What Does SEO Stand For?

Here is the deal: SEO is a big deal. And it has been for the last decade or so. If you own any piece of internet real estates like a website, blog, YouTube channel, or an app, you’ve heard of SEO. But, what does SEO stand for? 

SEO Theory and Techniques (The Complete Guide to Ranking for a Newbie)

agency-seo

This post is not another “What is SEO. SEO helps you rank well” type of guide.

You are in the right place if you are not only searching for an advanced SEO meaning but also want to discover what you can do now to increase organic traffic to your website, or another online asset.

 

So, what is SEO?

The initials SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization

We’ll break that down further. Shall we?

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use algorithms to present the most relevant information to the searcher.

Picture this:

The internet is a massive, global library. When you want to find information on the internet, you are more likely than not to fire up your internet browser and type in what you are looking for. Sound familiar?

Say you want to learn how to start a business blog or how to create a niche blog on WordPress. What words, phrases or questions would you type into the Google Search box?

Here is an all too familiar example:

seo blogpost wordpress

Notice the first three search results are online advertisements (Google AdWords). But they are right on the money because they are relevant answers to your question.

So, what’s that got to do with search engine optimization in 2019 and beyond?

SEO is all about making your content visible to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Search engines, in turn, make it easy for people searching for information online to find relevant, helpful, and genuine information on different digital platforms.

Search engines do this by ranking websites ideally in order of how relevant, helpful and genuine the content they contain is.

The words, phrases, and questions a searcher types into a search engine box are collectively referred to as keywords

The likes of Google search engine use keywords to help web browsers like you and I find the best information as fast as possible. Not to oversimplify it, the thinking is if the content of an online platform uses the same words, phrases and questions searchers are typing into search boxes, then that content is likely to give the latter satisfactory answers.

The combined mix of keywords and need for user satisfaction invented Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs).

 

What Does SERP Mean in SEO?

Here’s another familiar sight:

 

 

SERP example

An example of a Google search engine result page (SERP).

 

What Does Search Engine Optimization mean for Business?

SERPs are a big deal for businesses and marketers, and here’s why.

The higher up a SERP your website ranks, the more visitors you’ll get. In fact, websites that rank on the first page of Google search results take 92% of all traffic, according to Chitika.

google search results

Google web pages

Ranking on the second page of Google search results will see you get about 5% of the traffic. And it gets worse from there.

 

What Does SEO Mean in Marketing?

SEO helps you rank on the top pages of search results so you can be visible to your target audience. And you already know that buyers buy what they know exists.

Here’s the most interesting bit:

Improving your website ranking to number one on Google will help you fetch 33% of all traffic. Number two gets about 18%. And if you rank on page two of Google, you are likely to fetch only about 1.1% of visitors.

These visitors are also referred to as traffic. And the more traffic you get, the higher your chances of encouraging the visitors to consider your call-to-action.

Studies show providing useful content establishes you as an authority in your industry; that you know your stuff, and the visitor can trust you to help them learn to solve the problem they are looking for online.

 

SEO marketing

By providing the information they need, you can further provide calls-to-action visitors can take to get more answers to their question. For example, in the SERP screenshot above:

The first result is a WordPress ad inviting you to create a blog with them. The second is about Udemy, an online platform where you can learn new skills—which is what the search query is asking to learn: how to create a blog on WordPress. The next screenshot shows other sites that can teach you what you are looking to learn.

Poor SEO techniques can have you buried in, for instance, a position 3 of Page 9 of a SERP, where not many people are looking. Proper SEO techniques, on the flip side, can have you attracting free traffic to your website in the tens of thousands of targeted visitors.

SEO marketing is a set of activities that involve using search engine optimization methods to help you boost your online visibility as a brand.

SEO process

And what are these methods?     

 

Types of SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

A web searcher (visitor) will click on your site from the SERP when they think you provide the best value for their time. Again, by providing high-quality content; relevant, helpful, and genuine content.   

One of the most powerful SEO methods to implement for business is using geographical location; targeting searchers in a specific area.

Here’s how.

 

1.    Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Get this:

What that means…

…whether you are a local brick-and-mortar business or digital brand, you can benefit from becoming visible to potential customers in your area (or target area).

By using keywords your local target audience would use to find a product or service similar to yours, you can direct local online visitors to your local business—whether online or through foot traffic.

search from mobile vs desktop stats

Courtesy of Blue Corona

A robust local SEO strategy will involve listing your business on Google My Business. If you are a brick and mortar with a verified address, you can list. But if you take services to your clientele, you’ll want to register as a service area business; carpenter, plumber, cleaner, courier, and so on.

search result on mobile

google listing spot

Source: Google My Business

This is a good example of letting prospects know where to find you, what you offer locally, and whether they can reach you when they want to buy from you. You can also use online business directories like YellowPages, FourSquare, and Bing Places for Business.

Remember, you are not listing your business based on the market you serve, but where you are located. You can use a professional local SEO expert to help you set up your GMB mini-website and local SEO strategy if you need expert guidance.

Let’s take an example.

Searching “hotels in Lugano Switzerland” gives:

lugano hotels search results

Example of a Google local 3-pack listing via GMB

Potential customers can use this to find the best hotels in Lugano based on price, proximity, customer reviews, open hours, menu, description, nearby attractions, hotel class, discounts, amenities, directions, and so on.

In fact, a Moz Study showed while 44% of local searchers click on the local 3-pack listing, only about 8% search for more information past it. They get what they want. Fast.    

All that information has to do with optimizing a hotel’s local SEO. It is about providing the information they need when they need it to decide their next action.

You can:

There is more. If you like to see some great ways to improve the organic traffic from the Local-Based Keywords to your web pages please read our blog post here.

 

2.  National SEO

As the name suggests, national SEO is about targeting a nationwide audience with that nation’s keywords.

National SEO is similar to local SEO in that you’ll want to target potential customers that are looking for products or services based in a specific area. It’s also based on localization optimization.

Only this time on a national scale as opposed to the neighborhood, city, county approach used in local search marketing.

Instead, you can target keywords and on-page SEO techniques (such as Maps) based on your state or country.

 

3.  International SEO

With International SEO, you’d be looking to appeal to regional and global audiences. That means your SEO needs to use keywords that encourage anyone from anywhere to find your business online.

This SEO strategy is ideal for companies that serve global markets. Otherwise, it would be a waste of resources to market locally sold products or services to a worldwide audience that is unlikely to ever buy from you. 

So, how do you do that?

By optimizing your website pages for relevant keywords to your intended global audience.

 

How to Do SEO: What is the process of Search Engine Optimization?

So when someone is trying to understand what does SEO stand for, it is crucial to learn the process of website optimization.

Clearly, the importance of SEO to business cannot be understated. But how do you know what people are searching for online so you can use similar phrases in your SEO strategy and content marketing campaigns?

How do you attract traffic to your site using keywords? How do you know which keywords to use and which ones to leave out of your plan? What makes one SEO strategy more effective than the other?

 

Keyword research is the start for the SEO process, and it defines if you are going to get visible in front of the right audience.

You chose the wrong keywords you waste a lot of resources, including time.

 

And what is keyword research?

Simply, it is about finding out the words, questions, phrases, sayings, and more your target audience are using to find the relevant information to search query (and related products, services, or a combination of both)?

 

What is the importance of keyword research?

By understanding the terms and related terms potential customers enter into search engines to find relevant products and services, you can strategically inject similar terms into your content, so it is easily discoverable by the very people looking for it.

Keyword research is to search engine optimization what fuel is to fire.

 

And how do you do keyword research?

You can go at it manually.

You can search on online platforms such as reviews sites, online forums, and social media channels. You’d be seeking to find how potential customers discuss, describe, word, phrase, and even lament about your industry niche.

Also, you can pick some time-relevant, popular and effective keywords from the bottom of Google’s SERP pages in the “Searches Related to…” section free of charge.

related keyword research

Google’s free keyword research tool

But this can be a lengthy process. And even the best SEO companies take time to gather actionable, long-term keywords.  

Alternatively, you can use online search tools to almost automate your search, get suggested keywords and volume data for each keyword. Some of the best keyword research tools include:

Still, if you prefer to hire an SEO expert to do the search and integrate results into your SEO strategy on your behalf, that is okay too.

Whichever way you choose, you’ll want to be keen about using the keywords you find. Because how you use them matters a lot.

 

Targeting long-tail keywords vs Short length keywords

A particularly important portion of SEO and search marketing is to be precise on longtail keywords vs. short-tail keywords.

And what are long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords?

A Long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that typically comprises of three or more words. Short-tail keywords have less than three words and are broad in their target. Long-tail keywords generally are smaller search volume and less competitive phrases. So if you find it difficult to rank for “dental clinic Leeds” you’d rather choose a long-tail keyword “the teeth whitening dental clinic in Leeds”.

Let’s take an example:

If you entered the keyword “shirts” into a web search engine or an e-commerce search tool, you’d get a massive catalog of shirt results—from Hawaiian shirts to formal shirts.

Would that be satisfactory?

Not when you want to find formal cotton shirts.

Now picture your target market. If a web searcher is looking for shirts, it likely means they are yet to be specific enough to make a purchase decision.

On the other hand, a web searcher that types “official cotton shirts” is advanced in the buyer journey.

They already are aware of the kind of shirts they need. So a long-tail searcher is also much more likely to convert faster. This is a prospect not a lead, a potential customer who is actually looking to make a purchase—not learn what you do.

It gets deeper.

For example, you can use specific LSI keywords to target specific segments.

By using an LSI such as “best notebooks under $650” is likely to connect with potential notebook buyers who are on a budget and need a right mix of quality components, stable performance, and at an affordable price.

Due to their specificity, long-tail keywords are also easier to rank for than short-tail keywords.

In fact, long-tail keywords are ideal for small businesses SEO strategies because not only are most small businesses niche by nature but also because long-tail keywords have less keyword competition hence low keyword difficulty.

Large businesses (which have big SEO budgets to spend) tend to rank much better for shorter keywords, making it tough for smaller companies to rank well. And it can take years for the latter to break into the first pages of Google/Bing/Yahoo/etc.

Now that the time issue’s come up, how long does it take to rank at the top of SERPs?        

 

How much time does SEO take?

 time-SEO

The answer is…

…it depends.

 

Really.

Here’s why:

There are literally hundreds of search ranking factors that come into play when creating a sound SEO strategy and in implementing one.

A more complex one is to do with keyword matrices. The combination of various, relevant keywords, including long-tail and short-tail keywords is also known as practicing Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keyword optimization.

