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If Only 30% of Your Prospects Are Buying, Do You Know What the Other 70% Are Doing?

Regularly Measuring and Monitoring Can Help You Immediately Pinpoint What to Do Differently with Your Marketing

Many business owners call my company for help with solving a particular problem with their marketing. Sometimes it’s a low response rate from their direct-mail campaigns. At other times, their website’s homepage doesn’t capture and convert enough visitors into buyers. Still others see lots of foot traffic in their store, but don’t see a lot of sales rung up at their cash register. But interestingly, very few of them have working knowledge about the cause of the problem — and fewer still know exactly what the problem is. More alarming is that most are prepared to spend lots of money fixing an underlying “cause” that doesn’t actually exist.

Case in point: One of our clients, a well-known alternative healthcare company with licensees and trained practitioners around the world, said they “knew” that only 30% of visitors to their homepage were buying the entry-level product offered there. They had enough analytical tools in place to measure the number of visitors and the number of sales. But what they hadn’t looked at (we did) was what the remaining 70% of visitors were doing. As it turns out, 70% of all their website visitors were clicking away from the home page (where there was an offer to buy something) and going to the Free Stuff page (where there wasn’t an offer). So rather than charge our client tons of money to bring in more traffic (so that 30% of them could continue to buy), our solution to the “problem” was quite simple: Add a special offer for an entry-level product to the Free Stuff page which 70% of existing visitors were already viewing.

Their sales skyrocketed.

And while this solution might seem like pure common sense, sometimes it’s difficult to see the complete picture — especially when you don’t have measuring tools in place to compile numbers about your marketing activity.

Can You Handle the Truth About Your Business? When you start measuring the results of your marketing activity, the truth will jump out at you. It may be that your salespeople aren’t selling as much as you would like because they need a written script that presents the key benefits. Or perhaps your Internet sales are low — not because of a poor conversion rate — but simply because of low traffic. If you’ve ever felt like your marketing activity keeps you going through the motions without anything substantial to show for it, starting to compile your numbers will interrupt this pattern. Tracking your metrics — or statistics — will tell you what’s really going on with your marketing. And tracking these numbers is easier than you think.

The Secret to Establishing a Simple Metrics Reporting System Setting up a measuring-and-reporting system is easy. Making sure you regularly get the numbers you need — and that they’re reported correctly and objectively — takes some planning. Here are six things you can do in the next day or two to start the process:

  1. Assign the responsibility to one unbiased employee. This person (even if it’s you) will be responsible for compiling all data from every department into a simple summary sheet on the same day every week. This person doesn’t need to be a marketing, sales or e-commerce employee — in fact, it’s better if they’re totally outside these departments (and therefore unbiased).
  2. At first, ask other departments to compile each other’s data. While this may sound counter-intuitive (why would salespeople compile the marketing data?), it actually makes sense to have people compiling data whose jobs depend on improving results in another department. For instance, if the marketing department is generating fewer and fewer leads every week, that decrease impacts the number of leads that salespeople have to talk to. The salesperson handling the metrics will not only make sure the numbers are 100% accurate, but will likely start a discussion about how lead-generation can be improved.
  3. Use Google Analytics for free. Major companies spend tons of money to measure the same website data that Google’s online analytics tool will measure for free. In fact, it’s the #1 most used analytic tool in the world. Because Google sells pay-per-click advertising, they have a vested interest in helping people measure and improve their online advertising. You can benefit from this interest. To set up Google Analytics and start measuring what’s going on at your website, simply visit https://www.google.com/analytics/provision and click on the Sign Up button. Within minutes, you’ll be able to: (1) track how visitors migrate from page to page through your site, (2) view the source of referrals to your site, and (3) see how well visitors make it through a conversion process such as purchasing an item or signing up for a newsletter. It’s an incredible free resource.
  4. Create a phone log for call-in prospects. If your marketing creates phone calls to your business, one of the simplest metrics to measure is how many calls you receive per day and the marketing campaign or device that prompted them to call. Unfortunately, because most business owners don’t emphasize the importance of the data, employees often slack off in keeping these records. To make it simple for everyone, make a chart and put it on a clipboard. You can also use this as a data-capture tool if you don’t have a database yet for entering the names of callers. On the clipboard chart, measure the number of calls per day (or hour), what they were calling about, which marketing piece prompted them to call (if any), and to whom the caller was routed for help.
  5. Create a similar log for foot traffic to your store. Even if you have point-of-sale software in your cash register that asks for zip code or other details, you should still be measuring what happens with the people who DON’T buy anything. In fact, that’s even more important to know so you can improve upon your sales close rates in your store. Measure number of visitors, what prompted them to come into your store, whether they bought and, if not, why not. Much of this data depends upon sales clerks accurately recording the data — something which won’t happen unless they’re assured that it’s only for improvement purposes, not job performance ratings. In fact, you could make the clipboard reporting totally anonymous — leaving off entirely the name of the clerk who helped the prospective customer.
  6. Keep it simple. You won’t get any numbers if you complicate the process and make it overly time-consuming. Don’t ask for too much information unless it’s truly pertinent to your marketing effort. (Complicated reporting is best hired out to third party companies who provide this service.) Another way to simplify the process is to make sure that reporting procedures are in place before you run a promotion.

Once You Have the Numbers, Take Time to Determine What the Problems Really Are Once you compile the data, start looking for trends — especially decreases in activity such as lower traffic or poor sales. Focus on determining what you can do to change those minuses into plus signs for your business. While it’s often difficult to get past what’s not happening in order to determine what could be done to improve your revenue, asking questions like the following will help you read between the lines and determine where you really need to make changes or improvements.

  • If only a small percentage of prospects are buying, what are the non-buyers doing, saying or revealing?
  • When the weekly numbers suddenly jump or plummet, what’s the cause of that extreme change?
  • Could you choose one number that’s low and test another sales script, online offer or other marketing campaign to raise it?

Regularly monitoring your metrics could be one of the most revealing things you’ll do to upgrade your marketing efforts. Only when you get a true picture of your business can you stop the confusion around your marketing and institute changes that make sense. Until next time, Janet Switzer

Creative Commons License photo credit: CanadianAEh

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