Sunday, November 27, 2005

Follow-Through is Critical to Online Marketing Efforts

In Web marketing, just as in hitting a golf ball, swinging a baseball bat or kicking a football, the importance of follow-through can’t be overstated. In sports, failing to complete the motion means a shorter drive, hit or kick – in other words, you won’t achieve the desired result. The same holds true for marketing. Launching a campaign or activity without the proper follow-through can mean poor results and/or unnecessary cost.

For example, one company I spoke with had spent a considerable sum of money on a search engine optimization (SEO) project for their site – but never bothered to monitor the change in their search engine positioning. When a (smart) consultant followed up with them later, he investigated and discovered that their search position had barely budged. Had the company known this sooner, they may have been able to get extra work or a partial refund from the SEO firm, depending on contract terms. They would have at least known that their investment hadn’t really paid off.

Another company developed an extensive set of keywords and launched a search engine marketing (SEM) campaign. However, they monitored the program only at the very highest level: total pay-per-click (PPC) spending, and total click-throughs. They did no keyword optimization, no bid optimization, and worst of all, no conversion tracking. So, they essentially knew how much they were spending and how many clicks they got, but had no idea which keywords were drawing well or poorly, how effective their headlines and copy were, or even whether any of the traffic actually converted to paying customers.

Finally, there is the all-too-common example of Avery. I’ve written about this office products company’s Web site before here, and that analysis still holds true – the company does have an excellent site overall, one that is feature-rich and does a lot of things right. However, they fall down in an area that is common, particularly for large-company sites: their “Contact Us” information is extremely limited, giving site visitors no way to contact individual departments within the company, much less individual employees. And their follow-up is, as is again all too common, virtually non-existent. Companies invest in Web sites in order to drive business.

Putting together a great Web site and then not responding to your site visitors is like opening a restaurant and then ignoring all of those people sitting at your tables. What’s the point?

The bottom line is, as one of my former colleagues was fond of saying, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Online marketing can be a powerful tool for promoting your business, if done right. Don’t launch a campaign of any kind without measurement built in first. Monitor and measure your results so you can adjust variables (such as copy, headlines, keywords and bids) to maximize your response and optimize your spending. Make it easy for prospects to contact you, and if one raises their hand, by all means contact them – not through an auto-responder but through a real live employee of your company – as quickly as possible.


Terms: online marketing campaigns, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, search engine positioning, auto-responders, SEM

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