The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


How to Measure Online Marketing ROI - Part 1

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Calculate ROI for Online MarketingMarketers (and those who hire them) want everything they do to pay off in some fashion. You're making an investment in a website, or email marketing, or social media marketing, and of course you want to see positive results. Measuring the ROI of a website or online marketing campaign is getting easier, but it still takes know-how to drill through the numbers and tell your finance department what they want to know. Here are a few thoughts on calculating the ROI of your online marketing efforts.

Getting Started

Let's say you're just setting up your business and getting all your marketing materials in order, including your website. If you have a business plan for your business, you'll probably have heard that it should be a living document. While a business plan is a good start, it needs to be adjusted as your new business meets the realities of the market. A plan is great, but being able to measure and adjust as you go is a necessity.

So, how do you calculate a projected ROI for your new website? Simple. You take an educated guess, then you launch, measure, figure out what's working and what's not working, adjust and repeat. Let's look at some of the factors that could come into play with this scenario.

Assumption: New website development cost is $10,000. Website will generate 5 new leads per month. With a closing rate of 40%, website sales will result in two new customers per month. The average value of a sale is $2000, so the website will generate $4000 in monthly sales. After 3 months, there will be $12,000 in sales attributed to the website. With a 20% profit margin, there will be $2400 in profits after 3 months from web sales.

Reality: New website costs $10,000, as budgeted. Website generates 2 new leads a month. After 3 months, there are 3 new clients, representing a closing rate of 50%. The average value of those sales is $1000, resulting in $3000 in revenue. The profit margin on these smaller jobs is only 10%, so there is a $300 profit from web sales after 3 months.

What Do You Do?

Nobody's happy when a website doesn't perform. Customers aren't happy. Developers aren't happy because their customers aren't happy. People who genuinely need the product or service being offered aren't happy either, because they aren't getting what they need. What to do?

There are many things that can be evaluated and tweaked to make a website perform better. Here are a few thoughts.

  • What is the website's reach? Are enough people coming to the website? Google Analytics is your friend here. If people aren't coming to your website, you can't expect great things from it. If you're expecting your website to convert visitors into leads, you have to make sure there are enough visitors coming to it. What can you do? Buy advertising. Better your SEO. Do content marketing - and market your content through social media and other channels.
  • How is the website converting? If 100 people come to your website every month and five people make a sales inquiry, your conversion rate is 5%. What if your conversion rate's only 1%? You'll need 400 more visitors to make up the difference. What can you do? Have better website content. Improve your CTA (Calls to Action). Make sure you're reaching your target audience. Ensure your website design, or site loading times or other on-site factors aren't turning people away. 
  • How is your sales staff converting? Unless your website is purely and e-commerce site, your sales staff are the ones converting leads from the website into customers. The website has done its job and pre-sold your product or service to a prospective customer. Now it's your sales staff who need to perform. Are they doing a good job? Do they have the tools they need to succeed? Did the website do such a good job that all your staff need to do is take the order or is there still a hard sale ahead? What can you do when sales staff don't perform? Invest in better training, systems, or people.

There's another factor to take into consideration with the above scenario. What if you didn't spend $10,000 on a website? What would you have done with the money? Would that have been money you didn't have to borrow? Would it be money you could have invested in other revenue-generating activity? While it's generally agreed that most businesses need a website, it's also true for some businesses that it's really not necessary for their success. It is possible for a business to have an online presence that's completely based on social media presence and exposure, but those businesses are the exceptions, not the norm. In the above scenario, there could also be a financial and psychological cost of not having a website. These things are difficult to measure, but not impossible.

As the title of this article suggests, this is part 1 of a discussion of how to measure ROI from your online marketing efforts. If you have questions or comments, I look forward to hearing from you. Your contribution to the discussion is appreciated.



It's All About the Leads

Mark Kawabe - Monday, November 14, 2016

Lead GenerationIf you're contemplating getting a website or redeveloping an existing site, you're probably trying to justify it to yourself. After all, it's usually not an inexpensive proposition. You're going to put some serious cash on the table. For what?

There are a lot of business owners who invest in a website because they feel they need one. "It's expected that a modern business will have one". This is true, so if you're going to have one, then you should really be asking yourself how you're going to make it "work".

