Prioritization is one of the hardest parts of digital marketing. There are just so many options and all of them look great. Now there are two sides to this coin. On the positive side, if everything is working pretty well, where do you invest next. If things aren’t going so well, which hole in the dike to you try to plug first. Today, I’d like to offer some advice on how to use analytics to guide these decisions.
1. Know what’s working (or not working)
The first part of any prioritization is to look at what is working or has worked in the past. This is by no means a trivial task, especially if you are starting from scratch or haven’t been regularly measuring your activities in the past. The first point of attack should be looking at all the sources of traffic on your website and determining which are most successful at achieving your goal (leads, sales, downloads, etc.). Most systems will easily break out search, referrals, campaigns and direct traffic in their basic reporting. This is a great starting point, but I encourage you do dig deeper.
For a more granular assessment of your traffic sources, if you don’t have these segmented already, break out email marketing traffic (most easily seen as referrers with “mail” in the domain name), affiliate programs, sales lead engines and promotion aggregators (coupons, sweepstakes, white papers, etc.). If you are at all active in Social Media (and probably even if you aren’t), also check the traffic levels from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
By looking at each of these sources individually (even to specific campaigns), you can see which ones achieve your goals, whatever they may be.
2. Look for untapped opportunities
In the first step, we looked primarily at things you “caused” to happen, either through paid engagements or self-promotion. After looking at those things, be sure to check out areas that might be providing you traffic that you didn’t cause (or worse, aren’t aware of). This may be social media sites or promotion aggregators. It might be trade websites or partners. The best way to identify these sources is to look through your Referrers and try to understand what the cause/interest is from your top 20 (or 50) traffic sources.
3. Assess the costs of each opportunity
Now for the hard part, determining which areas are the most effective and where opportunities lie. Let’s assume that you find you have the following simple setup:
The next step is to look at the cost of creating the levels of traffic/conversion you currently have.
Cost Per Lead
|Affiliate Program||25% commission||$3.00|
Email marketing seems to have one of the best combinations of high conversion rate and relatively low cost. Let’s do more email. This is where a lot of people might stop. But there’s a catch, each lead source has it’s own factors around what the source’s growth capabilities. Email, for example, is usually a finite set of customers/interested consumers that can’t quickly be expanded. Social media is hard to grow rapidly. Paid search, affiliate programs and banners can be scaled nearly infinitely, but the costs are high. What do you do?
4. Test and Measure
The answer: test! Although this may seem anticlimactic, it’s the right answer. One of the greatest advantages we have in digital marketing today is the ability to quickly scale up, instantly measure, and see what is working. In this overly simplified analysis, I didn’t share any information on real or projected sales/profits from these leads (and that needs to be part of a real analysis), but for this company, I’d recommend experimenting with expanding paid search (easy scalability), affiliate programs (scalability, conversion) and email (low/in-house cost, high conversion) and see if these move the needle.
5. Analyze and repeat
Of course the ideal plan is to be doing this on continual basis, but I’m well aware that not everyone has the time needed to looks at traffic sources and conversion rates on a daily basis. That being said, it doesn’t mean you can set-it and forget-it. After you tweak your email creative or expand to new subscriber sources, make sure to see if it helped (or hurt) your efforts. In paid media, are you getting just as much out of your 1000th dollar and you did from your first? Determining the optimal mix is not easy, but that is what takes digital marketing to the next level.