I’d like to share some helpful information that has helped me run a successful marketing and web design firm for almost 10yrs. It also served me well when I was a high tech consultant in Boston for several Fortune 500 companies.
One of the best ways to learn is from your mistakes. Naturally it’s better not to have to make the mistakes in the first place and that’s where continual learning and education comes in. However, at some point you’re going to have to make that leap into action and you’ll inevitably make mistakes. It’s part of the learning process and life. The quicker you can resolve your mistakes the better. And the best way I know of managing mistakes is by tracking what it is you’re trying to control or improve and then testing changes against that statistic.
Measure and Test, Test and Measure
So the process starts by identifying the key metric you should track. Then you monitor it for a while. Then you take a stab at how you can positively change it and implement the change. Now you sit back and measure the results. If it’s improving, let it ride a little while and measure again. Once it hits a plateau, look it over again and see how it can be improved again, taking into account the last changes that improved it. Make another change and watch the stats closely. If it starts slipping you may have to revert to the last successful action for a while until you can figure out your next move.
By measuring the things you are trying to control, you are immediately given more insights and power to control it. It’s almost magical. We do this all the time with clients when we are managing their marketing campaigns or testing their website performance. We will do what is called A/B Split Testing where we test a variation of an advertisement or a variation of their Home Page, just to see which one performs better. And you know what, you’d be very surprised, how little changes can impact things drastically.
The $10,000 Change
Recently we changed some ad text in a Google Adwords campaign that brought the client’s click-through rate from 3.5% to 10%. That’s almost a 300% increase by making a minor change in the ad’s headline text. The ramifications of this single change on this campaign are staggering when you consider the size and expected duration of the campaign. That one change is worth tens of thousands of dollars to the client. Without closely monitoring and continually testing, this change would never have been made. This is how proactive campaign management should be done.
Doubling a Client’s Return on Investment
With another one of our clients we had thought that we had had our client’s target audience pretty well identified. The site was converting at a rate of about 5%, which is incredibly well as anyone with experience in web marketing will tell you (1-3% is considered pretty darn good).
As most marketing firms do, we use a variety of ways to measure our client’s site productiveness. For general website performance analysis we use the very well rounded, Google Analytics. However, when you get into attempting to tie a specific ad to a specifically named visitor, to a specific action (eg. a web conversion) you’re going to need better tracking than this will provide. So, we searched around and couldn’t find exactly what we were looking at, so we decided to write our own custom tool that allowed us to track this information easily.
The results have been fantastic and have allowed us to accurately measure conversions for a specific target audience that we were trying to better control. We’re also better able to see clear patterns and trends that weren’t otherwise obvious or available. As a result of tracking, measuring and testing we were able to nearly double our conversion rate from 5% to almost 10%.
The Game Has Changed
So much has changed over the last 10 years. SEO used to be so much easier until people realized how much business was out there and what top rankings meant. Managing pay per click accounts used to be drop-dead easy. Developing an effective website was easy when the competition was weak. Today, all these things are in a different league. It takes a fair amount of precision knowledge and effort to make them work cost-effectively. They can be done very poorly for cheap money but you’ll regret it.
One must continually track, measure and seek to incrementally improve one’s approach until you are getting the kinds of results you’re after. It’s not always easy and the game is getting very sophisticated, so that those individuals who don’t do this will hemorrhage out huge amounts of money, in online campaigns and advertising. You simply have to devote the time to this or you have to sit it out. The stakes are high and the players are very aggressive. You don’t ever want to enter a professional poker tournament if you’re a novice… you’ll get killed
The Moral of the Story is…
The name of the game is tracking, changing and measuring your results continually. It’s the only way to be sure you’re squeezing every last ounce of effectiveness out of everything you do. This is the one thing I’ve done over all these years which has made the biggest difference in our company, for our clients and in my personal life.
If you need help improving the performance of your website or online marketing campaign, you should give us a call. We have a lot of knowledge from all these years of experience and we can implement fast changes which will get your campaign going in the right direction, fast!