A "working" website is one that converts site visitors into leads. It doesn't matter if 100 people arrive as a result of person-to-person networking or from Google, as long as the site converts.* Conversion of visitors to leads is pretty much the only important metric that matters to the health of your website. A site with a 1% conversion rate needs 5 times as many visitors to achieve the same results as one with a 5% conversion rate.

Business owners need to ask questions based on lead generation. Questions like:

  • How are we going to get new visitors to our website?
  • How is our new/redeveloped site going to convert visitors into leads?
  • What content do we need to have on the site to help us achieve that goal?
  • What processes do we need to have in place to convert leads into sales?
  • How will we track our results? How will we change if we don't get the results we'd hoped for?
If you're going to invest in a website, you're investing in a lead generation tool. Consider all the ways a site can work for you. Then work with your developer and your marketing team to make it a reality. Or, if you'd like, drop us a line and we'll be happy to talk to you about how we can build you a site that converts.

*Actually, it DOES matter, but that's a topic for another article.

Lights Out Today

Mark Kawabe - Monday, November 14, 2016

Lights Out TodayToday, the lights are going out at The Web For Business.com. Thankfully, the sun is still shining. Even better is having a battery backup for my modem.

We are very fortunate to be going through some renovations. One of them is an upgrade of the electrical panel. This morning, some skilled, talented and surprisingly personable electricians from Datawise Solutions showed up and shut off the power to my office. Hydro will be here soon to shut off the power to the building to facilitate the panel change. I'm told the power will be off for much of the day.

This of course means two things. One: our phone lines will be down. We have internet-based telephony so without power, we're unreachable at the main office number. Two: I might be forced to hang out at The Grounds, or at On The Front. Worst case scenario: Starbucks :)

Just wanted to let you know in case you're wondering why I'm MIA.

No Finish Line

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

There is no finish line in marketingMarketing is not a race. If you are in business, you should know and understand that marketing is a continuous process. If there is an end to marketing, there is also an end to revenue growth, new customer acquisition etc.

When it comes to marketing online, I've met a lot of business owners who have an online presence, but who aren't happy about it. They have "tried everything" from SEO to social media and nothing's worked, from their perspective. They're tired of the cost, and they're frustrated by the lack of results.

To be fair, that's a very reasonable outcome. If I asked you to spend $5000 and not have any measurable return on investment (ROI), you'd probably walk away. I would too.

The word "measurable" is important though, because you CAN measure many, many things when people are interacting with your online presence. On your website, you can use your analytics to see what people are clicking on and how they're coming to your site. You can use heat mapping to see where people are focusing their attention. Any reputable email marketing software will tell you your open rates and track what people click on in your messages. Social media tools give you metrics showing you what posts got the most attention.

Then the hard work begins. Analyze. Investigate. Uncover reasons. Ask questions. Tweak your site, your content, your next post, and then do it all over again. If you want better marketing, you need to have a better system.

Nobody can say for certain that creating and implementing a robust inbound marketing plan is going to be a goldmine of lead generation. However, it is true that not doing anything will very likely be worse for your business' lead acquisition. Even if you put together a plan and start implementing slowly, you'll be better positioned a few years from now.

Another Facebook Change to Adapt To

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Crying Baby Being Fed Food They Don't WantFacebook and Google. Two of the most powerful companies in the world. If you're an online marketer, you tend to pay attention to what they do.

Facebook announced a change at the end of June 2016 that will probably impact your business. Personally, I like the change because it favours humans over businesses. That being said, businesses may not be happy about it.

Simply put, the change is in Facebook's news feed, where there will be more focus on news from friends and family and less on news from pages you like (i.e. businesses). For businesses, this means you'll probably get less exposure for your posts. Oh joy.

Lots of business owners will be crying about this. Posts from pages have been getting less and less exposure since Facebook started. Advertising is an important revenue stream for Facebook, so this move has been seen as yet another way for Facebook to encourage businesses to pay for more exposure. Get people hooked on the platform, then take away what used to be free and make businesses pay. Perfectly logical move.

In their defense, Facebook did say this change will impact your business less if your content is shared more. In other words, if you craft wonderful content that people find immensely useful, entertaining, stimulating or enraging, if those people share your content then you'll likely continue to get decent exposure. Otherwise, chances are your reach will diminish.

This is nothing new. If you've known me long enough, you'll have heard me rant about how businesses rely too much on social media and the latest-greatest platforms to get more exposure. From my perspective, companies should be working diligently on creating an online presence that is under their control. Namely, building great, content-rich websites that serve the needs of their customers and prospects well, and building and leveraging their own email lists. Focus on the things you can control and improve the most, then use social media tools to further broadcast what it is you do.

