The Marketing Coach

“How do I know if what I’m doing really works?”

Dec 30

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Friday, December 30, 2011  RssIcon

This common question is related to the pervasive assumption that we all need to advertise online to get any business these days. Add to that the constant chastisement about starting a blog and keeping your tweets up to date. But what does this get you?

Online marketing should not be treated differently than any other marketing effort. To ridiculously simplify things, you should focus on 1) short-term lead generation, and 2) raising your overall brand awareness so more leads will come over the long term.

Google SEM example
Short-term lead generation tactics include things like search engine marketing, i.e. placing a ‘search’ ad on Google’s AdWords so that your business ad appears anytime someone does a search on Google for something related to your business. People use search engine marketing (SEM) because it’s very inexpensive, you see results immediately, and you can monitor the results and make tactical changes immediately. Most businesses know they need to advertise on the Internet. Yet a common question is, “How do I know what works?”

Online marketing should not be treated differently than any other marketing effort. To ridiculously simplify things, you should focus on: 1) short-term lead generation, and 2) raising your overall brand awareness so more leads will come over the long term.

Perhaps the best short-term lead generation tactic is search engine marketing (SEM)—placing a “search ad” on Google’s AdWords so that your business ad appears anytime someone does a search on Google for something related to your business. When you search Google for nearly anything, you can see these ads, which typically appear in the top three results of your search and in the right-side column. Most people who search Google don’t realize these are ads, so they frequently click on the link. Businesses use SEM strategy because it’s very inexpensive, you see results immediately, and you can monitor the results and make tactical changes instantly.

Of course, you must monitor your return on investment for online marketing in the same way you would monitor it for a telesales team, direct mail or any other lead generation tool. You spend $XX per lead, and that results in $XXX in sales conversions. This is simple arbitrage, and your revenue from conversion must always be higher than the cost of generating the leads or else you are losing money.

Online tools like Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter make this simple. You can spend $9 per click-through to run an advertisement every time someone types in the word “mortgage.” In this case, you only pay the $9 when someone clicks through your ad. That particular search term, however, will likely generate a lot of impressions (people who see the ad but do not click) and a lot of clicks, but few conversions. When you add up the total cost, you may be spending $300 for every one qualified sales lead. The good news is that you can tactically adjust your marketing program immediately by dropping that search term and buying the search term “first time mortgage san diego” for a mere $0.45. You may only get 3 clicks in one week, but you’ll likely get one qualified lead—and it only cost you $1.35.

This is called “optimizing” your SEM campaign. As an added value, Google offers suggestions on additional keywords to buy and estimates the cost in advance. You can (and should) also test up to three different ad messages; Google will automatically prioritize the ads that get more clicks and you will know which messages appeal most to your sales targets. By checking in on your AdWords campaign every morning for the first three weeks or so, you can optimize your ad messages and keywords (the search terms) so you maximize your sales leads for a minimal investment. After you have optimized your campaign, you can let it run and check it once per month. Since Google garners 75 percent of all search traffic, this one addition to your lead generation strategy can make a big difference in generating new customers.

In the long run, newspaper advertising, Twitter and Facebook pages are terrific for building strong brand awareness that over time generates even more leads, but sometimes starting simply can give your business the jump start it needs.

You MUST monitor return on investment for online marketing in the same way you would monitor it for a telesales team. You spend $XX per lead, and that results in $XXX in sales conversions. This is simple arbitrage, and your revenue from conversion must always be higher than the cost of generating the leads or else you are losing money.

Online tools like Google AdWords make this simple. You can spend $9 per click-through on the word “mortgage”, but you will likely generate a lot of impressions (people who see the ad but do not click) and a lot of clicks but few conversions.  When you add up to total cost, you may be spending $300 for every one qualified sales lead. So you can tactically adjust your marketing program immediately: Drop that approach and buy the search term “first time mortgage san diego” for a mere $.45.  You may only get 3 clicks in one week, but you’ll likely get one qualified lead – and it only cost you $1.35.

This is called ‘optimizing’ your SEM campaign. As an added value, Google offers suggestions on additional keywords to buy, and you can estimate the cost in advance. You can (and should) also test up to three different ad messages; Google will automatically prioritize the ads that get more clicks and you will know which messages appeal most to your sales targets. By checking in on your AdWords campaign every morning for the first three weeks or so, you can optimize you ad messages and keywords (the search terms) so you maximize your sales leads for a minimal investment.

Since Google garners 75% of all search traffic, this one addition to your lead generation strategy can make a big difference.

Twitter, Facebook, blogging and all the other tactics are terrific for building strong brand awareness that, in the long term generates even more leads, but sometimes starting simply can jump-start your business.


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Thanks Meredith. This relates to my business as a golf professinal trying to gain lesson clientel.
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