This article by SEO’brien completely changed my perspective on marketing when I read it.
Paraphrasing the article: Anybody with opposable thumbs can do marketing. Anyone can send out email blasts or do some AdWords work and have success. But being a marketer is different from doing marketing. Marketers look at the long-term. Marketers focus on growth. Marketers don’t look to just acquire customers, they look to convert the right customers.
But most importantly, marketers care about systems. They develop systems that bring about growth on the long-term.
How do you develop a system, you ask?
Data. Lots of data.
You can’t be afraid of numbers if you really want to be a marketer. Because numbers don’t lie. Numbers tell you what works and what doesn’t.
A good system has the following:
- A concrete, measurable goal
- Data to determine “what doesn’t work” and “what does work”
- A reference document of “what we tried”, “what doesn’t work”, “what does work”, and “what we might want to try next time”
A Case Study
So let’s talk about this more concretely. I’m working on two systems now and they’re interconnected: email and AdWords retargeting. I’m using email to build my retargeting audience in Google Analytics/AdWords.
On Wednesday this week, I sent out my first email campaign. There wasn’t a definite system behind previous emails sent by the company, so there’s no depository of what we’ve tried, what works, what doesn’t work, and what we might want to try next time. Same with retargeting campaigns. Never been done at my company before. So I have to start building both of them.
The idea is that after every campaign, I’ll take a few hours to look at the stats. Then I’ll compile a run-down of what happened and what those numbers mean. After the run-down, I’ll add some notes to any relevant “system” document. The initial run-down should take 1-4hrs depending on how thorough I want to be. Adding notes to the corresponding “system” document should take about 15 minutes.
There’s a ton of value in doing a proper analysis and report on the campaigns you run. It takes time. It seems like you could be “actually doing shit” instead of looking at graphs and wondering why the data came back the way it did. But that’s the equivalent of running with no idea of where you are or where you’re going. Work hard, but work smart too.
But the most valuable thing is going to be that extra step – those “email system” and “remarking system” documents. (Or “landing page system” doc, “Facebook ads” doc, “content system” doc. This applies to all facets of marketing. Systematize all the things!) These “system” docs only take an extra 15 minutes to maintain and they give you a way to glance at what works and what doesn’t when months go by and you completely forgot about “that one email campaign”.
Don’t try to remember everything. Let these documents do the remembering for you.
So those 3 things that make up a marketing system. Let’s get back to them. All systems have:
- A measurable goal
- Data to back up what works, what doesn’t, etc. (Those run-down reports for individual campaigns – example here)
- A reference document of what works, what doesn’t, etc. (“Email marketing system”, “Retargeting system”, “Landing page system” – example 1, example 2)
We talked about points 2 and 3 in our case study above. All we need now to have a proper system is a goal. Why are you sending emails to people in the first place? Why are you retargeting people with ads? Why are you writing blog posts?
Each individual campaign is going to have its own specific goals. But I find it helpful to give overarching systems a goal too. It helps me think about the big picture. And sometimes it gives me ideas for other things to work on or optimize.
The goal for this email system I made is to grow out retargeting ad audience. But just asking that question, “Why am I doing this?”, made me realize that sending this type of email is going to require a different strategy than a newsletter email. Know what that means? I need to make a new Google Doc. “Newsletter email system” coming up!
You knew it was coming. Open up Google Docs. Go on. We’re going to get you started on creating systems.
Ideally, you’ll start developing a system for what you’re already doing. Are you sending emails? Create an email marketing system. Pick one to start with, start building, and once you get the hang of it, you can just crank out docs for everything you plan on doing.
Having trouble figuring out what system to create? Here are some ideas:
- Content marketing
- Landing page
- Email marketing
- Newsletter email marketing
- Facebook ads
- AdWords retargeting
1. Measurable goal
Come up with a measurable goal for your system. For my email system, the goal is to build my retargeting audience (can be tracked and measured in the Google AdWords-Analytics shared library). For my retargeting system, the goal is to drive people to our “book a demo” landing page (page views can be tracked). If I were developing a landing page system, the goal could be to increase conversions (form submissions can be tracked). If I were developing a newsletter email system, maybe the goal would be to drive traffic to the site (again, page views can be tracked).
There’s certainly value in “building up your brand” and “getting exposure”, but I would steer away from making these unmeasurable things your goal. Especially when you’re new to the marketing game. You’ve gotta prove your value at the beginning – and hard numbers are the best way to do that. So set a goal that you can track and measure.
Also keep in mind that the goal should be closely related to the system. For example, the goal for my retargeting system is to drive traffic to a landing page – NOT to get people to sign up for a demo on the landing page. The traffic the page gets is directly traceable to the retargeting ads. But when people get to the landing page, it’s the landing page’s job to drive conversions. So “drive conversions” is a more appropriate goal for a landing page system.
2. Data to determine what does and doesn’t work
Whenever you publish a blog post, send an email campaign, launch a set of Facebook ads, anything, take a look at the data afterward. Then write a report (translation: create a new Google Doc and put stats/graphs/words in it).
If you’re stuck with where to start exactly ask yourself the following questions (or check out a report I did on one of my email campaigns and copy that shit to your own Google Drive!):
- What was your goal? How did you do?
- Does anything in your data surprise you? Why do you think that is?
- What went well?
- What can be improved?
- What might be a way to improve the things that need improvement?
- Ignoring the things you want to improve, what’s something you might want to experiment with next time around (just for funsies- I mean science)?
Don’t get discouraged if you see dismal results. And in the same way, don’t stress over “getting it right next time”. Experiment. Be playful. Stress is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.
Create that Google Doc. Do the thing.
3. A reference of past strategies/campaigns/whatever
This is so valuable and takes comparatively little time. Don’t skip it. Here’s what to include in these “systems” reference documents (or an example of one I created for my email marketing system – steal like an artist, yo!):
- What did you learn? Anything especially good? Anything especially bad?
- What do you want to try next time?
- What campaign/post/page/ad group has gotten the best results so far (gotten closest to your goal)?
And that’s it. Just do a quick overview. Don’t be thorough or perfectionistic about this. The reports will be as thorough as you like. This reference guide is just that – a reference. Something to glance over to see your progress as a marketer and how well you’re hitting the goals of the company.
As SEO’brien said, anyone with opposable thumbs can “do marketing”. But being a marketer is different. Having measurable goals, doing an in-depth run-down of campaigns, and then adding the main points to a master google doc of the overarching system is the key to being a real marketer.
Real marketing is about creating and maintaining systems. We’re architects. And we create things that consistently deliver results.
This post is a part of The Budding Marketer’s Guide to Marketing.