Chapter 19:

Everyday applications

We gathered a long list of everyday applications for using our model. We hope it will give you or your colleagues something to think about, even helping you find the right way towards redemption.

If you're a campaign manager #

If your title or role is a campaign manager, it suggests a few things. Firstly, your company does quite a bit of marketing and it also suggests that you should be working very closely with the product or service managers. Most campaign managers suck because they forget to do their homework before they go to their agency and expect that responsibility can be outsourced.

Your responsibility cannot be outssourced.
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It can't.

If you want to stop sucking, prepare. Create a system (or copy the one from the previous chapter) to get your facts and data right, so you will understand whether you've been successful. If someone tells you that "Sorry, we cannot get that number" they are either lazy or incompetent. Or both. If you prepare your campaigns correctly then at the very least you should be able to get your campaign results.

Too many campaign managers don't really manage much, they're just present on e-mail threads.

When you have a large mass of data, whip out Excel or have someone do it. Calculate the cost per acquisition (CPA) and the cost per click (CPC). Remember to add fixed costs, not just the price of sending something. We've seen millions wasted in sending pointless messages that cost more to the company than they bring in.

Go through the data, go through our checklist and do the math. You represent the money. You have the right to ask for results or at least know whether you had some or not. Visitors are not your goal. You are trying to sell something, that should be your measure of success. Even if you are working for a charity, people spending money is what you want, they behave just exactly the same way on your site as well. In this case, you are not special.

Keep and learn from the best 25% of your campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and drop the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly.

Never assume someone is taking care of your responsibility.
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Never assume that someone else is handling the stuff you should be handling. You can't measure anything if you haven't made sure that the campaign is tagged properly. The better prepared and in control of the campaigns you are managing the easier it is for everyone to work with you.

Have you thought about your segmentation? Do you know which customers buy more often than others? Could you increase your average order value? How do those customer life cycles work and how do you react to them?

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If you're a CEO #

Many CEOs suck because they think that they should know everything and not just demand results. Having someone tell you that our campaign drove a trillion people to our site shouldn't make you proud of your workers. You should keep your cool and only be interested in the return on investment. Those users might be completely useless.

CEOs only need to know the information that pertains to driving strategy (are they going in the right direction?). They have other people to concentrate on improving performance, the CEO just needs to know if his hires are doing the right thing. Have dashboards made for the key items and have someone follow them regularly. The reports or meetings should not last more than 10 minutes a week and should contain simple, high level numbers: total sales, marketing spend, return on investment, cost per acquisition, cost per click, total conversion rate, profit per marketing channel and all those numbers trended over time so we can see where the business is going.

Also, don't hire an engineer to do a marketing/sales job. It's not about technical prowess but sales. If the salesman happens to be an engineer, good for him, but you want a salesman. Make sure your team members and marketing department understand their roles, their responsibilities and what they should do in marketing projects. These lessons apply to all marketing efforts, not just digital.

Always question your online marketing performance.
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If you're a CEO of a bigger company, question the performance of your online marketing. It should be improving constantly. The model is very simple: Keep and learn from the best 25% of campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25% of campaigns. Demand that your marketing and sales keeps going through the data regularly. We've seen savings of millions of euros from a single corporation where we just killed the poorly performing 25%.

Going through the data will cost pennies compared to the savings you will make. Your marketing team can use the same dashboard you are using with the traffic lights to immediately spot the red lights stopping your business from getting where you want it to go.

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If you're an advertising agency #

Advertising agencies suck because they're afraid of the results. When agencies were in their prime they brought amazing results. Now technology advances mean that anyone can do advertising. The competition is so high that results are not guaranteed. They are afraid of showing failure to clients, which is understandable - it shouldn't be the ad agencies responsibility to handle the success but to deliver the best possible result they can with the tools they have.

When designing an online campaign, the designers should be very aware of the same things they do with offline materials. Is the product any good? Can the product be purchased? Where are we driving the recipients of this message? Compared to a grocery store, websites are massively complicated. Guiding someone to the shop door isn't enough anymore, you'll have to point to a specific area, even a specific product. Having a web store with a poor conversion rate is like running a shop with the cash register in the middle of a minefield surrounded by a moat full of electric eels. No one will buy from it even if the shop would be popular otherwise (probably to see the moat).

Agencies suck because they're afraid to say No.
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Also, ad agencies suck because they are afraid to say "No". The client might not know what a particular CRM segment wants to read in their e-mail, or how the tone of voice works when doing product marketing. In online marketing, sometimes less is more - if the client wants to put more products on that marketing message, say no and suggest to make two messages instead.

