
But what if immigration is just part of what you do? What if you also help immigrants find their first job in the country too? An immigration lawyer isn’t the first place someone would look when searching for a job.
What do you do if people aren’t looking for your services, even though they might be interested in them? How do you reach people online when they’re not specifically looking for something?
By conducting extensive market research into your customer’s and client’s personas, you can build up a profile of what they need or what they might be interested in. These people are your ‘unreachables’ – the group that are part of your market, but have remained out of your grasp so far.
If you already offer these services or products, then ask yourself why your unreachables don’t know/want your product. Are you on the right platform for them? Are you appealing to the right demographic? Who do they go to instead of you?
Once you figure out who your unreachables are, you’ll be able to target them online.
Targeted Google Ads can use factors such as age, geographical location, gender, relationship status, interests, education and prior search activity to zero in on the people you are trying to attract.
So to go back to our immigration lawyer example, if you want to appeal to those who have just arrived in the country and are looking for a job, then single, 18 -35 year olds with a post-graduate education who are searching terms that fit their specific needs.
In a perfect world, we would have all the money we need to market to each and every potential client or customer. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t like that – we need to pick and choose where we spend our marketing budget.
The best way to get value for money and to attract new customers is to know your audience. As you develop a closer relationship with them, you may begin to recognise similar customers who could also benefit from your service or product. That’s when your business starts to grow.
Attracting new customers is the lifeblood of any company, and finding ways to sell yourself to people who otherwise wouldn’t consider you is an essential part of marketing.
Ark Advance can help you reach new clients who you would have been otherwise hidden from via this type of targeted marketing. Contact us today for more information on how this could work for you and your business.
So after a lot of hard work, your website is on the first page of Google’s search results.
Congratulations, it’s not a simple task. The problem now is that it is surrounded by your competitors. Will it stand out?
Online marketing is a unique beast. The internet can sometimes be the only time you’ll find your name sitting right alongside that of your competitors.
In the pre-search engine days, we wouldn’t have to explicitly state why we’re different, just what we do and how we do it. Now anyone searching our product or service is faced with a list of companies which present themselves as doing all the same thing.
We live in an age of product and pricing parity, especially for small / medium businesses. There’s no longer a unique selling point for many companies – there are simply too many competitors doing the same thing.
You sell scented candles online? Well there’s a 99% chance your competitors sell the exact same candles. You offer a carpet cleaning service? Well there’s no reason why your vacuum does a better job than anyone else’s.
With a level playing field for everyone, it’s up to you to find the difference when it comes to your business, even if it’s a tiny one.
Ok, you and your competitors sell the same scented candles, but when it comes to packaging aesthetics, you can’t be beat. And sure, any cleaning company will do a good job, but do the others offer carpet shampoo that’s guaranteed safe for pets?
The little things will make a difference to your business, but it’s up to you to find them, focus on them, and then leverage them in your marketing.
So how do you stand out from the crowd? What makes your website the one a customer should click on? Depending on what your business does, there are three points of differentiation to consider.
This is the general area that most B2B marketers and consumer marketers spend the majority of their time and dollars. Simply having a better product than your competitors means you will stand out. This may take the form of the latest features, technology, performance, or efficacy.
It sounds easy, but everyone’s trying to make their product the best on the market, and even if you do manage it, your competitors will probably just copy you, so you need to let everyone know you’re the original and best.
Outstanding service isn’t just doing what you promised, it’s going above and beyond what you promised. This includes all the aspects behind the scenes too, from training to ease of ordering. Showing potential customers why your service is better than your competitors can take the form of outstanding testimonials or 5-star Google reviews. People need to see the results of your service, not just your promise that you’re better than everyone else.
There’s no point talking about how you pride yourself on your customer service – every business claims this. No one says, “Our customer service isn’t great, but our product is pretty good!”
Customers will return to you again and again if they feel valued. Taking responsibility for you clients’ overall experience will bring its own rewards, and the little things that you do which others don’t will go along way to your success.
