This is what happens when you listen to your friends
Seems familiar? Has it also happened to you?
Yes, it happens. Constantly. To everyone. And it likely happened to you, if you are engaged in business and use the internet as your main sales generating tool.
You probably think that I’m going to try to show that everyone tries to “sweet-talk customers into spending money”, and we are the only ones riding fabulous white unicorns and holding the swords of online marketing. No, I’m going to speak frankly – we’ve also had to be in Captain Picard’s shoes. Even now from time to time we have to, it’s the bitter truth. Admitting it makes my heart feel like a lump of lead. But I DO admit it to show how and why it happens.
The purpose of this article is not to make excuses. The contractor is the only one who is responsible for any failure (at least for the fact of starting a project without predicting the expected results). The real purpose is to tell the client what online marketing is and how it works in simple words as well as explaining why such failures happen. Without excusing the contractor.
Why do the same failures happen again and again? Incompetent advisers are the only source of delusions:
Here are some real-life examples:
- The owner of a real estate agency orders a contextual advertising campaign. She has hired a tough manager, whom she had lured away from competitors. He told her that they had their main sales came from Google AdWords.
- The owner of an animal clinic was told by his friend to improve his SEO. Friend can’t be wrong, he has a network of service stations and his income is six times bigger!
- Two men bought gifts of brand clothing boutique in prestigious a shopping center for their wives. These wives found out that social media is the future, and the whole audience is already there, and so must do their business through this.
I’d recommend a simple way to deal with advice like this. Do you remember what people told you about your idea of starting a business?
- It’s not worth it, it’s too difficult
- I’ve tried, but failed, it’s not the best idea
- You can’t start a business without start-up capital
- You won’t go too far, there are so many competitors nowadays
Ask yourself a question: how did you realize last time that you need this or that online marketing service?
Think for yourself, don’t always listen to advisers.
How does online marketing work?
Thinking for yourself, you can make a few very simple conclusions. Online marketing is not your whole business. It's just a part of it. Just like the other parts such as hiring staff or staff motivation (there are several dozen key tasks for you as an entrepreneur or business owner). It’s a very important part, but it is targeted to complete the unified task. What task? Well, let’s get rid of false philosophizing – it’s profit generation. Online marketing can complete this task partially. Let’s try to understand the basic principles of online marketing.
Does AdWords increase your profit? It may or may not increase it.
Does SEO increase your profit? It may or may not increase it.
Does social media promotion increase your profit? It may or may not increase it.
Why? That’s because it’s just an opportunity to get customers, not the customers themselves. Whilst profit stands for your real current customers. Take a sheet of paper and write in capital letters MY CURRENT CUSTOMERS. Then put an equal sign and add: PROFIT. It should look like this:
MY CURRENT CUSTOMERS = PROFIT
This is the most simple information, you should always keep it in your mind. “My current customers” is an integral formula. This is how it looks:
Understand, right? You don’t need AdWords, SEO & SMM. It may sound too obvious, but you need to:
- Attract a target audience to your website;
- Improve first-stage conversion (increase the number of leads);
- Improve second-stage conversion (processing from leads to customers);
- Increase average sale;
- Return old customers;
- Improve all these points at the same time (sounds dreamy).
Let’s look at each point separately.
Reaching targeted visitors
The goal of your online marketing campaign is attracting visitors, expanding the audience’s contact with your offers. Are you being told that social media promotion increases your brand’s awareness? Does it seem to you that getting a top search position using high-frequency queries will solve all your problems? Are you strongly irritated with negative reviews of your brand, written by your competitors or former loafer-employees, and do you have a burning desire to start your online marketing with opposition to dark PR?
Forget it all! You have to start with improving audience reach. If you have no reach, then you have nothing to build on. Speaking about online marketing, it stands for increasing traffic to your own website. This task should be completed firstly. Don’t lie to yourself – you don’t need SEO, AdWords, blog promotion and SMM, if you don’t have a reach. Your task is not to order SEO but to increase traffic without losing the quality of your audience. Don’t order an AdWords campaign, but initially increase your traffic. Don’t spend time promoting via social media (it’s senseless and merciless), but instead increase traffic.
What competences agencies or your own online marketing department should have to complete this task?
- Ability to attract search engine traffic, which means being competent at collecting keywords and creating engaging content, using large keyword lists;
- Ability to work with contextual advertising;
- Ability to work with different websites, which your audience attends (it may be media or teaser advertising, article marketing – it doesn’t matter);
- Ability to work with social networks;
- Competence at email marketing (don’t mess it with spam!) and so on.
Do you need all of these channels? Ideally yes, you need all of them. All the channels where your audience is present. But you must understand one thing. If customers are quick and qualitative, then this channel will be expensive. If you want quality and low price, then it will take a lot of time (organic search engine traffic). If you want speed and low price, then expect a lower quality in return (for example, teasers – but there is also a difference between them – the more targeted traffic is, the more expensive it is). I guess, you understand the main idea here, yeah? Don’t expect a miracle for quality, speed and cost at the same time.
Generally, the best channel to attract your target audience quickly is contextual advertising. If you want your sales tomorrow, then you must use it today. If you aim at lowering the cost of a single contact, then you should work on search traffic (with help from content marketing – not SEO). But, generally, the most effective way is combining methods to get targeted traffic using various channels. You don’t want to rely on future sales, you want to solve a problem here and now. Especially, if you own a small business.
