Volume 44, Issue†5 - May 2009

Online Bylines

Hold Online Marketing Accountable
Get The Best ROI on Your Marketing Technique
by Mike Jones

If youíve recently made the leap to maintaining a solid online presence, youíve already figured out that online marketing is different from traditional advertising methods. Youíve been introduced to search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and you know the difference between a landing page and a sales page. 

Now that youíve mastered the nuances of online marketing, itís time to see how those new methods of reaching your customers are measuring up. Online marketing has an advantage over traditional advertising in this regard. The nature of the Internet makes it measurable, quantifiable and easy to track. 

What does this mean for you? A serious return on your investment. Your ROI is directly related to how much energy you put into the right marketing techniques. 

Use Web Analytics
The information you need about your customers is available on the web, but itís difficult to track down by hand. Web analytics will track down the information youíre looking for, and it will also specialize according to the information you need. 

Want to find out how many customers linked to your website via that marketing e-mail you just sent out? Web analytics can keep that information separate from all of the other customer information, so you can see the direct correlation between each of your marketing methods and the return they give on that investment. 

Web analytics also can track correlations between techniques that consistently have worked in the past. If a particular phrase has received high response in different marketing techniques, web analytics can find that correlation and bring it to your attention. 

There are many for-fee web analytic products and services available in the marketplace that will provide you these insights. However, Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for free. 

Work Online and Offline 
Donít stop at the web; demand accountability from your offline advertising, too. Web analytics also can be used for your more conventional advertising techniques. 

For example, you may have your phone number on a print ad or in the Yellow Pages. Web analytics would put a trackable phone number on that same ad to let you know how many of your customers call that number to reach you. By comparing the number of customers who respond to each ad, youíll know which of them are getting you the best ROI. 

In other traditional advertisements or communications, you may want to direct potential customers to specific landing pages on your site. These newly created landing pages would be customized to the specific offer or to address in detail how your company can solve the needs of a targeted customer. Again, web analytics will give you insight into how effectively you are reaching your target audience online and offline. And, more importantly, what actions must you take to accomplish your goalóincreased sales. 

Change Up Your Techniques
You canít rely on web analytics to do all the work of improving your ROI for you. Even though they analyze well, they donít innovate. That part of the job is still up to you. 

One great way to come up with inspiration for new ideas is to experiment with the methods you already know work well. Try taking winning tactics from other marketing tools and putting them to good use. If a certain phrase worked well at grabbing attention in a print ad, try using it to grab attention as the headline of a marketing e-mail. 

When you have a marketing method thatís working fairly well but not quite giving you the output youíd hoped for, you can use the same techniques to boost performance. If nothing you do seems to improve that methodís ROI, itís time to dump it and move on.

Part of demanding accountability from your marketing techniques is knowing when to give up on one. If it canít give you the ROI youíre looking for no matter what you do, move on to a better performer. Be brutal and make decisions quickly; you deserve the best ROI you can get. 

Mike Jones is the president of GTS in Portland, Ore. Mr. Jonesí opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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