As the CEO of Group 8A, a digital marketing company, I am constantly engaged in a never-ending learning process. The world of digital marketing is a state of perpetual evolution that requires one to keep a close eye on new developments, platforms, and strategies to succeed.
In 2016, our company worked with 6 different e-commerce companies whose websites achieved over 1 million dollars in less than 90 days!
This did not happen out of luck. Success came in virtue of our adaptability and willingness to learn from our mistakes.
The six companies were all small to mid-sized businesses that had little to no previous online presence. These companies ranged in type from light electric vehicle retailers to children’s toy-makers.
While the end result for these 6 clients was favorable, the path there involved numerous obstacles that required us to quickly change strategy and alter our course. We learned a lot from these projects and grew as an agency.
To help you achieve the same success, I’ve outlined some of the key lessons learned while working on these projects.
6 Digital Marketing Lessons Learned
Lesson 1: Google Adwords is Your Best Friend
Adwords is an extremely powerful tool and when operated correctly can glean crazy results. With an e-commerce business, you can grow dangerously fast. Take it from me, Group 8A has the record for the most spent on a new account within a 90-day period.
Unlike SEO, social media marketing, or content marketing, Adwords works quickly! It’s the only system where you can pay to play and achieve same-day results. This benefit cannot be overemphasized. If you need immediate results, Adwords is one of the only digital marketing tools at your disposal.
For an example of Adwords’ power, let’s look at how I used the tool for one of our clients in 2016.
For this specific client, their main competition was one other company who dominated the market. The competitor’s product was a top selling Christmas gift in 2016, and they struggled to maintain inventory during the holiday season. To compete, I used display ads (banner ads) on retailer sites, such as Wal-Mart, that were sold out of the competitor’s product. By displaying my client’s product, I presented consumers with an alternative option, which they needed due to high demand and their competitor often being sold out of inventory.
Adwords allowed our client to dominate ad displays on shopping feeds, leading to tons of traffic and high conversions. The huge numbers of sales that resulted would not have occurred without Adwords.
Lesson 2: Last Click Attribution Isn’t Enough
According to Google, “An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, the Last Interaction model [Last Click Attribution] in Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touchpoints (i.e., clicks) that immediately precede sales or conversions. In contrast, the First Interaction model assigns 100% credit to touchpoints that initiate conversion paths.”
While last click attribution is a great place to start in terms of defining your digital marketing strategy, real value isn't always in the last click.
For example, let’s say you go on Facebook and see an ad for an electric skateboard. You then click on the ad, go to site, check it out, consider the product, and leave the site. You then mull it over for two days before coming back to the site via an organic search. In this case, last click attribution would show the homepage (or whatever page the search engine presented) to be the conversion point, failing to note Facebook’s role in the sale. This is the flaw in last click attribution.
To truly succeed and gain a deep understanding of your marketing strategy, you must analyze attribution across multiple sales channels and determine the value of each sales channel (Facebook, PPC, blog content, etc.). You must also analyze attribution across multiple screens and devices, deciding which screen has the most value, e.g., the opening screen or the one that closed the sale.
To truly maximize growth, you have to dig deeper than the last click model.
Lesson 3: Be Prepared to Scale or Face Disastrous Consequences
It is imperative that your company (or agency) is prepared for extreme growth and ready to scale. If you’re unprepared to meet the demands of rapid traffic and conversion increases, you will lose out big time on potential revenue.
Before you initiate your marketing campaigns, make sure you have the processes and strategies in place to scale your business. If you don’t have the means to fulfill large numbers of orders, keep customers happy, and provide top-notch customer service, you could inflict disastrous harm upon your brand and business, leading to an onslaught of negative reviews and customer opinions.
Lesson 4: Credit Card Processors Can Bury You
This is a big one.
While credit card processing pretty much sucks on all fronts for small business merchants, rapid growth and unforeseen issues can present dire consequences in the realm of credit card processing.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
Recently, one of our client’s that was in the midst of achieving growth had a situation where their “FDA-approved” claim on their site, due to miscommunication, should not have been posted live at that time.
As a result of this issue, the credit card processor refused to release all funds until after an investigation into possibly fraudulent behavior.
Because of the many fraud issues that take place, it’s not uncommon for credit card processors to audit fast-growing businesses and pause all transfers for up to six months!
While luckily, this was not the case for my client. The withholding of funds nearly caused the business to run out of cash.
For processors to release the money, you need collateral funds in the bank, or enough of a reputation where they trust you.
To avoid this issue, make sure to have an honest conversation with your processor early in the game, and provide them what they need to keep you online. It’s important to build a relationship with your processor and, if you're going to grow really fast, have a lot of cash on hand for when they shut you down
Lesson 5: It’s Never as Easy as it Seems
It’s always the seemingly easy projects that result in the most headaches. It’s important that you allocate an appropriate amount of time and resources for each client and never underestimate the possible difficulties and obstacles that may occur.
If you already have a full load of projects, don’t take on another client because you see the job as an easy win. Always plan for the worst. If and when an issue arises that is time-intensive and requires your full focus, you don’t want your other client’s to pay the price.
It’s important that you always overestimate the length and difficulty of a project. Hope for sun, but plan for rain. Doing so will help ensure you’re prepared for the worst and able to handle any and all problems.
Lesson 6: Be honest with yourself.
Faulkner said it best, “Kill your darlings.”
If something isn't working, stop wasting time and money on it. You may have constructed what you take to be the most innovative and genius strategy ever devised, but if the results are lackluster, you must not hesitate to nip it in the bud.
If it's your "best" idea, it may be hard to kill. But if you want to succeed, you must. Also, past strategies that were once successful might not be in future. Every client is a snowflake that requires a custom strategy. Always be willing to adapt.
Trust the numbers not your gut.