I believe there is more inherent value in this approach. What do you think? Please let me know your thoughts.

If you liked this article and think others would benefit from reading it, please SHARE it on Facebook instead of liking it. Content that is shared will be seen more than content that is liked. Creating content that is share-worthy is how businesses will continue to get organic exposure on Facebook. There's your takeaway. Now go do something awesome!

Want to Reap? Sowing Comes First

Mark Kawabe - Monday, July 25, 2016

I didn't need to write this post. This is stuff people should just know. It's almost an insult to the reader to write it.

And yet, here I am, writing it.

Why?

I'm writing it for the same reason the dentist tells you to floss every time you visit. Everybody knows flossing contributes to good dental health. That doesn't mean everyone does it.

There are lots of reasons people don't update their blogs, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter streams. I know. I've done it too.

Maybe you don't feel you need to pay any attention to your online profile. Perhaps your business is running smoothly, as profitable as you want it to be, without any need for online marketing. It's wonderful to have a business like that. Congratulations. I bow before you. 

If you're reading this post, I suspect you need more results from your online efforts. So, this is your reminder to keep on making those efforts. Plant more seeds.

Create more value the only way it can be done: one post, page, photo, video, tweet or comment at a time. If you want people's attention and trust, you have to earn it. Assuming you're creating value, your work will pay off.

Are you going to get new business right away from your efforts? Maybe. Never say never is my motto. However, for most businesses, keeping your website updated, blog fresh, social media populated is an investment in your brand. It's a way for your to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and by doing so, a way to get more exposure, create more awareness and increase the potential of getting new clients in future.

Whether the business comes right away or in future, one truth remains: you gotta plant.


Meet Mike- Your Social Media Star Helper!

Mark Kawabe - Friday, July 22, 2016

Meet Mike, your content marketing assistant.Coming up with content for your content marketing plans can be tough. Sometimes you just need some help.

Meet Mike. Mike can be a star helper when it comes to creating content. In less than an hour, you can have enough inspiration for weeks of content. Here's how.

Arrange to meet with someone who knows your business, but perhaps doesn't know it all that well. Take a recording device with you (Mike). Your smartphone will do in many cases. Sit somewhere quiet, pour a beverage and get comfy.

Now the fun part begins. Hit Mike (start recording) and ask your friend to ask you questions about your business. How things work. Why you do things the way you do. Your processes. The state of the industry. What's new in your industry. What's new in your company. You get the picture.

The answers you give will probably lead to more questions. Go with it. Take your time. There's no rush, no pressure to perform. Don't worry. Mike's listening, recording it all.

When you're done, take some time to listen to your recording and identify the things you talked about. Chances are you'll find you now have at least a dozen ideas for article topics. Now it's your turn to be a star and start writing!

Inspiration's often hard to come by on your own, but with a friend like Mike (and the friend who did the questioning), you'll have a plethora of topics to cover on your website and social media platforms.

What are you waiting for? Grab Mike and get started! By the way, if you're looking for someone to ask you the questions, I rent out at very affordable rates. Contact me for more information.

Convincing People to Change

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Change is difficult. Just ask the Goldfish.Change is often needed, but feared at the same time. Change involves risk, and humans are naturally risk-averse. Marketing involves convincing prospects that a change of behaviour is beneficial and as risk-free as possible.

This is the challenge, whether you're operating a bed and breakfast, a restaurant, a retail store, a factory or a consulting firm. Potential customers want to be assured their needs will be met if they choose you. Fortunately, despite the challenges, there are opportunities, especially when marketing online.

One of the best things about marketing online is that you're not limited by space or time. If you have the time, you can write an essay about anything related to your business. As for space, how long is a webpage? Exactly. You can write for hours about the thread count of the sheets on your beds or the uniqueness of your family's secret souvlaki recipe. If you meet a prospect's needs by doing so, then you're on your way to gaining a customer.

This is why you've heard the phrase "content is king" since the dawn of the world wide web. Content is indeed king, and it's fundamental to your ability to market your business online. Feel free to write about anything that's related to your business. Moreover, do it often. If you can be creative about it, even better. 

