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Why Marketing Metrics Matter to Your Business

Metrics.horizWhen it comes to measuring marketing success, many business owners (and professional marketers) prefer to think that results are more magic than math. But that’s just not so. The digital era – with it’s easy (relatively) access to analytics – has introduced a whole new way of thinking.

Using real data, business owners can now take a “show me the money” approach to measuring marketing success. Marketing metrics – as opposed to, say, website metrics – can show what works and what doesn’t with far more clarity than ever before.

If you aren’t using some type of marketing metrics or analytics, your business is flying blind. Your goal is to confidently identify which marketing efforts are delivering the best financial returns. Only then can you make the right strategic moves to improve your results over time.

With marketing dollars scarce, business owners and startup entrepreneurs are moving to methods where they can most easily measure and quantity success – or the lack thereof. Meanwhile, test-and-learn marketing (A/B testing) and other marketing tools are helping even the smallest businesses glean valuable insights into what customers and prospects actually DO rather than simply what they SAY.

Marketing Metrics vs. Website Metrics

Don’t confuse marketing metrics with simple website metrics such as page views per visit, time on site, back-links and others. The marketing data important to you includes such things as total traffic, action rates, leads, conversion rates and – ultimately – sales. Whereas web metrics focus on what’s happening with your website overall, as well as specific pages, marketing metrics are mostly about human actions – your customers and prospects.

Metrics-focused marketing starts with three main activities:

1)    Setting goals and targets up front. These should include such things as how many incremental sales are generated, how much revenue each sale produces and the gross margin. In short, you want to know precisely what impact your marketing efforts are having on revenue.

2)    Designing or selecting your marketing programs to be measurable in the first place. You’ll want to know the incremental contribution of each individual marketing effort you undertake in order to compare results.

3)    Focusing on decisions that will improve your marketing results. The idea is to adapt and make changes along the way.

Here are three key marketing metrics to consider:

  • Lead Conversion Rate: Lassoing lots of leads is great. But converting them to sales is what really counts. Your conversion rate is the percentage of leads that ultimately become sales (10 sales from 100 leads = a 10% conversion rate). This also produces insights into lead quality and how revenue can react dramatically to even small changes in conversion rates.
  • Revenue Per Customer:  Once you know how much the average customer is spending, you can make better decisions on whether to focus on new customers, selling more to existing customers, or both.
  • Customer Acquisition Cost: This boils down to what it costs you to gain a new customer. It’s a critical number to know for deciding what you can spend on your marketing efforts. If your revenue per customer is higher than your acquisition cost, you’re at least on the right track.

Metrics Missteps to Avoid

  • Vanity metrics: Avoid relying on “feel good” measurements that sound good but don’t actually measure business outcomes or improve profitability. Common examples include PR impressions, Facebook “likes” and names gathered at trade shows.
  • Focusing on quantity, not quality: The main metric of lead generation is usually quantity. But focusing on quantity without also measuring quality can lead to marketing programs that look good initially but don’t deliver profits.
  • Activity, not results: Marketing “activity” is easy to see (costs going out the door), but results are harder to measure.
  • Efficiency instead of effectiveness: Know the difference between effectiveness metrics (doing the right things) and efficiency metrics (doing – possibly the wrong – things well).
For example, having a packed event is no good if it’s the wrong people.

Lenskold Group, a marketing analytics firm, has a helpful, and free, online tool for calculating the return on investment (ROI) of your lead generation. Just put in the numbers for nine different variables and check the results. Look on the website under “ROI Resources”.

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10 Tips to Jumpstart your Video Marketing

As online video gets cheaper and easier to produce, and its effectiveness as a marketing method grows, more and more small businesses are jumping in. Business owners who’ve stuck largely to text-based marketing channels such as search ads, blogs and social networks are discovering that video can be a compelling addition to a marketing mix.

And customers and prospects – both in the consumer and business-to-business realms – are gobbling up video and now even expect it in many circumstances. In a single month, 179 million Internet users in the U.S. watch over 30 billion videos, according to industry research.

For small businesses, however, one big catch with video in past was cost. But that’s changed. You no longer need expensive video production experts to produce effective, good-looking videos. New, inexpensive web-based applications can turn PowerPoint presentations, audio, photos and other graphics into powerful lead generation videos. You can even add interactive features such as live forms right into the video, rather than simply flashing a web address and hoping people visit.

There are many different types of applications to choose from, involving a variety of skill levels from novice to expert. A great place to learn about them is at ReelSEO.com. Another good resource is KnowledgeVision.com.

Here are 10 tips and strategies to help you jumpstart a video marketing program of your own.

