Happy New Year! (a few weeks late)
Have you made your resolutions yet? What are they? To eat healthier or go to bed earlier or run a marathon?
If so, I’m completely on board. But resolutions shouldn’t start and end with food, fitness and overall health. Be sure to focus on your marketing too.
Let’s make 2014 the year that we improve every aspect of our daily lives! Here are 3 marketing resolutions I hope you’ll make with me.
1. Experiment with New Ad Placements
Here are a few that you can explore:
- Reddit Ads
- StumbleUpon Ads
- Blog Ads
Each network can help you reach a specific type of audience and in general work on a low-cost CPC or CPM rate which means there is not a big barrier to entry. You can generally get started with a budget of $500 or less.
Reddit is an online forum where users share content and other users can vote that content up or down.
There is a front page which shows all the latest, popular content. There are also sub-forums based on topics like technology, dating, news, relationships, sports and almost anything else you can think of.
You can submit your content to Reddit without purchasing an ad, but it’s possible that no one will see it. With a Reddit ad you pay to ensure your content is seen by the community you select.
You can use choose to run your ad on the homepage or within a sub-forum. It’s generally recommended to use a sub-forum. That way you can ensure your content is seen by people who would be interested in it.
For example, if you sell a product for runners, you would want to run your ad in the Running sub-forum where the running redditors hang out.
This interest-based targeting makes Reddit ads really attractive, especially when you consider you only need to commit $5 to get a campaign started!
StumbleUpon is a recommendation engine for web surfers. When you sign up for a StumbleUpon account you tell it your interests and then it recommends web pages for you to surf. You can then thumb-up or thumb-down a page to further let the software know what you like so it can make better recommendations.
When you purchase a StumbleUpon ad (called StumbleUpon Paid Discovery) the software will serve up the web page you choose to people based on your targeting options and their interests/demographics.
With other ad networks, a user has to click through a headline to visit your website. With StumbleUpon, and ad impression takes over the user experience. But here’s the thing—it’s not an ad. It’s a high quality article that your reader will love.
Your ad isn’t viewed as annoying or distracting since the viewer is surfing the web specifically looking for something new to capture their interest.
Talking about blogger relations, guest blogging and pitching bloggers is all the rage these days—but what about plain old blog advertising (also sometimes called blog sponsorships)?
Almost every popular blog offers some form of advertising, usually sold on a flat monthly rate. In most cases your ad will be shown 24/7 during its duration.
Here are some sponsors for the running blog, HungryRunnerGirl.com:
You can see that the brands working with this blogger all want to reach her audience of fellow runners. This is really key: you must select popular bloggers whose target audience mirrors you own target audience.
Before you select a blogger to work with, you should evaluate the numbers of a few different ones. Most will have their stats on an advertising page on their blog. If stats aren’t readily available, connect with the blogger one to one and ask for more details (or a media kit).
In addition to reviewing blog reader stats, you should also ask for reviews or testimonials from previous sponsors.
Some bloggers will offer sponsored post ads in addition to your traditional ads (while others do not offer sponsored posts).
Sponsored posts offer promotional value to the sponsor as well as content for the blog.
Sponsored posts are a great way to ensure that your brand is front and center—and often provide a permanent backlink, which is great for SEO purposes.
2. Get Serious About Tracking Leads and Customers
Finding great advertising opportunities is only half of the mix for reaching new leads and bringing in new customers. The other half has to do with tracking leads, following them through your sales funnel and then through the customer lifecycle.
The only way you can do this is if you are able to track ALL of your leads (web leads, phone leads and in-person leads) and you have CRM (customer relationship management) software set up.
Most people who run online marketing and advertising campaigns know tracking web leads is important. However, not everyone knows that you can also easily track inbound phone calls.
Call tracking software dynamically generates phone numbers that you can associate with specific landing pages and specific ad campaigns.
You simply add a snippet of code to the page that you want to generate a phone number for, and then each time a visitor lands on that page he or she is shown a dynamic phone number that is associated with your campaign.
For example, your normal business phone number might be 888-555-1234. If someone directly types in your URL and lands on your website, he or she will still see whatever normal phone number you list.
However, if a visitor comes from an ad/marketing campaign, your normal number will be replaced with a dynamically generated and trackable number. So instead of seeing 888-555-1234, the visitor might see 888-555-6789
Then when the visitor uses that number to call you, lead information is recorded in your call tracking dashboard.