LSI is about using a combination of keywords in contextual format and optimizing how they relate. For example, keywords like “dog”, “puppy”, and “breed” relate to the same context. 

Link building is another influential ranking factor worth implementing.

Warning! Please be careful with link building because Google penalizes over-optimized websites with unnatural links. Your content needs to be so good that other websites start referring to your webpage to help the searcher get all the relevant answers. That is a natural link building technique and gives Google a strong signal that your webpage deserves a higher ranking. But if you buy spammy links, then it’s almost a guarantee that your website is going to be banned or penalized (Google called such action “a manual action”). Google’s algorithm is very advanced nowadays.

So to answer a question on how much time does it take to rank a webpage or a website we’d say it really depends on your website quality and on the competition. The SEO industry pretty much agrees that a website owner needs to be patient and work hard on natural optimization. On average, some good positive results can be achieved within 4-8 month unless you are up against the competitor that has been optimizing the web pages professionally for years. 

But to avoid turning this SEO guide into a book, the most important search engine optimization stages can come down to three, which we’ll discuss here.

Let’s break each down, shall we?

 

Technical SEO

It is not as mind-boggling tough as it reads.

technical-SEO

Technical SEO is all about the search engine optimization aspects that do not involve content or links. So, no keyword density, keyword difficult, and long-tail keywords to deal here.

But what does technical SEO involve?

Here are the major factors to keep in mind:

These are just some of the most important technical SEO factors to look out for.

 

On-Page SEO

What is on-page SEO?

The term refers to all the tasks you can do on your website to rank higher on search engine results.

on-page-seo

Such factors include:

Ensuring your site nails these search engine ranking factors is the first step to boosting the visibility of site online.

However, there is one MAJOR factor that has been increasing with lightning speed in importance – USER EXPERIENCE and USER BEHAVIOR. You absolutely must make sure your web page provides a great user experience so the website visitor does get all the answers to their query. If they don’t, they move from your website and keep on reading on your competitor’s website. If they stay longer on your competitor’s website than on yours, move to other relevant and engaging web pages on that rival’s website, it’s a matter of short time for Google to place your competitor higher in search results than your web page. It’s a simple concept. Write better content, provide a better user experience, and you’ll be rewarded with more online visibility by Google.

The next step is to execute your off-page SEO strategy.  

 

Off-Page SEO

So, what is the meaning of off-page SEO?

off-page-SEO

Contrary to on-page SEO techniques, off-page SEO involves all the things you can do directly off your site to rank high up the SERPs.

Some of the best off-page SEO ranking factors include:

Therefore, the answer to how long it takes to rank on top of Google is it takes as much time as you and your SEO professionals can get technical, on-page and off-page SEO factors in order.

 

White Hat vs Black Hat? What’s the danger?

White hat SEO techniques are the legitimate SEO methods to use to rank high in search results. They include on-page, off-page, and technical SEO best practices—as discussed in the above section.

Blackhat SEO techniques, on the other hand, violate Google Guidelines because they involve manipulation of the ranking algorithm. Black Hat techniques can lead to website penalization or even de-indexation from Google Search.

black-hat-seo

It is important to keep track of white hat vs black hat ranking techniques by occasionally conducting a thorough SEO audit of your site.

Because white hat methods do change to black hat approaches, you might find your site penalized for a mistake you didn’t even realize you were making.

To be safe and safeguard your ranking, even when the latest Google updates strike, you’ll want to avoid using black hat SEO methods and rely on white hat SEO principals instead.

But what if you need to rank fast?

What if you need to outrank your competition to stay in business? What can you do to boost your visibility fast and tidy?

Search marketing could help you boost your digital marketing campaign.  

 

Search marketing definition

Search marketing leverages both paid and unpaid online advertising to promote a site and get traffic to your web pages. SM branches further into Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Organic Search.

Primarily, SEM involves using pay-pay-click (PPC) advertising to increase a site’s visibility faster compared to using organic methodologies (organic keywords and link building methods over some time).

And what if you want to learn SEO on your own, so you can practice search marketing on your own sites? You can tap the best SEO tips from the best in the field.

 

How much should a business allocate to SEO:

seo-budget

This question is frequently asked by the business owners and marketing executives. According to Forbes, every business needs to invest in the SEO – in-house or on professional external SEO agency or a consultant. An amount of USD 1,000 per month is a recommended bare minimum for a small business. Large organizations spend millions on SEO monthly.

 

Biggest SEO influencers worldwide:

  1. Google

The most dominant search engine on the planet receives over 2 billion monthly searches. Want to keep ahead of all the latest Google Search algorithm updates and more? For example, get some tips & tricks and learn how Google Search Console works from the horse’s mouth by following the Google Blog.    

  1. Ahrefs Blog

The platform brings together keyword research, backlinking, content and technical SEO in one place. Ahrefs is recognized as one of the most advanced tools by SEO community.   

  1. MOZ Blog

Rand Fishkin and team create educative blogs, videos and hold weekly podcasts to share their SEO and link building strategies with a solid following—which gets what it deserves. 

  1. Backlinko

Brian Dean is one of the most influential figures in SEO. He is particularly celebrated for inventing the Skyscraper Technique of white hat link building. 

  1. Neil Patel

Recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top digital marketers in the world right now, Neil teaches both simple and advanced methods to increase website traffic. Neil provides great tips for those starting their SEO journey.

  1. Matt Cutts

The former webspam team head at Google has a wealth of Google, SEO and gadgets’ wisdom to share on his blog.

Or perhaps you preferred a more strategic, step-by-step and guided SEO tutorial or SEO agency to help you along?

 

SONDORA SA – SEO agency in Lugano, Switzerland

Search engine optimization is a sophisticated and highly technical internet marketing strategy. But it is worth every effort. You can attract high-quality traffic to your website with almost zero financial strains compared to other methods.

What if you had a professional SEO service at your disposal?

As a Sondora SA client, you can get all the search marketing hacks you need to attract more business. You can focus on serving your customers instead of tweaking 301 redirects on edge.

You’ll have a full-fledged team of professionals on call.

Here is how our SEO project team looks like:

Best SEO team setup

You’ll get a complete SEO audit done to reveal what is hurting your search engine ranking. And have them corrected to help you increase your visibility among other benefits for your business.

 

About the Author:

Matteo Iannelli is the Digital Marketing Manager at SONDORA MARKETING. He has been optimizing clients’ websites locally, nationally and internationally for over ten years. Matteo is always on the toe to create another most-proud-client-moment—like when the team helped a client skyrocket his e-commerce website traffic from 100 visitors to 15,000 visitors per month. After a thorough SEO audit and research that focused on buying intent keywords, it took only 12 weeks to start ranking for multiple significant keywords.

Googlebot in 2019 – How Does It Actually Work?

If you take a proactive approach to SEO, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the term ‘Googlebot’. If not, here’s its official definition as provided by Google:

“Googlebot is the generic name for Google’s web crawler. Googlebot is the general name for two different types of crawlers: a desktop crawler that simulates a user on the desktop, and a mobile crawler that simulates a user on a mobile device.”

In a purely matter-of-fact capacity, Google provides a fair amount of information on positive SEO practices. Nevertheless, they aren’t typically in the habit of providing the answers SEO specialists and webmasters really want.

As something of a break from the norm, Google’s Martin Splitt and Microsoft’s Suz Hinton recently sat down to discuss all things Googlebot in 2019. What it does, how it behaves and the more general information marketers and webmasters need to know.

Detailed below, you’ll find a selection of key questions raised during the meeting, along with a summary of the answers provided by both parties:

 

What Is Googlebot (and What Isn’t it?)

Much of the confusion surrounding SEO in general stems from the fact that most people have no idea how the Googlebot works. Even if they’re familiar with the concept, they may not understand its mechanics, its functions and its objectives.

According to Splitt, the Googlebot is simply a piece of software used to crawl websites, index web pages and help assign rankings. The system is designed to analyze web content, determine its value and decide who it should be presented to in the SERP rankings. The most appropriate content for any given query being prioritized and positioned more prominently.

However, Googlebot itself isn’t responsible for assigning rankings. Instead, it provides Google with the information required to make decisions and adjustments regarding SERP rankings. Googlebot essentially creates a ‘catalog’ of content by indexing web pages – SERP rankings are determined elsewhere.

 

Does Googlebot Behave Like a Web Browser?

Initially, Googlebot behaves in a similar way to a web browser. The software finds a website by way of a link or a sitemap submission, or through countless other detection methods. It’s also possible to direct site indexation or re-indexation if necessary. After which, the initial website visit occurs in a similar way as with any conventional web browser.

 

How Often Does Googlebot Crawl?

The frequency with which Googlebot crawls is calculated in accordance with the nature of the website and its content respectively. In the case of a dynamic website that’s likely to be updated with relevant content on a regular basis, it will be crawled more regularly than a predominantly static website.

A typical working example of which being news or current events website, which is updated around-the-clock with important news updates. Google wants to ensure it brings relevant information to its audiences the moment it is published, which in turn means crawling such sites more regularly to update its index accordingly.

By contrast, a retail store that’s updated once every few weeks needn’t necessarily be crawled as often. Just as an academic portal with relatively static content may not need to be crawled with any real regularity. Google also enforcers measures to ensure spammy sites are crawled infrequently, which can have a negative impact on their SEO performance.

It’s also possible to instruct Google not to index certain pages of a website if the respective webmaster doesn’t want the information to appear in the search results.

 

What About Crawlers & JavaScript-Based Websites?

Webmasters and business owners operating JavaScript-based websites have long been concerned with Google’s ability (or lack thereof) to successfully crawl and index their pages. Given how crawlers have been traditionally incapable of executing JavaScript, they’ve effectively see blank pages when attempting to crawl JavaScript content.

Contrary to popular belief, this is no longer the case with Googlebot. Today’s Googlebot is designed to effectively execute JavaScript and index the site’s content accordingly. Albeit at a later point, having been subjected to Google’s ‘web rendering service’ and the use of a second browser.

Google, therefore, recommends the mindful and strategic use of JavaScript, due to its capacity to significantly slow down the indexation and subsequent ranking processes.

 

How Can You Tell if Googlebot Visits Your Website?

Interestingly, Google makes no attempt to hide its crawling activities from webmasters and online business owners. It’s actually pretty easy to identify a Googlebot visit, as outlined in Google’s official webmaster support pages:

“Your website will probably be crawled by both Googlebot Desktop and Googlebot Mobile. You can identify the subtype of Googlebot by looking at the user agent string in the request. However, both crawler types obey the same product token (user agent token) in robots.txt, and so you cannot selectively target either Googlebot mobile or Googlebot desktop using robots.txt.”

