Critical Path Strategies: Digital Marketing

Critical Path Strategies: Digital Marketing

Let’s get something straight. Everything in the end is about generating more sales. If you’ve confused that part of digital marketing you may have fallen off the critical path. Activity and reach are nice, but conversion metrics will put the smile on your CEO and CFO’s faces, and if you’re department is dependent on a budget, well, their smiles will keep you funded for another quarter. Measurements like “share of voice” and “follower growth” are interesting to us marketers, but the business engine runs on leads and new clients. Let’s get down to business, shall we?

The goal in any digital marketing program is to cut away the parts that aren’t working (not generating leads or sales) and boost the parts that have resulted in a win. (request for information, contact me form, online purchase) Each link along the path towards that goal is an inflection point. Do it right and they continue along down the purchase path and go to the next step. Do it wrong and they bounce, often never to give your site or your business another chance to make your business case.

Here are a few of the major inflection points that we must examine closely with analytics and A/B testing. Get this point: any improvement along these inflection points means a prospect goes another step down the sales funnel, another step towards becoming a win.

  • Website home page
  • Landing page (any PPC program or marketing program should have specific landing pages)
  • Contact form (is it too difficult to fill out? are you asking for too much information?)
  • Shopping cart (is it easy to complete the process of selecting, comparing, checking out?)
  • Email promotion (have you tested subject lines for the best one? have you tested the offers and copy?)
  • PPC campaigns (do you know which terms are generating wins rather than just traffic? can you eliminate 20% of your budget and still up the conversion rates)
  • SEO performance (your free clicks should be at least 1/3 of your site traffic, are you focusing on the right topics?)

Each of these points has major impact on your results. Get one wrong and you could wipe out all the gains in the other points. Do you know where your inflection points are along your sales funnel? Do you have good analytics on those points and can you see the results of any optimization efforts? Can you track the process from first visit on through a longer (4 week) sales process?

Everything counts towards or against a win. And if you miss the opportunities at any of the points you are losing possible customers. And the further down the funnel that miss occurs the more expensive the miss.

It’s amazing sometimes, starting consulting relationships with new clients and seeing what they have been given from other marketing service companies. The reporting is most likely merely a tally of the traffic. Did it go up or down. Here are a few things we can try to build up more traffic. Rarely does the client have any idea of their inflection points. It’s exciting to look at the critical path for a new client. We are certain to find some big opportunities as we dig our way through the purchase path.

Get your critical path strategies in order, and then try new things and test the results against what you’ve been doing. There are always areas you can improve. And sometimes the effect can be dramatic. (For example moving the buy button to the top of the product page increased a clients “close rate” on their shopping cart by about 3%.)

If you’re not trying new ideas and finding ways to improve your purchase path you may be missing a lot of potential revenue. And, of course, if you need help with that, I’m here to help. (grin)

@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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