Samuel Beckett may not be the first person you think of as marketing guru but his quote “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” succinctly reflects the changes to modern marketing. Our era of measurement and data means that steering a company by the CEO’s gut is unlikely to work.
Siobhan Tyrrell from Tandem Digital Marketing on how to fail better at digital marketing:
Success is built on the wealth of analytics, testing and iteration.
The days of cheap online marketing are pretty much gone. It’s very rarely that a start-up can get the traction it needs based solely on “free” online channels. More established companies are faced with the cost online marketing, whether it’s in time or paid promotion, taking a significant part of the marketing budget. Online paid promotion is increasing, and while still more cost effective than more traditional channels, costs are on the up.
With attracting online traffic becoming more expensive, businesses have been shifting focus across the funnel. There is little point in paying for large numbers or visitors at the top of the funnel only to have them bounce out of it with no conversion. This is where the lines blur between marketing, sales and tech. In fact the modern marketer needs to have a good grounding in multiple disciplines in order to take advantage of the insights afforded by analytics and being able to exploit available technology.
Iteration is key.
Campaigns may serve to drive traffic and communicate brand or offering but it is the everyday interactions with individuals that underpin the success of a business. That’s why there is no room for complacency or let up for today’s marketing departments. When the customer has the power of search engines and social media at their fingertips, business has to do everything it can to keep a site visitor engaged and lead them to conversion. Distraction is only a click away.
There are a plethora of tools online which allow businesses to analyse and act on data. Companies can easily spy on competitor activity from ad copy and monthly spend to social influencers. Scripts on websites can provide insight into individuals that the profiling of the last decades only dreamt about.
In this context technology is the marketer’s enabler. We can now get a real understanding of customer behaviour through analytics. With so much information comes a lot of opportunity. The concomitant effect however, is that inflexible planning is out. Creating a campaign in stone and letting it roll until an end date isn’t where a business wins online. Setting up a campaign and testing and adapting as it goes, that’s where competitive advantage lies.
This is evidenced in the emergent approaches to marketing; Conversion Optimisation and Growth Hacking. While they approach business from slightly different starting points, they are united in their embracing of failure and iteration. It’s about finding areas of advantage and pragmatically increasing the effectiveness of any interaction.
So with the cost of online promotion increasing, company must do anything they can to lead prospects down the path to conversion, be it a newsletter sign up, a download or a sale. Actually reallocating marketing budget from the front end promotion and distribution and investing in what happens when someone visits a site can really pay off.
Conversion optimisation is the use of tracking and measurement to understand user behaviour and act to take advantage of that insight. Its advantage to marketers is that it increases budget efficiency, increases Return on Investment (ROI) and reduces cost per acquisition.
The rise in Conversion Optimisation (CRO) as a specialism in marketing reflects the easy access of business to analytics and the advances in code based tracking. The approach looks at elements of the funnel and tests to develop the most effective combination of elements.
It can be as detailed as changing the font size on a call to action button or as radical as changing the information hierarchy of a site. While it has some qualitative aspects in its use of surveys and user feedback, at its heart is qualitative data based on tracked behaviour of individuals.
The ability to do this is at a marketers fingertips. Using a combination of tools like Google Analytics, Optimizily, Hotjar, Kissmetrics and Unbounce businesses can create and test hypothesis and elements on their sites using heatmaps, funnel analysis and landing page layouts based on the behaviour of their visitors. A/B and multi variate testing is not new, but it is now accessible and less daunting to implement.
On a parallel track, the more recent phenomena of “Growth Hacking” takes this approach further and is particularly used for technical based start ups. This looks at more pragmatic and powerful ways to build customer basis and convert them. Growth hacking applies the same ethos of iteration and action across the funnel from brand introduction to multiple conversion.
While a marketer is trained in the promotion of more traditional products like FMCG and luxury goods, there is a new type of product which requires a keen understanding of digital hubs and the connections in between. The often cited example is AirBnB. They created a service which allows individuals to offer space in their homes, disrupting the short stay holiday sector. Their growth is to a large part down to the convergence of two skill sets; technical and marketing. Companies which tap into that approach can create pragmatic campaigns which are tweaked while they are in progress and analysed on completion before they are further iterated.
There is a reason that savvy businesses have moved from formalised speccing to rapid prototyping. A growing appreciation that perfection before release is not possible. Rather celebrating that some things will work, some will fail and being able to measure the why is where businesses grow in the most efficient way.
This approach to embracing ongoing iteration is not just for deep pocketed companies. Embracing a culture of testing and iteration can transform a company’s performance. Success is built on the back of failure; winning online is built on merging tech, data and marketing and iterating for better results. Fail better.
Getting started with Conversion Optimisation
1. Get to know your site
The first thing to do is to get to know your site. There are many tools available but most companies
have Google Analytics already installed. This will give you aggregated information on the existing
behaviour on your site. Just by having the out of the box Google Analytics code on your site you can start understanding your visitors. Look at:
Avg time on pages
Most popular pages
Conversion rate ( you will need to have goals set up for this)
How are visitors moving between pages towards a conversion
2. Set up goals.
Basically if it has some kind of action; a click, page view, download, video play, form input it can be tracked. There are also a myriad of tools that help by recording visits to a site so you can get an understanding of how users really interact with your content. The goals should reflect your company objectives and KPIs.
Look at setting up heatmaps so you can understand better how users are actually interacting with your content – are they engaged, are they skipping over important information, where do they go?
3. Use hypotheses
When you’ve spent some time analysing pages, write up a few hypothesis. A handy structure is to use this sentence
“By [insert the proposed change] the conversion rate will increase because [whatyou expect to happen].”
Things to test
Starting off there are lots of opportunities for:
Call to action bullets
Subject lines in emails
Using hyperlinks and buttons
How less fields in a form impacts on the number of sign ups
Size, colour and position of buttons
Changes in heading copy
Changes to tone of body copy
Use of different images
Introduction of Livechat
Siobhan Tyrrell director at Tandem Digital Marketing