 

What’s the Difference Between Mobile-First Indexing and Mobile Friendliness?

Addressing one of the most common questions among mobile-focused webmasters, Splitt explained that indexing is about Google ‘discovering content using a mobile user agent and a mobile viewport’. It’s essentially a case of prioritizing mobile-friendly content to be added to Google’s mobile index, rather than desktop content that may not be as appropriate for mobile audiences.

Mobile-friendliness – aka mobile-readiness – simply refers to the quality and appropriateness of a website’s content and layout for mobile access. If every aspect of a webpage or website can be browsed and interacted with using a mainstream mobile device, it’s considered mobile-friendly by Google.

Google’s efforts to index mobile content have been stepped up recently over the past couple of years, in order to satisfy the expectations and requirements of fast-growing mobile audiences worldwide.

 

What Are the Most Critical Quality Indicators for Ranking?

Last but not least, Google once again took the opportunity to confirm that more than 200 signals (or ranking indicators) are used to assign value to any given website. Mobile-friendliness has been cited as one of the most important quality indicators for websites in 2019 but by no means the only indicator taken into account.

Interestingly, Splitt also confirmed that the value assigned to each of these 200+ quality indicators is continuously moving and changing. One of the many measures making it increasingly difficult for black-hat SEO strategies to produce positive results.

The moral of the entire story being eloquently summarised by Splitt in one simple plea to the masses:

“Just build good content for the users and then you’ll be fine!”

 

Author: Matteo Iannelli, Head of Digital Marketing at SONDORA MARKETING.

Industrial Marketing in the Digital Age [2019]

Marketers working in the industrial (mostly B2B) space have shown no reluctance to transition to a digital age. Person-to-person meetings, business trips, and conventional offline marketing tactics have largely been replaced with digital or hybrid alternatives. There will always be a place for signage, print advertising and physical tactics in general, but a multi-directional digital model helps generate leads before the business even knows they exist. The key to successful industrial marketing in the digital age lies in striking the perfect balance between digital and traditional. Digital industrial marketing is growing in power and importance, but shouldn’t necessarily be seen as the only effective tactic for the 21st century. Adopting a holistic approach enables the business to capitalize on the benefits of traditional and digital B2B marketing alike.

Nevertheless, success is dependent on business owners and decision-makers exploring and embracing every digital channel of value to their organization.

 

Nature of Industrial Marketing

Industrial marketing being B2B differs from conventional business-to-consumer in a number of ways. Predominantly, business-to-business purchases are based on logic, careful research and analysis, while the typical consumer purchase may be motivated by emotion. A business buyer is more interested in the potential for a strong ROI, while the everyday customer prioritizes general satisfaction. 

Roughly summarised, every industrial or B2B transaction is likely to involve considerably more analysis, evaluation, and decision-making at a variety of levels. It’s rarely up to a single person to make important business purchases – it’s a decision shared among managers and stakeholders throughout the business.

In the field of industrial marketing, the focus must, therefore, be on the logic of the product and its features. Personal emotion is largely out of the equation, so you need to think carefully about what matters to both the buyer and the business they represent. You need to convince them that your products and services are capable of getting the job done better than those of any competing provider within your niche.

 

Industrial Marketing Channels

There are essentially two distinct categories of industrial marketing channels – online and offline. Each of which contains a variety of different marketing channels, each with its unique advantages and disadvantages.

In the offline category, examples of the popular industrial marketing channels include:

Each of the above still holds value in the B2B domain, though in all instances have seen their power and influence diminish in the digital era. Digital industrial marketing hasn’t ‘replaced’ offline marketing in its entirety, but has nonetheless taken the lead for the proactive business.

In the digital category, examples of the popular B2B marketing channels include:

Large and small businesses alike have more diverse and readily available channels at their disposal than ever before. For an industrial marketing strategy to succeed, it must combine the most effective components from both channels.

 

Characteristics of Effective Marketing for Technologically Advanced Companies

Precisely what defines an ‘effective’ marketing strategy must be determined by each business individually. A marketing campaign can focus on generating leads, boosting brand recognition, reputation management, improving conversion rates and so on.

Across the board, however, there are specific key characteristics of effective marketing for the companies in the manufacturing, industrial sector.

The four most important being as follows:

VALUE PROPOSITION

A strong value proposition is essential in all types of business, though it plays a particularly vital role in the B2B sphere. The purchase and use of products and services for business purposes involve approvers, decision-makers, influencers and gatekeepers at a variety of levels. None of whom may be the final users of the product. It’s, therefore, the job of the industrial marketer to create and communicate multi-level value propositions that appeal to every entity within the value chain.

UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

Just as important as a strong value proposition is a unique selling proposition. Very few businesses are truly unique, which can make it difficult to attract the attention of buyers. Effective industrial marketing means isolating what makes your business unique and why you’re the clear choice for the buyer. This, in turn, requires a detailed analysis of both your target audience and your competitors, to distinguish your organization from the pack.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY

The customer journey begins long before the business knows they exist. A compelling customer journey is about so much more than ensuring the customer’s needs are fulfilled, and their expectations met. It’s about exceeding their expectations and delighting them from start to finish, bringing a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction to the transaction.

USER EXPERIENCE

Likewise, the user experience in B2B marketing isn’t simply about practicality. It’s about the elegance and simplicity with which the buyer’s requirements are met. In the case of a website, it needs to be a simple, streamlined and seamless digital representation of your business, which is a pleasure to use with no unnecessary complexities.

 

Evolution of the 4Ps Marketing Mix in the Digital Era (Product, Place, Promotion, Price)

Businesses continue to debate the relevance or otherwise of the 4Ps of marketing in the digital era. Rather than being rendered redundant, it’s simply a case of the 4Ps of marketing having evolved and shifted significantly over recent years.

The importance of clearly defining the value of your product has never been greater. Today, business buyers are less likely than ever before to stick with just a handful of trusted sellers or local suppliers. Whatever they need, a simple web search returns thousands of listings from hundreds of competing providers. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be, emphasizing the importance of defining your product’s value proposition.

Likewise, the vast majority of business buyers now use the Internet to guide their purchase decisions. Whatever they need and whenever they need it, they’re more likely to find it online than anywhere else. It’s therefore up to the seller to ensure their products and services are positioned appropriately via the most effective and relevant digital channels.

A multitude of marketing channels to choose from prompts countless questions concerning effective promotion. These days, however, effective promotion often means selling without the hard sell. Buyers in the B2B space are increasingly less inclined to listen to the marketing/sales talk of sellers. Instead, they put their faith in customer reviews, recommendations, testimonials, write-ups and so on.

B2B buyers are inundated with choice when making key purchase decisions. Hence, they’re unwilling to pay excessive prices when more affordable options are available elsewhere. Nevertheless, research has shown that most businesses are willing to pay more if the seller provides better customer support and a more amicable customer journey from start to finish. Price is no longer the primary determining factor for B2B sales.

 

Manufacturing Marketing Consultants

Effective Industrial Marketing Channels

As touched upon previously, there are countless industrial marketing channels open to small and large businesses alike. There are, however, certain inbound industrial marketing channels that consistently prove the most effective of all.

The vast majority of B2B buyers researching available options begin their journey with an online search. Google, Bing and a handful of others accounting for more than 95% of all web traffic worldwide. Youtube is the second largest search engine worldwide now. And as our survey shows, Youtube is the 2nd largest marketing channel at the research stage at industrial, manufacturing and technology companies. If your company website gets most of the traffic from your brand relates search terms, your business might be in danger 3-5 years from now. If your potential customers don’t find your products and services website pages by the valuable search terms, e.g., your product or service name, in the top 10 search results on Google and Youtube, you do not exist online at all. Every CEO and Marketing Director at the Industrial, Manufacturing, Technology company must know the following Google Search statistics: 93% of the clicks happen on the first page of search engines:

An effective B2B search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can ensure your business appears prominently on the top positions on Google, Youtube, Bing for relevant keywords and search terms, both at the awareness and later stages across the Marketing Funnel. Quality B2B Industrial and Manufacturing SEO typically deliver unbeatable ROI. It is by far the cheapest customer acquisition channel with the lowest CPA.

Despite being a paid strategy, PPC advertising still qualifies as inbound B2B marketing in most cases. LinkedIn InMail, being a PPC method, is an outbound technique instead. By positioning your ads and your message right at the top of the SERP listings and/or within the LinkedIn feed, you stand to generate a healthy and near-immediate influx of traffic, in accordance with your selected keywords (search terms) and selected target audience. The benefits of a PPC campaign may be time-limited, but begin generating results from the moment of implementation. Typically, it takes several months for a B2B online marketing agency to optimize the pay-per-click campaign to an optimal cost and excellent performance.

From LinkedIn to Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, a multi-directional social media marketing strategy is no longer optional. Maintaining a strong presence on social media provides the opportunity to not only connect with potential buyers, but also keep an eye on your competitors and their activities. SMM is one of the best tools for leads nurturing and for bilateral communication with your market.

A business blog serves as the perfect platform to enhance your authority and reputation within your niche. Become known as a reputable source of information and your readers will know exactly to whom to turn to when the time comes. Tell your story, engage your audience and enhance your SEO profile with a steady stream of rich, relevant and regularly–updated content. Ask an SEO expert to optimize your article, and you’ll be rewarded by thousands of monthly readers relevant to the very core of your business. Update the Blog posts on a regular basis to keep the content up-to-date and deliver even more value to your customers, suppliers, and colleagues.

Traditional seminars and conferences still hold lots of value, but don’t offer the same convenience or accessibility as webinars and similar online events. Today, it’s possible to improve upon the results of a traditional conference, without having to leave the office. What’s more, online events open the door to the kind of interactivity that goes above and beyond any traditional seminar. However, I still am a big fan of shaking hand in the real world. Being out in the market and network is crucial. Therefore, I highly suggest finding the balance between online and offline events.

Never underestimate the power and influence of an effective e-mail marketing campaign. Particularly when engineered using the latest personalization and automation tools, e-mail marketing can be highly engaging and impactful. Something as simple as a regular newsletter to keep your readers in the loop can make all the difference. Email Marketing is arguably the number one leads nurturing marketing channel, if you are able to deliver true value to your subscribers.