You will see the date/time of the call, the phone number of the lead who called you, the duration of the call, and the keyword that was searched (if applicable) that generated the click and then the call.
A sales rep who answers the call will then create a lead record for that person in your CRM software, and you will then be able to track that lead through the customer acquisition lifecycle.
Call tracking software is great because it allows you to correctly attribute a call to a specific ad campaign. Instead of putting in the lead record that “John Smith called in,” you can say, “John Smith called in after being exposed to the XYZ ad campaign.”
This allows you an extra insight into which ad campaigns are working the best for you.
If you’re not tracking phone calls, you may think a particular ad campaign is doing poorly because you’re not receiving a lot of form submissions from it, but it may just be that all the leads are calling in! That’s why you need to track it.
This is really important because it gives you insight into:
- Which campaigns are bringing in the most leads
- Which campaigns are bringing in the most leads that become customers
- What your cost per acquisition is (vs. just your cost per lead)
- What the average lifetime value of a customer is
- Which type of customers are most valuable to you
A lot of companies have gotten very serious about tracking leads and optimizing the cost per lead (CPL) over the last couple of years. I am always really happy to see when a company is taking the time to do this.
However, the more next step (and one that cannot be ignored) is calculating the cost per acquisition (CPA)
Let’s say you’re running a Google AdWords campaign for a software company whose product costs $500.
If you’re generating leads at an average cost of $15/lead you may think that you’re getting a big ROI, but that may not be the case.
If only 1 out of 10 leads turns into a customer, your cost per acquisition is a minimum of $150. That’s not even taking into account the time you pay a sales person to convert the lead, the cost of the marketing software you use (email marketing, landing page testing, etc.) or the cost of the design/copy/content that gets used in the campaign.
In the end the $15 cost per lead may actually be too high—or the other tactics you’re using to nurture the lead may be too high—to make a decent profit.
Once you determine the cost per acquisition you may decide you need to make some changes.
However, maybe you just about break even on the initial purchase, but you find that the average customer makes 4 purchases from you during their lifetime, which means you can afford to break even in the beginning and, therefore, don’t need to make any changes.
You won’t know for sure unless you have your CRM up and running.
In the 90s and early 2000s, CRMs were a pain in the you-know-what. Sales people hated CRMs because they wanted to focus more on selling and less on data management. However, today much of this process can be automated through integrations with your landing pages and call-tracking software!
Additionally, while legacy CRM systems were expensive and then had to be installed on each computer, today’s CRM software are hosted in the cloud and are very affordable.
Today there really is no excuse for not tracking your entire customer lifecycle!
3. Make Time to Read
You know that saying about taking time to learn something new every day? Make 2014 the year you do it!
Schedule in 30 minutes each morning before you start your workday to browse through some internet marketing blogs for tips, advice and news you can use to improve your work day.
- Unbounce Blog – landing page and conversion optimization tips
- Kissmetrics Blog – in-depth online marketing tips and case studies
- Copyblogger – tips on writing copy that converts
- Fit Marketing Blog – actionable, daily online marketing tips
- Moz Blog – the web’s best SEO tips and news
- Rand Fishkin’s Blog – Rand is the founder of Moz and shares really excellent business insights
- The Daily Egg – Duh!
Don’t stop at just reading blogs! Pick up a new book or two and make time to read at least one chapter a week.
One fun way to stay committed to book reading is to have your entire team read the same book at the same time. Have every person read the same chapter each week and then come together and discuss the chapter on a dedicated “book club” day.
- The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar – a book about the psychology behind how people make choices
- Landing Page Optimization by Tim Ash – tips for getting your landing pages to convert better
- Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh – the founder of Zappos tells you how he build a hugely successful company with happy customers and employees
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott – Excellent insights on how marketing has changed with an emphasis on the emergence and impact of social media
When you make time to read new things every day, you will become a smarter, better marketer. You may even be inspired to write your own blog posts!
After all, the next logical step is to take one hour out of each day and draft up a new post, either for your own blog or to guest post on someone else’s blog. This is a great mental exercise and can help you increase your own thought leadership footprint.
What Have You Resolved to Do?
The above three resolutions are great, but I’m sure you have already made some of your own. What are they?
Please share them in the comments so that we can all help each other become better marketers this year!
Read other Crazy Egg posts by Owen Fuller here