Don’t think about search engine marketing in terms of PPC or SEO. Look at each page of search engine results as if it were a virtual monopoly board. Increasing your search “real estate” will result in more website visits, leads and sales.
The Biggest Marketing Mistake Is the Failure to Set Clear Goals & Accurately Track Results
Accurate measurement and tracking is the foundation of every high-performing marketing organization. Without measurable goals and accurate systems in place to quantify your progress toward them, you’re not marketing wisely—you’re gambling with your company’s money!
If you’ve read a single business improvement book, you’ve undoubtedly seen sayings like, “what gets measured gets improved” or “you can’t effectively manage what you don’t measure.” From Stephen Covey to Peter Drucker and Stephan Schiffman to Avinash Kaushik, all the gurus recommend measurable, tangible goals and tracking systems to quantify performance. Go to almost any business coach or consultant and present them with a problem. The first thing nearly all of them will tell you to do is to more accurately track what you’re doing today and let them analyze the data. They know, from experience, that what you say is often (dramatically) different than what actually is.
But if all the research says that having measurable goals results in achieving greater results, why don’t more service business owners apply these principles to their advertising and marketing?
There are a several common reasons:
For starters, many aspects of marketing are just plain difficult to quantify. Some business owners feel that if they can’t quantify everything, it’s not worth quantifying anything. (Of course, nothing could be further from the truth!)
Setting measurable goals opens you (and your staff) up to failing. Even business owners are not immune to having a fear of failure. Think of Vince Vaughn in the movie Dodgeball who so eloquently states, “I’ve found that if you have a goal that you might not reach it but if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell you, it feels phenomenal.” (insert smiley face icon here)
Without the right tools in place and know-how, accurately tracking advertising and marketing results can be time-consuming and complex. The last thing a service business owner has is extra time, so owners often decide that the benefits of tracking just aren’t worth the time it would require, and few know that marketing measurement can be outsourced.
Many service business owners don’t think that accurate marketing measurement and ad tracking is possible. They take comfort in John Wannamaker’s famous advertising adage, “I know half of my marketing is going to waste. The problem is I don’t know which half.” Did you know that this quote was uttered nearly 100 years ago? Think of how far technology has come in the last 50 years, let alone 100 years!
How You Can Use Marketing Analytics (Tracking) to Increase Leads
In our first blog post of this series, we talked about how your website is not a brochure (although you might be treating it as if it were one). Your website is the equivalent of a sales rep for your business. When you have a sales rep and you want to increase his/her output, what options do you have? You could tell him/her to make more calls or you could send him/her to training to improve his/her close rate—or you could do both!
Your website is no different!
If you want to increase leads from your website, you could focus on getting more qualified visitors to your website or you could make changes to improve your website’s visit-to-inquiry conversion rate—or you could do both.
To do either of these effectively, you need to better understand how your website is performing today.
At a minimum, you’d want to know:
How many visitors come to your website each day/week/month (Don’t know the difference between ‘visit’ and ‘visitor’? Call us!)
Which marketing strategies send you the most/best visitors
How effective your website is at converting visitors into inquiries or leads (what is your websites true visit-to-inquiry conversion rate?)
If you don’t have accurate data for each of these questions, you can’t possibly identify the best way to improve your website’s performance.
Basic Marketing Analytics Tools Are Inexpensive & Widely Available
Basic marketing analytics tools like Google Analytics help you better understand how many people visit your website each day and which marketing strategies are responsible for sending you the most/best visitors. This is critical data for maximizing your online marketing performance!
Armed with this information, it becomes relatively easy to create tests and strategies designed to bring more qualified visitors to your website. When you know exactly where you are today, it is also easy to determine when a test was a success versus a failure. Think about it like this—would you spend money to generate inquiries to a sales rep that had a horrific inquiry-to-sale conversion rate?
Of course you wouldn’t! Before spending a single penny generating new inquiries, you’d either train your sales rep or replace him/her with someone capable of closing the deal.
Your website is no different.
If you own a service business, and your website has a visit-to-inquiry conversion rate of less than 3%, you should attempt to optimize your website before spending more money on traffic. Why? Because in most markets and for most types of service businesses, a 3% conversion rate is extremely low—a conversion rate of less than 3% is a serious problem! Often, making simple changes like increasing the size of your phone number, adding a mini-contact form to every page of the site, or creating stronger calls to action can help increase your conversion rates.
If, on the other hand, your website converts 15% of visitors into inquiries, you shouldn’t spend a single second improving your website’s conversion rate—simply work to increase traffic to the site! Increasing conversion rates, even with marketing analytics tools in place, is still more of an art form than a science. Identifying cost-effective ways to increase qualified visitors to your site is usually the safer (and better) bet.
Conclusion and takeaways
From quantifying SEO to managing PPC campaigns, marketing analytics (ad tracking/marketing measurement) is absolutely critical for service businesses seeking to maximize online leads. Some analytics tools, like Google Analytics, are free. But keep in mind that they must be properly configured/customized to provide any value. Also, if you receive inquiries to your business via phone, you’ll need to connect additional tools—like call tracking—to Google Analytics in order to determine your website’s true visit-to-inquiry (lead) conversion rate.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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