There are a lot of really cool things online – tools, services, and techniques that other entrepreneurs and businesses are using to create incredible experiences for their prospects and customers.
When I see someone doing something new and exciting I take note – literally. I have a Notebook in Evernote filled with all the awesome stuff I see and notes on how I might be able to implement the same tactic as part of a client’s marketing strategy, and sometimes make it better.
But I don’t often make it back to that list.
It exists and if I ever need a shot in the arm for a project, there’s a big list somewhere with enough ideas to launch a half dozen startups in stealthy, creative ways. Here’s the thing, though. Rarely, if ever, does a smart marketer need such a list.
Nine times out of ten, there are fundamental things that can be optimized, improved or implemented easier and faster than one of those shiny new things.
The Challenge in Writing a Successful Marketing Strategy
Whether due to budget constraints, a lack of time, or an oversight in the past, I’ve never worked on a project that was fundamentally perfect – where all the landing pages converted as well as they could or every email was resulting in an above average click rate. I could fill a calendar year with optimization and fine tuning that almost always outperforms the big, exciting, crazy stuff with which we frequently distract ourselves.
The problem with my mindset, at least from those marketers’ perspective (and occasionally the client’s) is that it’s boring. I don’t disagree. I am a boring marketer, and I’m proud of it. The marketing strategy I develop isn’t always flash or exciting, but what I do have is a near obsession with getting all the basics right. And I get results.
Sounds like a no brainer, but when you go back to the drawing board on a project – especially if you inherited it from another team – there are often a lot of cut corners. Again, budget and time are often the culprits, but unless you’re working with a large company and its 7 or 8 figure marketing budget, I guarantee you’ll find problems at the most basic of levels.
And when I find those mistakes – the missing CTAs, the duplicate landing page content, the stock photography, the poorly written headlines – I get excited. I know a handful of very well placed changes can result in massive improvements to that website.
A Lesson for New Digital Marketers
The technology behind what we do changes constantly. There are new tools every week and other companies are almost always using a more complicated, more robust solution to the same problems.
But in the majority of cases, the best use of your clients’ investment in a new marketing strategy is to stay the course, refine your efforts, and tweak what’s already there. Once a website is optimized to perform, there is a LOT you can do to continuously improve that performance and get more out of it.
The difference between 0.9% and 2.2% looks small. It’s only a 1.3% bump, right? But when that kind of shift happens, it means we’re generating 144% more conversions from the same site. No big investments, no huge campaigns – just good fundamental conversion rate optimization to get exactly what the client is paying for.
Should you completely avoid the fun, new stuff? No. I love trying new things as much as the next person. But it should be a measured part of your strategy. Carve out a percentage of time and budget to try new things; don’t use new ideas as Hail Mary passes that may or may not work when it’s too late to do everything else at the end of a contract.
Marketing strategy should not be a game of craps – you don’t wait for the big hit. You play the odds and make smart moves for incremental benefits, building up enough credit to try something new and exciting every now and then as the icing on top, not the core of your strategy.
Also published on Medium.