It’s fun sitting in meetings with CEOs who have an opinion about why their content marketing is or is not working.
It’s equally great when they express concerns about their website or marketing program in general. When I ask what data they are using to make marketing or website decisions, I get a blank stare.
I also think it’s cute that few CEOs I speak with have any idea about what is happening with their Google Analytics data. Many don’t realize that they don’t have access to their own accounts and their data destiny is being controlled by the last agency their hired to execute an activity for them. Time and time again we see important data residing in the master panel of a marketing agency, rather than in the hands of a company or CEO who should not only control the information but use it to make informed marketing decisions.
Marcus Sheridan at the Sales Lion recently sent out a very short and compelling email to his readers that went something like this…
Our opinions, frankly, don’t matter. At least for the most part when it comes to building a brand and business in the digital age.
For example, let’s take a pop-up for lead conversion. Personally, I don’t like pop-ups. But, eventually, I agreed to give them a try.
Leads went up 400%.
As you might imagine, I stopped complaining about pop-ups and started listening to the numbers. What matters is what our customers think and how can we better reach them?
Building a B2B digital strategy in today’s modern world is exhausting. And EVERYONE has an opinion. Everyone has an educated guess about tools, tactics, content, navigation, etc. But the best way to drive a high performing content marketing program is to start with data not opinion.
Here’s a recent conversation I have had with a very smart CEO
We have tried every online tactic you can think of and nothing is working. Why not?
So I asked these questions that you can apply to your company:
- What do you want to happen? (specific numbers need to be provided.)
- How did your customers and prospects respond? ( to your most recent series of tactics.)
- What did the data tell you? (who is putting context around this at your company.)
You are hurting your business and your marketing results if you are not intimately involved with the data on your website or in your web presence tools. If 60% of today’s sales funnel is taking place online and you aren’t actively mining and interpreting data to plan your next marketing activity, then YOUR OPINION DOES NOT MATTER!
We tell every business owner, There is gold in Google Analytics. You just need to know what you’re looking for and how to interpret the results.
And if the people who sold you all of these fancy marketing tactics didn’t start with data, you should never have bought them in the first place.
Here are 3 data categories you must know like the back of your hand before you start providing opinions:
- Be rock solid on who you visitors are:
You can learn a lot about people using these three data points:
- Bounce rate. Everyone has a love/hate relationship with bounce rate. Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes its blatant proof that your content needs overhauling. Every week you should be checking to see if people coming to your site are getting to the right content based on their search. A high bounce rate means your keywords are not lining up with your content. You can figure this out by conducting a keyword evaluation.
- Organic traffic. Check to see how many visitors are finding you and going to your website through search engines. High organic traffic with a high bounce rate could signal problems.
- Percentage of new visitors versus returning visitors. This data point is simple and often overlooked. Generally, it gets ignored because people don’t establish a primary goal for their website. If your goal is to support lead nurturing, then percentage of returning visitors is way more important that new visits. Tracking this data saves lots of time and money when you are deciding campaigns and tactics to drive traffic to the website. More importantly, it helps you make important decisions about the content your audience needs.
- Understand what people are reading on your website
Don’t cling to pages no one is visiting and conversely, keep pages that perform well with respect to time on page and from a keyword perspective.
- Page popularity. For most B2B websites, About and Contact are the pages that get viewed the most. A simple data pull over six to 12 months often proves that many pages are never visited. You need to understand what people read before they hit About and Contact and if you have pages that are not performing, dump them.
- Reverse visualization. After people land on your website, look at entrance and exit points. There is an important story being told about how they are using the information on a website and what they need to get to know you as a business.
- Be clear about whether your content is performing before you write another blog post
I can’t tell you the number of corporate blogs I visit that have blog posts that are quite frankly, useless. They seem to be a holdover from an SEO era when people understood dynamic content on a website would help improve organic search rankings. What many companies have failed to realize is that no one cares about your employee picnic except your employees and these type of posts do nothing to further the buying process on your website or help you with SEO.
NO ONE IS SEARCHING FOR YOUR COMPANY PICNIC OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMPANY!
Before you can do a bang up job of digital and content marketing you need to look at tools like your website, social media or blogs and understand exactly what you want them to do.
Get a handle on the following:
- Goals/Conversions/Events. To determine how well any online tools are doing, look first to understand the physical and measurable response you want from each activity. Make sure you have a series of goal completions set up and tracked in Google Analytics that follow the buyer process of your customer. When they land, what pages do they go to and what do they read before downloading something or completing a form, etc. Your ultimate goal is to improve conversion so that you can improve lead nurturing or lead generation. Before you decide what do next, dig down to find out what is working and what is not.
- Source/Medium/Campaign. Determine which external sources are driving the best traffic based on goal completions. Did you get more new subscribers to your email list from LinkedIn or was organic search based on documented keywords driving business results? The reason this is so important to determine before you do anything is that you don’t want to lose what is working. If you are getting great leads from an industry group in LinkedIn that go to specific page on the website, figure out why this content performs and build more of it before you redesign the page.
If you would like to dig a little deeper into the data side of your next website project, listen to our recorded webinar, How to use Google Analytics to redesign your website.
And remember, never let your personal opinion hinder marketing excellence.