Email for Industrial Marketing Campaigns 

GDPR is a topic that is present in many Board Meetings still for a good reason. The privacy regulations must be respected. The negative consequences of GDPR violation are massive. There are many ways you could get your target audience to opt-in to your newsletters. While many companies have the emails database completely erased in 2018 to comply with the GDPR, your creative approach to getting the online visitors to opt-in will give you a competitive edge.

 

Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing in Manufacturing, Technology

Recent years have seen once-effective outbound marketing tactics become increasingly interpreted as intrusive, interruptive and often counterproductive. Anything that amounts to cold-contacting prospective buyers directly has the potential to have the opposite of the desired effect.

Conventional outbound B2B marketing channels that rarely deliver quality results include:

Much as these marketing methods still hold value in certain scenarios, they can be risky ventures in an industrial marketing environment. Typically best-avoided, substituted instead for the effective inbound marketing channels and techniques detailed above.

For those who still don’t know the difference between the Inbound and Outbound Marketing, here is infographic dedicated to this:

Inbound marketing vs outbound industrial marketing

 

Some Advice for International Industrial Marketing Executives

The digital age has created a unified global economy, in which businesses can target markets that would previously have been out of reach. Even just a couple of decades ago, the idea of small business in Singapore selling to a company in New York would have been far-fetched.

Inevitably, such opportunities for international expansion also bring unique challenges. Competition is ferocious across all industries and sectors, calling for a strategic approach to global industrial marketing.

Top-Level Market Research for Quick Decisions

Achieving the above without intensive market research is implausible. All businesses have certain basic knowledge and understanding of their home market, but a foreign market overseas could be an entirely different story. There’s zero room for assumptions, calling for intensive and on-going research. Traditional in-depth market research is quite expensive. However, a digital marketer can provide a rough idea about the demand in any specific country in the world within 5-15 minutes. A C-level executive at a manufacturing company must have an online marketer’s phone number saved in Contact because the amount of the high-level data a digital marketer can provide on a live call is truly impressive.

Reassess Your Industrial Marketing Mix

The marketing channels used at home may not prove nearly as effective in your target overseas market. Some nations and audiences still respond very strongly to offline channels, while others have become almost exclusively digital. Your marketing mix will, therefore, need to be adjusted accordingly.

Focus on Building Relationships with All the Stakeholders

Ultimately, your international industrial or manufacturing marketing channels should focus on the establishment of your reputation in your target market overseas. This means placing heavier emphasis on building strong and meaningful relationships, generating word-of-mouth and becoming a reliable, reputable and recognized the brand. As we say, an unsatisfied customer will tell ten people; a satisfied customer will tell one person, an entirely happy customer will tell two people. Digital Channels help companies to communicate bilaterally with so many more people now. Digital channels amplify everything you do, good or bad. They also help you understand how the market reacts to changes and (very important!) if the company employees are happy too. I suggest to check out what your employees think of their current employer on the Glassdoor website. You’ll be surprised.

 

Industrial Marketing Consultants

Unless you have a dedicated, full-time team of B2B sales and marketing experts in-house, including online marketers, you could benefit enormously from professional consultancy. Particularly in the digital era, the industrial marketing landscape is shifting and evolving at an astonishing pace. What works the industrial SEO, PPC or Social Media today is not what worked even six months ago.

Getting ahead and staying ahead means carefully monitoring industrial sales and marketing trends worldwide, to create effective and efficient ROI-positive strategies within the brand’s budget.

Typical scenarios in which you could benefit from the involvement of a professional sales and marketing consultant include:

  1. You wish for a consistently predictable lead generation
  2. You wish to be seen among the global leaders in your niche market on the very top of the search results
  3. Your competition captures all the inquiries from online channels leaving you unnoticed
  4. You need an extra push to start dominating in your niche market domestically and/or internationally
  5. You are considering entering new markets or segments
  6. You plan to introduce a new product or service
  7. Your competitors are thriving and leaving you behind
  8. You’ve noted a sudden or gradual decline in sales and inquiries
  9. You’ve not yet completed the move to digital
  10. You want to increase sales and revenues
  11. You haven’t explored all available marketing channels
  12. You’re interested in overseas expansion

Contrary to popular belief, outsourcing B2B digital marketing tasks doesn’t mean handing control of your business to an unknown third party. It’s simply a way to finding a long-term partner able to help you reach your strategic business objectives faster. Much faster than with traditional marketing channels. The right online industrial marketing partner enables you to grow your digital assets that work for your business and get you closer to success.

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA SA. 20+ years of B2B Marketing and Business Development experience worldwide.

 

Ways to Calculate and Improve Lifetime Value (LTV)

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) is an effective way of benchmarking your Customer Acquisition Cost against the Actual Profits you’ll generate from a single Customer. 

What is LTV?

Customer Lifetime Value is calculated by subtracting the total costs of acquiring a customer from the profits they generate. LTV can only be used to create basic financial estimates for the future, but can nonetheless prove instrumental in helping you make better decisions for your business.

LTV is useful because it provides a guideline as to how much you can spend to acquire customers, in accordance with their average spend. You can also evaluate the payback period – the time it takes for the customer to repay their acquisition costs. Longer payback periods amount to more risk for the business.

What’s more, investors always pay close attention to an organization’s LTV when carrying out wider financial health assessments. By getting to know your LTV, you’ll be in a much stronger position to drive your business forward.

Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) represents the average revenue that a customer generates for your business before they churn, offset by gross margin. LTV in SaaS is only ever used as a forward-looking estimate of the future, but calculating a reasonable estimate allows you to make smarter decisions for your business.

 

Your Complete Guide to LTV

Business owners and marketing teams are constantly on the lookout for reliable ways to acquire new customers and enhance customer loyalty in a cost-effective manner. Calculating the lifetime value of your customer is an essential step in the journey towards boosting your company’s ROI in product development, customer support and marketing arenas alike.

 

Why Calculate Your Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)?

In the simplest terms, LTV is a simple yet effective method for forecasting projected profits from customers throughout their lifetime relationship with your brand. Roughly translated, it’s a case of calculating how much you can expect to receive in accordance with the costs of acquiring them in the first place.

By calculating your customer lifetime value, you’ll have the opportunity to make more strategic decisions in key areas such as:

 

How is Customer Lifetime Value Calculated?

There’s a great deal of data that can be brought together to create an accurate customer lifetime value. At its core, however, a basic customer lifetime value can be calculated as follows:

 

LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs

 

Working with this formula, a typical example could play out like this. A customer orders products and services to the total value of USD 2,000 ($1,000 product price you charge in Year 0, and $1,000 revenue from the services you provide during Years 1 & 2) during the lifetime of their relationship with your business (for example, for 3 years). During these 3 years, the total cost of the sales and services you’ve provided add up to USD 750. This would result in an LTV of USD 1,250 ($2,000 – $750 = $1,250). With this data, it can be concluded that to spend anything more or equal than USD 1,250 on customer acquisition would be counterproductive. Doing so would mean breaking even at best, or coming out with a loss. Acquisition costs regularly fluctuate and vary significantly from one organization to the next.

In all instances, however, customer retention is considered a more effective and affordable strategy, with the potential to deliver a much healthier ROI.

 

How to Increase Your LTV

Recent years have brought about the emergence of hundreds of thousands of new start-ups, intensifying competition across all industries and sectors. As a result, businesses are placing heavier emphasis than ever before on the acquisition of new customers. This, despite the fact that customer acquisition typically costs 700% more than customer retention.

Striking the right balance with your customer lifetime value calculator holds the key to your brand’s long-term success. The good news is that there are countless avenues to explore for enhancing and improving your LTV.

The most effective of all being as follows:

1. Upsell, Cross-Sell and Do Something Your Competitors Don’t

Be it products, services, features, resources or anything else, it’s up to you to provide your customers with something they have an interest in. It could also be something as simple as a blog, providing the kinds of insights that keep your customers coming back for more. It could be the quality of the service you provide, the simplicity of your online store, the consistent speed of your deliveries – whatever you can think of to set you apart from your competitors and nurture the relationships to deliver more value to the existing customer.

2. Feature Your Fans and Followers

Placing your customers in the spotlight can be a great way of both nurturing retention and attracting the attention of new customers. From photos to video testimonials to reviews and recommendations, it’s all about engaging with the audience you intended to win over. Become part of the community, rather than building barriers between you and your audience. 

3. Send Something Unexpected

Rewards and incentives are all well and good, though are often all-too predictable. But when we receive something unexpected completely out of the blue from a brand we’ve done business with, we can’t help but shout about it.  All of which can work wonders for the respective firm’s reputation and position. Even if it’s something as simple as a hand-written greetings card, it could have the desired impact.

4. Request Advice and Suggestions

Rather than expecting customer feedback to flow your way organically, consider adopting a proactive approach. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to make suggestions and include some kind of incentive for doing so. Thank them for their comments, respond to any comments published online and act on their suggestions. It’s only when customers genuinely believe you’re listening to them that you can expect to win their loyalty.

5. Provide Stellar Customer Support

Anyone wishing to do so should be able to contact your company instantaneously via whichever channel appeals to them most. It’s up to you to be there when your customers need you – not the other way around. Under no circumstances should you ever make your customers jump through hoops simply to contact a member of your support team. As mentioned a little earlier, stellar customer support typically holds the key to customer loyalty and a more robust LTV.

 

In Summary…

Your Customer Lifetime Value is by no means a silver-bullet metric capable of solving every issue you may face. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most invaluable and useful metrics to be brought into your key decision-making processes.

Once you’ve established your current LTV, it’s up to you to do whatever it takes to enhance and improve it where possible.  

 

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING.

18 Reasons You Need a New Website

Simply owning and operating a basic website isn’t enough. It’s the approach you take to web design projects that determines the outcome. Even the best-looking websites out there don’t necessarily resonate with their target audiences nor they help you grow your business. Now more than ever, it’s about the total package of engaging content, mobile responsive design, and the all-around user experience. From time to time, every website needs to be tweaked and updated. Web development shouldn’t be viewed as a one-time-only job. Instead, the secret to creating the coolest websites around lies in continuous refinement and improvement. But if your website just isn’t up to scratch, it could be time to scrap the whole thing and head back to the drawing board.

 

Time for an Upgrade?

If you’re generally quite happy with your website, it can be difficult to know when the time comes for a tune-up. Let alone a complete new-build of the whole thing. The problem is that just because you like your website doesn’t mean anyone else does. Never forget that your website is perhaps the single most important representative of your entire business online. If it doesn’t deliver a strong and memorable message, it’s game over. So rather than taking chances, an occasional audit of its value comes highly recommended.

