The bottom line – why nothing else (really, truly) matters

Lies, damn lies and statistics is a well known expression and whilst we don’t strictly adhere to the hostility of this line levelled at what is just an inert mathematical measure, it’s instructive that figures can get a bad rep if used in the wrong way.

We’d like to outline why you need to sweep away the negative thoughts and embrace measurements and assessment criteria as they are the lifeblood of any ambitious or growing company.

Picture this: your financial manager comes into see you one day saying we need to invest more money into a new marketing channel and when you ask:

‘how much?’

They reply ‘I don’t know’

I don’t think it would be likely you’d grant their wishes. Marketing no longer needs to be conducted in a ‘hit it and hope’ fashion.

So why, fundamentally, does the bottom line matter so much? To understand this, lets take a look at SMART objectives, KPIs and measuring performance.

SMART-en up your thinking

Smart goal setting concept

Any growing business needs to be closely and carefully monitored and managed.

As your business grows you need to understand where you are today and just as importantly, it allows you to set the scene for target setting to influence your strategy for future growth.

As most marketing managers will be able to tell you, the best types of objectives are the ones which are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).

A non-SMART objective is no objective as the saying goes.

KPIs are the business

Key Performance Indicators or KPIs, are the specific performance measures for your business that you choose as your benchmark. They are your key business drivers and by definition, the parts of the business you should choose to focus on. You should be able to determine what your KPIs are. Put simply, the performance of these has the greatest impact on your business success.

Which leads neatly onto the digital world and the need to be able to measure the commercial benefit for any strategic or tactical digital activity.

There’s an apocryphal story of an advertising man saying:

‘I know that 50% of my advertising is working (and by extension, 50% isn’t!), the only problem is, I don’t know which 50%!’

That is no longer the case, with digital we have an opportunity to determine with both accuracy and confidence exactly what works and what doesn’t. And in the digital world, you really should be aiming to cut out the stuff that’s proven not to work, and maximise the stuff that is.

It sounds desperately simple, doesn’t it? Which makes it all the more surprising that many digital agencies seem to be focus more on the visible symptoms rather than the underlying disease, metaphorically speaking. By this we mean being more concerned with marketing activity metrics rather than what these metrics mean to the commercial interests of the company. Which seems very odd to us.

Measures that allow you to perform

When it comes to results and metrics and smart objectives, it pays to consider a company which first and foremost measures the bottom line for our clients (and is judged accordingly). Which is also why one of our challenges, to you, is to ‘do more’ because by doing more, and measuring more, you are more likely to achieve a successful result.

Which is precisely why most of our illustrations and case studies measure the commercial difference our digital actions made to our clients, rather than anything else.

‘Result’, as you (and we) might say!

Why Open source is the future for SMEs

Do you find that paying for software licences is akin to being levied a tax on your success? Then, when you add more persons on your licence, as a result of your business growing, it increases your costs substantially. You’re not the only ones fed up with this approach.

There is a better way to engage SaaS these days, and that’s by finding a good open source solution. Open source software, as it sounds, is open and free to use, without any licensing costs – all one needs, is to adapt for your own particular circumstances and you are good to go!

You may be familiar with Open Source through well known applications like WordPress or Magento. For the software producer it’s a great way of getting the product out to the wider world quickly and allowing the market to improve, develop and add value to the product. That’s not to say that open source products are half finished – quite the opposite as most developers of open source are very fastidious about their quality control before exposing their baby to the scrutiny of their peers.

So, it’s no wonder that a lot of companies and business leaders are getting used to the advantages of Open Source and all that it offers.

Getting ‘match ready’ for the future

There’s another really important reason why Open Source software makes more sense for growing companies, and that’s to do with its transportability. Acquiring something via this route enables you to have a degree of flexibility that you wouldn’t nominally have with a licenced piece of software – because you have full ownership over your digital services and are not at the mercy of your software vendor. Open Source logo

Often, customers of licensed software, having invested so much money in developing and adapting the system to their needs over the years are really loathed to walk away, even when the advantages the system gave them initially, have dissipated.

Organisations will often justify continuing to pay money out hand over fist, even when the software is not providing an ideal solution. We call this scenario ‘The Golden Shackles’ and is akin to holding on to a large helium balloon which is taking your further and further away from the earth. At what point do you decide to let go and fall back down to earth with a bump? When do you decide that the spiraling costs and limitations aren’t worth the candle, and you are much better off going to an open source supplier?

