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Internet marketing is all relative

As I write this, I am in a cab in my way to a speaking event for the New Jersey Advertising Club in central New Jersey. I wasn’t planning to take a cab–I had my train ticket and was all ready to go, but the trains were canceled. So I had to scramble to figure out how to make the event on time, stressing over whether all the attendees would show up to no speaker. And the cab driver was confused about how to get there–constantly calling his dispatcher and getting lost. Sounds like a terrible morning for me, right? Yes, only if you don’t compare it to anyone else. For example, the reasons the trains were canceled was because a woman was struck and killed by a train this morning, so I am definitely having a better day than at least one person. I don’t know about you, but thinking about that poor woman and her family and friends puts my petty troubles in perspective. It’s all relative, isn’t it? So is Internet marketing. So if there are no rules for what is success, how can you reduce your stress over how you are doing in digital marketing?

Often, people are dying to know how they are doing in Internet marketing. “What conversion rate should my Web site have?” “How do I know what the right clickthrough rate is for my ad?” “How many visitors should I be getting from search?”

These are all good questions but they have no good answers. Because the answer is that it is all relative. There are no best practices that tell you the answer. You can’t look it up in Google. It doesn’t matter what your competitors’ numbers are.

The only thing that matters is your own numbers. The right answer to all of those questions is “A little bit better that yesterday’s.” You are striving for continuous improvement. Conversion rate, clickthrough rate, visitors–it doesn’t matter what metric–should always be getting better.

It doesn’t happen in a straight line. Metrics always vary. They always go up and down. But you need to correlate the actions you take with the results that you get. Each time you change something–anything–you should know beforehand what numbers you expect to improve. And then you look for that improvement afterward. If you see it, that’s great. Do more of that. If not, it is time to try something else–possibly the same idea executed differently or a completely different idea.

But all success is relative. You are constantly comparing what you see now to what you saw before and making a new decision each day on what to do next.

Oh, and yes, I did make it to the event. New Jersey Transit even gave me a free ticket for my trouble, even though it isn’t their fault that the trains had to be canceled. Because I always expect something to go wrong, I had left early for the event and I worked my way through whatever happened and it all came out OK, with as little stress as possible under the circumstances. If you similarly take the right approach in Internet marketing, you’ll succeed and lower your stress at the same time.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.
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