It’s up to you whether you work with leading web design agencies or take the DIY approach, but periodic improvements to your website are mandatory.

new mobile and tablet website

 

So with this in mind, here’s a summary of 18 reasons why you may need a new website right now:

  1. You still don’t have a website but rather a single landing page

If you don’t already have a website, you’re in danger of disappearing entirely.  Irrespective of the size or nature of your business, today’s consumer expects every brand to have a well presented and information-rich website. Hence, you need to get on the case as quickly as possible or run the risk of losing customers.

  1. A poor first impression

As touched upon, your website needs to deliver a strong and lasting first impression. Research has shown that you’ve got less than 7 seconds to win over every new visitor to your website. If they’re not immediately impressed by what they see, they won’t stick around to check out the rest of your business.

  1. Outshining your competitors

Chances are your competitors already have seriously impressive websites.  Unless you find a way to outshine them with your own online offerings, you’ll struggle to gain a competitive edge. One-upmanship is the key to success with any online business venture. If you don’t provide your target audience with a more appealing offer, why would they choose you over your competitors?

  1. Outdated e-commerce platforms

If your current e-commerce platform doesn’t support the latest plug-ins and add-ons, you could be selling your business short. Consider carefully how dynamic and responsive your website is to the requirements and expectations of visitors.  E-commerce websites that are not regularly updated almost always fall behind the pack.

  1. Generally poor performance

Today’s web user has neither the time nor the inclination to deal with slow and sluggish websites. Instead, they’re willing to wait no more than 3 seconds for any specific page to load. Anything slower and they’ll head straight into the open arms of your competitors. If the back-end of your website doesn’t deliver the goods, you may need to start again from scratch.

  1. Uninspiring content

The content you publish on your website will play a key role in determining if and to what extent your business succeeds. If your content is out of date, poorly written or generally uninspiring, it could be holding you and your business back. Quality content is the backbone of every successful website and should be prioritized.

  1. Flawed payment processes

It’s worth remembering that impulse purchases can contribute heavily to your total e-commerce revenues. The quicker and easier you make it for customers to convert, the more likely they are to do just that. By contrast, complex and drawn-out payment processes increase shopping cart abandonment rates. You need to do everything you can to streamline the payment process, eliminating complications where possible.

  1. Attract mobile audiences

The importance of delivering outstanding mobile experience is hardly a new discovery. In fact, Google has been handing penalties to mobile-unfriendly websites for over three years. Given that more than half of all web searches are now carried out via mobile devices, you cannot afford to turn your back on mobile audiences. Instead, you need to ensure your website delivers a flawless experience for every visitor.

  1. Improve your SEO performance

There’s only so much you can do with an existing website to improve its SEO performance. If you’re serious about climbing the ranks in the SERP listings, you might want to consider a fresh website from scratch. Powerful SEO elements can be woven into the fiber of a website during every step of the development process. Websites built from the ground up around effective SEO typically perform strongest in the SERP rankings. And you have slim and low-quality content you are guaranteed to have no organic traffic from Search Engines.

  1. Start selling online

Of course, it could be that you don’t currently sell your products and services directly through your website. Rather than simply bolting a sales function on to your existing site, it could be more effective to build an entirely new e-commerce website from scratch. This way, you’ll have the opportunity to create a unified and cohesive online retail experience for your target audience. Bolt-ons are better than nothing, but a new purpose-built website could be even more effective.

  1. You’re losing traffic

It’s never nice to acknowledge a notable and continual decline in website traffic. Things may have been great at one time, but seem to have hit a downward spiral. If there’s no obvious explanation as to where you’re going wrong, it could simply be that your website doesn’t resonate with your audience. In which case, the solution is simple – invest in an all-new website, built from the ground up with your perfect customer in mind.

  1. Security issues

No website is immune to the attacks of cyber criminals. In fact, the likelihood of being targeted by fraudsters is at an all-time high. The question being – are you doing enough to safeguard both your online business and your customers? If the answer is no, it’s only a matter of time until you face the consequences.  Hackers are becoming more sophisticated than ever before, which calls for enhanced diligence on the part of online business owners.

  1. Your website uses a pre-designed template

Under no circumstances should you ever build a website using cheap (or free) prefabricated templates. Along with coming across as amateurish, such websites are notorious for delivering a poor user experience, terrible SEO performance, and bloated code. Not to mention, the impossibility of creating a unique website that distinguishes you from your competitors. If your current website is essentially a clone of countless other websites, you need to think about starting from scratch.

  1. Navigation issues and inconsistencies

Your navigation system will have a direct impact on how your website is interpreted and interacted with. Complex and confusing navigation systems are one of the biggest turn-offs for today’s web user. If they can’t find exactly what they need in seconds, they won’t bother searching any further. Consider the efficiency and effectiveness of your navigation system, along with how it may be affecting your performance as a business.

  1. Still using Flash? 

The days of Flash impressing online audiences are now confined to the history books. Today, Flash only stands to hinder the performance of your website, dilute your SEO strategy and make it impossible for mobile visitors to get any real value from your pages. On the whole, therefore, excessive use of Flash is to be avoided at all costs. If Flash plays a pivotal part in the design of your current website, it’s time for a rethink.

  1. Poor (or no) social media integration

Social media has become a lifestyle for the 21st-century web user. Hence, it should be seamlessly integrated with your website. It’s up to you to make it quick and easy for your customers to head straight over to your social media profiles. Rather than seeing your website and social accounts as separate entities, they should be brought together to form one cohesive web presence.

  1. Your imagery is painfully outdated

Try to remember that every visitor to your website will make snap judgments based on visual content alone. If they’re put off by outdated imagery, everything else is inconsequential. Every image you add to your website should inspire and reassure your customers that they’ve come to the right place. If not, they’ll head someplace else – it’s as simple as that.

  1. Your website no longer represents your company

Last but not least, it could simply be that your current website is no longer an accurate representation of your company. You may have added new services, branched out into new product areas or simply evolved beyond what you once were. If this is the case, there’s really no better time to consider refreshing your online presence with a brand new website.

 

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO, and Founder of SONDORA MARKETINGDennis Dubner is a marketing strategist with more than two decades’ experience.  Specializing in management consultancy, digital marketing, and traditional marketing, Dennis has an established track record in strategic global business development.

 

 

The Difference Between Marketing and Selling

Marketing and Selling are routinely used as interchangeable synonyms for the same business concept. In reality, there are significant differences between the two terms. The development and implementation of an effective marketing strategy rely on the respective brand’s ability to differentiate between selling and marketing.

Marketing Vs Selling

At a fundamental level, the concepts of marketing and selling could be defined as follows:

The concepts of marketing and selling are interconnected in many ways, though refer to very different processes within a wider business strategy. Marketing is an umbrella term that encompasses an extensive range of strategic, advertising, promotional and PR tasks – selling being just one component of a marketing strategy.

A Detailed Definition of Marketing

In a little more detail, marketing is a multi-dimensional process that concerns the improvement of business performance and profitability by boosting the brand’s appeal and value in the eyes of the customer. As a result, any activities or processes geared towards image enhancement, brand development, customer loyalty, and general customer satisfaction could be considered marketing tactics.

The concept of marketing begins with the target audience – identifying the requirements of the customer, creating strategies to engage them and ultimately profiting through customer satisfaction. The more effective the marketing strategy, the more likely the customer is to remain loyal to the brand.

With marketing, it’s a case of heavily researching the customer’s wants, needs, preferences, and general behaviors. This information can then be used to present the product, the service and/or the entire business in the most appealing manner possible at the right time, in the right place, through the right channels, with the right Value Proposition. After which, sales occur naturally and loyalty is nurtured.

A Detailed Definition of Selling

The formula is somewhat reversed with the purest form of selling. Rather than beginning with the target audience and positioning, the selling process starts with the product or service value itself. 

A selling strategy aims to coax, convince or persuade buyers that they want or need whatever’s being sold. Instead of identifying the needs of the customer and aiming to fulfil them, selling works the other way around – the business attempts to create a sense of need to sell more products.

Though highly effective for improving conversion rates and generating revenue, selling alone isn’t a workable strategy in the absence of marketing support. Hence, selling forms just one part of a wider marketing strategy, which must be carefully balanced with other complementary techniques.

How to Distinguish Between Marketing and Selling

One of the most effective ways of distinguishing between marketing and selling is to consider the marketing process in its entirety. Businesses and marketing consultants often have their own unique approaches to the marketing process, but the fundamentals of the formula remain relatively static.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the typical marketing process for the modern business:

  1. Audience Identification

The first and most important step in the process is to identify a viable market for your product or service. If there are no customers waiting to buy whatever it is you’re selling, the rest is inconsequential.

  1. Demand and Competitive Analysis

The existence of an audience and demand for a product or service doesn’t confirm its appropriateness for your business. Extensive competitor analysis must also be carried out, in order to ensure the market isn’t already saturated or impenetrable.

  1. Product or Service Design and Development

Every aspect of the service or product design and development process should be tailored to meet the requirements and preferences of the end-user. You first establish their needs, then create something that satisfies them.

  1. Marketing and Promotion

After which, it’s a case of creating a marketing strategy to effectively present your product or service to your target audience. The key to success lies in showing the customer how their life will be better with your product or service in it.

  1. Customer Support Provision

Immediate and on-going customer support can be the ultimate deal-breaker for a marketing strategy. The more capable and committed the support you provide, the easier it becomes to nurture loyalty.

 

The Difference Between Marketing and Selling

In contrast with the above process, selling is – as the name itself suggests – simply a case of exchanging products or services for money. A basic transaction, wherein the customer receives something in return for their payment. Given the nature of the marketing process, this ‘sale’ represents almost a final step and is typically the result of successful marketing. The final step would be getting the existing customers’ experience as great as possible so your customers can refer other potential customers to your company with pride.

Selling is a part of marketing but is fundamentally reliant on other interconnected components. In most instances, selling products is impossible without an effective marketing strategy. Every sale contributes to the success of the business but must be approached in a manner that promotes loyalty and customer satisfaction. Selling without building trust and online social proof becomes problematic in the digital era.

Technically speaking, selling products is relatively easy if the value you deliver is well taken. After all, you can simply tell your target audience anything and everything they want to hear – even if it’s far from true. Though for obvious reasons, if you underdeliver or mislead the potential customers this would likely have a detrimental effect on customer loyalty, brand image and the wider performance of the organization. Therefore, the Sales Process must be closely coordinated with the Marketing Team so the right Brand Message is delivered, the expectations are set correctly, the Value Proposition is communicated.

