I have no idea how my Ford Kuga manages to direct me on how to successfully parallel park. I just press the correct button and then follow the prompts on the dashboard screen. Likewise, it’s beyond me how Google Maps can predict to the closest minute the time I will arrive back home. I just look at the right point on the screen and there the data is.  

They both hide the all the complexity they have mastered and provide me with the right prompts in the right way so I park safely and follow the correct path on my journey home.

Online marketing carries its own level of complexity too. And for the business owner, controlling outsourced activity can be a challenge when the necessary success prompts are missing. How do you manage a supplier who has a lot more expertise in their specialty than you will ever want to achieve?  

Nevertheless, you want to guard against paying for the worst type of online marketing service – repetition without change. Especially when every dollar invested needs to be questioned to ensure that a) each dollar is being well spent; and b) the money spent last month is being built upon this month.

So here are my eight tasks to help you direct your online marketing outsource supplier. After 14 years in the same industry think of them as questions that help classify you as a client who is a few steps ahead of the rest.  

Firstly, let’s talk about what overall success looks like when you outsource some of your online marketing. Some see it as a top Google ranking for a search phrase that’s important to them. The more business savvy see it as a consistent but growing stream of sales or sales leads – each at an affordable cost.  

Or as golfers say, “you drive for show, but putt for dough”. Achieving good Google rankings is driving, and improving your site’s conversion rate is putting. You need both, but with a duff putter even the best driver will struggle.  

With that cleared up, let’s kick off with the boring part. Google Analytics.

I can imagine few business owners bouncing out of bed on Monday morning hyped up about briefing their outsource provider to correctly configure their website analytics account. However, it’s in here that our first two tasks live. And without them completed all the other “sexy stuff”-  social media spend, Google AdWords budgets and so on – are challenging, if not impossible, to successfully direct.

Task #1 – Track as much as you can about who does what on your website. Playing videos, downloading PDFs, scrolling down the page, exiting to visit your Facebook page and completing your Quote Request forms – it all needs to be tracked so you can see what is and isn’t working.

Task #2 – Allocate leads or sales to each stream of traffic your website receives. Think of each stream being silver, gold or mud. Once your analytics is correctly configured all should be revealed so you can keep the gold coming and divert the mud to someone else.

Next, Google Advertising, where. I boil all the complexity down to just three results-oriented tasks.

Task #3 – Calculate your advertising cost per lead. I realise you have the cost of your outsourcer to add in but this should still be a useful guide.  

Task #4 – Calculate the trend line of leads per month. Seasonality issues aside, you should expect an upward slope. Ads should be being tweaked, landing pages tested and new keywords trialed – all to generate the one outcome: more leads this month than last.

Task  #5 – Select search terms now proven to move to SEO. Do you always want to pay Google for clicks? Now that you have proven the conversion viability of selected search terms through advertising and superior analytics, you can move them into your search engine optimisation plan.  

Which leads us nicely into search engine optimisation. Here I have just two items to focus on.

Task #6 – Add content to your website. Why? To improve the ranking of the keywords that have delivered conversions in your paid advertising efforts. Think blog posts, FAQ articles, service outlines, product overviews – any of these can be added to help Google crawlers find and index new content and refresh its current ranking result.  

Task #7 – Enjoy the new links your site now has from other high quality websites like yours. I’m not talking about 10,000 links all of a sudden from sites you never hope to visit yourself. I’m talking about sites linking to yours because some human has convinced another that the content on your website would help people visiting theirs.

Finally, I distill the complex area of conversion optimisation down into one task for you to monitor.

Task #8 – Review and, where appropriate, change the content on your website to convince more visitors to convert this month than they did last month.  

Which brings us neatly back to my opening comment about success looking more like sales conversions than high search rankings. Traffic problems can be solved with your wallet and Google advertising. Then all that’s left is for your content to fix any remaining conversion problems.  

There you go; eight tasks that will increase your chances of success and make managing your outsource relationship a bit easier. Admittedly, I’ve simplified things a little to keep the tasks down to eight, but if you follow these guidelines you will avoid paying for the same results repeatedly, and start seeing real progress with your online marketing efforts.