How to Plan, Choose Channels and Measure Your Results
Marketing Foundation Series
“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” ― Herbert Spencer
One of the things that Hydra Digital and its partner businesses take pride in is the the fact that we aim not just to provide you with services that are up to date and a cut above, but to work with you to ensure that you understand those services and can clearly see the value in the work we do together. In line with the above quote, a great project should regularly provide a number of useful pieces of information in order for you to make informed decisions, which then allow you to be confident both in taking action yourself and in the actions that any suppliers are taking on your behalf.
Whether you’re a business owner, a freelance operator helping out that business, an internal staff member tasked with tackling the company’s online activity, or any number of other roles that intersect the company’s marketing then the most important bit of advice we could give you is to stay educated on the services you have employed people to provide.
This will ensure that you not only know whether or not you are being taken for a ride (and as much as we do love our industry, we’re well aware that it can happen), but also when your provider is nailing it, as it’s also sometimes true that a lack of understanding when it comes to results can derail a perfectly good project. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you need to know as much as the professionals providing you with those services, so with that in mind here are what we think are a few very basic things you should know along with a few short tips and references on things that you can action yourself.
This is number 1 for a reason. Something that is, unfortunately, lacking where Digital Marketing is concerned is a clearly reported picture of what the monetary return is on what you’re spending. Now, this isn’t to say that a potential provider is lying to you when they start to talk about how many aspects of online marketing are difficult to track, but there is one very simple equation that you can use to (broadly) set goals and intermittently measure the success of your marketing campaigns.
a) To start with, calculate your average profit per conversion (meaning how much profit you make on average from each lead that turns into a sale).
b) From there, you need to figure out the average conversion rate of the business (so if you were to receive 100 leads, how many of those would you be able to turn into sales?).
c) Once you know these two things, you can then match the costs being quoted to you for services against the number of leads you would require to cover that cost and begin making a profit.
So “a + b = c”, with “c” being the goal that should be set at the beginning of the campaign. Any provider who won’t commit to targeting (not guaranteeing) those numbers without providing a clear and legitimate explanation as to why that might not be possible for you is probably going to spend a lot of time trying to “re-explain” your own goals to you to fit with what they think they can achieve. You may want to get a second opinion at that point.
With that said however, we have to stress the “broadly measure” nature of this equation and that we’re talking about averages here. If you were to focus on your higher end products or services then obviously the average no longer matters as you’re much more likely to make your money back sooner. The opposite would naturally apply if you decide to focus on your lower end products and services and believe it or not the latter is a legitimate approach on occasion.
You can however use this approach accordingly with those things in mind. If the campaigns are going fantastically then that should be immediately apparent, but if the numbers don’t add up, then it’s time to start digging deeper into the data and asking questions to see exactly what is happening. Which is why you should always:
TRACK YOUR PROGRESS!
We doubt that you don’t receive regular reports from your provider (although if you don’t, run!), however understanding what they’re looking at is something that more businesses need to take the time to achieve. This is because it benefits both parties in that you recognise good work when you see it and your agency is more accountable. At the very least you should be tracking as outlined for the following digital marketing projects.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – Install Google Analytics on your website and utilise conversion tracking. You don’t need to know how to do it, your web person will. Just be sure to ask them to make that happen and definitely make sure that anyone doing your SEO plans to report data from this platform to you with each report. It should clearly show you whether or not your organic (non-paid) traffic and conversions are increasing as a result. More on this here.
- Facebook Advertising – Install the Facebook pixel on your website. Again, your web person can handle the installation for you, but this pixel is a powerful tool that can help you track conversion and activity on your website. Take some time to familiarise yourself with it here.
- Instagram – This platform is actually owned by Facebook, so its results show up in Ads Manager along with your Facebook ads. While any ad that meets the technical requirements for Instagram can be automatically pushed through to it, it’s advised that you create Instagram specific campaigns where possible as the platform has different requirements and users behave slightly differently. Info on technical requirements is here and you can find some background on Instagram advertising and behaviour here.
