If a small business is weak in one area of marketing (aside from first, doing it at all), it would be in the testing and tracking area.
Larger companies have a marketing team where several staff members are devoted to this function. As a business owner, you know the value and importance of tracking numbers. Within marketing, measurement is also vital to know what’s working—or not.
When I was in college, I switched my major to marketing. I lasted one semester. The one class which tripped me up was quantitative analytics. In the 1980’s, it was done with spreadsheets and human calculations. Today we have software that automatically tracks everything from buyer behavior to complex predictive analysis. Technology has made this vital aspect of marketing so much easier.
The good news is that not only has the software gotten better (and more granular), but it’s completing these tasks faster than ever before. The bad news is as a result, many marketers are now overwhelmed by data, forced to sift through an endless mountain of reports while neglecting to focus on developing marketing strategies that work. Discovering the “happy medium” of getting enough data and the right data—is today’s marketing challenge.
As you probably can imagine, a little information can go a long way. However, this should tell you there is ample information available that will let you know how well your marketing is performing.
When copywriters write a sales letter for their client, the client will usually send a “test letter” to a small section of their mailing list. Typically, you want to send a test mailing to no more than 20% to 25% of the total mailing list.
When it comes to online testing, it’s a little easier. First, you can quickly see the results. Second, you can also change elements of your marketing quickly (depending upon having a responsive web designer).
Here are some potential areas to test for your marketing strategy:
- The colors on your website
- The colors of your call to action buttons
- The headline on your website pages
- The title of your “free download” eBook, report, etc.
- The introduction copy for your home page
- The copy of your website
- The length of copy for your website
- The call to action
Split testing, or A/B testing is when you create two of the same offer, but you use different elements with each. For instance, on one web page, you may use the headline “Save Big With Your Taxes This Year!” and on the other web page, this headline, “New Jersey Business Owners Agree: Smith & Johnson Helped Them Grow.”
Your website developer can help you create different web pages, or you could use a landing page service such as Leadpages. Or if you use a marketing automation platform like Hubspot, ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp, they also allow you to create different landing pages.
An important distinction: when testing for direct mail, often several elements are tested. However, when you test your digital marketing (your website, email, and any online content), only test one thing when doing an A/B test.
For some of these changes, you may see an immediate result. Others may take a few months before seeing a difference. Monitor your efforts as closely as you can to determine which approach is the winner.
When you test various types of changes, carefully look at the results. Did that new headline on your website perform better than the previous one? Did the blue test better than orange? Or maybe you tested an offer with a rock-solid guarantee.
Whichever is the “winner,” you then want to apply the results to the rest of your marketing. Consider using the more successful headline as a headline for a postcard campaign. Or use the more popular color for other elements for your marketing material (brochures, business cards, newsletters, etc.)
Software companies also can give you results, such as Google Analytics (which analyzes your website for visitors, most popular posts and pages, the demographics of your visitors, and more). Leadpages, a software-as-a-service company, offers landing page templates for your website. They will provide a click-through rate for the landing pages, allowing you to see which ones are performing well and which ones may need some adjustment.
Here are some other tools to help you evaluate results:
- Hotjar—an all-in-one analytics and feedback software service
- CrazyEgg—provides snapshots of your website visitors and tracks their activity path
- Lucky Orange—an all-in-one conversion optimization software suite
A conversion is when someone responds directly to an option. It could be a “Join Today” button on your website, to encourage a website visitor to sign up for your newsletter—or it could be a “Call Today” message within a sales letter you mail to a list of prospects.
For instance, when a website isn’t converting website visitors into newsletter subscribers, the marketing team goes to work to figure out how to fix it. There are a variety of ways to address the issue. Some of the more common ways to improve conversions include changing:
- The copy – is it too long? Too short? Too vague? Doesn’t address the problem or create a sense of urgency?
- The call to action – is it bland? Unclear? Uninteresting?
- Design – would a red button work better instead of green? Does the font size need to increase? Are there images needed? Are there different images you could use?
Tracking your results will help you get the most out of your website. Very often, visitors don’t do what you think they will do (or what you want them to do). Using such tools as those listed above will help you connect with visitor preferences so you can improve the usefulness of your website.
One of the most important ways you can improve your marketing is by surveying your current clients. Asking for feedback can give you crucial insights that can make a huge difference in your marketing strategy.
Make it easy for your clients to give you feedback. Place contact information on all of your client communication assets including your email signature line. Ask for feedback on a regular basis. You can use online surveys to collect information.
If you want more insight regarding a specific service, choose a small sample of clients who are using that service and create a short questionnaire for them to complete. Some possible questions to ask:
- Why did you choose this service?
- What has been the most valuable benefit of this service?
- What surprised you about this service?
- What frustrated you about this service?
- If you could wave a magic wand over this service so that it was perfect, what would it look like?
- Would you refer others to this service? Why or why not?
- Did this service meet your expectations? If not, what disappointed you?
- If you could, would you choose this service again?
You want your clients to be as truthful as possible, even if hearing the truth might sting a bit. Often, you learn more from the complaints than the praise.
If you survey your clients on a regular basis, you’ll find the results will keep you on track for marketing success. It is true you can’t please everyone, but over time, you’ll notice response patterns. If, for instance, a dozen people complain the new website re-design isn’t working for them, you can ask them more questions about what they find difficult.
By asking for genuine feedback, you accomplish two things: 1) your clients will see you care and 2) the feedback will act as a roadmap for creating a more effective marketing strategy. Both will pay big dividends when it comes to your bottom line.
Partial excerpts taken from the book, The Maverick Advisor: The New Rules of Marketing for Financial Advisors and Consultants – Get Great Clients, More Respect, and the Fees You Deserve, by Mary Rose Maguire.