Whatever you choose for your point (s) of differentiation they must be both clear and easy to understand. If you can’t explain why your different from your competitors in a simple sentence, then you need to rethink your sales pitch.
Remember, there are ten results on Google’s front page, not even including the ads. The reason you’re different from the rest must be there for everyone to see, relate to and then hopefully, act upon. Good luck.
Last September I introduced attribution modelling, a newish Google tool that helps you understand to what extent each step on a customer journey has contributed to a sale.
The better you understand this, the better able you are to allocate your ad spend appropriately to each step on the pathway.
Although attribution modelling is far from a perfect tool, it’s undoubtedly a very powerful one. So much so that I believe 2018 is the year you should do all you can to understand its relevance to you, and begin using it to maximum advantage.
Why do I say that? One reason is that customers are increasing the number of touchpoints they alight on throughout a buyer journey. I’m not just talking devices – laptops, mobiles, etc – but also places (Amazon, physical stores) and even times. Tracking customers along that journey is like playing Whack a Mole – it’s hard to know when and where they’ll pop up.
In fact, the terms customer journey and pathway to purchase are becoming something of a misnomer, implying as they do a more or less linear process whereas the actual process has a seemingly random, unpredictable quality to it.
The key word, however, is “seemingly”. While you and I with our puny brains may find it next to impossible to discern meaningful patterns in customer behaviour, attribution modelling uses powerful algorithms to separate the meaningful from the “noise”.
What does that mean in reality? It means you can gain insights into what attracted a buyer to you in the first place, what helped them get you from a possible to a likely provider, and finally what convinced them they should buy from you. What’s more (and arguably more important), it means you can assign a realistic weighting to the contribution of each factor towards the final purchase.
Late last year, Google ramped up attribution modelling by extending the kinds of data it takes into account. To get technical for a moment, the new version provides more cross-channel data than is available in Google Analytics to help assign credit to the true path of a sale and also features Google’s machine learning-based data-driven attribution model.
Although it’s still in beta stage and is now yet universally available, Google Attribution is worth checking out right now. To be notified when it’s available to you, simply complete this quick form. To see if you have access now, try logging in to Google Attribution.
Until then, now is a good time to ask how you will define success in 2018. Also, start preparing to give up the last-click attribution in favour of models that more accurately capture all the touchpoints that contribute to a sale.
It does mean more work, but the payoff – increased sales and bigger profits – will easily outweigh your effort. And, as always, we’re here to partner you along the way.
Everyone loves making a sale, right? Well, pretty much everyone reading this blog does.
As for me, I’ve built a business around helping you do that. For all the different things Ark Advance does – help you climb up the search rankings, make it easier for visitors to take action on your website, increase the effectiveness of your AdWords campaigns – it all points in one direction. Sell more.
So what I’m about to say may sound like heresy. But stick with me as I explain myself.
Here goes. Trying to close the sale, whether directly or by generating leads, may be doing you more harm than good. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is back off a little.
I know that flies in the face of some sales philosophies. Power closing, the art of pushing through objections and resistance to a final sale, has its share of successful proponents.
But the best sales people, in my view, recognise that a successful sale is more than someone buying something. It includes the buyer being satisfied with their decision, and feeling happy about the pathway they took to get there.
How does that relate to you? Well, let’s say you have a landing page that’s all sell, sell, sell. Features and benefits are there in big, bold type, and the Buy Now or Submit button is not only a bright, garish colour, but it also flashes on and off like a neon sign outside a cabaret.
And let’s say that landing page really has been working for you. It’s been selling like crazy or generating more leads than you dreamed possible. Why on earth would you mess with a winning formula like that?
To answer that, let me tell you about a client who come to us recently from another agency. They were used to pushing traffic onto the kind of landing page I just described (admittedly, I exaggerated a bit, but you get the drift). We said, “while your landing page is delivering results, we suspect you could do better – and do it without undermining your brand.”