Last, if you're doing lot of marketing for your client, look through the data. Call someone for help if you don't know how to do it yourself. Figure out the facts and costs, because you can save your client a lot of money and make that client much happier in the long run. The mantra is simple: Keep and learn from the best 25% campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill worst 25% of the campaigns. Keep doing this regularly and you'll be doing the best job you can for your clients.

Agencies also suck because they often hide the truth. They hide the truth with nice looking numbers in presentations that aren't put into context. They might say "We reached 80% of the market with our display ad campaigns."

So what? How much did the campaigns make in terms of revenue? customers? And at what cost? How does that all compare to other forms of online marketing?

Not only that, they also keep polishing the lie, teaching the client to stop asking the relevant questions and just bask in the glory. Awards are the pinnacle of this evolution, a system of an industry self-rewarding itself based on their own standards, not results. Luckily the facts are slowly gnawing their way back to the consciousness and the award panels have begun to take them into consideration as well.

We're all for winning prizes and awards but we would like to get ours for the right reasons.

The Ad agency that wins will be the one that gets over their fear of results and has open conversations about how to improve them.

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If you're a digital agency #

Digital agencies suck because they think they know what they're doing. Usually they know a few parts of the job really well, but are missing out on the big picture. Like all other vendors they assume that the client has everything under control. The client might be talking of nice statistics, but are you really sure that they really even know what they're talking about?

Secondly, digital agencies are full of rocket scientists who want to do the latest thing they saw in that really good techie blog site that won the FWA site of the day award last Tuesday; Enough with the gimmicks. If you can justify your new tech through results, go right ahead, but you really shouldn't be doing pilot projects with your clients money unless your client has agreed to do a pilot project. Failure will be tolerated if all parties are aware that this is a test. Just like a hairdresser might have a cheaper cut from a trainee, but at least you know that it's a haircut from a trainee.

Trying out new technology can be very expensive. Ask for a discount.
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If you are doing large quantities of marketing get the data. Find out the facts and learn from them. Your gut might be telling you a lot of things but the only thing that matters is whether your clients customers are doing what you want them to do or not. It's very simple in the end: results matter and if you can't show results or improvement, you really don't have any right to be in the game. The rule of thumb is simple: Keep and learn from the 25% best performing campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly.

Keep your clients focused on what matters, improving their business. Doing the simple things well can lead to better results and better business with you. What we do know for sure is that it is much easier to keep the client's eye on the ball when you have a clear and concise goal.

Take all your projects for the client for the last year and go through the data. Has your CTR and conversion improved? Have you showed your client the business case of improving the conversion? Do you know it?

Like advertising agencies, digital agencies also suck because they often mislead their clients. They get lazy with analytics and measuring, or are unable to get the client to think through the numbers. They just want the money and are happy with that. Digital agencies have always been the little brother in the agency field and it's learned bad behaviour from its older brothers.

Trying not to make mistakes usually leads to mistakes.
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The digital agency that wins (like the ad agency before them), will be the one that gets over their fear of results and has open conversations about how to improve them.

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If you're a publisher #

Don't just take our word for it. One man marketing machine Seth Godin wrote this and we do believe he's cracked it. This man isn't an analytics specialist yet he displays uncommon good sense with the metrics he recommends you follow. Not only do we agree with his choice of metrics we agree with the order. Notice he starts by talking about revenue per 1000 visitors? And cost per visit? Funnily enough he is one of the most successful people in the marketing industry. Is there a connection we can learn from here?

From Seth's Blog;

It's tempting to believe that any website can become a perpetual motion machine of profit. But before you start one, invest in one or go to work for one, a few things to ask:

What's the revenue per visit? (RPM). For every thousand visitors, how much money does the site make (in ads or sales)?

What's the cost of getting a visit? Does the site use PR or online ads or affiliate deals to get traffic? If so, what's the yield?

Is there a viral co-efficient? Existing visitors can lead to new visitors as a result of word of mouth or the network effect. How many new visitors does each existing user bring in? (Hint: it's less than 1. If it were more than 1, then every person on the planet would be a user soon.) This number rarely stays steady. For example, at the beginning, Twitter's co-efficient was tiny. Then it scaled to be one of the largest ever (Oprah!) and now has started to come back down to Earth.

