Marketing is a lot like troubleshooting

marketing imrpovements

Years ago, I worked in a call center as a level one help desk support person. Cable internet was just beginning to get popular, and when people had questions about it, they would call in and I would do my best to help. Doesn’t seem like it would overlap with digital marketing, but it does.

In the training curriculum, there was a lot of focus on following the troubleshooting steps in a particular way and the same way each time. The procedure was to start at one end of the connection and test each point where it could fail until you found the problem, and then fix it. That is why there are so many jokes about IT support asking if you have turned the device off and then on again: the technicians are starting at one end of the connection and working their way backwards.

I think that digital marketing is a lot like troubleshooting a technical problem. When a business owner calls a marketer, they don’t know exactly what the problem is…and neither does the marketer, at first. Before you can try and improve the situation, you have to start by collecting data to see what you are working with. There are a lot of potential failure points in marketing, and you have to look at each one and see if that is where the problem lies.

For starters, most websites are going to convert at a much lower level than most people realize; 2-5% is a pretty decent conversion rate for a website. (Landing pages are higher and there are a lot of reasons why, but that is another post.) Now that we know what to expect from conversions on our site, we need to see if we are even in the ballpark.

The next logical step is taking a look at the amount of traffic the site is receiving and doing some math. If the site has 100 visits and received between 2 and 5 leads from it, congratulations are in order because the site is performing right about average. If it didn’t, that isn’t necessarily a problem because we have to be aware of sample size.

To make this concept easier, think of it this way: when you flip a coin, you have a 50/50 chance of it landing on heads (and the same percentage for the coin landing on tails.) That doesn’t mean that if I literally flip a coin 6 times, it will land heads 3 times and tails 3 times, but the percentages will win out in the long run.
The same thing applies with your website and its marketing. It’s just that he long run is longer than most people take into consideration and the bigger your sample size, the clearer numbers become. You might get 100 visits and get 10 leads or maybe you’ll get none. Enough data has to be collected to get a clear picture.

The first step to collecting that data is to start getting more traffic to the site to see if the percentages hold over a larger sample size. Keep in mind that when more traffic comes to the site, there will be some fluctuations in your numbers, because even though more people are viewing your site, that doesn’t mean that they are ready to buy or are part of your target market. Curiosity factors in here.

Now that more data is coming in, we need to know if the targeting of the marking is off and if it is bringing junk traffic to the site, or if the site needs some technical help in order to make it perform better. Most business owners think that they want to redesign their site at this point, but usually that is the last thing to do in this situation. Instead, look at the content of the website to see if it is relevant to the market you are going after. Copy for a site should be written with a specific kind of person in mind: your target audience. If your target is business owners of technical startups, your content is going to be drastically different than if you are trying to reach stay-at-home moms. Their needs are different and what they value is different. Your target audience needs to trust you before they reach out to you.

Content is the biggest lever you have when it comes to your website. It is not uncommon for a good copywriter to increase conversions by over 100%, while it is unlikely that changing the color scheme or adding a slider to the home page will get you anywhere near that level of lift. In my world, most of the business owners I speak with are trying to keep their costs low and so many of them decide to try to write content themselves. I try to convince them to spend less on the site to save money for professional copy, but few see the value. My business doesn’t do content writing; I refer that to partners and don’t make any money off of it. I would rather have a client spent less with me and get a good result than getting a little bit more for a larger project. It’s not an exaggeration to say that effective copy is a facet of your site well worth investing in.

Once the copy is fixed, it is time to collect more data to see where we land. This data collection can’t be skipped or its importance overstated. This round of data collection is an experiment to see if the better copy helps, and if it doesn’t, then maybe the copy needs to change or maybe the site needs some help from a usability standpoint.
Is the comparison starting to make sense? Most people hire a marketing consultant and expect overnight results, but the only way that can happen is if the person specializes in your industry, and even then there is a process of trial and error to get maximum results.

Noah Kagan has been in marketing for a very long time (his podcast is on my list of must listens, check it out here.) He founded and runs two eight-figure companies and he is very open about the fact that marketing is trial and error. What works for one of his companies gets no results in the other. The difference is that he tries everything and measures the results and troubleshoots to make it better.

What are you going to try in your business to see if it has a positive impact?

How are you going to measure the baseline to see where you started?

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