That client boldly allowed us to create an alternative landing page that wasn’t designed to sell directly. Instead, it encouraged visitors to have a wander around the website, a bit like someone browsing in a store, checking out the merchandise. The risk was that once people had finished browsing, they’d simply wander out the door, without having bought anything or even given their contact details.
But that didn’t happen. What did happen was a 50%+ increase in lead conversions and a big reduction in cost per lead.
How come? Simply because people often need more time or information or both before they feel comfortable committing. If they’re a website visitor, that means the opportunity to interact with your website – to “wander around the store” – first. Not always, but sometimes.
It’s worth testing. Worst case scenario, you build engagement, reduce bounce rates and increase time spent on your site – much like a good sales person asking questions and listening to the answers does.
And the best case scenario? Well, who wouldn’t love a 50%+ increase in lead conversions?
If you’re a Go grand master, you may not like Artificial Intelligence right now. Not since the Google-designed AlphaGo trounced the world’s top player, Ki Jie, by 3 games to nil earlier this year. That came after it handed out a 4-1 beating to another top ranked player, Lee Sedol, in 2016.
Or maybe you will. The matches, while not good for the human ego, demonstrated something far more interesting and useful than that a powerful computer can out-think a puny human brain. I mean, that’s no longer news for anyone, right?
What they also demonstrated was that well-designed computing can also find whole new ways of seeing and thinking about problems. During the matches, AlphaGo played a number of moves that, to an expert, were obviously weak, or even bad. Except they turned out to be really strong moves.
And they were moves that a strong player wouldn’t even consider.
Now think about that. Mostly in business – mostly in life, in fact – we look for solutions in the same places we have in the past. While we may not know what the best solution to a problem is, at least we know where to look for it.
But AI is teaching us that that assumption could be totally wrong. And that has serious implications for Google Adwords.
See, most of the work you and we do in Adwords is based on refining what we already know. It’s a good approach: start with what seems sensible based on fundamental principles, test it, refine it based on results, test that, refine some more, and so on. If nothing else, it pretty much guarantees incremental gains over time.
But what if what we already know is only a fraction of what’s possible? “There are huge variations in a Go game,” said one expert after the Sedol/AlphaGo match. “We can’t even read 1% of them.”
Google is taking this result very seriously. It’s now seeing itself as an Artificial Intelligence company and transforming the way it delivers the right advertising to the right device for the right prospect. Its systems are learning (and it’s time to stop using quotation marks when we talk about machines learning) what approaches are likely to deliver the best results.
What are the implications for you (and for Ark Advance, for that matter!).
One important implication is that to take advantage of AI, you need to allow for a period of learning. This will take as long as the amount of lessons your data can provide. For example a website using AI to optimise its advertising to deliver phone calls will learn faster if the site delivers 1000 a week compared to 10.
The old adage “garbage in/garbage out” can now be updated to “insufficient data prevents meaningful results” (with apologies to Isaac Asimov). Many Kiwi companies fall down in this area, and if you’re among them, you’ll want to chat with us about how we can help you build volume where currently none exists.
A second implication is that we humans – Ark Advance included – will have to get used to not being the smartest “machines” on the block. But that doesn’t mean we’re not needed. AI can and does outperform us on many fronts, but humans are still needed to manage the technology and to ask the right questions in the first place.
The lesson here? The future belongs to those who embrace AI without fear, and with a willingness to learn what it does and doesn’t offer. That applies to website optimisation companies and their clients as much as anyone else. Yes, it’s confronting, but it’s exciting too.
It takes guts to be in business. That applies regardless of whether you own the business or are responsible for some aspect of it.
I see clients display that courage often. It typically happens when we’ve conducted a review of Google rankings for a business that hasn’t been active in this area. In those cases, the results can easily come as a shock.