The overall and first aim of ‘reach’ should be constantly approached in two ways – trying to increase reach rate, constantly thinking about lowering the cost of contact with an audience a without loss in quality, thus you need targeted visitors – those who search your exact goods and services.
You can use only contextual marketing, but if your budget is pretty large, greater than millions of USD (or even more than dozens of millions, if you are lucky enough), you’ll be sorry for not thinking about lowering the cost of each single contact with a targeted visitor at the beginning of their journey.
Converting visitors to leads
Remember that PROFIT = MY CURRENT CUSTOMERS. But the path from visitors to customers can be very long. The next stage is converting visitors into leads (those who contact you via phone, chat or contact form on your website and so on).
What competencies do you need to have here? Creation of landing pages, writing conversional texts that motivate users to contact you. What you need here is web analytics. You should assess your audience’s behavior on this or that page to change and improve conversion rates. However the most important competence to have here is the ability to make a hypothesis and conduct and monitor an A/B-test. It’s very important and should be done constantly! Without regular A/B-tests you will be like a man feeling his way through darkness. In a maze.
Do not underestimate this stage, or you will be more likely to fail reaching your audience!
Simple example. You have “grown” your traffic to consistently pretty nice rates. Your competitors’ traffic is lower (while its’ quality is same to yours), but they sell more. What’s the matter? That’s because some minor points of conversion improvement can greatly increase the number of people becoming customers. You have 2 leads out of every 100 visitors, your competitors have four leads! Increasing conversion from two to four is a little step, but there are twice as many customers!
This sphere is entirely dependent on your sales department, on managers’ competencies and on your existing infrastructure (phone lines, CRM-systems and so on).
Let’s look at cases where everything is alright at the beginning of your funnel – traffic and leads are targeted. If you have a lot of leads, and even the most genius head of sales department can’t convert them into customers, this is your first alarm telling you that something went wrong in the conversion process. Then you have to try to understand the problem.
If your traffic and leads are ok, then you have to understand, that at the stage of converting leads into real customers online marketers CAN’T help you. But you should also understand that some failure in the general chain, from lead to enquiry, will affect your perception of a partner or agency you’ve relied on to outsource either your whole online marketing or some part of it.
To understand the main idea you should know, that there is some responsibility on the customer’s side, whether contractors are guilty or not.
Average sale of your business
The next key characteristic of a business is the average sale. It doesn’t matter what business you are in: goods, services, B2B, B2C. It’s a required factor which needs to be tracked and increased.
How do you increase it? Perhaps, you’ve come to a conclusion – by markups. Is it correct? Yes it is but only sometimes. In most cases you have another possibility. If you sell goods, then you can increase your average check with the help of cross-selling. An example is when a person comes to you to buy a mobile phone, and you offer additional items, such as headphones or a case – for this exact mobile phone. Speaking about services, it can also be a sale of additional service. But you should understand that additional services can be sold only by following a win-win principle. Your task is not to just to sell additional services, it’s to sell a service, which a customer really needs – which emphasizes the first service or helps with something different, which the customer is as yet unaware of.
Well, here’ a simple example: when a customer wants us to create a landing page, we also offer to conduct an A/B-test. Not because it’s more profitable for us, but because it will be profitable for both sides – ordering landing page creation and an A/B-testing together is cheaper, while with the help of A/B-testing a customer gets the landing page with the best conversion rate.
Got the idea? Let’s move on.
Bringing back old customers
Online marketers are able to complete this task too. The main competence here is conducting remarketing and retargeting campaigns, organizing email newsletters, creating new content and so on. Here either newsletters or new content must have an additional value to your customers, not just informing them about new goods and services.
What is written above is an online marketing sales funnel. “Oh, so simple, I’ve read it so many times in different books”, – you may say. Yes, it’s simple. Elementary. But, how the hell do few people control these factors, not even mentioning working on them? Is your online marketing healthy? Really? For sure? The question to answer for a bit of peace of mind is: do you know all the metrics of your website? The “in general, yes” answer means nothing. You should have numbers, exact numbers: traffic – number, first-stage conversion – percentage, second-stage conversion – percentage, new customers – number, average sale – number, returns – number.
What’s the nature of online marketing failures
Let’s get back to the beginning. Unfortunately, in most cases it’s traffic –attracting an agency’s customers doesn’t understand what they really need. They feel that by ordering a campaign using high-frequency queries, they reach their audience. They feel that by ordering an AdWords campaign, they will get leads. And so on. Sometimes it works, but, often, it doesn’t.
You probably think, that I’m talking about some abstract customer? No, my dear friend, I’m talking about you. Unfortunately, in most cases a customer, a business owner, can’t define one’s needs. Perhaps, you are the exception. It’s easy to check: ask yourself a question – do you track the key metrics of your online marketing? If you do, then you probably know what you really need. But if you don’t, then you can only speculate about it.
Who is to blame for a failure of an advertising campaign?
Finally. I deeply believe, that a contractor is always to blame for any advertising failure. Sometimes it’s difficult, believe me, so goes the world. Very often it’s difficult for managers to understand what a customer really needs when he or she is absolutely sure they are in need of some specific service. I apologize in advance for this phrase, but sometimes it’s even difficult to understand, how strongly a customer is sure that one needs what one really needs. But it still doesn’t mean, that all charges against an agency should be dropped.
That’s why we want to play A GAME with you. Let’s forget what you need. Let’s forget that you are sure you’re right. And let’s try to start at the very beginning: PROFIT = MY CURRENT CUSTOMERS.
Do you agree? Then click here.
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