Measuring your marketing plan

By guest blogger Clay Hamner

You have completed the discovery process of your project, created a campaign that has your customers saying “wow, I want that”, but how do you measure its success?  The answer depends on the type of plan implemented.  The following discusses various ways to track the success or failure of any plan you implemented and some tips to help you refine your results.

Measuring a digital campaign

Let’s say you chose a local news service to deliver ads to its audience.  Call it Business Services.com. This service delivers 10,000 impressions per day and everyone who visits their site sees your banner ad, but do they click through to see what your product or service is?  The service should supply you with a click through rate (CTR), but you should verify the results using Google Analytics. Google Analytics provides a free service to track all data coming to your website.  If your banner ad sends the user to the main website, you can’t tell the difference between regular traffic coming to your site or the effectiveness of that great banner ad you created.

Make your destination URL unique for the campaign and for example, make it www.businessX.com/adcampaign1

This will tell you exactly how effective your campaign is apart from regular traffic.

Measuring a print or any other type of campaign

The same type of delineation with the URL applies here.  Send your user to a specified URL such as www.businessX.com/printcampaign or www.businessX.com/radioad.  Make sure you give the listener, or user a word that’s easy to remember.

Here’s an interesting article from Entrepreneur Magazine that explains these recommendations very thoroughly:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248596

“Measurement” is a hot topic in marketing right now, although I’m not sure there was ever a time when it wasn’t important.

Back in the day, when the bulk of a brand’s marketing budget was based on advertising and promotion, it was a tad easier to measure its effectiveness. With marketing budgets much more fragmented across multiple channels now, measurement is even more crucial to determine the most effective parts of the plan. But it’s also much harder to measure.

When teaching my class at New York University about measurement, the first words out of my mouth are “Measurement doesn’t begin when the program is over. It begins when you start planning for it.”

Related: The Secret to Maximizing Your Marketing Dollars for Fun and Profit

Every element of your marketing plan, and your business plan as well for that matter, needs to have a measurement and metrics protocol built into the planning with key benchmarks set at the beginning and end with milestones throughout.

How else can you know for sure if the program was successful? Without a goal and measurement system in place at the beginning, you can’t possibly ascertain success. Plus, by adding in milestones throughout the program’s life, you can track progress so that there are no surprises. In fact, you can monitor and control the progress and course correct along the way to ensure success.

That’s just smart marketing.

For the big brands of the world this may seem obvious. But for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, this kind of methodology doesn’t come naturally. So I’d like to break it down into a couple of simple components so that you can properly measure for your planned success.

Measuring the product

Measuring success of your product or service is the obvious first step, and most likely your ultimate metric will be sales. But it’s important to not only set your sales forecast in advance, but to monitor the key factors that affect your forecast along the way. You may also want to measure customer satisfaction of the functional attributes of your product as well, to see if an upgrade might be in order. This is just one example of measuring your product.

Related: Use the Metrics That Really Matter in Your Business

Measuring the brand

Most small-business owners track sales and think the job is done. Not by a long shot. You should also be measuring key brand metrics as well since they are highly influential towards your ultimate sales results. Attitudes and perceptions about the brand and what it offers will impact your future success, so you should be monitoring those metrics throughout your marketing programming. Sure, you may know how well your product is selling, but if you don’t know how the brand is delivering on its promises then you don’t know the health of your business.

The truth is that measurement is one of those topics we tend to avoid until tallying up our success at the end of the year or at the conclusion of a marketing campaign.

But by then, it’s too late to change course and it’s likely too late to impact the next year or the next program. I know it’s a daunting task, especially when you are resource constrained and managing all the other aspects of the business as well, so keep it simple and focused.

Pick a few key measures for both the product and the brand and monitor them. Pick the ones most tied to your firm’s success, so you know they are driving the business. Pick a couple and focus on them — it’ll be a big leap forward in your thinking that will hopefully deliver a big leap forward for your work.

Clay Hamner

Clay Hamner is a Richmond, Virginia native and owner of Lythos Studios. He has worked in a family advertising business since he was 14 and has a unique understanding of data interpretation. To learn more about his company, go to www.lythos.com/aboutus.

You talking to me?

MSP blogger robot

I read a lot of blogs. Some are great with useful information that can help me in my business and are so entertaining and well written, they’re a pleasure to read. Some are pretty good, with at least a nugget that sparks a new idea. These are are also well written, sometimes humorous, sometimes straightforward. They are all obviously written by a real person for real people.

Which brings me to the third category of blogs. They’re pretty awful. They sound like they were written by robots for a high-school English assignment. They’re written in third person. They’re full of technical jargon. They’re crammed with acronyms, that awful alphabet soup that baffles the casual audience and slows down even the most knowledgeable reader.

Just as bad, they aren’t written with their particular audience in mind. Like me. Or the business owner, or the small business IT manager. Their blogs are all about themselves, what they know, and what they can do. Just as bad, they are ungrammatical and misspelled. Unfortunately, MSPs’ blogs are among the worst.

Be yourself

Use your real voice. Use first person voice: I suggest, I recommend, I think. If appropriate, you can use we: “We at Zappo Electronic Services have found….” Avoid the third-person, neutral voice like poison. It makes you sound pompous at best and, at worst, boring. “It has been found that….” Zzzzz. You’re the expert here. Own it!

Talk to me

It’s far more effective if you tell me how what you’re telling me is important to me. So the new router from your supplier is faster or your new VOIP system is the best on the market. Okay, I may understand that faster is better but, in real terms, what is a faster router going to do for me? Why should I care that your new VOIP system is better? It may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to me. If it’s faster and better, it’s also probably more expensive. What are the benefits to me that are going to outweigh the expense and the pain of making a change?