Your first reaction to bad news like that might be an urge to run and hide. Somehow, it evokes memories of being graded at school – and learning that you’ve bombed a really important exam. You might experience disbelief. You might decide the news is so bad that doing anything about it is futile. I have seen both those reactions.
Here’s what I say to clients in those moments: “What if your competitors are also performing as you are, and what if they also react as you just did when they learn the reality?”
Here’s the fact of the matter. Most businesses in any given sector are performing badly in Google search rankings. What’s worse, their owners either have no idea this is happening, or show no interest in finding out. What’s worse still, when they do find out, a good number of them will decide the situation is beyond saving and then do precisely nothing.
So back to you. You’ve discovered your Google search rankings are crap. I say that’s great news! You had the guts to look, and you can now do something about it!
And here’s what you do.
First, start from wherever you are. Instead of focussing on whether you want to be in that place or not, you begin measuring your performance against that benchmark, rather than some ideal you think you should already have achieved. While you’re at it, stop beating yourself up about being where you are. You have the guts to be in business and have your performance measured objectively. Hats off to you.
Second, adopt a long term view. Life, business and high Google search rankings are all long games. Small gains add up to massive gains over time. And small gains aren’t hard work; they just take a little persistence. Given you’re in business, I think it’s safe to say persistence is one of your strong points.
Third, have an expert (hint, hint) support you in mapping out a way forward. If they promise the earth in seven days, they’re not an expert – just someone with a god complex. Choose someone who not only knows their stuff, but is willing to be transparent and straight with you.
Then roll up your sleeves and crack into it.
As I said, I’ve seen many clients do just that, once the initial disappointment has worn off. Some of them are now killing it in Google search rankings, and their businesses are screaming along.
All because, one day in the past, they heard some bad news. Which turned out, thanks to their courage, to be great news indeed.
In my last blog, I talked about the importance and value of visitors who return to your website having not engaged with you on their previous visit.
Having those people return is generally a good thing, since they’re more likely to buy or engage with you than even existing customers. And that means you want to know, as far as possible, the journey they took that led to them returning to you and which interactions played how significant a role in their decision to return and even buy. This takes us into the complex world of attribution modelling. Basically this is correctly identifying the traffic source responsible for every conversion your website receives.
Now you might be thinking that the ad that was most effective was the last one a visitor clicked on to return to your site. But that ignores the important role of all the other clicks this person made before that. For instance their journey could start with a paid click (from a product based campaign), followed by an organic search click, a social media remarketing click, with this torrent of clicking ending with another paid click (now from a brand name campaign) before they visit and buy.
The default attribution model Google AdWords applies places the conversion in the bucket of traffic responsible for the last click. That being the brand name AdWords click in the last example.
Obviously this causes inaccuracies when people are bouncing in and out of your website through various streams of traffic before they convert. By analysing conversions through the lens of Last Click those responsible for kicking off the buying behaviour are naturally de-optimised over and above those which close the sale. And you can’t close what you don’t start so revenue slides – downwards.
Thankfully Google AdWords offers several more attribution models to pick from. To compare to Last Click there’s First Click attribution. Here there’s total emphasis on what starts the journey. It’s another extreme weighting but now at the other end of the journey. Which is why the next four are where the money is.
Linear attribution shares the credit for the conversion equally across all clicks. Whereas Time Decay gives more credit the closer a clicks occurred to the moment of conversion. Then Position-based gives 40% of credit to the first- and last-clicked ads and corresponding keyword, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other clicks, while Data-Driven (the geek option) distributes credit based on past data for this conversion action (assuming enough data is available).
Remember this discussion is a non-discussion if your traffic behaves and arrives and converts all within the same session. In that case, you can use Last Click Attribution and feel comfortable living in the land of the default setting. For the rest of us it pays to pick a model away from the two extremes to see how it alters your conversion reporting. Google AdWords allows you to compare a couple of models at a time. More often than not, the most suitable attribution model for those with bouncing /cross channel traffic will be Position Based.
