As marketers, data analysis takes a firm seat in our weekly schedules. But so many of us are just skating across the surface of what can be achieved.
By shifting the focus from output toward outcomes, a business can maximise its performance and potential.
Your output is the avenue you take to achieve outcomes; it’s the daily activities you use to generate exposure, connect with prospects and promote your business. Your output includes your newsletters, your emails, your website, your blogs.
That's all costly work.
Outcomes are the results of that work. What results are you seeing as a consequence of your efforts and activity? And is it all worth it?
Specific metrics can be used to further improve what's already performing well, or re-assess and re-attempt what is not. They can be used to inform your day to day output, so that every bit of output is necessary, rationalised, and created with purpose.
Of course, you already knew that.
But have you fallen into the trap of working blindly, forgetting your outcomes and simply focusing on upping your marketing activity - focusing on the number of likes, the email open rates, website traffic, etc? Is that actually promoting growth and sales?
Because that’s what businesses really want to see, right? Growth, sales and profit - more leads. That's a testament to a good marketing execution, that's evidence of success, and that's proof of viable outcomes.
So how do we shift the focus towards outcomes?
SEO & website traffic
You may be attempting to rank for x keyword, but why? What will this ultimately achieve?
Calculate your average traffic per month, then calculate how many leads you generate on average per month. This measurement can prove effective in maximising the performance of your website.
Let’s say for example, you generate 2,000 website visits a month and an average of 2 leads per month. That’s a 0.1% conversion rate on your website. There is room for improvement there, but what is realistic and how can it be achieved?
You need to determine your goals before you look at any numbers. Sure, 2,000 visits a month is pretty impressive, but when 99.9% of those visitor aren’t converting, you’ve identified a problem.
Why aren’t your visitors converting? Perhaps a deeper analysis of individual pages will identify those with high bounce rate. Again, here is another problem. You and your team can then delve into these issues and rectify them. Maybe there are no conversion opportunities on those pages, or perhaps your call to actions (CTAs) aren’t prominent enough? Or maybe your website pages do not meet accessibility standards.
This is why so many people fail to see the value in SEO. It takes a lot of effort, time and often money to hit that coveted #1 spot, or even page 1. But what happens next? If prospects click through to your site and aren't satisfied that you are delivering what was promised, you could be losing thousands of potential leads.
Could you improve the outcomes of your blogging activity? You may have already built a rich and resourceful library of blogs, pertaining to all manner of topics and keywords in your industry. And that’s excellent.
In terms of output, many businesses struggle with blogging because they simply cannot find the time or the ideas to consistently publish blogs. But blogging is one of your most useful tools when attracting leads.
A deep analysis into your blogging outcomes, i.e. performance, will indicate your top performing topics, most popular blogs, and reveal which variables contribute to better performance. You can use this information to create a number a new outputs that produce even better outcomes. Plus, this kind of measurement informs future blogging activity. For example, high performing blogs posts can be re-optimised, re-published, and used to garner backlinks from authoritative websites - there are several ways these can be improved. Further more, these topics can be used to inform further keyword and search term research - what else do your readers want to know and see?
“Our email open rate rose by 2%. Time to celebrate.”
Perhaps the output you invested boosted open rates that month. But did that generate any growth or profit?
A deeper look into the outcomes of your emails can reveal insight into low engaged contacts, unsubscribes or abandoned accounts...
Your lists must be of a high quality to provide any reliable insights. If 30% of your email list have abandoned their email accounts, this could signal that it's time for a much needed data cleanse. Of course, since the dawn of GDPR, most businesses have managed to improve the quality of their data.
Consider promoting your newsletter to viable prospects and existing customers? Do you have a CTA that can be placed within relevant content encouraging prospects to subscribe?
“Everyone else is on social media so we should be too, right?”
Social media is prolific marketing tool, enabling marketers to achieve mass exposure, but this is where the lines become blurred.
Having 1000s of Twitter followers doesn’t always correlate with 1000s of sales. Anyone can click the follow button, it doesn't mean they are a viable prospect.
Determine your goals before you look at any numbers. Similarly, determine who it is you're trying to target - who are your audiences? Facebook and Twitter enable you to profile audiences based on demographic characteristics so you can begin to execute a more targeted strategy.
But it's even more important to know where these audiences are, and where they expect to see you. If they're not engaging with you on Facebook for example, perhaps it's not the content you're sharing that's the problem. it's just that they use Facebook for different purposes. Experimentation is key here. Find the right people in the right place. With so much potential, social media cannot be ignored or used with a half-hearted approach. Identify your metrics, study the data, follow the analytics until you craft a strategy that brings you tangible return on investment.
Most marketing platforms only provide a surface level insight of real outcomes and metrics that make a difference. So it's down to you to dig even deeper, spot trends and patterns and experiment until you start seeing the results you want. Remember, never lose sight of purpose and always have a plan in place, e.g. what happens when X happens? When something performs exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly, what are the next steps?
And most importantly, identify your why! Why are you doing what you're doing day in day out? Don't waste your efforts and resources. You can achieve anything if you have the knowledge and insight and you're willing to put in the work.