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.



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!

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.

Looking Forward to 2016

Mark Kawabe - Friday, January 01, 2016

Welcome to 2016! Happy new year!

2015 was a great year and I am looking forward to continued growth.

To my valued clients and suppliers, please accept my heart-felt thanks. Without your support, my business would not be where it is today. I am grateful for your patronage and your loyalty and I look forward to serving you even better.

There's always something new in the online marketing world. The journey never ends. Thank you for joining me on it and for sharing your experience with me.

Wishing you a healthy, safe, happy and prosperous new year!

 

What does it take for great SEO?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, April 30, 2015

Questions about SEO?Getting great results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is what everyone wants. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as it used to be. I've been around long enough to remember the pre-Google days, when you could submit a site to Yahoo and it would be #1 for your keyword search in less than a week. <sigh>

The Google algorithm never stops evolving. That's good, because the internet is still a new medium and everyone is still scrambling to figure out how it works. Even the big players don't always get things right. Just look at Google's social media stumbles.

A few years ago, you used to be able to do a few things well and be rewarded in the search engines. Things like carefully matching the keywords on a webpage to the actual searches done by potential visitors. Having lots of inbound links used to be a hot ticket. Posting fresh content regularly was a great approach. Those things are still important, but now, there are more "hoops" to jump through.

I call them hoops, but they're just additional factors that Google and other search engines use to determine the overall quality of your website. Take all of the above and now add in things like topical authority, site usage characteristics, the user experience on your website, whether your site is secure (using https) or is mobile friendly - and more. When you look at the bigger picture, there's so much more than keyword matching involved.

Business knowledge is generally a few years behind when it comes to advances in technology and marketing. In this case though, it's not such a bad thing. For years, I have gently reminded people that although the tools are changing, the underlying fundamentals of online marketing haven't changed. If you've paid attention to your fundamentals, you're probably still doing just fine in search engine rankings.

One of the websites I manage has been sitting very comfortably in the top 10 websites for a relatively competitive keyword search for more than a decade. Let thank sink in for a moment. MORE THAN 10 YEARS. The work I do on it is comparatively little when looking at the competition. So why does this website still rank highly? Fundamentals.

Some might argue that it's because this site is old that it's ranking well. That's part of it, to be sure. The domain's been registered since 2001 and it's built up some authority over that time as a result. Truthfully though, you can start a website tomorrow and with some discipline, build a site that is just as authoritative in one year. What is it going to take? Focusing on fundamentals.

Start sharing your knowledge. Tell your story. Connect with prospects and clients using the old and new tools available. Be useful enough on a regular basis and believe it or not, that will make you special. Why? Because most people lack the discipline needed to do the work required. Be special enough that people believe in your ability to help them. When you're special, people will look for you, talk about you, and trust you to take care of them. At that point, you might have done really well in the SERPs, but you'll also probably not need to worry about that because you'll be busy enough with the work you have coming in.

By all means, adapt and adjust to changing search engine requirements. Make your site responsive. It'll be better for you anyway. But don't let the trends that come and go take your attention away from your fundamentals. Responsive website or not, your online presence will work better for you when you're focused on what's most important.

Silence is NOT Golden

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 19, 2014

Here's what silence sounds like online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If your goal is to market yourself online, you're not going to get far being silent

What does silence "look" like online?

No recent website updates. When nothing's changed in over a year on your website (including your blog), what message does that send your clients and prospects?

No recent social media updates. Nothing new in a month or more on social media? Even a month is a long time in this era.

The online marketing world started with static websites, bulletin boards and email. With technology's advances, we added blogs and CMS systems that gave companies and individuals more opportunities to provide information to their customers on a regular basis. The development of social media has given companies hundreds of platforms on which to share their knowledge.

This is the blessing and curse of the online marketing world. Silence is measured by activity. A lack of activity says you have nothing to say or are inattentive. It may not be true. Many entrepreneurs and small organizations are quite busy running their businesses and taking care of their customers in the real world.

Even this real world activity can have some bearing on your online presence. Consider the various review sites that people can share their great experiences with your company. Those sites make up part of your organization's online presence.

I'm not suggesting that if your organization doesn't exist online that it will cease to exist. Thousands of businesses have virtually no online presence and yet, they're still in business. I am however suggesting your business will be enhanced by having a robust, well thought out and executed online strategy.

That means talking about what you do, sharing your knowledge and demonstrating your authority in your field of expertise. You can choose to be silent online, but I believe even a whisper is better than nothing in today's connected world.

Gettin' Out There - with Video!

Mark Kawabe - Monday, November 18, 2013

When I was starting out in business, I thought about getting a promotional video made. I quickly realized I'd never be able to afford it. At a cost of two thousand dollars for a two minute video, there was no way I could justify it. That was back in 1997, eight years before YouTube changed the game forever.

YouTube changed the video industry in two very important ways.

1) It democratized the distribution of videos. Anyone can upload a video and have it seen by millions. It's free to do this. Imagine what you would have had to do before to get your videos seen by millions before YouTube came along. People used to distribute business card sized CDs with videos. Remember those?

2) It lowered the quality threshold. If content was compelling enough, people will watch a video. The top 30 all-time watched videos on YouTube are mostly professionally-produced music videos from popular artists with huge fan bases. #5 is called "Charlie bit my finger - again!" and has been viewed 599,148,435 times (as of November 15, 2013). Don't ask me what's compelling about this . . .

Video engages people in a way that text can't. With a video of you, people see you, hear you and can see your body language. It's much more powerful than words on a screen. You don't have to be a movie star to make good videos. Just be you. With a little preparation, you can make an video that engages, entertains and builds rapport with your audience.

Also, notice I've added a video to this blog post. It says pretty much everything I wrote here, but it's in video. What will be remembered more? What are your thoughts on this? I'm curious, so please share your comments!

How's that strategy working out for you?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chess - all about strategyStrategy can be defined as "a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim."

How is your online marketing strategy doing for you? This is a question you should ask yourself regularly. Things change quickly online and what may have been a great idea a year ago may not be so hot now.

Four points to consider:

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not dead. Doing it well can take time, especially if you are trying to achieve top rankings for a competitive term (think "Niagara Falls"). However, if you've determined what the appropriate keywords are for your business to target, it can be well worth the effort.

  2. Email marketing is still effective. For those of you who do not regularly put out an email communication to your clients and prospects, this may be an area you want to reconsider.

  3. Social media is not a replacement for SEO, nor does it particularly help your SEO efforts in and of itself. Social media is about engaging with people. It requires as much time (or more) as SEO but it can also work well when done properly.

  4. Whatever you're doing with SEO, email marketing or social media, remember to track your website's performance. If the site has a high bounce rate or does not convert visitors to inquiries or sales very well, you're ultimately wasting your marketing efforts. If you don't know how to measure your bounce rate or your conversion rate, take the time to learn or seek professional help.

Our business slogan used to be "Making the internet WORK for business". That can be read two ways - to make it more effective or to make it more work. It reflected the reality that to get results there is an investment required. Either you invest your time or your money, but if you do nothing, that's generally what you'll get.

What could you gain from a one-on-one with a web specialist?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, November 01, 2013

If you had an hour (or perhaps two) to ask someone with a heap of experience building websites and marketing online, would you have any questions for them?

What would you ask? Any ideas?

If you have questions, here's your chance. Just share, like or comment on any of my recent blog posts to enter a draw for breakfast or lunch with me :)

You can ask whatever you like - and even better, breakfast or lunch is my treat!

I hope to be answering your questions in person soon!