What's the cost of a visitor? Does the site need to add customer service or servers or other expenses as it scales?

Are there members/users? There's a big difference between drive-by visits and registered users. Do these members pay a fee, show up more often, have something to lose by switching?

What's the permission base and how is it changing? The only asset that can be reliably built and measured online is still permission. Attention is scarce, and permission is the privilege to deliver anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who want to get them. Permission is easy to measure and hard to grow.

Do the math on successful companies online and compare it to those that are struggling and these six metrics will help you understand the difference. For example, if the RPM is less than the cost of getting a new visitor, you've got trouble. If the site is relying on fads and occasional PR but isn't building a permission base, that's trouble too.

The good news is that each of them can be changed if you're alert and willing to do surgery on the business model and structure of the site.

The ideal structure is a business that's a platform, not merely a place to stop by. Once people move in and become members, they're hesitant to leave, they share permission over time, they tell their friends, their RPM goes up and the cost of acquiring and hosting members goes down. The real question is: are you on that path?"

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If you're a web analyst #

Analysts suck when they become report monkeys. It's easy to create reports on data but what businesses need are insights. If you're a web analyst (either from the agency side or from the business side) you need to provide insights to senior management so that they can learn from the work you're doing and improve the business.

Analysts suck when they become report monkeys.
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It's your job to help design and provide the traffic light system. It's also your job to make sure the data is clean and has good integrity. As we've said elsewhere you too should keep and learn from the best 25% campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly and check this daily (or set-up alerts to email/SMS you when a problem happens).

That said though your biggest job is to provide answers to business questions and help steer the business in the right direction.

You first need to find out what the business questions are. That means getting out and about and talking to your colleagues and peers. Find out what can make or save the business money. Find out what the hard part is about running the business. Talk to the different silos. What can you help the sales people do better? What about the marketing people? The IT people? The customer care people? The Management? (Especially the management).

Once you have business questions start getting answers from all the data sources at your disposal. It's not just about web analytics it's about competitive trends, CRM data, BI data - anything you can get your hands on that puts your numbers into context.

Once you have answers it's then your job to communicate the answers as best you can to the people who can take action on your findings. Follow the actions up. Did Johnson do what he said he'd do or did he nod, smile and agree then get back to reading his paper as soon as you'd left the room?

Where possible at all times monetise your findings in a language your business understands. If you work for BMW and have a bounce rate of 90% don't say "We have a bounce rate of 90%", say 9/10 people leave our site without doing anything and its costs us 4 BMWs a week. That will smack home to everyone how important your finding is.

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If you're running a web store #

Web store managers suck because they don't own their store. They are acting more like cashiers in a coffee shop compared to the person responsible for running the store. In most cases there are just too many people handling the running of the store, while no one is not personally responsible for the performance. They seem to think the web store is just an IT system like a cash register and is unchangeable. They suck because they think the world and their shop is as good it can get and if they want to improve it, they'll have to get a new IT system.

Web store managers suck if they don't own their store.
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If you are running a web store that sells any sort of products people actually need, want to buy, and they are priced reasonably, you can make a lot of money. Either by just performing well and getting a raise or understanding how you got those results then starting your own company to make more money. You will have to get started first though, it will not happen immediately. If your explanation is that you have no data available or that your analytics system is not installed yet, you're not doing a very good job. When marketing comes and asks you about the performance, you should be able to answer them with simple, numerical facts instead of "Yeah, sure, it's working pretty well."

Do you understand your conversion rate? Can you list all marketing channels and their profits per channel within your domain? Is your organic traffic growing? Is it seasonal? We don't call web stores ecosystems for nothing. They are living, breathing things that must be nurtured, developed and most of all disciplined just like you would bring up a child. Otherwise you'll end up with one of those wailing banshees who pester old folks.

If your IT department or someone else tells you that you cannot measure your traffic and purchases, or your logistics says that they are unable to give you real-time supply data, tell them that we sent a man to the moon and back over 40 years ago and the phone in his pocket has more calculating power than all computers put together in 1972. You cannot do your job without that data.

When you have that data, keep an eye on it. Stay vigilant with marketing as well, make sure they come to you when they are compiling their data and make sure they are. Remind them to learn from the best 25% of campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly and make sure others are not slacking either.

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If you're a product base company #

Companies who sell products suck because they still seem to think that they have control over when, where, how and what price they sell their products at. Customers on the web making purchases are very cultivated in saving money. Coupon sites are a massive business and for good reason. Everybody is and always will be looking for a bargain. It's not about one product ad any more. It's about comparing that product across seventeen different locations at ten different prices, with different peer reviews all of which impact the buyer.

