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August 1, 2006

Failure to Act

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An interesting article out of ClickZ today by Jason Burby that asks why is it so hard to get marketers to test things and act on analytics data?

It’s a sad truth that few marketers pay the amount of attention they should when it comes to looking at and tracking their analytics data. Why start a campaign in the first place if you’re not going to follow through? We’re a big believer that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Take Pay Per Click, for example. SEMs throw thousands of dollars into creating flashy ad campaigns but won’t make the necessary tweaks to their landing pages to get the highest ROI. Why?

I blame that inner kid mentality in all of us. We like building and creating things. We like getting dirty and creating flashy ads that will hopefully attract attention, but we don’t enjoy being elbow deep in data or even vocalizing the word “test”. No one wants to fix the leaky sink; they’d rather just head to their local hardware store and buy a shinier, non-leaking one. That mentality worked when you were freckled and five, but it’s not going to get you far with your marketing campaign.

If you’re serious about your marketing campaign, whether PPC or SEO, you need to conduct testing. If it’s PPC, you need to test your landing pages, ad copy, and bid prices to make sure you’re getting the highest conversion rates possible. If you’re running an SEO campaign, you need to test keywords, keep tabs on your competitors, experiment with your Meta tags, get good links and focus on creating good content. We believe once you begin testing you’ll immediately see how even the smallest tweaks can have a very measurable impact on your company’s success. And once you do, you’ll be hooked.

Raquel Hirsch from Hirsch Strategies told Clickz (very bluntly) that marketers who don’t test don’t deserve results:

“In my experience, marketers get what they deserve. They focus on the flashy/creative stuff and not on the business model, and then get upset that they get no respect at the C-suite.”

Agreed. If as a marketer you’re not excited enough by your campaigns to act,, how can you expect more excitement from your customers? Today’s customers are smart. They know which sites trying to address their needs and which aren’t. As a customer yourself, what kind of site are you more likely to reward? Who do you trust more?

Good marketers are excited by the details. They like seeing what works, what doesn’t, and thinking of innovative ways for improvement. As marketers and midlevel execs become more educated about the possibilities of SEO and PPC, testing will become increasingly more important. Those who test and tweak will see results. Those who throw their campaigns to the wind and forget them won’t. And they don’t deserve to.

Everyone likes the flashy stuff, but at the end of the day your company lives and breathes on your ability to track your campaign’s success. The vast majority of your dollars are in the small tweaks, not the flashy ads. Remember the 80/20 rule. You can give percent of the results with 20 percent of the effort but the last 20 percent of the effort, the percentage that causes you to win instead of just place, is going to cost you 80 percent of the work. The tests you conduct will give you a roadmap of how you should be using your advertising dollars. Without one, you’re betting on horses you’re not even sure are in the race.

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