That’s a difficult one and one that only you could possibly answer, but let us outline some of the benefits you will find from open source software which might benefit a growing and ambitious business:

  • The quality of software produced by the Open Source community sometimes exceeds that produced by purely commercial organisations
  • It is suggested by some authors that open source is more robust, more reliable, less complicated and more error free than their equivalent commercial counterparts, as they are subject to much more collaboration throughout their lifespans and are developed by developers with strong technical skills and extensive peer connections
  • With the more popular softwares, there exists an extensive community of developers creating plugins and extensions which adds automatically to the range and scope of the software

So, we’d recommend you took a closer look at Open Source for your business growth plans. We have!

Ergo Digital’s own open source software Omny Link, has already been used by a wide range of businesses to improve their marketing and performance. And, unlike a commercially funded product, it doesn’t hobble your ambitions nor tax you on your success: the price you see is what you pay from the start to the end of your licence.

We can setup a free trial for you so you can give it a go for yourselves – just call the team on 01962 605 000 to discuss in more detail.

How to Wreck Seasonal Digital Marketing Campaigns

Seasonal Digital Marketing TipsAs we celebrate the Christmas season it again leaves us looking forward to 2013, but not

before we offer our final challenge of 2012.

When it comes to seasons, it is our view that all businesses have them. We were reminded of this at the beginning of December when the same client who emails us every year about this time did so again: “It’s a bit quiet on our website, performance is down.”

We replied: “Well, it is December, and for the last six years your performance is worst in December. Not many customers are shopping for your services in the Christmas season. So performance is down on November, but not December 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006.” Continue reading “How to Wreck Seasonal Digital Marketing Campaigns”

Discovering Your Online Business KPIs for Marketing Optimisation

Online Marketing Business KPIs If we were to make two wagers with visitors to this blog, we’d suggest these two things:

  1. You have measurements in place of virtually every activity you do online, yet
  2. You are still struggling to discover which ones really make a difference

And that’s the challenge: It’s not about the data – it’s all there if you want it. Everything is to hand, BUT the more hay in the stack, the harder it is finding the needle!

Big Data is exactly that: big, ugly, unforgiving and frustrating. So, how can you slice through the fog? How can you discover your online business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?

Last month we covered some important digital marketing KPIs and examples of businesses who’ve got it wrong. Today we’re going to look at how you can find them.

Living in the Real World

We find real world analogies useful when discussing online for two reasons. Firstly, because when we can picture things in our mind’s eye, it becomes easier to make sense of it, and secondly Continue reading “Discovering Your Online Business KPIs for Marketing Optimisation”

5 Keys to Getting the Best Performance From Your SEO Supplier

The aim of this article is not to downgrade SEO Agencies, or indeed give the impression that search optimisation is a waste of time. The issue it addresses is that most clients and businesses need to better understand how organic listings can be setup successfully, not just an income stream for a SEO agency or freelancer.

1. Use Analytics to Measure Your Performance (Google is Free)

The first challenge is to measure your traffic. If you don’t measure the visitors to your site, how can you then work out whether Search Engine Optimisation is working for you?

Whilst there are many good walkthroughs for setting up Google Analytics, and even some from Google themselves, the reality is that any web developer or designer can set this free service up with a minimum of fuss.

The next step is to login and take a look around. Too many businesses who have analytics never look at it. If your website is a serious part of your business, then you need to take it seriously too. Get to know Analytics, and in time, you will LOVE it, not because it’s beautiful, but because it can do beautiful things to your business performance!

2. (Virtually) Ignore Search Ranking Reports

This is a little contentious, but strikes at the heart of SEO. The old claim of ‘Page 1’ ranking or performance can miss out the two most important first steps:

  • The relevance of the keyword phrase: getting a good ranking is great, but not for terms which bear no relevance to your products or services
  • The popularity of the search terms: there is no use getting excited about ranking for a term no-one uses!

We are not saying that ranking reports are useless, but merely that they need to know their place, which is after ensuring that the keywords being targeted are both relevant and popular.

3. Understand The Traffic a SEO Agency Actually Delivers

Once you access Analytics, you can quickly find your ‘Organic’ traffic into the business. We have three ‘hats’ into which we put the keyword phrases we measure:

  • Branded – keyword phrases to do directly with the business brand, branded services or people who work for the business
  • Relevant – keyword phrases which do not mention the brand, but are relevant to the services and products supplied
  • Irrelevant – keyword phrases which are irrelevant to your brand and business and which you (mainly) accidentally rank for

The ONLY category which your SEO should be working in is the ‘Relevant‘ category. The ‘Branded’ phrases you will end up ranking for regardless, it is something that Google is fantastic at doing for you. The ‘Irrelevant’ phrases are to be ignored, if your SEO points to these, then just ask them to focus on the business aims as these are of no value to you.

