“I just don’t know if any of this works. Like website traffic and email subscribers… does that really translate to customers?”
I could hear the frustration in his voice. It’s something I hear often when I talk to business owners about my work. They know digital marketing is supposed to work but they don’t know how or if it really does.
There are many misconceptions about online marketing. The biggest one being that it’s something you can just “turn on” and the sales will start flowing in. To quote the Essurance commercial, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.” (For reference if that quote is lost on you: https://www.ispot.tv/ad/7T0N/esurance-beatrice).
I’ve been fortunate enough to see just how well digital marketing can work when it’s executed correctly. I’ve been able to work with my clients and teach them how to manage their marketing so that actually feel like it’s working. If you feel absolutely frustrated and angered by your online marketing, then you might need to follow the tricks I’ve outlined below.
- Understand your sales cycle.
Whether you are marketing online or in person, you have a sales cycle. There’s a rhythm to sales and marketing in every industry. Really great sales people and marketers understand this. They know how long it takes a prospect to go from visitor to lead to customer. They build out their marketing accordingly. Digital marketing can help speed up this cycle in certain industries but if you have no idea what your sales cycle looks like, you have a pretty big roadblock between you and successful marketing.
The best way to understand your sales cycle is to talk to your customers. Pay attention to when people come to you in need of help. Pay attention to how long someone has known about you before they hire you. Pay attention to the amount of emails you send and phone calls you make to customers. This will help fill out your sales cycle so you can understand how to manage your pipeline.
2. Be clear and specific on your goals.
I want to be really clear on something. “More customers” is a really flimsy goal that you will never hit. If that’s how you are setting up your marketing to get “more customers,” you will likely feel like you are failing every single day.
The clearer and more specific your goals are, the easier they will be to hit. Instead of saying that you want more customers, instead set a goal of five consultations a month. That’s measurable, specific and actionable. There are so many things that get in the way between you and more customers. But with a goal of five consultations a month, you can more easily map out those steps. (Hint: if you understand your sales cycle, it will be easier to create marketing goals that impact your bottom line because you understand where you are in every step of the cycle.)
3. Look at every piece of your marketing and not just the outcome.
Let’s imagine you coach a soccer team. If your team had lost their last four games, would you just say “Well there is clearly something wrong with the team and soccer all together. Let’s just stick to baseball?”
Probably not (unless you are a very lazy coach). It’s more likely that you would review game tapes, watch your team during practice and figure out what’s not working, what is working and what needs to be practiced. The same goes for digital marketing.
If you ran a campaign and didn’t see any results, it might not be the overall campaign that’s defective. Perhaps you were promoting it to the wrong audience. Maybe your landing page wasn’t optimized. Maybe there was something missing from the copy of your emails. If you want your marketing to be effective, you have to be willing to look at every piece, every play, every part of it. Figure out what is working, where the gaps are and then do what needs to be done to close them.
4. Stop trying to do everything at once.
There is no rule that says you have to do it all. There is no rule that says you need to be on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, blogging, writing white papers and pitching to blogs, podcasts and speaking engagements.
You are better off doing one thing with 100% effort than ten things with with 20% effort. If you want to have a blog, get really, really good at blogging. Then move into doing podcast. If you want your website to rank better, focus on your SEO then tackle your social marketing. In short, do less better. The more wins you have in one area will give you energy to branch out to others. You can experiment more once you have channels that are working really well.
5. Remember you are building a championship franchise.
Let’s do another sports metaphor. Smart professional sports team owners and managers know that their overall goals should be to focus on bringing a championship franchise and not always a winning team that year. Sometimes that means accepting you will have a rebuilding year while you focus on improving your rookies. Sometimes it means not spending the millions of dollars on the fancy QB who probably only has a two to three really good years left in him and instead investing in a few capable and improving offensive players.
It’s all about recognizing that a sustainable, successful and results-driven marketing strategy does not always happen over night. It comes from testing, measuring, learning, adjusting and taking the time to understand your audience, your strengths and your tactics. In other words, it’s an investment. But it’s an investment than can prove to bring long-term results with the right work.
Online marketing isn’t always flashy. It isn’t always instant but it is a worthwhile endeavor that with time, understanding and work; can bring you a steady stream of clients for years.