Many product marketing companies have set up their own shops and failed miserably. The online marketplace is very mature even though it's in constant change. What if Amazon is the other option? What more are you bringing to the table? Are you cheaper because you sell direct? Are you at least as good as your competition? Do you offer something extra? If you do then you're on the right track. If you don't then think a bit more.

Still, wherever you are selling your product keep improving constantly. Keep and learn from the 25% best campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly. This way you are able to increase your chances in saving and making money.

Focus on improving product sales conversion rates. Some of the best in the industry have 50% conversion rates of visitor to sales. By focusing on improving usability, increasing internal clicks to each step in your shopping cart and making on site tests that improve conversions you can greatly impact everything you do.

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If you're a service base company #

Companies that sell or provide services suck because they are only focused on the "sale", not what happens afterwards.

Service companies always have at least one more metric together with the actual sale: loyalty. Will they keep buying or paying for our product? Will they buy again? It's amazing how little companies know and understand basic customer lifecycle management principles. Some industries have made the concept of after sales into an art, and that's the way it should be. Unfortunately even those companies forget to measure and understand what those life cycles really are.

If you're working in a company that's selling a service, it's quite probable that you also spend a lot of time and money in communication to your existing clients. Are you keeping your eye on that ball as well as your company focuses on new sales and marketing campaigns? The probability would suggest otherwise. Customer communications can be an amazingly expensive and futile exercise. It's like brand communications without any sales targets. It's measured with things like "happiness" or even the much hyped Net Promoter Score, which is in a way a really nifty measurement - but it doesn't measure business. (Did you know that the Net Promoter is a registered trademark of Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix?)

Every time you send, do the math before and after.
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Every time you send anything, do your math before and after. Estimate and analyse, keep and learn from the 25% best campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly. If your messages do not have a call to action, you cannot measure anything. Why would you send a message to someone if you are not expecting them to do something or react in some way?

Your job is to keep loyal customers and stay top of mind when they think about your kind of service. Loyalty means that they are willing to keep giving you money. Know when your customer is a customer and when they stop being customers. Those life cycles do change, so don't assume that the analysis you did a year ago is still current – or that there even is just a single measurement.

Do you have someone who is responsible for the performance of your marketing efforts? Of course you have. It's your CEO if no one else. Too often the problem lies in assumption and responsibility spread to too many people. If one is not responsible, no one is. The problem with this sharing is that the information doesn't flow and that causes damage. If you are calculating CPC without knowing the actual sales or concrete results, you are a classic example of the blind leading the blind. We saved one customer 14 million euros annually by bringing in two people with responsibilities and joining their data, applied our 25/50/25 rule and killed the worst 25%.

Are you a 100% sure that your numbers add up?
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If you're a brand #

Brand marketeers suck because they think that awareness is a result. I don't know a single brand that isn't trying to sell something physical. Whether it's donations or jeans or monkey food, it must be sold. That you have a brand means that your company has been doing something right, your products are good enough and you very probably have a big enough commercial presence to perform well. Naturally we would assume, that your so-called "brand value" allows you to do one or more of the following things:

  1. Ask more money for your products, thus having more profits
  2. Have access to cheaper and/or higher quality marketing lists
  3. Have more money to improve your sales channels
  4. Have better understanding of the business than your less brandy competitors
  5. Have a better customer loyalty and access to user data
  6. Have a better insight to the minds of your consumers

Right? Probably not. Most brands are in retail and do their business offline. Marketing is just localisation without any real plan to drive people into online purchases. They usually have consolidated systems that are outdated and controlled by a team who couldn't care less for your local country doing stuff. Yet, brand managers expect better results with their marketing, even though they have driven themselves into a proverbial corner.

Brand people also suck because they think that all agencies are fans. "It's an opportunity to work with our kind of brand." Usually that means that you're not going to pay your designers much, since it's a privilege instead of doing business. On the contrary, it is a burden to work with brands. A burden that can be circumvented with proper preparation and tenacity.

Brand awareness is not a goal unless you can isolate and measure it.
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The first step to take the head out of the sand is to get your facts right. What are you trying to achieve with your marketing? How are you measuring it? Can you follow the path directly to the goal? Have you collated how your marketing campaigns effect the traffic in your retail locations? How it affects sales directly and indirectly? What's global doing at the same time? The internet has no borders or geographical boundaries (apart from a few totalitarian anomalies).

