For many small business owners, digital marketing isn’t so different from auto maintenance. You go in thinking you need something simple, but leave feeling like you’ve emptied your savings account with no obvious effect on performance.
If you sometimes wonder if there are things your marketing agency isn’t telling you, you’re not alone. As the founder and CEO of FiveFifty, a digital marketing company, I’m ready to give you an educational look at what’s under the hood so you can make sure your digital marketing efforts are running at peak performance.
You don’t always need a flashy new website.
The most important aspect of any website is outcome. Modern aesthetics and design elements should always come second. If your existing website is creating successful outcomes — that is, it’s easy to navigate, effectively communicates what your business does, clearly tells customers why they should choose you and drives conversions — don’t let a Web agency convince you to spend the money on a major website redesign.
The most expensive advertising channels aren’t always best.
Most businesses understand the importance of advertising but have limited budgets. The best advertising agencies will strive to get you the most value for your advertising dollar rather than push you into the most expensive or trendy channels.
Retargeting, for example, is often an under-utilized digital advertising tactic that can keep your brand top-of-mind and drive past site visitors back to your website. In most cases, it’s both inexpensive and highly successful at increasing sales.
More isn’t always better.
Marketing agencies may try to tell you that their efforts have been successful because you’re getting more traffic to your site or your ads are getting more impressions. Your goal as a business is not to get more people to your website; it’s to get more customers. If your marketing agency is driving quality traffic, they should have positive conversion metrics to report. Traffic that doesn’t convert is only marginally better than no traffic at all and should never be the goal of your marketing efforts.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
The marketing world is full of creative individuals. In many situations, that creativity is an asset, particularly when it comes to design or branding. Other aspects of marketing may suffer under that level of creativity, because wild new ways of doing things are rarely as successful as tried-and-true best practices. Maybe you’ve seen websites with non-traditional menus that leave you frustrated because navigation and search are unnecessarily inefficient, or you’ve seen artistic but ultimately confusing display ads that are fun to watch but don’t ask for a click. These kinds of creative pursuits can be fun, but they may not work as well. When it comes to your business, it’s better to stick to what is known to drive traffic and sales. Figure out what works best for you, and spend your money doing more of it.
All of these tips play on the same theme: Keep your focus on revenue at all times. And if you have a digital marketing agency, it’s their job to drive traffic that converts, so all of their work should strive toward that as well. If your own marketing efforts are trained toward that prize, you’ll also be ready to guide them in the right direction.
For those without a digital marketing agency — who’d prefer to skip the hassle of working with someone else — I have a tip. Running your business really well is actually the best thing you can do for your online presence. Companies that make lasting connections with their customers and do exceptional work get more traffic to their websites as a result. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing there is, both online and offline. Give your customers a reason to talk about you to their friends and family, and your website will naturally get more traffic.
Ryan Wilson is the founder of FiveFifty a digital marketing trade desk focusing on programmatic media buying.