So to recap. Let’s say a customer finds your site by clicking one of your AdWords ads. She returns a week later by clicking over from a social network. That same day, she comes back a third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly and makes a purchase. The Position Based attribution model may assign 40% credit to each of the Paid Search and Direct channels, and 10% to each of Social Network and Email channels.
Two last points. First, with greater insight comes greater precision. So if you do make the switch out of the extreme choices then get used to measuring conversions to at least one decimal place (24.8 vs 24 or 25).
Second, this can be as mind bending as it sounds. While the effort’s well worth it, you should definitely call us for a reliable guide through this difficult, yet highly rewarding, jungle to find the attribution path best suited for you and your website.
Everyone loves regular customers, and rightly so.
And if someone comes to your website but doesn’t do business with you, you at least want them to engage with you in some way, surely? By giving you their email address, for example, or requesting a free ebook. All of that’s true, but it can obscure one other critical aspect of effective online marketing. You see, people who return to your website a second time, after initially leaving without engaging with you, are far more valuable on a per-head basis than even your existing customers.
Here’s one example: Returning website visitor transactions made up 48% of all US e-commerce sessions in the fourth quarter of 2015. The likelihood of a returning visitor actually buying was 15%, vs 7.6% for existing shoppers.
That’s right. Non-customers were twice as likely to buy as existing ones!
So here’s a question. What’s your strategy for converting unconverted website visitors into repeat visitors? And what’s your strategy for then converting those returning visitors into buyers or leads (that is, someone who gives you their contact details)? If you have a strategy, congratulations! You’re among a select minority.
If you don’t yet have a strategy, here’s a place to start. Ask yourself:
There are no obvious answers to these questions, and they’ll probably vary depending on your industry, your website, the services you offer, and a lot of other variables. That’s where we come in. We can help you track and understand visitor behaviour, even when those people are not on your website. Then we can work with you to develop strategies for increasing return and conversion rates over time.
Keep in mind that when someone returns, you must have done something right in the first place (otherwise they wouldn’t have returned!). So you’re not trying to fix something that’s broken; you’re out to increase its effectiveness. As always, if you’d like to learn more about this opportunity, call us and we’ll be delighted to explore it with you.
One last thing. According to RJ Metrics, the top quartile of worldwide e-commerce companies receive most of their revenue from repeat customers at the two-year mark. At three years, repeat customers account for more than 60% of revenue. So whatever you do, keep loving your existing customers!
Energy companies know that one of the best times to acquire new customers is when they’re moving home. The problem is, every energy company knows that, so every energy company targets people at this time.
But what if you could target people a few weeks or months before they move home?
Google, who know a thing or two about how to mine data to gain a marketing edge, recently introduced a tool that allows exactly that. In essence, Life Events interprets people’s search activity to anticipate what they’re likely to do in the near future. For example, someone who’s likely to move house in the next 12 months, say, will investigate mortgage rates or houses for sale. Someone likely to move much sooner than that might investigate moving companies.
This is a serious addition to a marketer’s arsenal. The vast majority of people who use Google search results to drive business take a literal approach. That is, an energy company looking for new customers may devote a lot of its search spend to keywords like “energy company”, “power pricing”, and so on.
With Life Events, that approach will now come too late in many people’s decision making process. Marketers using only literal keywords will be gazumped by those using keywords that identify people earlier in the famous “pathway to purchase”. Those using Life Events will be able to use this targeting option in their YouTube and Gmail Ads.
Does that mean a literal keyword approach is about to become redundant? Not yet. Life Events has limitations, not least of which is that it only tracks data for people who are logged into their Google account when they’re conducting a Google search. That’s far from everyone – for now, anyway. I think Life Events is a potentially powerful tool well worth exploring, particularly if your product or service tends to be connected to particular life events. Travel agents and weddings, for example. Car companies and people about to graduate. Appliance retailers and people approaching retirement.
