By Quin McGlaughlin
What if you could increase the revenue and performance of your marketing efforts by 25%, 50%, or 100%+ without spending any additional marketing dollars? You can. That's why having an effective marketing optimization strategy and process is important no matter how small or large your organization.
It's easy to settle for what's working when there isn't a clear path to improving it. Many organizations throw more and more cash at advertising and other channels for driving more attention to their brand because they know that new traffic equals new customers. But spending more to make more is only the best strategy when you're already gaining enough from what you have.
Optimization can be the key to unlocking new performance from your same marketing spend and plugging leaking revenue in your funnel. By crafting an optimal marketing message and customer experience you can capture more potential from your marketing efforts and gain a deeper understanding of your customer that only compounds your results over time.
Below are some foundational principles for why optimization can be one of the most valuable strategies and a process for how to begin gaining more return from your marketing.
1. Ideas versus Understanding - Organizations everywhere are leaving money on the table because they lack a reliable, objective framework to guide their marketing decisions.
Small businesses (especially) often face a difficult and costly learning curve trying to determine what works in marketing. They try a variety of best practices, imitate competitor strategies, and brainstorm tactics and techniques, but in the process spend valuable time, money, and energy that result in many wrong strategies to find a few that work - but that wasted opportunity can be minimized if not avoided.
Trial and error is part of any learning curve, but trying the right things can save wasted time and marketing dollars. It's hard to sift through the noise of so many ideas to discern the good from the bad. What works for one organization often won't work for another, and in many cases, isn't working as well as it could.
The problems lies with ideas themselves. Ideas are unreliable and unpredictable, meaning that they are inconsistent and often hard to judge until tried. The only way to recognize a truly good strategy is not to simply study what works for others, but to understand why they work. You don't work towards ideas or marketing tactics, but from insights into your customer and how and why they buy. In doing this, you can develop a reliable system to predict what your consumers want from their customer experience.
2. The Art and Science of Optimization - The goal of optimization (and digital marketing) isn't to create the best design, it's to generate the most performance.
Optimizing your website means much more than simply having aesthetic pages, sleek images, or clever design. Optimization can be the difference between wasted advertising dollars, lost customers, and leaking revenue, or an efficient, high-performing marketing message designed to convert even low-motivation prospects into paying customers.
Here are just a few mistakes many businesses make when constructing their digital customer experience.
Insufficient information - Often you'll find websites offering short, generic claims about their quality, large images whose relevance and message are unclear, or vague promises of grand value that raise more questions than they answer.
Scattered page elements - For those businesses who may have the right ingredients, often the most important information to the customer is scattered in odd side-bars, secondary pages, or too late in the experience forcing customers to hunt for answers to decide if they're even interested in continuing at all.
Company-Logic vs. Customer-Logic- Your website and marketing funnel should as much as possible be a tightly engineered customer experience that moves users sequentially from one step to the next towards the primary objective of converting them to a customer. Often, we allow "company-logic" to corrupt our "customer-logic" which results in overwhelming the customer with too many page elements, potential paths and calls-to-action, and "thrown-together" pages that aren't targeted to who you're trying to influence and how they want to be influenced.
There are many more examples of common approaches that not only create a less appealing experience, but cost real customers. This is why you need an approach that is based more on what the customer wants and needs than what you want to show and say.
3. A Proven Process for Customer-First Marketing - How to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing strategy based on a tested system:
One of the most often forgotten and important principles for measuring the efficacy of your marketing is this: You are never optimizing for the most, but rather the least motivated target customer. Those who have some higher degree of familiarity with your brand (perhaps return customers, those referred by a friend or whom you've spoken to in some way, or are already excited about your product) will endure more unanswered questions, difficulty in your customer experience, and concerns than others. You should measure your marketing message with the question, "If I were my ideal prospect (with no former knowledge) would I invest my time and (potentially) money rather than do anything else right now?"
Your entire customer experience IS your marketing message. Each and every interaction with your brand from your advertising, to your webpages, copy, images, and design is communicating to your customer. Your marketing message is the vehicle by which customers reach a conversion (purchase, subscription, or any desired action), and you can grade the force and consequent effectiveness of your marketing message at each touch-point on four factors:
Appeal - How appealing is this message? (Is this message 1. Relevant, 2. Important, and 3. Urgent?)
Exclusivity - How exclusive is the message? (Are other organizations claiming the same and could I find better answers/solutions somewhere else?)
Clarity - How clear is this message? (Do I understand this message completely? Are there unanswered questions that are critical to making a decision?)
Credibility - How credible is this message? (Do I trust everything being said? Have you sufficiently addressed my concerns and fears so I can be confident in trusting you?)
Each element of your message must work together to ultimately make the perceived cost of the desired action outweigh the perceived cost. Your marketing funnel and customer experience is made up of a series of micro-decisions from, "Will I read this headline?" and "Will I read this copy? Will I scroll further? Will I click this button? Will I enter my information?" to "Will I invest my time and money in this product?" There are many more micro-decisions throughout the various paths a potential customer might venture and if at any point they say, "No," you've lost that customer as they exit your funnel.
To gain an understanding of your customer that will produce the most effective marketing message, you must have a process that allows you to inform your strategy with customer insights, diagnose existing problems, develop reliable and predictable solutions, and measure the quality of those solutions.
Here is an example of the five major stages of our process for developing an effective strategy:
Inform - Gather as much information as possible by studying existing analytics, data, reports, research, competing options, constraints, and more to maximize our awareness of the customer's perception.
Analyze - Organize and analyze our information into actionable customer insights that can shape our understanding of what/how the customer think, acts, and wants - and why.
Optimize - Develop a functional hypothesis of how to improve the force of our marketing message to increase perceived value and decrease the perceived cost at each step in the funnel.
Revise - Incorporate review, feedback, and additional insights into our optimized strategy to ensure that it is as likely as possible to achieve the desired result.
Measure - Ensure that our activities are as measurable as possible within the given constraints to validate our understanding and generate new insights to inform future strategy.
In addition to all of this, there are further systems for codifying the variables that influence a customer's decision and highly practical strategies for doing so, which we will discuss in more depth in future articles.
Forget best practices and trying random ideas. Instead, focus on understanding your customer and trying to perceive your funnel and message through the eyes of your least-motivated ideal customer, who would buy if only you can answer the key questions in their mind effectively. The prospective customer's perception is the ultimate deciding factor in whether or not they will convert to a paying customer.
The goal of your marketing isn't to impress people with a sleek website and attention-grabbing ads, it's to convince them with a clear, credible, appealing, and exclusive message that attracts the right attention with relevant value. Doing this requires reliable and predictable principles oriented in what the customer wants rather than in what you want from them.
Your "customer experience" consists of every experience that the customer has with your brand. Each ad, page, and email is a message, and the sum of your messages is your brand. It's critical that you treat each output as a single micro-step in a larger journey towards becoming a loyal customer.
If you want to learn more now or see how we might be able to help you optimize your own marketing message and customer experience, you can contact us below and we'll follow up to see what we can do for you.
Thanks for reading our content, and if you like what you read or have thoughts, questions, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to send me a note and subscribe below.
All the best,
Chief Optimization Officer at Jax Digital Marketing
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