By Chris Karel
Ryan began his career in early 2013 at akhia communications in the role of an Assistant Account Executive. After working in Account Service for over three years, Ryan’s passion for digital led to a transition to akhia’s Optimization department in the role of a Digital Project Manager. Over the past three years, he has worked with a variety of B2B and B2C clients assisting in a range of digital strategic efforts to help companies drive conversions including website development, social media strategy, SEO and SEM, email marketing, lead generation, marketing automation and reporting/metrics. Recently, he sat down with AMA NEO Digital SIG programming director Chris Karel to discuss conversions.
Chris: Hey Ryan, thank you joining me today. I’m always trying to learn more about the strategies and techniques that lead to more conversions. So we can level set everyone, my first question is, what do you mean when you say the top 5 conversions? What is a conversion?
Ryan: The marketing manager’s golden goose. The holy grail. In marketing we focus on various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to determine the success of a campaign, but the one that ultimately moves the needle for a business is conversions. The word “conversion” has different meanings to different organizations, but I prefer to focus on the top things you should be asking yourself heading into 2019 to help drive conversions, however you define them.
Identify what a conversion means to your company.
Chris: That’s great Ryan. Thank you for the clarity. Next question: Where should companies focus most of their efforts to increase conversions?
Ryan: This is where full team integration is so important. You have to ask yourself: Who knows your customers best? Is it salespeople who are out in the field every day? Is it customer service reps who are constantly fielding calls from customers?
Chris: I’d say both, sales and customer service.
Ryan: For sure, these are untapped resources that we, as marketers, have to leverage. Sales and customer service folks interact with customers every day, and in many cases, hear the issues they deal with on a daily basis. When you work and integrate with your internal teams, you can then create content, messaging or campaigns that help drive conversions because you are now focusing on your customers’ pain points.
Integrate Sales, Marketing, and Customer service
Chris: I get it Ryan. Talk to each other more to aid in creating better content. What tools would you recommend to help track or optimize conversions?
Ryan: This can get a bit tricky based on your budget and technical capabilities, but at the very least, you should be tracking conversions as goals in Google Analytics. From eCommerce purchases to file downloads, Google Analytics offers users some great options to track conversions. If you have the option, there are also some great CRM/Marketing Automation software platforms out there that can provide you with a lot of insight and optimize conversion tracking. Some of my personal favorites are HubSpot, Act-On and Salesforce/Marketing Cloud.
Use the tools (Google Analytics, CRM/Automation)
Chris: What if companies have never really started to optimize or look at their conversions, where should they start?
Ryan: I’d say this plays off your first question, “What is a conversion? The first step is to really determine what a conversion is for your company. Every company has a different buyer journey/cycle that varies in lead time depending on what product/solution you are offering.
Chris: Yes indeed. All things are easier to achieve when everyone understands the common direction.
Ryan: For sure, you have to work with all of your key stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of what a conversion looks like, the KPIs you will use to measure it, how you will track conversions and a realistic goal for a number of conversions in a certain time period. There is A LOT of upfront work when looking at a campaign with the goal of driving conversions, but without it, we have no way of determining success or proving ROI (Return On Investment).
Chris: You mentioned getting everyone on the same page. At the Digital Marketing shared interest group we talk about the varying types and sizes of marketing teams. What is the typical marketing department makeup you are dealing with, and are there enough resources to really address conversions?
Ryan: Of course there is variation, but traditionally the marketing departments we work with have at least three people: Director of Marketing, Project/Product Manager, and Creative designer/copywriter.
Chris: And, who typically handles the conversion tracking? It can be so time consuming.
Ryan: Like I said, this varies in the amount of people under each “bucket”, but the above is a pretty common structure. The biggest hurdle we see is exactly what you mentioned: in many cases, resources are tapped, and we are so focused on creating the campaign that we forget to do all of the up-front work. However, this is the key. It’s hard work but it pays off.
Maintain focus on the importance of conversions (hard work = reward)
Chris: So here we are Ryan. The crux of our conversation. Marketers will unanimously say that conversions are important, but the time. How and why can we justify the time it takes to create and track?
Ryan: in many cases resources are a luxury, but tracking conversions is how we prove our worth and it’s something we have to make time to do. We want to make sure that our custmoers always feel that we are partners and not just a vendor, an order taker if you will. Plus, if you ever want more resources or maintain the ones you have now, proving that worth can help you make a case for more investment!
Demonstrate that you are partner not a vendor
Chris: Well said Ryan! Thank you for sharing the Top 5 Ways to Increase Digital Conversions in 2019. I appreciate your time and expertise on the topic of conversions. I look forward to your workshop session.
- Identify what a conversion means to your company.
- Integrate Sales, Marketing, and Customer service
- Use the tools (Google Analytics, CRM/Automation)
- Maintain focus on the importance of conversions (hard work = reward)
- Demonstrate that you are partner not a vendor
Ryan: Thank you Chris.
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