As always, talk to us for more information or if you’d like to test whether this is something you should take on. In the meantime, check out this two-minute video for a quick rundown from Google on Life Events, and this case study about how one Australian energy company achieved dramatic results by using Life Events intelligently.
Google has rolled out two important updates to your Google My Business Account. When I say important, I mean potentially life changing. But before I get into that, a quick word for anyone unsure of what Google My Business is.
Google My Business is a free Google (what else?) tool that lets you manage your online presence across Google. For example, you know those sidebars with maps that you often see on the search result page when you google a business? That’s Google My Business at work.
Google doesn’t make that information up out of the blue. You can verify and edit your business information, which means you have some control over what appears in those results.
Right now, Google’s trialling an extended version of this tool. Called Google Home Services, it allows certain types of businesses to:
So what’s the big deal? If Google rolls this programme out globally, every aspect of your online marketing will be affected. Based on the trial, PPC ads will be replaced with Google Home Services ads, and local business will not feature in organic search results. It goes deeper. Once you click on one of the listings in the Google Home Services section, you are taken to a new page where you can select three different suppliers to send a request quote to. If you’re not on that list, you don’t get to submit a quote.
If you’re thinking Google is moving toward a “pay to play” model, you’re right! And while you may not like that, you’ll probably need to play the game if your business provides home-based services such as plumbing, building, electrical services and so on.
If you haven’t already, chat with us about the implications for your business. We can help you claim your Google My Business space if you haven’t already, and have you prepared for the rollout of Google Home Business, if and when it happens. Or check this link for how you can post content to your Google My Business account.
In related news, You can now send SMS/text messages to customers from your Google My Business Account. Check out details here.
Apply the strategies of the America’s Cup Winning ETNZ to your online marketing through the use of a well known but underutilised feature in Google Analytics here.
Are there days of the week and times of the day when people are more likely to look for what you provide? Just think how you could focus your advertising to make the most of the “highs” and avoid costly expenditure during the “lows”. This video blog reveals :-
Find the video here 8 mins
Many years ago I sold printing to businesses. This was before the internet, mobile phones, reality TV and, yes, even the Spice Girls. My job was to drum up new customers by walking around the streets of South Auckland, knocking on doors trying to locate someone who was close to running out of printing. I was a Chris, trying to be a Johnny-on-the-Spot salesperson.
The strategy was tiring but back then it worked. It was purely a numbers game. The more streets you covered, the greater your chances of finding someone in need. But even when I found someone with a smidgen of need, rarely did they order then and there. I had to leave a card with address details on it. They then posted through a copy of the printing they wanted. I hand delivered a printed quote. They thought about it, chatted with their office pals, forgot about it, remembered it again and if I was lucky the office fax made a beep and a quickly fading order form was put on my desk. Bingo.
Now enter the internet.
Prospects now browse and find what they want. Then they enter the period of pondering. Decision made, they get back online and place that order. The bit at the start and end have radically changed. Nevertheless, that middle part – the thinking bit – still remains. It’s just that they use a group of channels to find the answers they want.
The key to online marketing is predicting what happens during the thinking stage. Thankfully, there’s a part of your Google Analytics account that can help you uncover some of this. More on where to find this in your account later – but first let’s look at the image below. It shows some serious thinking going on BEFORE the conversion occurred.
Both boxes reveal two groups of people and their pondering journey before they chose to invest in some high end business services. The first looked at the website 32 times, the second 38. Each visit was defined by the prospect typing in the URL of the business into their browser (which we call Direct Traffic) and heading back for one more look. The good thing is that both groups ended up purchasing and neither used any paid traffic sources to bring them back for their 30-plus visits.
The next image tells a very different story.
