Asking the Right Questions About Your Online Channels

As a senior executive or business owner, your competing interests and limited time make it unrealistic for you to be completely au fait with all aspects of your business. And nor should you. You put the trust in the people you have hired–the experts in their fields–to keep you up-to-date with different areas, and alert you to any issues that require your attention.

I work with many business owners and senior executives who admit that this is certainly the case when it comes to their digital marketing. They often struggle to understand the role and performance of each of the digital marketing online channels that their business uses.

Your agency and/or marketing department may be diligent in providing you with a regular analytic report about your SEO (search engine optimisation), PPC (pay-per-click), eDM (electronic direct mail) and social media but does it really give you the answers you want…or need? Or is it about what they want you to know?

It is important for you to understand if your digital marketing strategy and the channels you are using are delivering the promised return on investment (ROI). To do this you need to know the right questions to ask.

At the end of the day, it’s about identifying how successful the online channels are at getting people to do what you want them to do, whether that is a download, a sale or something else relevant to your business.

Reviewing each channel and their performance against your business objectives will give you a clearer idea of your hits and misses, when it comes to the user experience, key performance indicators (KPIs) and ROI.

SEO Has Changed but Still Important

In many ways, search engine optimisation (SEO) is now a lot less complicated than it once was, and many marketers are heaving a huge sigh of relief. Gone are the days of unacceptable SEO practices, such as spamming, keyword stuffing, and low-quality content with many links.

Due to the technological advances and the increasing smarts of Google machine learning, there is no longer any point in trying to manipulate content for a higher ranking.

The primary goal of SEO is now to optimise your site so that it ranks higher in searches for your industry, and that essentially comes down to improving your relevance, authority and value to your customers.

When it comes to your website, it is still incredibly important to have your SEO ‘housekeeping’ in order, including code that is clean and minimal, ensuring all links work, and that it is as mobile friendly as possible. Having a quick page load and high-quality content are also essential.

The great part about Google Analytics is that it provides a significant amount of useful data, which, when interpreted correctly, can be used to make meaningful changes to your digital marketing approach and overall strategy.

Here are some of the most important questions to ask to ensure your SEO is as effective as possible:

  1. Are our SEO goals aligned with our overall business goals? Before you allocate funding to your SEO, assess its role in supporting customer acquisition and retention, and establish some KPIs to manage its performance.
  2. Are our search phrases on point? First, establish how important SEO is for you by reviewing the number of searches in your market. You can also instigate a gap analysis to assess your market share for different phrases.
  3. Do our key search phrases cover all stages of a customer’s journey? Usually, customers move from searching a very general term, e.g. ‘Best TVs of 2018’, and then continue to drill down to a more specific phrase, e.g. ‘Sony Master Series A9F OLED TV’. It’s important to consider all key phrases a customer might use in their journey towards your product or service.

PPC Gives Insightful Stats

A review of your pay-per-click spend will ensure you are using your budget in the best way for your goals, whether that be conversions, brand exposure or something else.

Google constantly updates its platform and products, and keeping abreast of these may help you stay ahead of your competitors. For example, this year we have already seen Google AdWords being shifted into a new branded platform called Google Ads, while Double Click will be known as Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

It’s all designed to enhance the user experience, with a redesigned interface making it easier to navigate and quicker to load, and more insights into what is actually going on within the account.

A review of your PPC will provide insights into such areas as:

  • search behaviour; best key phrases to target for your audience
  • whether the ad matches the search term
  • cost-per conversion tracking
  • website landing pages corresponding to ad content and keywords
  • how to make your ads more appealing through copywriting and testing
  • click-through rates
  • geo-targeting
  • optimised

Some of the most important questions to ask regarding PPC and its analytics include:

  1. Who is our target audience and are we reaching them? This delves into how visible you are and the number of impressions and impression share. If you’re not targeting your keywords correctly and you don’t have a sufficient enough budget, you will not be getting the right results from a paid search.
  2. Is our website successfully converting traffic? Analysing data such as average bounce rates, conversion rates and revenue per visit can all help you gain an idea of how your website is performing compared to your KPIs.
  3. Is Google Ads giving us enough of a ROI? The best way to answer this crucial question is to calculate an allowable cost per sale or cost per acquisition.

Using the Right Social Media in the Right Way

Analysing your social media channels is not just about how they are performing, but also determining whether you are using the right ones in the right way for your business.

Often when it comes to social media, it’s the basics that are overlooked, like using relevant hashtags across platforms, and posting at the best time for your audience.

Another aspect that can affect the performance of your social media is whether the content is adapted to suit each platform. i.e. content for a LinkedIn user needs to be different to what is used for Twitter or Facebook.

The following are important questions to ask during a review of your social media strategy:

  1. Which social media channels will best help us reach our target audience? Your target audience and how big their presence is on each social media channel will dictate your campaign. It’s more important to concentrate on a couple of platforms and do them well rather than try to be across every one of them.
  2. 2. What are we trying to achieve through our social media marketing? Clearly defining your business objectives, rather than having a vague idea about what you want to achieve is crucial to determine how you want to measure their performance. They will differ from company to company but may include brand awareness, brand loyalty, raw traffic, sales, customer support or retention.
  3. How well are we achieving our business objectives through social media? This is the nitty-gritty of diving into your analytics report and calculating the ROI of your social media campaigns.

eDM Remains a Powerful Tool

These days electronic direct mail is often neglected in favour of social media, but it really shouldn’t be. It remains an incredibly powerful tool that can increase sales and client loyalty, generate leads and produce additional repeat business.

According to recent research, marketers cited email marketing as one of the best channels for return on investment. Around 2 in 10 (18%) said email was ‘excellent’ for ROI, and almost 3 in 10 (29%) rated it as ‘good’. Compared to other channels, email scored highest for excellent ROI.

Once again, the power of analytics provides a wealth of information including the following:

  • Open rate
  • Click through rate
  • Delivery rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Complaint rate
  • Conversion rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Forward/share rate
  • List growth rate.

By regularly measuring these rates, you can identify among other things how healthy your subscription list is, the best time to send, and how relevant the content is to your audience. As a result, you will be able to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns and improve your ROI.

Some of the more important questions to ask include:

  1. Are our eDMs reaching our intended audience? A high deliverable rate is a good measure, while a low delivery rate means work is required on your subscription list.
  2. How relevant are they to our audience? Open rates will give a good indication here on whether your subject line is punchy enough and relevant to the reader. Personalising the email is another good option to increase open rates.
  3. How can we optimise our campaigns to better achieve our objectives? Persuading your subscribers to click on a link inside your email is usually a main goal or your campaign and click-through rates are the way to measure the success of this.

Integration of Channels

Each of your online marketing channels should work together to achieve your overall business objectives. They need to be integrated to achieve the best results and better insights. For example, by conducting an SEO and identifying improvements you may well lessen the need for paid advertising. Similarly, a subscriber call-to-action on your website can assist with strengthening your eDM campaign, which will in turn funnel traffic to your website.

A review of your online channels will provide the analytics and thus definitive answers to help you improve your company’s online performance, identify opportunities and allocate the right budget spend.