After you've done your math, do you see the improvement? When you are putting agencies through the hurdles, are they aware of your past campaigns and their results? Do you do your homework well enough? Are you constantly improving? Remember to keep and learn from the 25% best campaigns, improve the 50% in the middle and kill the worst 25%. Keep doing this regularly. When you talk to your agency, don't be shy when it comes to results. Find out the facts and put the results into context. Don't let the agency pull the wool over your eyes with KPIs like awareness lift.

This applies very strongly in stuff you do in social media as well. You should expect a reaction of some sort, people sharing your stories or clicking through to your site or store. If you're running a competition or sweepstakes, are you gathering marketing permissions as well? What are you planning to do with those marketing permissions?

Awareness is not a result, it is a by-product of good marketing.

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If you're a charity or a government owned/run company #

People working for NGOs, NPOs or the government suck because they think their online environments are different from the rest of the world. If they really think there are two completely separate groups of people using the web they need to check their medication. It's the exact same mass of web surfers using any and all services available and we can expect the same kind of performance from those people.

Actually, research and results suggests that people are more willing to give to (buy from) charity, whether its something physical like an adopted sloth-goat in Gabon or a WWF plush toy or something immaterial like donations - which are just a way to buy moral superiority. There's nothing wrong with it and you can use the profits however you see fit, but if you are slacking with improving your service just because you think that your users differ from the other residents of this planet, you plainly and clearly suck.

If you feel a pang of guilt right now, reading this paragraph, start measuring your performance and ask someone to help you if you're unsure of the numbers. Imagine you're running a company that aims to make money, but instead of shareholders, you have unicorns! Honestly, we recommend this mental process for all our readers, it makes daily labor seem so much more relaxed and groovy.

Often we've seen charities squander their amazing gift of having free media. It allows them to have a super low CPA but they then send those swarms of guilt-ridden altruists into websites that simply will not convert and usually not even leave a measurable trail of breadcrumbs to find the way back home.

Don't just aim for awards, aim for improving business. Awards come later.
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The next time you have an agency telling you that they have a great campaign idea they want to do (because they want to win that prize you've never heard of), ask them about the results, measuring and the estimated impact to your business. Remember the 25/50/25 model and keep improving constantly. Donations are a form of eCommerce, so act like it.

Think of the pandas!

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If you run internal systems #

If you are responsible for running internal tools or systems like the intranet in your company but are only thinking of it as an IT project or a communications burden, you suck. Intranets and their users are people too and they behave just like they do in Facebook. Only that your intranet results are very probably quite terrible. The main reason people do not measure intranet performance well is because their intranets suck.

When's the last time you measured internal systems like you did campaigns?
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The number companies do measure is the number of visits to the intranet. Do you know the reason MSN is still one of the most visited sites in the world? Because it's set up as the home page in the most popular browser in the market and people don't know how or don't bother to change it. When you have your corporate intranet open up when the browsers open you will get a lot of visits, but do your users get anything done?

According to online guru Jakob Nielsen the two main money wasters in intranets are the insane amount of time spent trying to find information and the other is poor decisions made because of poor data. And seriously, could you really call your intranet a decision making tool and keep your face straight?

Measuring only the number visits is like running an awareness campaign, so stop doing it. Dig deep into the results and figure out what your users are doing, what they visit and figure out the places that should be kept, the parts of the intranet that should be improved upon and those which are just wasting money and should be killed. The fixed costs and variable costs are major players with intranets, not the media spend, but that doesn't make them cheap either.

Keep the 25% of the functioning pages and applications, improve the majority 50% and kill off the 25% of sinkholes just wasting your money and efforts.

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"Data, data everywhere and yet all decisions from the gut!" That just about encapsulates why our marketing strategies are faith based, why our websites are barely functional ("the CEO loves purple!"), and why we are not making the types of profits we deserve. I love this book because Steve and Markus provide specific advice on how to unsuck our lives! Buy. Don't suck. Win.
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About the authors

We have a single goal together, to make our customers a billion euros in profit. This won't happen in one year, it might take five years, but we will not stop until we have generated a billion of provable profit for our customers.

We love meeting and talking to new people! Get in touch with us. Come have a pint with us! We are available for projects, especially in warm places with great fishing opportunities and/or great beer.

Steve Jackson

+358 50 34 35 159
Markus Sandelin

+358 44 36 99 887