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.