Take advantage of online marketing opportunities by optimizing your investments, said Michael Myles, MBA, CEO of Active Internet Marketing, at the Behavioral Health Leadership Summit. He said measuring your practices objectively will help you decide what works.
"You don't just measure for the sake of measuring," Myles said. "You measure to improve on what you're doing."
He suggested looking at internet marketing in terms of a potential buyer moving downward through a funnel: the top of the funnel is where a potential buyer is doing research about his or her needs; the middle represents establishing criteria where the buyer asks, "Do I need your services?"; and the bottom is the final consideration for making a purchasing decision. The funnel concept can help shape your strategy. For example, Myles said, don't make outbound sales calls to a potential customer until he or she has reached the bottom of the funnel and is ready to make a decision.
Myles also suggested other marketing optimization best practices. Additional tips can be found on http://www.slideshare.net/mylesmg/an-internet-marketing-optimization-primer.
1. Use the same words and vocabulary that your market uses. Clear communication is key.
2. Create a hypothesis for your marketing activities and test it against key performance indicators. For example, will the call to action on your site have more impact if you use a red clickable button that says "Call us now"? Does red offer more conversion than green? Test it.
3. In your testing, allow enough time to gather significant data. Don't rush to a quick conclusion. Also, include user feedback--possibly by contracting for an automated site tool that could grab instant information from site visitors with a quick poll question and radio buttons. For example, many sites ask a yes/no question about whether the user found the information he or she was looking for.
"It seems like that would be pushy, but your market wants to tell you what they want," Myles said. "It's not pushy. It's not prying. They want to tell you how they feel."
4. Set measurable goals that will produce hard numbers, such as cost per acquisition, cost per lead, cost per visit, total traffic and return on investment.
"Total read time is my favorite measure of all because it tells you how awesome your site is," he said.
5. Devise your value proposition to describe what you offer, why it's different and why it works.
"The sales pitch part of your website should have a value proposition," he said.
6 Create buyer personas--that is, dossiers of fictional people who meet the average attitudes, behaviors and demographics of your optimal buyers. For example, create a persona for a 35-year old woman who has children and works part-time. Fill in the details of who she is and what she wants from your organization. When marketing, keep those "real" people in mind and act as if you're selling to them specifically. And there might be several personas for your organization.
"Split them up by their attitude, their behavior and what might motivate them," he said.
7. There are four types of website pages: thought leadership; branding; conversion; and post-conversion. For example, your blog would be thought leadership. Invest in optimizing each of those types with high quality photos and the right messages.
"Your homepage is for branding; that's your sales pitch," he said. "And you only have one homepage. Hit them hard on your homepage. Otherwise, they're just going to bounce."
He suggested that other pages, such as blogs, will answer visitors' deeper questions and establish credibility. A reasonable read-time on your blog might be about one to two minutes, so be sure there is enough content to keep them reading and to provide real answers.
8. Realize that social media is a branding tactic and use it that way.
9. If you think pay-per-click marketing is too expensive, first decide how much you're willing to spend per click. It works, but there's a cost proposition. Track your return on investment metrics such as click-through rate, cost-per-lead and conversion.
Myles said display advertising online should be used to build a stronger brand and top-of-mind recognition. But just recently, new Google restrictions have limited ads for addiction treatment. Your ads cannot be "remarketed" and carry over to a visitor's subsequent online activity. In other words, if a visitor clicks on your ad or searches for your treatment center, your ad cannot carry over to other sites that the visitor clicks on later.
"We used to be able to do remarketing. Well, it turns out addiction is kind of a private issue so Google shut down remarketing just last month," he said.
10. Optimize for the visitor, not the search engine. Myles said he knows of programs that have gone out of business because their marketing was not driven toward the visitor. Be careful about choosing language that might be misleading.
11. Don't place responsibility for your website on the IT staff. Instead, it must be crafted by the marketing team to optimize the content and user-facing experience.