Content is really important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I always remind customers that if they're not going to hire an SEO specialist, then they have to write content that addresses the needs and queries of their prospects. Creating content for your website gives you a new page for search engines to spider, something new to share on social media and more opportunities to get noticed. You can't expect Google or other search engines to send your small, static website loads of prospects, even if you're exceptionally well-known for something.

Part of the strategy involved in content marketing is to write about a broad range of topics related to your business so you demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and personality to your target audience. I think one's personality is just as important as one's expertise. By sharing your unique perspectives and insights with customers and prospects you educate, create rapport, and build trust. After all, people are going to have to deal with you - so giving them an idea what you are like to work with is important!

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that often, there is no "one thing" that will convince someone to change. You need to provide lots of reasons for people to change their existing behaviours, whether it's staying in hotels versus bed and breakfasts or buying from another supplier instead of you. Building a library of content on your website that is shared on your social media platforms is an approach that can help convince prospects to choose you the next time the opportunity arises. Without that content, you stand to miss a lot of opportunities for getting noticed and getting new customers through the door.

Are You an Original?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Be the tall pencil and stand out from the crowd!Any company that takes its website and social media marketing seriously is involved in content marketing.

"Content" means articles, images (photos or infographics) or videos on a topic of interest to one's target audience. There's only one problem with content marketing: it takes work. As a result, many entrepreneurs and organizations simply take the approach of "content aggregator", re-posting information that was produced by another person or company.

In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with posting a link or sharing content from others as long as credit is provided. I don't think content aggregation should be your ONLY source of content for your website or social media. Positioning yourself as an expert requires you to showcase your knowledge which means you need to create your own content.

I recognize this is more challenging. It's much easier to find something of interest and re-post it. Researching and writing articles, creating infographics and even finding relevant imagery that is properly licensed takes time. Even if you have writing posts down to an art and you can churn one out quickly, it will still take more time than finding something interesting to re-post. Being a content aggregator is easier and allows you to post much more frequently than you otherwise could.

This approach is misguided, in my opinion, because the point of content marketing is not to post for the sake of posting. Your goal should be to provide quality, original content that your audience will find valuable. Doing so demonstrates your expertise and helps you stand out from the crowd. When you re-post the same content as dozens of others, you're not demonstrating your expertise or showing leadership in your field.

If you want to be perceived as a leader, you need to lead. Showcasing your expertise with valuable content in the majority of your content marketing is a must. Leaders create content of value that is worthy of being re-posted. Don't expect your followers to continue following if you're not leading the way. 


Marketing in Stormy Seas

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Marketing's Stormy SeasWe are living in an increasingly political and polarized society where the default state for most people seems to be "pissed off".

In a world of "pro-this" and "anti-that", how does an entrepreneur or company market itself online?

One word: carefully.

There are stormy seas online. Here are a few suggestions on how to navigate more safely.

You Are Your Brand

For all you entrepreneurs and small business owners out there, chances are your personal social media profiles and your business identities are being followed by the same people. When you voice your opinion online, you're showcasing it to friends, family, clients and prospects.This isn't meant to dissuade you from telling the world how you feel about issues important to you, but rather to remind you that what you say online is visible and largely permanent.

The ramifications of this could be significant. Job seekers don't get hired because of their social media postings. Political candidates lose elections because of things they've said online. An off-the-cuff comment can create lasting ill will towards you and your company.

Accept There Will Be "Haters"

Not everyone is going to like everything about you. This is as true about your Facebook friends as it is about your real-life friends and family. It's even more true about strangers, some of whom are just looking for someone to hate. Are you vegan? Get ready for some omnivore to weigh in on your dietary choices. Like air travel? There's an environmentalist out there ready to talk about your carbon footprint. Own a fashion store? A human-rights advocate is around the corner ready to judge you based on where you source your products.

Every online interaction is an opportunity for you to build your brand. Your public interactions with people you disagree with say more about you than your interactions with your fans. While there may always be those who go out of their way to send negativity your way, dealing with them positively will be more beneficial than just blowing them off.

A RESPECTFUL TONE GOES A LONG WAY

Your words have power. Every tap of a key represents a choice you've made in how to express yourself. If you want to call someone or a group of people "idiots", "f*[email protected]" or worse, you have every right to do so. Does it reflect well upon you to do so? Perhaps it will to some and perhaps it won't to others. You and your brand will be judged by your words, so moderate the language you choose to use when talking about issues.