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Welcome to Josh Baker's Practical Advice for Optimizing Your Internet Marketing blog. Here you will find internet marketing optimization and online strategy articles full of tips, tricks, discussions, and thoughts to help you take your marketing and business to the next level of success.

Archive for Strategy

Many people mix up marketing strategy and tactics. If you search the internet you will find many references to both that are incorrectly referenced and used. Simplistically speaking, marketing strategy is your idea; or how you will reach your specific and measurable goal. Marketing tactics are the actions that you use to make your idea (strategy) come to life.

Let’s look at an example of marketing strategy vs. tactics fall in place from the top down:
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You’ve already been running numerous tests on your best landing pages – those that contribute the highest value to your business. Unfortunately, sometimes you’ve run out of optimization ideas or hit a few roadblocks on what you should test next for even more conversion gains.  What should you do? Luckily, just as often when you are running a multivariate test or a/b test to improve the desired results of a given page on your website you will discover that you will gain improved conversion results not by altering a page element or adding a new or section to the page, but instead by removing one or more of your existing elements or sections.

Why is this so? Although each page, situation, and context is many times unique, a few of the more common reasons for the improvement in conversions include:

1) Removing distractions that enable the visitor to more clearly focus on your desired page goal.

2) Reducing the friction that forces the visitor to contemplate if the desired action is worth what is being asked of them to give in return.

3) Replacing confusing elements that prevent the visitor from understanding if they are on the correct page or even knowing what they are supposed to do next.

A few broader ranged ideas to consider include:

  • Removing to clear up page real estate
  • Removal to speed up page load time
  • Removal of potential road blocks or barriers

More detailed removal considerations include:

  • Removal of parts/all of navigation
  • Removal of sections of copy
  • Removal of unnecessary graphics
  • Removal of just the large file size images
  • Removal of flash elements (or those that require plug-ins or longer load time)
  • Removal of non-vital third party java-scripts
  • Removal of non-essential registration form fields
  • Removal of traffic-leaks
  • Removal of premiums or special offers

These should be enough start ideas to get you thinking in the right direction when you are looking at your landing page. You undoubtedly will develop various unique hypotheses for doing these (or any other “removal” ideas) based upon your own site’s data you have extracted and analyzed-or even from basic usability knowledge. The end goal is ultimately almost always the same – to uncover what page elements are negatively impacting your page’s ability to do its job properly so that you can fix them to increase the level of success your site achieves. Remember, removal testing doesn’t have to be done in isolation; removal can always be a part of any test when it’s appropriate to do so as judged by you.

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Recently, Craig Rosenberg over at The Funnelholic B2B blog posted about the 3 Lead Generation Metrics That Matter Lead-to-Opportunity conversion, Cost per Opportunity, and Total Pipeline Created.

But what really got my attention in his post was his ability to clearly articulate and bravely state his thoughts on why he doesn’t recommend ROI as a lead generation metric (including his great Alex Rodriguez analogy).

“The marketing reps should be judged by whether they did their job, which in this case is creating pipeline. The sales team’s job is to close that business. Once marketing creates an opportunity, sales must execute in order to create revenue. The net-net: if marketers creates the pipeline, they have done their job and should be judged accordingly.”

In the many conversations I’ve had with other marketers who focus their efforts either full-time or primarily on lead generation, the vast majority agree with this same theory either in whole or in part. Once the lead is sales ready or even when the potential lead raises their hand, there are numerous potential areas of disconnect both human and technological that may cause the lead to either fail to convert, to be considered a “good qualified lead”, or even to be not contacted at all – failures that aren’t the marketers fault but in which they are still judged by the end results.

For example,

Is it the initial response time in the lead follow-up process that’s hurting the validity (or disguising the marketers true positive results and efforts) of most companies currently measured lead-generation ROI metric they hold as truth? According to an unrelated but problem-specific article written by Brian Eisenberg over at GrokDotCom on Increasing “Qualified” Leads From Your Website, he discusses the results from a survey conducted by Omniture and InsideSales.com in which they completed lead forms from over 700 companies and reported that web-generated leads decrease effectiveness by over 6 times in the first hour. Yes, you read that right, a decrease of effectiveness of over 6 times in the first hour – yikes!

Disturbingly so, companies only responded back to them 47.3 percent of the time by email, and by phone just 7.5 percent of the time. Do the math and you can see that an amazingly large percentage of the time they weren’t contacted at all when they filled out forms designed for lead generation by marketing teams. Sure, some of their leads could have been scored and not deemed valuable to physically call back, but not even an email back (manual or even triggered) seems completely absurd and a lost opportunity.  As Brian states in his article,

“Marketers have potential customers who indicated some level of qualification to buy from your company and sales people who practically refuse to respond”

This is just one of the areas that hurt marketers when companies want to calculate the ROI of a lead generation campaign (were the leads bad, or the process broken?), but there are many more. Factor this into that lead generation ROI is what lead generation marketers are responsible for proving their own worth with and this can lead to potential disaster, both in responsibility to their programs (too many times and it could result in the potential loss of their job) and in calculating if certain channels or programs are truly profitable or not in order to continue on with them. I’m not in 100% agreement that it’s entirely the sales people’s fault, but more a fault in this commonplace process that’s proven its absurdness in the Omniture and InsideSales.com study.

Of course this is a touchy and even a controversial subject, but companies really need to now more than ever deeply consider how they truly feel about how much weight they place on the ROI of the lead generation metric they hold their marketers accountable for. Not just for the marketers sake, but for revenues sake. Furthermore, could that metric actually be masking the true happenings of what’s going wrong with the lead pipeline and follow-up process? Does this metric expose the true ability to really measure what needs to be fixed and optimized or does it simply cover it up?

As Craig Rosenberg of Funnelholic states, what marketers should be measured against is CPO – Cost per Opportunity,Lead-to-Opportunity Conversion, and Total Pipeline Created. To me this is a step in the right direction in not only improving how marketers and their performance are graded, but also steps to developing a more valid system of uncovering where leaks in the process are happening. The bottom line is that we all want to make more money but could our current process and performance grading mistakes be leaving potentially easy or easier money on the table than is realized.

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