You spend your money, you receive a report full of “stuff” and you have no idea what is going on. Is it a case of rinse and repeat or is it time for a different new and a different you? 

There are probably thousands of business owners who each month spend many thousands of dollars for digital marketing services and have no idea a) what is going on, and b) whether their money is well spent.

If this is you – and you want to change the situation – then listen up. 

First up it may not be all bad news. If you are running a business that is growing AND you are making a profit on a reasonably regular basis, then the signs are good. Advertising can have zero effect on a business and it can still grow, but in my 20 years of digital marketing that is rare. Usually growth needs new customers and those customers need finding and attracting. 

Nevertheless, you could be growing while 50% of your advertising cost is wasted – as per this famous saying, Any savings you can make here without compromising growth will flow nicely down to the bottom line of your profit and loss report.

In fact, the savings can be huge. – Take the case of a business that saves $500 in advertising cost while continuing to return a 15% net profit. That business has effectively just onboarded a new customer spending $3.3k each month. 

Given that, you may now be asking yourself why you haven’t watched your advertising spend more closely until now.

But I say job #1 is to relax and give yourself a break. As a business owner, you have a lot on – right! So don’t beat yourself up.

Instead,  take that first step as soon as you can by putting in a system to count the phone calls or emails you receive from your website. 

It won’t be an exact science – and nor does it need to be. If prospects predominately call rather than fill in the forms on your website, try to remember to ask them “how did you find us?” If they arrived on your website because  they were referred by others, don’t count them as advertising leads. Don’t count existing clients who bring you new business either. But do count the rest. For now, don’t worry about how they arrived on your website – through advertising or finding you on Google. Just log their details. 

If you have a team, gather them around to discuss what’s being measured and why. Spreadsheets / whiteboards / post it notes will suffice. Just put in a system that is easy and that everyone will use. Do this for four weeks and see how big your list is. 

Now go through  those leads and count how many turned into sales. Total up the revenue and compare this to the amount you spend on digital marketing. Now either a) jump with joy or b) sit quietly in a corner and thank yourself for creating this uncomfortable insight.

But before reacting too blindly to b) just check. Was it a typical month? Is it usually quiet this time of year? Did you have problems with staff absenteeism that could have caused you to close fewer sales than normal? And finally, are you not being fair when counting just the one sale in your figures when a high proportion of customers purchase repeatedly over their time with you?

If you go through this checklist and it is still not a good news story, now is the time to sit down with your digital marketer and tell them the bad news. Even when you have counted ALL the leads from your website (and this will include some from advertising and some not), there may still be insufficient money in it to make the spend worthwhile. 

As it stands now, that is. 

Just like great rugby teams who hit a rough patch, bad digital marketing can come good. Sometimes it targets the wrong people – those who either don’t convert or do but bring with them the wrong expectation of price. With some tuning things can be turned around – sometimes. 

But let’s be clear – the spend is on notice. If you are not operating on a seasonal basis then allowthree months for any changes in your digital marketing to make a difference. 

Sometimes competency is an issue. Supplier A and B may have the same support plan fees – or very close to it – but B may fail to make the spend to return a profit while A could make it work in a jiffy. If you try two agencies and neither can make it work, then the signs are not good. 

Some chunky things may need work. For instance, your website my be converting one in twenty when it should be converting one in ten. Or your sales approach may be average, with similarly poor conversion stats. Even your pricing may need some work. If competitors are making their digital advertising work and you can’t, then look to yourself for the fixes.

And what if you’re one of those who jump for joy?

Well, I’d ask how high you jumped. If your head nearly hit the office ceiling,  great! Time to move on to more pressing issues on your never ending to do list. 

On the other hand, a slight hop off the ground could warrant a deeper dig into the data. 

Remember I had you count all the leads that came from your website, whatever traffic source delivered them. Your next task, if you are a hopper vs a leaper, is to ask your digital marketer for a list of the leads you received that were just from their advertising or (and separately) the result of their SEO efforts. If they are not sure how to do this, then this link may help.

For instance, let’s say you spend $2500 on paid advertising with very few leads from this spend going on to spend anything with you. Frequently, parts of your paid advertising will work while others struggle. The trick is to spend more on those that return more while avoiding the rest. Do this frequently and you too may soon be bumping your head on the ceiling.

In either case it’s about doing something different today to expect something different tomorrow. The allure of rinse and repeat is very powerful for you and your competitors. Why not take on this project next month to stand out from the rest?

And naturally, if you are looking for an A to take on what B has failed to achieve, we would love to talk