How A Simple Excel Spreadsheet Can Transform Your Business

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Oh No, Smoke Is Billowing From The Marketing Engine!

Comprehensive data tracking is something I preach to my customers on a regular basis. If you’re not analyzing your results and failures, you have no basis of how to move forward in your marketing and advertising efforts. If you don’t know what works, and what doesn’t, this blind approach will end up costing you a lot of time, energy, and precious marketing budget dollars.

Lately,  I have had a number of new clients that tell me they are putting hundreds and even thousands of dollars a month into Google Adwords and similar services, and have no idea what results or gains they are reaping from it. Beyond that, they are using a “set it and go” approach, where they have placed a single ad in a particular market and just run with it.

From a marketing perspective, this is the equivalent of  blindfolding yourself, taping your nose shut, and stuffing cotton in your ears.  Worst of all, it’s not sustainable.  At some point your money is going to run out, leads dry up and you’re left to start again.  Or like George Santayana would say, “…condemned to repeat it.”

Good News!  Your Transmission is Fine, You Only Need An Oil Change!

There are simple fixes to unblindfold yourself and your business.  A / B Testing is useful start.  Just like it sounds, you have an “A” and a “B”.

Here’s a quick example: In your next direct mail ad piece you run two versions. “A” is a call to action like, “Save 20% off with this coupon.”  “B” is a call to action like, “Receive a FREE widget with purchase.” You distribute them at random within a zip code. As the coupons roll in, open that spreadsheet software and record the results!  I guarantee you’ll gain a lot more insight into your market with this method, and have a lot more focus in future promotions.

I had a client who sold a fairly expensive service.  They had been running ads that offered $200 off the regular price. Through A/B testing I showed them how 10% off worked much better than offering $200 off.  The $200 off ad was actually the better deal, but it was driving potential customers away.  Why?  Simply because discounting $200 off immediately triggered sticker shock in their minds.  It wasn’t until we ran the ad again, this time using 2 versions and tracking our results, that they realized the mistake.

Of course, this approach isn’t limited to print ads. It can be done with any advertising form you chose.  In fact, electronic mediums make this much easier.  Try it on your next banner ad, Twitter or Facebook update, YouTube video, email campaign or whatever means you use to advertise.

It doesn’t have to be an offer either.  Why not A/B test with different wording, images, or color scheme?  In fact, I’m generally not a fan of discounts.  See why, HERE.

Then there’s what I like to call the “cocktail reception approach.”  Just like hors d’oeuvres, you try a little of one thing, and a little of another.  (You wouldn’t want to dive right into the cheese platter and take down 20 or 30 pieces, because you would ruin your appetite and miss out on that delicious lobster dip that everyone is raving about!)

In essence, you put a smaller percentage into a few different marketing channels, and see what pans out.  For instance,  you put 10% of your annual budget into radio & television, 10% into internet banners, and 10% into direct mail.  Once you establish what is working, and what isn’t, you can streamline your process and put the remaining 70% into something you now know will get results.  Each dollar you spend now becomes that much more effective!

When marketing on things like Adwords, where you have the ability to easily change your ad in real time, this is an incredibly easy solution to stop waste and generate higher customer traffic in a shorter amount of time. Find what works, then go with it.   Don’t go with it and wait for results.

Try something old.  Try something new.  Just don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  By the way, you don’t need to follow what the rest of the pack is doing. Outside of the box thinking has helped some of Shake’s clients yield their best results.

You’ll Get A Lot More Mileage With Synthetic!

There’s no limit to what you can or should track, and it should be an ever-evolving process.  Demographics, zip codes, times of day people respond to your tweets or facebook posts, time spent on pages of your website or reading your email newsletter, peak store traffic times….these (and so much more) are all things you can add to that spreadsheet.

And on the web, with the advent of great tools like Google Analytics, email marketing programs like MailChimp and Constant Contact, and all the social networking tools out there, the knowledge of your customer pool can grow exponentially.

As your knowledge increases so will your business, that’s a guarantee.  I hope you’ll try these simple tips the next time you are devising an advertising plan.  I’d love to hear about them, so don’t forget to share you experiences with me!

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