Again, thankfully the person converted, but this time they mixed up their journey with 10 visits as direct traffic, one from the middle (organic) part of Google, another 15 as direct traffic, one via a link click on an email message they received, and, finally, one link in direct traffic before (phew!) after which they converted and purchased. Now for a colourful series of pictures that plot a journey across different platforms. Below is an example that begins with Paid Search (Google), crosses platforms into Facebook, bounces back into Direct Traffic (twice), then doubles back into Organic Google and then Direct Traffic six times before the decision to buy.
If your website has Google Analytics goal tracking enabled then you can find your own shapes, colours and hints of thinking stories deep within the Conversions part of your account. Within there, look in the “Multi-Channel Funnel” and pick the option called “Top Conversion Paths”.
All should be revealed. But what does it mean?
Some readers may be surprised how many different channels people use on their journey to conversion. On closer inspection, one channel may be very good at “kickstarting” the process while another could be the “closer” that always ends up as the last channel before the sale converts. How the sale is allocated to a channel within Google Analytics could mean that the closer has been getting all the glory while the kickstarter goes relatively unnoticed. Or you could begin to view your channels as not working in isolation but working collectively to generate a powerful force that moves people from browsing to buying. From our experience, tuning each channel to play its part can result in a serious lift in conversion rates.
Let me know if this interests you. And this month head over to the shapes and colours part of your Google Analytics report and try to debug some of the thinking going on.
Recently I watched Minimalism on Netflix — two guys known as ‘The Minimalists’ on a mission to help others discard all but the essential in their lives. Achieve this, they propose, and life will be simpler and more fulfilling.
I gave it a try. It took me a good hour bartering with myself to clear out one drawer in the garage. This stuff is hard.
Many years back a grey-haired advertising guru shared with me his thoughts on strategy. In his eyes it was simple. Pick what you will not do — ruthlessly discard this — and then enjoy the ride as you focus as hard as you can on what’s left. I think of it as minimalism meets commerce. Online marketing is no different when it comes to the benefits minimalism can provide. There are lots of “shiny balls” to absorb our interest, distracting us from the parts that are really the most important. Here are just three areas of this space where the act of discarding can help.
I’ll start with the most obvious — measurement. Google Analytics is stuffed with data. The untrained look at this application, shake their heads, and glance away. It’s just way too much to take in without some level of instruction. However, once an hour or two is invested to clear the haze of confusion — add in some expert advice (and often there are just a few metrics that require attention) — and leave the rest to be avoided. For some it’s driving their Bounce Rate down. For others it could be enticing more visitors to return for a second and third look. Rarely is it about looking at a dozen points and trying to drive improvement across them all at once.
Next up, let’s chat about Google Search Advertising — a place where practising minimalism makes money. Understanding that you don’t pay to show your ads, but are only charged when someone clicks, can drive the desire to show for every single possible term. So instead of a dozen terms of focus, we see an account with hundreds of keywords, all receiving a small smidgen of attention each month. And usually that smidgen is not enough to capture all the traffic each keyword can deliver. Within the mass there will be a few stars. Practising the minimalism of measurement should show you which those are. And that leaves you with the happy task of discarding the average, to focus your limited advertising on the good that remain.
Finally, let’s mention nudging your search rankings higher within the complex area of Google’s natural rankings. In most instances the greatest movements are driven by the addition or alteration of your website’s content. And usually a page of content can be optimised to suit a small list of search terms — think under five, not 50. So if you want to naturally rank for more than 100 search terms you could be looking at creating a website with 50 or so well written pages.
For some, this puts them into mild heart palpitations, as they have just taken six months to launch a 10 page website. Thankfully, this is where the minimalism comes in. Not in the content, mind you — that needs to be extensive and beautiful. Nope, it’s in the focus on the actual search terms you want to kick upwards. Here you can link in your minimalism experience within your paid advertising efforts to locate the search terms that give the most love and affection to your website — start with moving these rankings upwards.
Why not give this minimalism thing a go this month with your online marketing. Work through the three areas I talk about: Measurement, Advertising, and SEO. Locate the important, and leave the interesting for others.
Let me know how you get on.