Every now and then, a friend , an acquaintance or a distant relative will drop a question that goes – how can I begin to tap on online marketing to grow my business?
Valid question, considering that online marketing is the most cost-effective way possible in today’s context to reach out to a large group of people. Definitely crucial for a SME.
However, i’m usually dumbfounded.
Besides the fact that i’m not talented at giving impromptu answers(like most geeks), the reason being is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
It is like asking a doctor, “how can I be healthier ? “ Actually, you dont need a doctor to answer this question. Anyone will be able to. Eat vegetables, exercise more and sleep earlier.
On that note, anyone can say; use facebook marketing , search engine optimization and email marketing to build your business. Everyone is doing that nowadays anyway.
True, but not exactly useful.
The bottom line.
No concrete recommendations can be given without first putting a periscope on your website.
Who knows ? Maybe your website is just a meta description tweak away from ranking in Google first page and massive amount of traffic. Or maybe, on the other end of the spectrum, it has already been penalized by Google. Either way, a diagnosis has to be conducted.
You don’t expect a doctor to prescribe medicine for you without first diagnosing your status first.
You will not know the potential you are leaving on the table by not conducting a checkup.
What then do you look at??
Traffic analysis : How much traffic do you have currently ? Which traffic source works best for you now ? Which one is converting better ? Can we capitalize on that source more , or try out other sources ?
User experience : How much time are they spending on your site, which page do they exit most from ? and why ? Is your website mobile responsive ?
Google Rank tracking : Which keyword is your website ranking for on Google now ? Many times, companies dont realize that they are found on page 2 of Google for some keywords and just need a slight push to see influx of traffic and sales. While for others, SEO doesn’t make any sense.
Keywords research: What is the number of people searching for products or services provided by your company on Google ? Are there new keywords that has surfaced in recent months that you are leaving out ? (Google estimates 500million searches per day are brand new)
Website messaging: You may have updated your brochures, fliers and billboards after a company restructure, but don’t forget your website. Most website owners dont visit their own website regularly enough to detect that messaging&branding is from a decade ago.
Technical audit: Typically done for SEO purposes. Since Google is a robot, your website communicates with it using alien language. Questions asked include, is sitemap created & submitted ? Is there robot txt preventing indexing of important pages ? Are there duplicate pages such as with and without index.php version of the website, which is the most common problem.
Conversion: If there are people visiting the site, what is the percentage of traffic converted into sales or leads ? We are looking at an average of 2-5% depending on industry. If lower, why so ?
Customer insights: This analysis is not entirely a ‘web audit’ per se, but it is probably the most important step. Every other tactic being planned is centered on them. Based on their online behavior, one should tailor the channel, message and web design accordingly.
Competitors’ strategies : How are the other players in the industry using digital marketing ? Are they buying ads or using organic methods to drive traffic ? Is their website primed for conversion ?
The above checks are carried out either manually or through the use of software. 3rd party software which conduct checks without accessing the backend of your website are decently accurate at estimating the breakdown of your website parameters. However, the best assessment is done with admin access rights to the website.
Usually, the show stopper is not like what you think. I have seen many cases of businesses wanting more traffic for their website. Yet, thats not where the problem is. Traffic is leaking away and not turning into sales. The more pressing issue would be to fix the pipe.
By finding out the specific page in which people are exiting from, it helps to put a finger at the precise area to improve on.
You will be surprised that by tweaking or moving around certain elements to match users’ surfing pattern, there will be better results without having to spend an extra single cent to buy more traffic to the website.
How users view webpages
How often ?
As much as I would like to tell you once-a-year, you actually have to look at your website analytics much more often than you do an X-ray on your body. Do it at least once-a-month or after a major campaign/promotion/sale on the website.
Not every round will be a full-blown examination, a minimum of Google analytics run-through will be essential.
No clear answer to marketing
When you look at the analytics, you gain insights into what works and what doesn’t, which is the cornerstone of any marketing effort.
Okay, I have to admit marketing and medicine are not the same in this aspect. For the former, testing is essential. Rarely does the first campaign lead to a home run. Experience helps in making a stronger speculation, but you can’t avoid doing a proper testing.
Its not surprising that top marketers of our times such as Seth Godin say that the person who fails the most wins. The key is to fail fast and cheap.
What do you test ? Everything from the marketing channel to the specific ad copy.
The cool thing about digital marketing is that one can login to the account and make changes to the advertisement anytime, unlike in the case of newspaper or magazine ads.
Here’s where the diagnosis becomes really important. You can get instant feedback about your online ads campaign, shortening the whole testing process.
Putting it all together
Back to the original question: whats the best way to marketing my business online ?
Like what annoying gurus like to say, it depends.
With continuous testing followed by diagnosis, you can always better your best.
I will go as far as to say that digital marketing, though popular, may not always give the best ROI. Your brand may be more suited for an offline approach.
Whatever the case is, we can all take a leaf from Peter Drucker’s famous quote: “What gets measured, gets managed.”
Even in the face of fast-moving technology, the sage old wisdom stays valid.
Start measuring the health of your website today and you can begin to expect it to work 10 times better for you!
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Ted is the director of Ice Cube Marketing. His insights on marketing has been featured in AsiaOne Business, Singapore Business Review , e27 and TechinAsia. He graduated with a 1st class honors degree in Business IT from NTU. While not planning campaigns for clients, he enjoys a good read on books related to psychology.