I often tell my clients (and anyone who will listen actually) that your digital marketing strategy and your website is a “forever work in progress”. Your website, your social media presence, your investment in search engine optimisation (SEO) and your email marketing are not campaigns with a start and an end date, they are dynamic, living things that change and evolve with the business and its audience. Digital marketing (as opposed to online advertising) is all about testing and optimisation. What ‘optimisation’ means is many, regular, small changes that are made very deliberately, to see how the user responds.
I worked at Toyota for a little under a year and their success has made the term “Kaizen” famous.
Kaizen is a way of life philosophy that determines that every area of your life (or business) deserves to be constantly improved. Kaizen literally means “continuous incremental improvement”, and “optimisation” has exactly the same meaning for digital marketers. The power of digital marketing is in the ability to track every impression, click, action and conversion. The return on investment is able to be measured in exact metrics with tools such as Google Analytics and other online analytics and reporting tools. But many businesses report that “online doesn’t work for us”, but they have not committed to the optimisation part of the digital marketing plan.
Commit to constant optimisation of your digital marketing
To be able to report positive growth online, year on year, your business must commit to constant optimisation of your digital marketing strategies, your digital platforms and your creative executions. Due to the live, dynamic nature of digital, you’re able to see something that you think could be done differently, or better and you can make this change. Perhaps its something as simple as changing your “Buy Now” button from your brand colour to a contrasting colour. For me, my brand is green, but I use orange as a contrasting colour to draw the users eye when I want them to take an action. I could test this by changing the colour from orange to red. And then I should watch the data over a 2 week period and see if there are more clicks, more enquiries or more leads as a result of that change.
Email marketing and paid search marketing (often Google Adwords) are great digital platforms for testing and optimisation. Learnings that you gain by testing email subject lines or paid search headlines and call to actions, which focus on getting users to open an email or click on a link, can be rolled out across the rest of your marketing campaigns. Email subject lines and paid search descriptions are often used to test different language, different tones or specific words to see what your target audience respond best to. Email marketing is also a popular place for testing alternate design layouts.
Email marketing optimisation
I often talk to my clients about the importance of segmenting your online customer database, not just by demographic information but by interest and behaviour. If you have invested the time in segmenting your database, you can send the same email to various email lists, testing slightly different email subject lines and first sentence or paragraph, that has been tailored to their perceived interest or behaviour, and test the open and click through rates of these different audience segments. You then optimise your email campaigns based on the results. The subject line may use a more playful tone, it might have a direct offer stated or it may try to speak to the user on a personal note. And it doesn’t stop with the email message itself, you should then take these learnings and optimise the email landing page on your website. To ensure that your tone and language or the call to action in the email matches on the website landing page. The point is, every time you test and optimise your email marketing campaign, you have an opportunity to learn about your customers and to make changes to your communications to better resonate with your intended audience.
Optimising your website SEO
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the other digital marketing strategy that I often find businesses miss the point of optimisation, despite it being seemingly obvious. Many businesses that come to me for SEO, are looking for a 3 month project whereby I will “optimise their website for search engines” and then its done and they can pat themselves on the back and feel that they’ve done their job. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. The reason its called search engine optimisation is because it does require constant incremental changes to try to move up the search rankings. Search engines are aggregators of information. Their purpose is to index all of the content on the internet and deliver the most relevant result to a users search query.
Because new content is posted to the internet every minute of every day, your SEO project that you did in February 2013 may no longer be relevant to a search query posed by a user in May 2013. Because search engine optimisation is a gage of how your business rates relative to your competitors, every change your competitor makes, can affect your search rankings. Therefore, constant monitoring of your competitors activity and search rankings is an important part of the optimisation process. Businesses need to commit to making many small incremental changes to their website content to ensure that they are constantly improving and increasing their search rankings. Or at the very least, staying ahead of or trying to close in on their competitors. Examples of optimisations for your website SEO are using the keywords more frequently in your website copy, changing your page titles and sub-titles to use keywords that get more targeted traffic from search engines. SEO may include changes to your website navigation structure or adding more images or video content to your website, that uses keywords in the file names and descriptions. Basically, your SEO strategy relies on reporting against your chosen keywords and monitoring how your site is moving up or down the rankings and analysing which competitor websites are ranking best for those terms and identifying what they’re doing better than you so you can improve.
Optimisation follows the philosophy of Kaizen – continual incremental improvement
You may hire the best digital marketer in Australia, the best digital agency and come up with the best online advertising campaign that the world has ever seen, but your success this month doesn’t necessarily guarantee your continued success next month and into next year. By adopting a philosophy of kaizen or continual optimisation of your digital marketing, you ensure that your investment will continue to produce positive returns. Digital marketing allows you to track and measure actual results, so utilise these tools and maximise the potential that you can get from your digital platforms. Making regular, small incremental changes to your website landing pages, email subject lines and paid search ads will give you great insight into what messages trigger the desired behaviour from your users, and your profits will be your reward.