This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Water Quality Products as "Winning Path"
With the tools we have today and virtually every American accessing the internet in some form daily, the opportunity to reach more people with more messages is better than it ever has been. However, it can have some pitfalls, as well. First, ask yourself ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ Sales, awareness, conversions and capturing information are just a few examples.
No matter how big or how small your marketing campaign is, the best decision when starting something new is to create a few test campaigns. The ultimate goal is to strengthen your “control” campaign, which means your primary, best responding campaigns, to build better quality responses, open new opportunities and increase sales.
There was a time where this advice was best served in print, then direct mail and now online marketing efforts. As a direct response marketing professional who started in the mid-90s, I can tell you that online strategy is not all that different from the days of direct mail. In fact, it basically is direct marketing on steroids.
Some of the areas you can test are types of creative, the price or offer, the search terms, the geography, and the online effort you plan to use, such as videos and display. Remember budget is a huge factor here, as well. You are bidding for placement against your competition. You need to know how much you can afford and when.
How do you plan to appeal to passive and active seekers? Perhaps with a series of remarketing advertisements, meaning advertisements that follow a user and advertise on other websites such as news sites or social media, general search advertisements, or video. All of these are possible, but are they all necessary? The more visual your product is, the more visual your advertisements should be. This is where testing is important.
However, even the most basic visual product, such as water quality equipment and softeners, needs attractive creative. Some concepts work better than others. Customers may not be interested in photos of the installation job you completed, but they are interested in the lifestyle visual it creates. Testing is valuable, as it can set your branding on a winning path.
If price is mentioned in your marketing, you might want to try price testing based on the campaign or vehicle. If you are going to change up offers, be sure each potential sale goes to a unique landing page on your website or uses unique contact information. Be sure your staff is aware of the testing. Creating confusion at this level could cost you a sale.
Also, think about your goals for pricing. You may test a higher price for more revenue and more net profit. It could be a straight price or a promotional offer price. The new price or offer, if an increase, could depress response at first. Evaluate these results carefully. The increased revenue could wipe out the impact of response loss. After reasonable time, your market likely will adjust to the new price.
Search & Geography
Search and geography are important considerations and often are the most confusing to business owners. We tend to be so close to our products and services that we lose touch with how a customer searches for us; we often forget to use the laymen’s terms. It is important to know how customers are searching for you online and how far you are willing to travel to service them. If your business is walk-in customer traffic-based, how far customers are willing to go to visit your location is important.
Keywords and search terms play an important role. Google has tools for researching your terms and phrases and making recommendations down to performance, competition and cost. Know what should be a broad search term with varying combinations; what should be an exact term, such as a brand name or unique product; and what you do not want in your search terms.
When all is said and done, this is a lot to learn. We are a Google Partner and still continually need to update our knowledge with the latest tactics and tools. Get professional help on this. With so many other things to do daily in your primary business, how can you keep up with it?
One final warning: be careful of how many online campaigns you test at one time. Remember, you are bidding against your competition. If you have a limited budget, your results might be tainted by an inability to compete with bigger spenders. While that too is a good test result, it does not tell the whole story