- LinkedIn – Install their Insights Tag on your website if you are advertising on this platform. It is much like the Facebook pixel except that it is (as would be expected) tailored to the sorts of info LinkedIn targets and can provide. More info is available here.
- Google AdWords- As you would expect from an official Google platform, this option provides reporting that integrates heavily into Google Analytics. For this reason installing Google Analytics and the relevant tracking code is a must. It provides a level of data that is unequalled on any other platform and probably the single most useful tool for those just starting out in online advertising as you will accumulate great data within a couple of months.
TIPS FOR USING EACH PLATFORM AND STRATEGY
It’s always good to have a fair idea of how a project should look and some working knowledge of the basics, so here they are.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)Keyword Assignment
Your information architecture, or to put it more simply the structure of your website, should be one of the first things any SEO provider looks at. They will likely assess your site against search engine requirements with regards to how the information flows, the user experience in relation to that information and how relevant they deem that information to be based on extensive keyword research and make changes accordingly. However what many don’t do, is to assign keyword targets to each and every URL on your website.
So for every page, there should be a main keyword and a few related keywords (with a good amount of search volume) assigned to it so that you know exactly what you’re targeting and not just going for vaguely industry relevant content.
Metadata – Once you have keywords assigned to each page and those pages are structured optimally, there are certain areas onsite (which you can find a basic rundown on here) that should contain/be targeting those keywords.
Content Marketing – You should be blogging minimum once per week, but again you should have those blogs mapped out in advance with keywords assigned to them. Regular content is a key part of remaining relevant, which obviously helps rankings. The blog mentioned above in the Metadata section also has info on how to do this.
Social Media Advertising
Familiarise yourself – This one is a bit more complex and hard to give “a few basic tips” on. The best advice we could give is that you need to become familiar with the reporting platforms and the data they provide along with what data is important to look at. You also need to be sure that you are tracking correctly as outlined in part 2 of this blog so that you can count the leads provided through social media.
Hold the campaigns up against goals – If they are providing the amounts of leads that were deemed to be required as per the methodology in point 1 of this blog then you’re looking good!
Don’t give up – If they’re providing those leads but you’re making below average profit then you may need to re-adjust your product/service focus, look at how you’re converting or re-think your targeting. If they aren’t providing the number of leads you need then it’s also important to re-think your campaigns right down to the advertisements themselves, however keep in mind that very few campaigns deliver right away and everyone can have an off month for a variety of reasons.
Don’t get lost in the data – Again this is a complicated platform so basic tips are difficult, but conversions are key here. Try not to get hung up on other metrics if you are making money. The important thing to focus on is whether or not you’re seeing a return, not how many clicks you’re receiving, how much a click cost, whether or not your ad is showing or a variety of other information that doesn’t actually matter if your campaign is profitable. Of course, there is always room for optimisation to try to increase the effectiveness of the campaign and those metrics do matter if it’s not yet profitable.
Patience is key – As with social media advertising it’s also important to remember that patience is required. AdWords often needs testing periods to begin with and getting to profitability is a journey, not something that can be delivered immediately. However if you have clear goals set out and can see that you’re on your way to them then having patience should be a lot easier.
Use the data – AdWords provides the kind of data that you can use to inform both SEO and Social Media campaigns. From things like engaged demographics for social through to highest converting keywords for SEO, it truly is a wealth of information, so use it.
So there you have it! We hope you’ll walk away from this feeling at the very least like you have an idea of where to look to further increase your knowledge and that we’ve been able to provide some helpful insights to help you take this by the horns and get the most out of your online efforts whether you’re implementing themselves or looking to have someone provide the services for you in an accountable and collaborative way.
On that note, if you’d like any further advice or to have a look at how it is that we hold ourselves to the above standards, please feel free to contact us! Let’s talk shop.