4. Measure the Traffic and Use it to Value Your SEO Efforts

SEO Performance ChartHere’s an example graph from a spreadsheet you can download here (the numbers have been modified as this is merely an illustration).

Free SEO Valuation Template




The spreadsheet illustrates clearly how we can then take this ‘Relevant’ traffic and work out the value of it to our business.

The guesswork is now gone, we actually understand the value of the traffic.

To clarify, we go through these steps:

  • Make sure we are viewing organic keywords only
  • Split out the keywords into their categories (see above)
  • Measure them over the course of time (seek growth)
  • Value them based on visit and/or enquiry

Then, we have something to work with, and can evaluate the performance of our SEO agency which will help us lead the process in the right direction.

5. Make Sure You Measure Correctly!

Track Your Visits Correctly

So, what happened in the top image, did the business in question upset Google and get ‘whacked’? Or, was it an update which affected rankings? Perhaps the site changed dramatically?

No, it was not an external factor causing the drop in organic traffic. In this instance it was that the client was running a Google AdWords campaign and didn’t tag the links correctly into the website.

So the reporting was bundling organic and paid traffic together and giving the impression that the overall traffic was really strong. Worse, it was also reporting that there were rankings on many of the target keyword phrases when it was the advertising, not the SEO, achieving this. It was only when we got involved that this error was corrected.

For any business, the key is to set a long term SEO objective for your business – if natural traffic can win you business, then SEO is an excellent channel to market. But only if tackled properly and effectively. If you need some help, just call us on 01962 605 000, or read more about our marketing services as we think SEO is great, but only successful as a part of the overall digital marketing mix.

The Pointlessness of Real-Time Analytics

Real Time AnalyticsIt is easy to get seduced by real-time numbers. When you work on a website, all the visitors are remote, often relegated to numbers in a spreadsheet or weekly report. So real time analytics can seem like the perfect answer – you can see what visitors are doing RIGHT NOW on your website.

Look, there they are, in this specific millisecond… the region they are in, the device they are using, the page they are on, where they came from and more. It attracts, it engages, it hypnotises.

Pause… wait a minute… rewind! Before we get drawn in, we need to better understand the value. Continue reading “The Pointlessness of Real-Time Analytics”

The Most Important Digital Marketing KPIs

Digital Marketing KPIs Performance MeasuresWhat is worse than not measuring anything on a website? When you use the wrong measures!

Most business owners know they need to analyse their AdWords and Analytics, but normally they choose the wrong ‘key performance indicators’, and end up measuring rainfall with a thermometer (or the digital equivalent).

The challenge is that there is such a range of measures, it can lead to confusion as you can’t necessarily choose them all. Continue reading “The Most Important Digital Marketing KPIs”

The Truth About Google Enhanced Campaigns for Adwords

PPC WarningThose who use Pay Per Click a lot, have got used to work-around solutions to try to squeeze the best value out of this medium. After all, that’s what optimisation is all about.

One of the most frustrating areas has been managing mobile advertising – if we wanted a specific mobile message and campaign we had to setup a separate Mobile campaign, with separate adverts and landing pages.

That was, until now (wait for fanfare) and the joy of ‘Enhanced’ campaigns from Google. Now you can manage devices, adverts, sitelink changes and conversion types all in one place. Continue reading “The Truth About Google Enhanced Campaigns for Adwords”

Successful Content Marketing: Think Like a Journalist, Then Apply SEO

Now WhatSo, it’s likely that someone has recently leaned over the ‘digital’ table to you and whispered a sweet nothing in your ear…

‘Content Marketing, it’s the future of SEO, dontcha know?’

In fact, we’d go a little further than that – content marketing is SEO right now and, on top of that, it’s also a key driver for your future digital leads and new business generation. Or rather, it should be.

So, the challenge that most businesses face is now not all about whether it’s a good idea, it’s how to deliver a viable solution that works. This process starts with a joint content vision, which  Continue reading “Successful Content Marketing: Think Like a Journalist, Then Apply SEO”

Why Does Your Site Not Convert?

Electricity ConverterFor virtually every business with a website in the world, the one measure which makes the most immediate and substantial change to their fortunes is their website conversion rate.

Yet few businesses spend much attention on improving conversion rates through optimisation of their website and therefore they lose the one single area where they could generate an immediate improvement to their profitability.

So, here are some simple tips to get started on… things you can take away with you and evaluate your website: Continue reading “Why Does Your Site Not Convert?”

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