  1. First, change how you think about video. Many of us are still ingrained with how old-style “network television” first defined video as a story with a beginning, middle and end that people watch passively. That’s changed dramatically. Online video can be super-short, highly interactive, incredibly creative and a million other things.
  2. Use a divide and conquer approach to your videos. Divide them into three categories: showpiece, workhorse and long-tail videos. Showpiece videos are the splashy pieces that show off your business. Workhorse videos explain your most important products and services. Long-tail videos delve more deeply into special topics.
  3. Use showpiece videos sparingly. Don’t blow your entire budget on a few Hollywood style videos that cost a bundle. Focus on one that can perhaps play in your trade show booth or be an attention-grabber on your website. For this one you might consider hiring a video production company.
  4. Make workhorse videos shareable. These videos should have a super-clear message and a well-defined target audience. They should be the kind of informative, authoritative video that people like to pass along. These don’t have to be slick.  But they must be clear, focused and true to the particular personality of your business.
  5. Go for a deeper dive with long-tail videos. Use these videos to dig deeper into specific topics, answer frequently asked questions, provide detailed data or feature yourself or others in your business as subject-matter experts. Talk about specific solutions and customer needs.
  6. Make bit-sized pieces. Don’t cram too much into one video. Break it up into a series of educational mini-segments that take on one piece at a time.
  7. Create a template you can replicate. For example, Zappos, the popular online shoe seller, creates simple 60-second videos following the same format to showcase individual products. Once the mold is set, such videos are cheap and quick to produce.
  8. Create videos with text and still images. Videos don’t need to have moving images. Many highly effective videos consist of a simple series of PowerPoint type slides with text and photos. Some have audio; some don’t. These are easy to create online.
  9. Make it local. Some businesses are having great success creating videos that feature impromptu “interviews” with people on “Main Street,” or in recognizable locations in the community. Today’s inexpensive hand-held cameras can produce amazingly good quality, and you can easily upload, edit and enhance the videos with online editing services.
  10. Marry your video content with a call to action. The days of creating a video and then plunking a web address or phone number in the last frame and saying “Call us or visit our website” are over. New techniques let you easily add interactive polls, surveys, live forms and other lead generation techniques, so use them. You don’t want prospects watching your video and then asking, “What now?”

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10 Tips for a Great Customer Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most critical parts of any marketing message, whether it’s delivered by email, direct mail, on your website, Facebook page or any other way.  A call to action should spur the customer or prospect to take the next step (call, click, stop by, download, “like,” tell a friend, etc).

But many businesses create ineffective calls to action – or worse, none at all. “Call us” or “Click here” are CTA wimps.  They offer no information or customer motivation. Call who, why? What happens if I click?  What’s in it for me?

A strong CTA makes it clear what action the customer is expected to take, and why.  Your approach depends on the action you want to motivate. For example, if the goal is to spur a purchase, and you’ve already communicated benefits, a simple “Buy Now!” might be all you need.  Here are 10 tips for creating strong calls to action:

  1. Set the table first: A call to action works best when customers are properly prepped.  Start by identifying the problem (the pain), and explaining why your product or service solves it.  The benefits you offer can become part of your call to action.
  2. Make it stand out.  In a letter or text email, for example, the CTA can be in larger type, color or bold. On a website or blog it can be designed into a colorful button.  Performable, a web analytics company (now part of HubSpot), has an online tool called the Super Conversion Button Builder that lets you create your own customized call to action button for free.
  3. Offer incentives:  Consider a sweetener, such as a discount or free gift as a reward for heeding your call to action.  For example, instead of saying merely “Join our mailing list” your CTA could be “Join our mailing list and receive a 15% off coupon.” 
  4. Avoid scary terms. Instead of asking people to “Register” or “Subscribe,” (both can be scary), try friendlier terms such as “Receive updates” or “Stay connected.”  Make it about them, not you.
  5. Keep it clear and simple: Avoid surrounding your call to action with too many choices. Keep the mental effort required by customers to a minimum.  For example, presenting three action choices such as “View Demo,” “Get more Information” and “Buy Now” all in the same place will likely reduce response.
  6. Feast on QR codes:  Used properly, a QR code can be a great CTA supplement. But don’t leave a QR code “naked.” Include an adjacent message that explains it, such as “Scan this code for a 3-D product photo.”
  7. Place your CTA early and high:  Small businesses typically place their call to action at the bottom of a page.  The best place, however, is high on the page, and in a central place where the eye can easily see it, not off to the side.
  8. Use links liberally: Always link logos and product photos to your desired landing page or shopping cart.  And don’t forget to label your photos with descriptive “ALT” tags. This stands for “alternative text” which will appear in someone’s browser or email if the image is not available.
  9. Be strategic: When creating your CTAs, don’t think in terms of a single offer or campaign.  Try to create calls to action that can be part of your overall marketing plan.  That way, the same ones can be used in a variety of circumstances.
  10. Follow through:  Having a great CTA still isn’t enough.  You also have to consider what happens if the customer or prospect does what you’ve asked. It is vital to deliver the proper response quickly – an order confirmation, thank you note, email, or other action on your part that keeps the customer moving down the purchase, or repeat-purchase path. A great way to do that is by using a web-based service such as Nimble that lets you quickly and easily connect with customers and contacts on all of your social media platforms.

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