 

Key Differentiators Between Marketing and Selling

An easy way of getting to grips with the difference between marketing and selling is to consider the latter as a more physical process. That being, the logistical movement of goods or services from the seller to the buyer by way of a sale. You pay, you receive something in return – this is a ‘sale’.

By contrast, marketing encompasses absolutely everything the organization does to both reaches and appeals to its target audience. Sales are needed to generate revenue, but marketing is a broad process that focuses on satisfying the demands of the customer and sustaining the organization long-term.

Some of the most important differences between selling and marketing are as follows:

  1. From beginning to end, marketing prioritizes customer satisfaction. The cycle begins by establishing the requirements and expectations of the customer, continuing to the provision of products/services to fulfill their needs and ends with their satisfaction and loyalty. Selling focuses less on customer satisfaction, more on revenues and profits.
  2. The success of a selling strategy is typically measured on sales volumes and revenue generated. With marketing, the way the audience perceives the value, the reasonable customer acquisition cost (CAC) per marketing channel, high Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), great Value Proposition (VP) and Unique Selling Proposition (USP) design, and high customer satisfaction levels indicate the campaign’s success.
  3. An effective marketing strategy is built entirely around the expectations and desires of the customer. With selling, techniques are devised to closing more sales of a product or service the business wishes to offer.
  4. Sales often focus on generating immediate revenues in a somewhat time-limited manner. Whereas an effective marketing strategy can nurture the kind of long-term loyalty that translates to on-going prosperity for the business.
  5. A marketing strategy that includes an effective sales strategy can ensure the business benefits from both. Nevertheless, a business is unlikely to succeed by focusing exclusively on sales without a wider long-term marketing strategy in place.
  6. Marketing considers the consumer first of all and values the customer as the single most important entity at the heart of the business. With selling, the customer is the final link in the chain, whereas the products or services being sold are the crux of the strategy. 
  7. A sales strategy may be considered successful even if the overwhelming majority of buyers are dissatisfied with their purchases. With marketing, even the most enormous sales volumes may be considered inconsequential if customer satisfaction ratings are low. 
  8. Marketing is considered an indirect activity, in that it promotes the business and its products/services without necessarily resorting to the hard sell. By contrast, selling is a direct activity – the business proactively attempting to persuade the customer to make a purchase.
  9. Sales strategies can be great for generating immediate interest and driving sales in a time-limited manner, through communicating the value to Prospects (Value-Based Selling), or through special offers, discounts, free gifts and time-limited promotions (Transactional Selling). Marketing focuses more on long-term business performance and continuous viability and profitability.
  10. More often than not, marketing focuses on the future of the business, its products/services and its target audience. Selling is more concerned with the immediate moment than what may or may not happen tomorrow.

 

Marketing and Selling Combined

Based on my experience consulting companies from Small to Large, in many organizational settings, the sales and marketing departments are separated. The reason is that each of the two responsibilities demands a unique set of skills and competencies for successful strategy development and implementation.

Compare the characteristics of an effective salesperson and an elite marketer and the differences become immediately apparent. To succeed in sales, you need to be an incredibly confident and assertive communicator, be perceived as an expert, possess advanced communication skills and be a naturally persuasive and influential individual. You also need to be able to ‘spin’ whatever you have to work within a manner that appeals to the prospective customer.

With marketing, it a little less ‘hands-on’. Excellent communication skills are a must, but marketers need to be somewhat more empathetic, analytical and forward-thinking. Their role is to consider the bigger picture for the business long-term, as opposed to doing whatever is necessary to close immediate sales. Marketers are critical thinkers with the ability to put themselves in the customer’s position, nurturing relationships through understanding rather than persuasion.

In any case, selling forms an important part of the marketing process, so the two go hand-in-hand.

 

Is Selling More Important than Marketing?

Speak to a sample group of small business owners and they’ll typically tell you the same:

Sales matter more than marketing.

The reason is that with limited time and money to invest in marketing, their performance and success are measured entirely on sales. From a logical perspective, sales is the Income Statement top line – and running a business often becomes a pursuit for the Revenue. If you don’t sell your products or services, you don’t generate the revenues you need to sustain your business.

So, just as long as they’re selling enough to get by, nothing else matters. Sales, therefore, is more important than marketing.

But while there’s a certain amount of logic to this conclusion, it’s a classic case of fundamentally flawed logic. Selling is important because it brings in the necessary revenues, but marketing is the process of designing the right product or service that’s in demand or generate the demand for the product or service, getting products and services known in the first place. Or to put it another way, you can’t expect to sell products or services if nobody knows they exist. Marketing comes first, ensuring you present something of value in accordance with the needs and desires of your target audience.

If they don’t want it or have no idea it exists, you won’t sell it…and your business will fail.

Irrespective of the importance of sales, therefore, you cannot realistically claim selling matters more than marketing. Sales occur as a result of effective marketing, which can also nurture loyalty and boost a brand’s wider performance. And, as already touched upon, marketing focuses on the long-term performance of the business – not the finite sales needed to keep it afloat temporarily.

 

In Summary…

Despite the inherent complexities within the fields of both marketing and selling, considering the two together is actually quite straightforward:

As it’s almost impossible to sell without marketing your products or services properly, marketing should be prioritized due to its strategic impact on the business.

This is particularly true when considering how an effective marketing strategy naturally encourages greater sales volumes and on-going sales. Selling and marketing may be very different concepts but are nonetheless intrinsically interconnected and interdependent on one another.

 

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO, and Founder of Sondora Marketing.

 

What Does A Marketing Consultant Do?

I get this question from friends all the time. So I decided to clear this out once and for all in one sentence and have elaborated too 👇👇👇 

Marketing Consulting DefinitionThe procurement or provision of professional services to support immediate and long-term marketing strategies for engaging customers and improving business performance.

 

What Are Marketing Consultant Services?

Marketing consultants – aka marketing advisers – are multi-skilled individuals who understand the process of connecting businesses with their target audiences. This may be a somewhat broad definition, but the services provided by marketing consulting firms are equally broad in scope.

 

What Do Marketers Do?

It’s often assumed that marketing consultants and advertising agencies offer the same basic services. In reality, the two are quite different, though are deeply interconnected.

With advertising, it’s essentially a case of communicating a predetermined message to an identified and accessible audience. Advertising agencies assist with the process of creating compelling ads and ensuring they reach the relevant recipients.

By contrast, a marketing consultant can help a brand or business build better connections with prospective and existing customers alike. They focus on the enhancement of the brand’s wider image, authority, and appeal, as opposed to more direct selling of products and services. A marketing consultant can help identify a viable target audience in the first place, analyze customer behaviors and preferences, establish goals and create a strategic road map for their accomplishment.

From initial planning to strategic framework development to implementation to on-going analysis and optimization, professional marketers and marketing consultancy firms help the business meet its financial and more general performance-based objectives.

 

Marketing Consulting Agency Types

If you’ve decided to join forces with an internet marketing consultant (or digital marketing consultant), you’ll need to first consider their background and expertise. Along with a variety of specialist fields within digital marketing, there are two primary categories of marketing consultants to be aware of:

Of course, you’ll always come across marketing consulting firms that provide both B2B and B2C solutions. In any case, it’s the client’s responsibility to first determine if and to what extent their respective service provider has relevant expertise and experience.

 

Typical Services of the Digital Marketing Consulting Agency 

Most of the digital marketing agencies have their Core Service that they perform the best. Some of those cover:

 

Can you learn Digital Marketing at School or University?  💪 🤷‍♂️ 🙅‍♂️

Absolutely yes. 💪 But once you graduate, most the knowledge you have worked so hard for is going to be outdated. That’s just harsh truth. The educational system is too slow to pick up the latest changes. For example, Google changes its algorithm over 200 times a year and releases 2-4 major updates annually. These updates turn the SEO world upside down completely. Facebook changes its algorithm constantly as well, releases new advertising options constantly. Some aspects of our daily operations as an agency in 2019 did not even exist in 2018. Therefore, you can definitely learn the fundamentals at school, and you should. But do not expect to rock and roll once you graduate. 🤷‍♂️ You’ll need a practitioner next you for a while to truly learn how to apply your knowledge. 💪

 

Why Hire a Marketing Consultant?

From a typical business perspective, knowing where to draw the line is difficult.  Particularly if your business is currently performing adequately, it’s not always easy to know if/when a marketing consultant should be brought in.

Nevertheless, there are several common issues and obstacles an elite marketing consultant can help your business overcome. Examples of which include the following:

1.     You’re Lacking an Effective Strategy

If you’re currently operating in the absence of any real marketing strategy whatsoever, you could be selling yourself and your business short. The number-one rule for successful marketing being to follow a detailed and well-structured strategy at all times.

2.     Your Objectives Are Unclear

Having too many objectives, unclear objectives or no specific objectives whatsoever is a guaranteed formula for poor performance. A good marketing consultant can help establish achievable objectives and priorities for your business to work towards.

3.     You Lack the Necessary Resources

In terms of both equipment and manpower, you may be in a position where you simply cannot orchestrate and implement an effective marketing strategy in-house. In which case, hiring help may be the only feasible option.

4.     You’re Struggling with Customer Retention

Attracting one-off sales is fine, but the key to success in competitive times lies in customer retention and loyalty. If you’re finding it difficult to appeal to your audience enough to keep them on board long-term, your marketing strategy may need a rethink.

5.     Your Current Consultant Is Underperforming

A marketing consultant should never take a penny from a client without delivering measurable results and a consistent ROI. If this simply isn’t the case with your current consultant, it could be time to seek support elsewhere.

 

What to Look for in a Quality Marketing Consultant

One of the biggest mistakes any business can make is basing their decision entirely on costs. Freelance marketing consultancy rates and agency marketing consultancy rates range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but you cannot put a price on quality.

Ultimately, it’s all about value for money – the ROI your marketing consultant is able to guarantee. Any consultant worth hiring will have an established track record of successfully helping businesses achieve their objectives. They’ll take a hands-on approach to the services they provide, rather than simply sitting on the side lines as an advisor.

Most importantly, they’ll take an active interest in your business and demonstrate both the pride and enthusiasm needed to get the job done. They’ll be creative, innovative and results oriented, with all the technical skills required to create and implement a multi-dimensional marketing strategy.

