Let’s First Manage Client Expectations Online
One of the toughest aspects of any agency or search marketer is managing expectations in a quantifiable online marketing world. Let’s take a minute to remind ourselves how we bought media in the past. It probably went something like this from a billboard advertising sales representative. On a typical weekday, approximately 70,000 cars will drive by Hwy 43 and Good Hope in the direction of our banner advertisement. Therefore this $24,000 a month would be a sound investment if a large percentage of them come into the store or visit your website. What they didn’t tell you was that in fact only 503 cars would actually read your billboard ad. Regardless of the fake numbers mentioned in this example, an advertiser would never ever know the true economic impact of their billboard advertisement spend. Don’t get me wrong, I am not by any means bashing traditional marketing, I personally believe that it is still an extremely important part of the overall marketing mix. In fact when used correctly, you can leverage both online and offline in a very effective and fruitful manner.
The point that I am trying to make is that the digital world of online marketing has simply closed the gap between understanding where your audience truly is and what it costs to market directly to them. For example, one can now educate a client how much traffic they could expect on a given month from a specific keyword phrase after applying many click-through-rate probabilities. Not only will these advertisers receive traffic, but they will then understand what the traffic actually did while on their website and whether or not they enjoyed the content upon arrival and interacted with more pages, or simply left. All of this data is available within the respective analytics suite of the website, be it Google Analytics, Adobe Site Catalyst (Omniture) or WebTrends etc.
Why is this information so important? Let’s go back to my previous example where I speak about billboard advertising. What if “me” as an account manager or a traditional advertising firm could tell an advertiser…”Jim, not only did 76,518 cars drive past your billboard this month, 25,401 read your advertisement (viewed your search result on a search engine result page – SERP) after asking to see this content that your company specifically sells. In fact things were so great this month that out of the 25,401 who read your billboard ad, 8,325 decided to swing by your store to view the products in the ad (clicked on your SERP listing). In fact, you know the section of the store where you keep all of your “engines”, about 64% of the visitors decided to review and interact with only those products in the store prior to leaving. And lastly, out of the 8,325, approximately 167 of the visitors actually bought (completed an online purchase) an engine after speaking with your salesman for an average selling price of $1,595.”
Wouldn’t that be an unbelievable experience for the advertiser who is considering billboard advertising? Not to mention receiving a monthly report with that type of information? Well that is exactly what search engine marketing and other online marketing mediums are able to deliver daily. Because of this, our mediums are scrutinized and questioned more than their marketing mix counterparts mentioned above. So what’s my point? Don’t simply give a percentage of revenue to an advertising firm to throw out the window, analyze the different persona’s of your customers, identify the online demand of your products and services from the keywords used by each specific persona and create engaging useful content to give them what they are looking for in the easiest most thorough manner. Identify the marketing mix that makes the most sense online and offline for your business and continue to test different percentages of traffic in each to give you the highest return on investment.
How do I know which traffic medium is working and what isn’t?
- Select a product or category from your website
- Dive into your analytics suite and analyze which traffic sources are sending the majority of the traffic to these pages or sections
- Understand how each traffic medium is interacting with content. For example – Are certain mediums providing a higher bounce rate than others or a lower time on site (T.O.S) or average page views?
- If you are running an e-commerce site, do you receive a higher conversion rate or average order value from one medium to another? If so, can you reallocate your funds accordingly to take advantage of these findings? Do the same thing from a goal/lead conversion analysis across mediums
Go even further ⇒ Isolate the medium
- Identify whether the medium providing the highest traffic, AOV, and conversion rate is doing it single-handedly or getting support/assist from other channels (via multi-channel funnel analysis or other attribution software)
- Analyze the most popular pages in this medium from a visits, T.O.S, bounce rate, conversion rate, and AOV
- Does the content that is performing have greater depth versus other areas of the site? Are their seasonal considerations I should be taking into account? Am I more price competitive in this area compared with market conditions or is the competition less limited for these products?
- Once you gain the insight from these pages that are performing, you can take that knowledge as a solid baseline to analyze the lesser performing areas of the site in order to find gaps or quick hit opportunities. Check top exits pages, leverage the weighted sort feature in order to gain critical mass for a data driven decision. Identify which landing pages have the highest bounce rates or least amount of engagement.
I could obviously go on and on as this is a never ending process. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of using macro-level metrics (i.e. Overall site conversion rate) to benchmark whether a specific traffic medium is working or not. You need to dive into the micro-level metrics within each medium to give you the proper visibility to make the appropriate decisions related to spend and effort spent.