If you can include real-life examples, so much the better. Sometimes technospeak is unavoidable, especially since you’re in a technical field, right? So make sure everyone understands what you’re talking about, by spelling out the acronyms (at least at first) and adding brief definitions. Not everyone in your field has the same level of experience and the same depth of understanding.

Teach me something useful, but don’t try to sell to me

Like a lot of people, I like learning cool new things that are going to useful to me. I define as useful those things that make my business run more smoothly, help me provide better information to my clients, save me money, make me money, improve my health and that of my family, boost my confidence by showing me I’m doing the right thing, or prove to a client that we’re on the right track. Or just make me think, Huh, I didn’t know that!

If you try to sell something to me, I’m outta here. Certainly provide your contact information and a soft offer to provide information about services, but watch the sales language. Check your spelling and ask someone to edit for grammar and clarity. Even if just for a while, you’re an educator, not a salesperson. And definitely not a robot.

Want an outsider’s view on your blogging and inbound media? Get in touch at 804.382.0594 or info@fastforwardmktg.com.

Tired of Chasing Worthless Leads?

How to attract qualified leads to MSP

Try Attracting Qualified Leads Instead. Here’s How.

Working from a list your boss hands you or, worse, a purchased list of leads will get you lots of hang-ups, a few tepid maybes and very few real prospects that turn into even fewer closed deals. And why should they talk to you? They have no idea who you are, they have no idea why they might need to talk to you and, frankly, they’re busy and you interrupted what they were doing when you called.

Stop chasing them

With a carefully thought-out plan to share information on blogs, special offerings like ebooks, whitepapers and checklists – information that is useful and attractive to your best customers and prospects that look like them – inbound marketing is a great way to attract the kind of prospect who is already interested in what you offer.

Inbound marketing is a process, starting with research, through content creation and moving through the stages of attracting and nurturing leads, and finally to converting leads to customers.

Research will give you information – or additional information – about your target market. Even if you are simply looking to expand within a silo you’re already working, research can reveal specific words and phrases, questions and concepts that are the daily language of your target and which you can use to capture their attention.

Research will also help you craft your web and blog text to improve your organic SEO.

SEO (search engine optimization) comes from your content, which is the knowledge you share via blog posts, videos, case studies, tip sheets, and other special offerings we mentioned above. Your web copy will contain some of the words and phrases you discovered in your research. Elements of your website, such as new content, tags, metadata, links and other details, also improve your organic SEO.

Blogging attracts people who are searching for your expertise. If your content is robust and, most importantly, provides useful information that speaks to their concerns, people will subscribe to your blog. Answer the questions and concerns using the language your research discovered. Do not sell. Do not talk about what you do. Talk about what you know.

Once they sign up – boom! – they’ve just identified themselves as a prospect.

Social Media invites prospects to your website. Social media is a conversation and, like any good conversation, it isn’t all about you. Engage with other thought leaders, clients and prospects to share information. An invitation to follow, like or connect encourages an interested person to become a qualified prospect.

Social media is also the broadcast channel to let people know about all the good stuff you have on your website and in your blogs and how to find it. Talking about others’ ideas is only good social media manners.

Landing pages are the locked gates to your in-depth info, and a key to your inbound success. The info you are giving away has a small price: the recipient’s name and email address. Different kinds of content will appeal to prospects and customers at different points of their purchasing journey.

When they are simply researching their options, a guide, a comparison chart or something similar would be useful to them. A case study is likely to be read when they are in the deciding stage of their journey.

Email, when it is permission based, is the tool for staying in touch with useful information and links to more in-depth info, special offers, links to blogs, invitations, news and more. When the message is properly targeted, it will have a 62 percent better chance of being clicked on than a non-targeted email. It’s the research you started with that will help you target your message.

Don’t bother with purchasing an email list. At best, a large percentage of the list will be out of date or your carefully crafted message will end up in their spam folder. At worst, you’ll be shut down for sending spam and your email account will be suspended or cancelled.

Don’t you hate getting junk emails from someone you don’t know for a product you don’t want or need? Of course you do. So, why send it?

Getting to know you

What’s the point of all this activity if none of it results in a direct sale? You’re cultivating a relationship and sharing knowledge. You’re demonstrating your expertise. You’re building a relationship. You’re building trust.

You’re making it easy for your sales team to close the deal. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, in six months, inbound marketing resulted in almost twice as many web visitors and 2.69 times more leads. The conversion rate for lead to sales was a whopping 73 percent higher compared to all respondents, and 69 percent of survey respondents saw increased sales revenues. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?

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Download the free ebook, “5 Components of Successful Inbound Marketing to learn more about what makes inbound marketing work for MSPs.

DOWNLOAD NOW!

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Bart Levy is marketer in chief at Fast Forward Marketing Co., and a certified inbound marketer. Contact her at 804.382.0594 or bart.levy@fastforwardmktg.com to discuss whether inbound marketing will work for your MSP.

“Boring” businesses can boom with inbound marketing

Old-fashion business building exterior

Somehow, there seems to be an impression that only “interesting” companies or industries can succeed with inbound marketing. Which, frankly, seems crazy to me. Isn’t your business interesting to you? Aren’t your customers interested in how you can ease their pain points?

Designing computer networks and installing telephone systems may not seem very sexy. However, ask someone whose network is always crashing or whose phones don’t work properly, and you’ll find your solutions are suddenly very attactive indeed.

Using inbound marketing to educate – not hard sell – your clients and prospects about your company, your industry and your community works. This recent blog post in Forbes tells how a small oil drilling company in Texas uses inbound marketing and has developed a remarkable following.

If you’d like to learn how inbound marketing can spice up your service company’s marketing, give us a call at 804.382.0594 or email us at info@fastforwardmktg.com.