As for a specific duties and responsibilities, a professional marketing consultant can provide a variety of supportive services such as:

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the business to determine its immediate and long-term marketing objectives. An experienced consultant can provide extensive support in a variety of areas such as those outlined above, but you first need to know what you want and what you expect.

 

Key Questions Your Consultant Will Ask

When hiring a marketing consultant for the first time, you’ll have plenty of questions to ask and assurances to seek. Nevertheless, you can also expect to be asked an extensive list of questions by the consultant. The better they get to know your business and its objectives, the stronger the position they’ll be in to drive positive change.

The following represent just a few of the questions you can expect to be asked when bringing a marketing consultant on board:

1.  How do you define success?

Realistically, you can’t expect a consultant to help your business succeed if you don’t first define what ‘success’ means to you. Do you have your sights set on a specific annual income? An exact number of monthly new customers? Or is your primary goal an international expansion? Whatever it is, it needs to be defined and clearly communicated.

2.  What’s the story behind your brand?

For the expert marketing consultant, it isn’t enough to simply know what your brand does. Instead, they need to know why it does it, how it came about and subsequently build a complete picture of its background. The more compelling your brand’s story, the better.

3.  What sets you apart from the competition? 💣💣💣

The toughest question of all! If you’re unable to answer this question, you may need to reconsider your business model as a whole. There has to be something that differentiates your business and makes it remarkable. You may be the most technologically advanced on the market, provide the highest quality customer support, offer the fastest delivery worldwide, have the highest overall customer satisfaction rating or simply offer something 100% unique. This will form the crux of your entire marketing strategy, so needs to be considered carefully.

4.  What do your competitors do better than you?

It can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s nonetheless important to acknowledge and accept where your competitors are currently outperforming you. Armed with this information, you’ll be in a perfect position to improve, evolve and ultimately take the lead.

5.  Why are you hiring a marketing consultant? And Why Now?

Perhaps the most important question of all – what do you expect to get out of the deal? What has motivated you to seek expert assistance with your marketing strategy? Again, it’s a case of defining and communicating your objectives as clearly as possible, in order to help your consultant formulate a workable strategy accordingly.

 

In Summary….

Irrespective of the effectiveness (or otherwise) of your existing marketing strategy, the input of an experienced marketing consultant could prove invaluable. Oftentimes, an initial consultation is all that’s needed to pinpoint profitable opportunities you’ve yet to explore for the benefit of your business.  Not to mention, identify obstacles standing in your way and begin working towards their elimination.

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING

10 Digital Marketing Rookie Errors to Avoid at All Costs 

Introduction: The World’s Most Powerful Marketing Platform

If you ask me, the value of the web as a 21st century marketing platform is best-illustrated in a few simple statistics:

Whichever way you look at it, the statistics speak for themselves.

Unfortunately, the tendency to dive in at the deep end without careful consideration is rife. Due to the sheer size and scope of the Internet, business owners often assume they simply can’t go wrong. In reality, it’s surprisingly easy to fall foul of any number of rookie errors.

 

Learn from Mistakes…But Not Your Own!

We’ve reached a point in time where the ‘trial and error’ approach to digital marketing simply isn’t necessary. The reason being that enough mistakes have been made by millions of businesses worldwide to paint a pretty clear picture of what you should and shouldn’t be doing.

So rather than learning from your own mistakes, why not take something from those already made?

To illustrate the point a little more clearly, I’ve created a shortlist of 10 of the most common rookie errors in digital marketing. Irrespective of the size and nature of the business you run, steer clear of the following and your digital strategy will thank you:

 

Needlessly overspending

While it’s true to say that you have to spend money to make money, needlessly overspending can have catastrophic consequences. If there’s an element of your digital marketing strategy that simply isn’t delivering consistent returns, modify it or get rid of it. There are too many incredible opportunities to leverage online to waste time on those of no value to your business.

 

Investing in pop-ups

Now more than ever, pop-ups have a tendency to have the opposite of the intended effect. Hence, to pay good money for pop-ups is to both throw your money down the drain and run the risk of sending prospects straight to your competitors. The effectiveness of pop-ups has deteriorated significantly over the years – a miraculous turnaround being unlikely at this stage.

 

Directing to the wrong pages

When an individual clicks on one of your ads or links, it’s typically because they’ve decided they want something from you. Something specific, which they expect to access as quickly and conveniently as possible. Hence, you need to ensure they are transported directly to the appropriate landing page. There’s little more infuriating than clicking a link and being transported to a page that’s got nothing to do with the link you clicked, only to then have to search high and low for whatever it is you were looking for.

 

Overlooking the value of SEO

Suggestions that the importance and effectiveness of SEO are diminishing really couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, the world’s reliance on the major search engines is only set to intensify indefinitely. For small and large businesses of all shapes and sizes, there’s really no long-term digital marketing initiative that can deliver the same consistent ROI as SEO. More than 90% of all online experiences start with a search engine – can you really afford to turn your back on Google and Co?

 

Crossing the line into spam

Tenacity and perseverance hold the key to successful digital marketing.  Nevertheless, there’s a difference between a ‘both-barrels’ digital strategy and crossing the line into spam. From keyword use to link building to e-mail marketing and so on, too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Quality should always be prioritized over quantity in all aspects of your digital strategy.

 

Publishing substandard content

If you don’t want to hire and pay for professional copywriters, you don’t have to. But under no circumstances should you make the mistake of publishing substandard content. Even the slightest errors and oversights are enough to paint entirely the wrong picture of your business. Quality content lies at the heart of every successful digital strategy, which must be unique, engaging, relevant and of value to the reader. If you can’t get the job done yourself, hire someone who can.

 

Ineffective use of CTAs

Or perhaps, little to no use of CTAs whatsoever. CTAs have played an important role in all aspects of marketing and advertising since the dawn of time. If you want your prospects to take action, it’s up to you to tell them what to do and show them how to do it. Effective CTAs are eye-catching, prominently positioned and communicate some kind of value in their own right. The idea being that the customer feels they’re benefiting in some way by clicking your CTA.

 

Marketing content stagnation

The most effective ads and online marketing materials have a limited lifespan.  Sooner or later, everything goes stale and warrants a refresh. From time to time, it’s important to revisit all important elements of your digital strategy and continue their current effectiveness. Even if they’re still getting the job done with a solid consistency, it’s important to avoid stagnation before it occurs.

 

Limited use of available channels

Digital advertising opens the door to literally hundreds of different marketing channels to explore. Nevertheless, the vast majority of newcomers to digital favour the ‘all eggs in one basket’ approach. They choose one or two channels they know, without considering what they may be missing out on elsewhere.  These days, multi-channel marketing is the only truly effective type of digital marketing. Limit your exploration of the available channels and your strategy stands to suffer as a result.

 

Overlooking mobile audiences

Trust me when I say – overlook mobile audiences at your peril! Mobile traffic is already comfortably outpacing traditional desktop traffic in many key markets worldwide. Rather than simply paying a passing ‘nod’ to mobile visitors, the time has come to prioritize mobile traffic in everything you do. Including your digital marketing strategy – mobile-first being the new standard for the forward-thinking digital marketer. Now, most of our manufacturing and industrial clients start with “oh, but our customers do not use their mobile devices much, they sit in their offices in front of their computers…”. I do not want to throw more numbers and stats at you. I’ll just mention one that is big enough. Over 90% of business owners use their mobile devices over 70% of the time for online search, social media, and email.  

 

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING

Misleading Google Analytics: Why It Pays Off to Read Between the Lines

Introduction: Are Agencies Out to Mislead?

In my experience, it’s rare to come across a digital agency that makes deliberate attempts to deceive with misleading analytics. That said, this doesn’t mean that misleading analytics in a general sense aren’t rife. Agencies sometimes fall into the trap of presenting inaccurate findings and voicing misguided suggestions without even realizing it.
As is the case with many things in life, the key to successful use of web analytics lies in interpretation.

With growing regularity, I’m approached by clients looking for clarification of data that appears to paint an inaccurate picture. If you’ve been operating a website for more than a day or so, it’s likely you’ll already be familiar with Google Analytics. It’s also probable you’ve got to grips with the basics of GA and appreciate the significance of the data produced.
Nevertheless, I felt it prudent to present a few facts and findings on the subject of misleading analytics, which I believe could help almost any online business. Or at least, any business owner who takes a proactive interest in the performance and prosperity of their organization.

Table of Contents:
• Introduction: Are Agencies Out to Mislead?
• Not All Bounce Rates Are the Same
• On Page Time: More = Better…Right?
• What vs. Why
• Digging Deeper…

What vs. Why

In terms of keyword use and optimization, let’s consider another everyday example. You stock both tennis balls and footballs in your online store, only to find that tennis balls are converting 200% better. You’ve focused heavily on both keywords – ‘tennis balls’ just seems to be delivering better results.

On the surface, this would seem to suggest that ‘tennis balls’ is not only the better keyword but also the product you should be investing your time, effort and money in. The problem being that by placing your decisions purely on basic analytics alone, you could be making a big mistake.

For example, it could be that there’s a major tennis tournament taking place at the time and generating unusual interest in tennis balls. It could also simply be that the pictures and product descriptions you have accompanying your footballs aren’t nearly as impressive as those accompanying your tennis balls. Long story short, there are endless plausible explanations as to why you’re selling more tennis balls than footballs.

Explanations you won’t find in the most basic Google Analytics data.

It’s the classic case of focusing on what is happening as opposed to why it is happening. With Google Analytics, you’re provided with a detailed snapshot of what’s going on with your website at the time. Nevertheless, Google Analytics itself cannot be relied upon to accurately and effectively interpret its own data.

Ultimately, it’s down to you or your digital marketing partner to make sense of the data and optimize your campaigns accordingly.

Not All Bounce Rates Are the Same

For example, thousands (maybe even millions) of online businesses gauge their success or otherwise predominantly on bounce rates. The way they see it, the greater the proportion of people ‘bouncing’ from their website without taking action, the more urgent the action that needs to be taken. Bounce rates are calculated by way of a percentage of the total number of visitors who visit your website – those who fail to convert or interact.

But here’s the thing, not all bounce rates are created equally.

Think of it this way – how many times have you visited a website or a restaurant, in order to check out its menus and perhaps take its phone number? Or for that matter, looked up a product or service you’re definitely going to buy, but chose not to buy online at the time? Given the fact that you didn’t convert or take action, your visit is classified as a bounce…aka, a failure with the standard interpretation of bounce rates.

Hence, having a bounce rate as high as even 80% or so doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is bailing on your site dissatisfied or disillusioned. With bounce rates, it’s of critical importance to read between the lines and determine what your customers are doing when they pay you a visit.

