Let me start this by saying I hate the term expert, especially when used to describe one's self, but "Free Online Marketing Advice" is likely one of the most common headlines in the business world, and I wanted you to know that I have some experience under my belt. For our purposes, I'll define expert as a person who take their craft seriously, has a proven track record of success, and when engaged in a conversation about a topic, that person can always contribute positively. Now, for the free advice ...
I'm always hearing business people say they can't get a good gauge or ROI from online marketing. My advice is to stop saying that, and just start putting in the work. Here's why.
Online marketing and real world marketing function under the same logic. Reach is the number of people that picked up the magazine, drove past the billboard, or had the TV on. Views are the number of people that actually looked inside the magazine and saw your ad, looked at your billboard, or sat through the commercial. Interaction is the number of people that tore out that page in the magazine so they could take action, told Siri the website on the billboard, or showed appreciation in some way for the creativity in your commercial. Sales, are the people that bought as a result of the marketing and advertising above.
Let's look at billboards. Reach is fairly easy to guesstimate, but never 100% accurate. Views are impossible to calculate without tracking eye contact. Interaction is also impossible to calculate, and there's a chance that the person will get the reminder from Siri to check out your product or service at an inopportune time, thus forgetting about you forever. Sales; this is the most trackable piece of the puzzle IF your customers learned of you from a single source, your staff always ask "How did you hear of us?", and if you actually record that information centrally. Online, that information is readily available and catalogued for life as long as you know what you're doing. Plus, you don't need a potential customer to remember anything, you just need them to click.
The point of advertising and marketing is to reach as many people as possible within your customer base. In the real world, you can manipulate that data to a degree. In the online world, you can zero in on that data in deeper ways than ever in history.
So here's the second piece of my free tip—stop saying you can't get a good gauge on your online ROI because it's not the marketing principals that are flawed, it's the marketing itself.
One of the most important notes I give clients at Sync is to make sure they give their customers a reason to get excited. Now, this means different strokes for different blokes but ultimately if you're marketing doesn't rev up the potential customer in some way, then the marketing has failed. This is assuming you have a good product or service, of course. If not, there are larger problems than your marketing.
I've seen this time and again; a promotion goes out with very little thought, planning, creativity, and excitement, only to be a colossal waste of resources. The people behind it blame Facebook, or Google, or Cosmo. Then in more cases than not, a well thought out, thoroughly planned, creative, and energetic campaign hits to produce the desired ROI. Those behind the campaign pat themselves on the back for a job well done, but rarely thank Facebook, Google, or Cosmo.
It can take time to find the magic formula but the takeaway is that online marketing is never the problem—you will reach the people if you're doing it right because they're all online ... rather it's the idea that needs to be refined.
So, next time someone asks you if online marketing works, repeat after me, "If you're willing to do it right, then yes, it absolutely does."
Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist