Updated: Nov 4
You're investing tons of time and money in marketing, trying to make the proverbial phone ring. You're banking on the growth that your marketing will bring to pay you back for the effort and spend.
But with your attention so focused on the details – topics, articles, keywords, photos, calls to action, and metrics – have you let a vital element of your campaign slip?
Use our Digital Marketing Sanity Check once a month to make sure you're giving attention to the things that matter, so you'll get the results you need.
But first, let me illustrate the importance keeping an eye on things.
Coffee Case Study: The Missing Link
Starbucks made this mistake with me just a few days ago. They have a location just a mile or so from my home, and they do a brilliant job of luring me back there through promotions I see on their iPhone App.
Hooked by an offer for double points, or just tired of sitting at my desk alone, I hopped in my car and was there in 5 minutes (attract). In my mind there was a promise that Starbucks had spent millions of dollars to create: a trendy but friendly barista would be waiting to make my delicious espresso drink ("let me know if it's not perfect") and I'd sit down on a cozy couch with my laptop being incredibly productive around other happy, productive people (engage).
But after a few of minutes standing at the counter the dream fell apart. A manager type just the other side of the pastry fridge was busy working his clip-boarded checklist, obviously annoyed by the employee who was making an excuse to go home early. A third person worked the register for the customer in front of me, and then disappeared. No one made eye contact. Ever.
I'm a particularly patient and understanding man. But at some point I became uncomfortable. It was then I remembered my awesome espresso machine at home that would give me my drink for practically free. So I pivoted, and made my way out the door.
What Was The Weakest Link?
At great expense Starbucks corporate marketing had overcome my objections of cost and time and delivered me to a local store's doorstep. But when it came time to purchase, the value of what I had been promised was brought into question by a bad experience.
So I left, bounced, abandoned my cart – use whatever marketing lingo you want here. There was an imminent sale, and it didn't happen. Their plan failed at the conversion step.
This applies directly to your online conversions.
Ask yourself, "is it easy for people to do what I want them to do on my website?"
Can people find what they're looking for, purchase, and pay with as little friction as possible? Or is it better than it was last month? If so, you can put a checkmark next to Convert and move on. If not, you need a response plan.
Marketing Sanity Check
You'll recognize our big buckets or categories from a previous article on Four Essential Marketing Activities: 1. Attract 2. Engage 3. Convert 4. Retain
You'll want to make sure you have both a marketing activity and a measurement for each of these areas. If you don't, you might be losing valuable opportunities.
Attract – how are you getting people to your website?
Building a website isn't enough. You need search marketing to attract the people who are already looking, and you need other activities to invite the people who need you but aren't looking at the moment. We measure this by website visits in Google Analytics, broken down by the marketing channel that referred them.
Start by looking at the TOTAL number of visits, and whether they are up or down from last month
Engage – how well are you drawing people into your content?
Once people arrive at your website, it needs to fulfill the promise of whatever brought them there. If your email promised a sale on rubber gloves, that email needs to take them to a page just about rubber gloves.
But most people who show up at your website the first time are not ready to buy. So your website also needs to help them through the consideration process so they can come to a decision.
What do they need, or what are their pain points?
What do you provide, and how does it address these pain points?
What objections do people usually have, and how do you overcome those?
What do other customers say, and what certifications or awards do you have?
Most websites use more than one page to answer all of these questions. If that's you, you'll want to provide links from page to page so they can find the information they need. In the end you'll know you're engaging people by how many pages they view.
Generally, you'll want to look at an aggregate measurement for the whole site for engagement. But if your site has lots of pages, and you want to measure the effectiveness of different types of content, you can break it down.
If you're using one long page, you can measure engagement by "time on page" or "scroll percentage" (how far down the page they scrolled).
Start by looking at the AVERAGE number of page views, and whether they are up or down from last month
Convert – what do you want them to do?
You probably have multiple things you would like people to do on your website. But you need to be crystal clear about what's most important to ask, and when to ask it.
And you need to make it equally clear to your visitors what they can do, and how to do it.
Let's keep this simple for now. For online stores, the big ask is to Purchase. Purchasing actually involves several steps – adding to cart, checking out, shipping, payment. But for now, we'll consider all those steps as one.
For service businesses, the big ask is to complete a contact form of some kind that shows they're interested.
But there are secondary asks, which are just as important, especially for those who aren't ready for the larger commitment. Joining your mailing list, for example, allows you to invite them back to your website for valuable information and another opportunity to convert. Liking your Facebook Page, following you on Instagram or LinkedIn – all of these are important to make available and easy for visitors to do.
We measure all of them in terms of Conversion Rate. That is, out of all the people who came to the site, how many people did what you wanted them to do.
This checklist contains just a few tactics that are generally successful at increasing your overall conversion rate.
Make sure you at least have a Clear and Easy CTA and one of the three remaining tactics in place.
Retain – how are you maintaining the relationship?
In the case of an online store, you'll want them coming back to buy more. In the case of a service, you'll want to remind them of the value they're receiving so they don't get lured away.
Now For Action
It's important to come up for air once a month and make sure you're on the right track. Use this Digital Marketing Sanity Check to quickly and consistently take stock.
Keep in mind that answering the questions "am I doing the right things, and are they working?" should spur you to action for the following month.
When you see an area of improvement, ask yourself "What am I going to do differently?" and "How will I know if it worked?"
Then get back to it!