I watched this slide show, and based on the cover image I assumed it was about getting married.

But the content is strong, depressing and makes you evaluate what you need to do to get through these times of financial uncertainty…. well lets be honest, it was financial uncertainty 3 weeks ago… we now know we’re all screwed.

It’s highly American, so apologies for that, but here we go:

The key points I took from it were about reducing risk, getting aggressive with your advertising and marketing, and cutting spend on anything that isn’t essential or going to bring in more money.

OK, so I have ulterior motives.

But you have a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the most accountable marketing you could imagine.

If you’re not using an analytics package on your website, get one.  If you have a decent system, set it up correctly and evaluate the results, then you have information that can drive your online marketing spend to achieve excellent return on investment.  You can literally see what works and what doesn’t, so you know what is essential to your business and what can be cut.

And what’s more important than getting people to your site?

Getting them to interact, return, request a quote, book an appointment, request a call back, sign up to your newsletter, refer a friend, purchase…

How do you find out what’s stopping people doing these things?

Analytics will help identify the poor performing pages, but you need some qualitative data to make informed decisions.  To start with, get some real people to review your site, and set them some tasks to complete. Watch them and ask what they think as they are going along.

You can also add surveys to your site to get a larger number of people reviewing and giving you feedback.  Now, we tried this and initially got the feedback of “pumpkins” and some abusive banter between our directors, but persevere and you may find out what’s stopping people transact.

If you can get the largest number of people to you site, in the most cost effective way.  Then plug the holes that stop these people leaving and never coming back, you can get the most of your advertising and marketing spend.

This may be the best money you spend on Online Marketing because it tells you what’s going on.

But don’t stop there.

If you continually have people visiting your site, making contact and purchasing, you’ll soon build up a database of people interested in your services.  Follow up on these initial transactions, but be very careful not to scare people off.

Make your emails interesting, useful and above all, relevant to the person you send it to.  You may need to segment your email list using the information you have.  For example, by geographic location, age, what they have expressed interest in, what they have bought, or point in the purchase cycle.

This is important because if Paul has just bought a king size bed from you, you don’t want to send him cut price deals on king size beds, you’ll just make him cross.  However, you may want to compliment it with an offer on king size bed linen.

And of course, you need to track the success, evaluate the results and learn for your next try.

Free tools to help make the most of what you have

  • Google Analytics -This is a free tool from Google to help see what’s going on on your website.  It shows you where your traffic comes from, what people do on your site, how they transact and where they drop off.
  • Kampyle – This is a free online survey for your website for qualitative data from your users.
  • Conversion Rate Experts – These guys are experts in improving conversion rates, read their content and sign up to their newsletter.  It’s infrequent, but gold dust.