A while ago we had a client who was at a fairly early stage with their marketing efforts. They had basically no traffic, no social media followers or fans to speak of and just a handful of email subscribers. Their blog was a mess and barely readable.
After a few days which we spent on analyzing and optimizing their efforts in social media to enable them to gain more followers – and eventually, more traffic – the client asked us, why we would not be doing A/B testing or segmenting their subscribers to be able to send different messages to different subscriber groups.
The simple answer was: Because it would not have made sense. It does not make sense to A/B test anything if your sample (website visitors) is too small. Or in other words, how can you expect to get relevant results from A/B testing a landing page, when you do not have any traffic (aka website visitors)? A/B testing is statistics and a statistic where around 20 website visitors get to see different sites, and you ask with which version a higher percentage will convert will rarely show much difference in the results and what you can see in differences can be totally due to chance. Thus performing A/B testing without a relevant number of website visitors does not answer the question you had in the first place: Which site converts better.
The same goes for other more advanced marketing methods that concentrate on optimizing something that does already works, like sending out different emails to specific segments of your subscriber list, or testing different headlines for the content your tweet. Without any followers or subscribers this simply will not help. You will waste time on processes which are doomed to fail from the start.
The problem with marketing often is, that to do some of the more fancy stuff; you first need to get the basics right. And to be successful with your marketing you need to understand two things:
- You need to start at the beginning
- Your marketing needs to develop over time – depending on the stage you are in
A ton of marketing advice sounds great but does not help you as an entrepreneur in any way, for the simple reason that it is written for another stage in the marketing process. Have you ever read some of these case studies of huge brands and how they utilize their brand reputation and social media followers to get a campaign off the ground? And you think Perfect, in 10 years when my business has acquired a relevant number of followers, or when my marketing budget includes some money for advertising, I am going to have such a great campaign everybody writes about, too.
But right now, you are most likely facing entirely different problems: Get more followers for your social accounts, get more traffic to your site and get SOME conversions. Once you got this right, you are ready for the next step, and you will need to take it to get your marketing off the ground.
Burning your fingers at advanced marketing before you have your basics right is even dangerous. What might happen is that your data tells you something does not work for you, when all you needed to do was smoothing out some bumps in your marketing basics.
Here are some examples of what you need to do before you focus on something further on in the marketing process:
1. Before you can grow followers you need to be worth to be followed
You cannot expect to grow an audience when you are not providing something that is worth to be listened to. Many people wonder why their follower numbers do not grow, but they simply are not worth to be followed. And most methods you can use to increase your followers will most likely fail.
Failure, in this case, is not due to using the wrong methods or using methods in a wrong way. Failure is simply due to the fact that nobody wants to follow you.
Before you waste your time with trying to get people to follow you, make sure you provide something with your social accounts which the people you want to follow you would like to get. Only then can you focus on how to get them to follow you.
2. Before you can target the right people – you have to be clear, who your target audience is, where they are, what they are interested in and what they do
When building an audience you need to get your targeting right, otherwise, all your efforts might be for nothing. But to be able to target the right people you need to gather as much information as you can about them. Your audience is not likely to be highly targeted, if you do not even know who you are targeting.
3. Before you will get shares, you need an audience
Before you can expect that someone shares your content in social media, you need an audience. This audience can be small. But if no one knows your content is there, no one will share it. There are two ways to solve this problem: Either you grow some followers (=an audience) in social media for yourself, or you find another way to reach an audience, which will then share it for you. Examples for audiences which you did not grow yourself is the audience of a blog where you publish a guest blog post.
4. Before you can expect traffic from social media you need an audience
If you have no followers to speak of in social media, you cannot expect to see much traffic coming from there. Again the exception is if you manage to get a hold on someone else’s audience/followers.
Learn step-by-step how to drive traffic and generate leads from social media with our ebook “The Social Traffic Code!”
5. Before your website visitors can convert you need website visitors (aka traffic)
There is a lot you can do for conversion optimization. But the first step is always to reach an audience and to get this audience to your website. Only the can you talk about getting more conversions out of the same amount of website visitors. And A/B testing is only a small part of this. Optimizing your targeting is another.
6. Before you can complain about bad click through rates for your newsletter – you need people to actually open the newsletter
With newsletters it usually is this way: First you need signups for the newsletter, and then you need to get people to open your newsletter. And only then can you think about getting people to click finally on a link in the newsletter.
Marketing is a process and not an event. You need to take one step after the other. If you start with a later step on your path without getting the necessary preceding steps right, you are up for great disappointment. And if your metrics tell you something unexpected, sometimes you need to step back and rethink if maybe something in the marketing process before the measured step was not properly done.
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