On Page Time: More = Better…Right?

Another common metric used to gauge the quality and effectiveness of a website is on-page time. That being, the amount of time the average user spends on your website. For obvious reasons, it’s naturally assumed that more is better.

As with the example above, however, this again isn’t necessarily the case. If you’re running a relatively simple e-commerce business, an individual spending a good 5 minutes browsing your products or services is great. That’s more than enough time for them to see what you’ve got to offer, check out your products and maybe even make a purchase.

By contrast, individual spending more than 5 minutes on the website of a doctor or dentist could suggest they’re struggling to find the information they need. It’s a tricky yet important balancing act to pull off – you need to retain the attention of the visitor, but you also need to ensure they get what they need as quickly as possible.

So once again, you cannot base your judgments or decisions on on-page time alone. At both ends of the scale, you could end up reading into data that paints a wholly misleading picture.

Digging Deeper…

Over the last couple of years in particular, I’ve noted a distinct uptick in the number of clients I work with who’ve taken an active interest in analytics. The problem is that in the vast majority of instances, it’s only a passing interest. Unfortunately, a fleeting glance at the most basic analytics from time to time is the perfect recipe for misinterpretation.

Personally, I recommend investing a minimum of 15-30 minutes every week in Google Analytics, Google Ads Manager and Google Search Console observation and analysis. Irrespective of your experience with GA/GSC to date, this is the minimum amount of time required to dig deeper than the surface and figure out what’s really going on.

Once again, the key to effective and efficient use of analytical data lies in separating the ‘what’ from the ‘why’. GA can present all the factual data in the world, but it can’t tell you what to do with it or how to interpret it.

If you struggle to make sense of GA, it’s worth considering third-party involvement for the benefit of your business.

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING

Win Loss Analysis – Best Marketing Practices for 2019

It’s a scenario you probably know well. You’ve finally closed the deal, the immediate future looks great for your business and the entire team is in the mood to celebrate. You’ve hit your targets ahead of time, you’re looking at a decent period with zero uncertainty ahead and your confidence is sky-high.

But here’s the thing – tomorrow is a new day, with new targets to assign and new challenges to face. The question being, what can you do to repeat this all-around success going forwards?

In my experience, this is where many businesses go wrong. They ride the wave of a recent big success, which is fine, but they ride it way too long. Assumptions are made based on immediate successes and insufficient effort is made to encourage history to repeat itself.

The result of which, as you can imagine, tends to be a disappointment.

If you fall on the more proactive side of the spectrum, what should you be doing to make things happen again and again?

The answer – conducting a win/loss analysis could help steer things in the right direction.

 

What Is a Win Loss Analysis (WLA)?

Carrying out a win/loss analysis (aka post-decision interviews) gives you the opportunity to replicate your biggest successes indefinitely. It’s also just as important for generating key insights as to why you didn’t hit your targets, helping guide your subsequent decisions and actions accordingly.

Win/loss analysis is one of the many options on the table for repeating your successes, but it’s a highly effective and measurable method.

At its core, a win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to assess your business and its performance from the perspective of your customers. It delivers a detailed overview of your points of appeal, areas for improvement and the reasons why you won or lost. Rather than assuming you know what contributed to your recent success or failure, you go directly to your customers and request their feedback.

Interviews can be carried out via various channels, but I’ve noted the most helpful insights are generated by in-person discussions or telephone conversations. Postal or email surveys are an option but don’t provide the opportunity to dig deeper than the base questions you ask. You can even ask a third-party to handle things on your behalf, but then you can’t be sure they’ll probe as deeply or specifically as you would personally.

By ensuring you (or your team) contact customers directly, you access a number of key benefits such as:

You’ll still produce helpful data through traditional questionnaires and surveys, but I strongly recommend at least some in-person interviews where possible.

 

What Are the Benefits of Win Loss Analysis?

The primary benefit of a win/loss analysis is the unique customer-first perspective it provides of your successes and failures. A strong and on-going sales strategy is mandatory for the consistent performance of your organization. A win/loss analysis provides the opportunity to gather, analyze and retain the kind of priceless data that can help improve success rates and identify areas of weakness.

In fact, there’s no more effective way of getting to know your business from the perspective of its customers than through win/loss analysis.

Specifically, win/loss analysis delivers such key insights as:

These are just a few of the insights you’ll gain access to by performing an effective win/loss analysis. Ultimately, the data you collect can be used as the basis for your on-going marketing and PR strategy.

 

How to Conduct Win/Loss Analysis

The benefits of win/loss analysis are therefore clear, but what’s the best way of getting started?

It’s worth remembering that the data you collect will only be as useful as the collection method allows. Hence, it’s useful to view the win/loss analysis interview process in three specific stages:

The Pre-Interview

In the wake of success or failure, you’ll first need to pen a robust interview strategy with your sales and marketing team, with the input of your customer service heads. Consider the questions you’ll be asking, who will carry out the interviews and how they will be performed. I recommend planning for interviews that last around 30 minutes, though allow extra time in instances where further probing is necessary. Make things as easy and comfortable as possible for the interviewee, which will encourage their participation and help maintain their interest.

The Interview

Don’t be afraid to go off-script during the interview if you feel additional or modified questions could prove helpful. It’s also important to conduct the interview as objectively as possible, allowing as little emotion as you can to affect your approach. The customer should be reminded of the importance of their honesty, irrespective of how their thoughts and opinions differ from those of the interviewer. Stick with the timetable you assign as strictly as possible, in order to avoid frustrating the interviewee.

Post-Interview

The data collected during each interview should be reviewed and analyzed with equal importance. Rather than searching for findings that correlate with your own beliefs, you need to consider every viewpoint and experience carefully. It’s also important to thank each participant after the event for their contribution to the project.

Best-Practice Rules for Successful Post-Decision Interviews

Post-decision interviews shouldn’t be conducted only in the wake of major wins or losses. Instead, they should form an integral part of your core sales, marketing, and customer service strategy. At least, if you prioritize continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

There are, however, some ground rules that should be followed to make the most of every win/loss analysis carried out. Looking ahead to the remaining months of 2019, the following represent the most important best-practice guidelines to gain maximum value from your post-decision interviews:

Your findings will be skewed if you speak to a disproportionate number of satisfied or dissatisfied customers. You can only expect to achieve clear and balanced insights if you ensure both sides are represented equally. It’s also worth remembering that every interview represents an invaluable opportunity to get a disenchanted customer back on board with whatever it is you do.

As a general rule of thumb, try to ensure your interviews are carried out no more than two months (or eight weeks) following the event or action. The more time that passes, the more inaccuracies and inconsistencies may find their way into the participants’ accounts. It can also be useful to gauge the emotional responses of your customers to your brand, which will be at their rawest and strongest immediately after the event.

Consider the information you’re most interested in collecting and work backward to establish the questions you’ll need to ask. To what extent did you satisfy the customer? Which of your competitors were also in contention? Why did they choose you? What would it take to keep them coming back? Why didn’t you win their business? What would they change about the experience? What advice could they offer you? What were their perceptions of your representatives? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

If impartiality is to be achieved, the interview must take place in a non-sales environment with zero pressure and with no hint of a sales pitch. Effective post-decision interviews can help get disenchanting customers back on board, but this should never be your priority. Salesmanship and marketing talk has no place in the mix – the same also applying to your own personal feelings and emotions.

If you simply cannot guarantee 100% objectivity and impartiality with your own representatives, you may need to consider hiring a third party. This may be the only way of achieving a true non-sales environment for the interviews, ensuring the results aren’t skewed by your own biased views, opinions, and objectives. Outsourcing can bring its own unique challenges into the mix but does at least guarantee neutrality and objectivity on the part of the interviewer.

Contextual free-form answers should be encouraged to determine how each customer feels about your business and your offer. However, it can also be very difficult (or even impossible) to compile and analyze this kind of data. It’s therefore useful to create fixed metrics for customers’ responses – such as asking them to gauge their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10. Or perhaps determine the extent to which an issue is a priority for them – not at all, low, medium, high, very high etc. This will assist with the aggregation and analysis of the data you collect.

  1. Conduct interviews regularly

Conducting win/loss analysis once every year or so won’t tell you a great deal about your business. By the time your next interviews are carried out, you’ve already lost the opportunity to act on the prior project’s findings. Instead, it’s a good idea to conduct post-decision interviews on a quarterly basis at least. Compare and contrast each project’s findings with the last, taking every opportunity to act on your findings the moment they’re gathered.

As far as your customers are concerned, the thoughts and opinions they share are 100% factual. Hence, they’re the only thoughts and opinions you should be listening to. Irrespective of how the information you gather mar contradict your deepest-set thoughts and beliefs, this is the information you need to trust. However objective you think you are, nobody can provide more honest and objective insights than your customers themselves. Trust their opinions, consider their suggestions and act upon their feedback.

Above all else, you need to get out of the habit of viewing post-decision interviews as an optional extra. Win/loss analysis should be considered mandatory – a key strategy that forms the core of your on-going sales, marketing, and customer satisfaction strategy.

win-loss audit in digital marketing

Post-Decision Interviews for Better Digital Marketing

From a digital marketer’s perspective, I personally believe there is a no richer or more valuable source of data than that obtained through strategic win/loss analysis. Whether you succeed or fail, your customers can provide all the information you’ll need to move on with even greater strength and confidence.

Your digital marketing goal may be to enhance your brand’s image, boost your reputation, generate leads, enhance conversion rates, appeal to a new/wider market or any number of combined objectives. Across the board, you can only hope to succeed if you know exactly what’s working and what isn’t from the perspective of your customers. Which digital channels do they prefer? What would they change about the UX or customer journey? What’s their preferred customer support channel? Is your current digital marketing mix working?

Otherwise, you could be basing your decisions on incomplete and potentially flawed information, along with your own non-objective insights. A digital marketing strategy based on factual evidence and honest customer opinions will always perform better than a campaign built around assumptions.

Conclusion…

Most businesses have the means and the resources necessary to conduct detailed win/loss analysis. More importantly, going directly to your customers for advice and insights simply makes sense.

Nevertheless, evidence suggests comparatively few show any real priority to post-decision interviews. Which is unfortunate, given their potential to produce invaluable data for near-limitless business-wide benefits.

Irrespective of the time and effort the project may entail, the results can and will justify your investment. It’s simply a case of adopting a carefully structured approach, in accordance with the practices and general guidelines outlined above.

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA SA