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  • Writer's pictureTom Church

Marketing iteration: The secret compound power of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) throughout your funnel. (Part 1 of our 'Digital Marketing Diary' series).




Small changes can equal big revenue wins as we find out in the first of our series on 'A day in the life of a Worcester digital marketing agency.'


I'll describe what iteration is, and offer a working example of how it can benefit a client over 6 months, with occasional guest appearances from my dog.


Marketing magic: where art meets science.


Marketing is that magical place of indefinable fuzziness that is where both art and science meet. As a marketeer, I am using science from fields of behavioural psychology, past user data and the latest online behavioural research to guide me in the decisions I make on behalf of my clients. I am also using my gut instinct, honed by years of human interaction (often embarrassing), cultural immersion and personal experience, to add the art.


Yet when art meets science, you’re either in for wonderful things, or a complete bloody balls up! To limit this and manage our risks, we use a process called iteration: Small changes that can be tested, and that can be improved on again ad infinitum.



Digital Marketing is trying to hit a moving target on rapidly changing tides.


It is this process that I want to explore today, as it forms a key part of my job as a digital marketeer. It is part of the job where it is common to take two steps forward, then one back, as you navigate through potentially biased data sets (Why, for example, did everyone search for a local cleaner in early Feb? Were they interested in getting the bedrooms all tidied up before Valentine’s Day? Or was it, perhaps, that the Christmas credit card bill had been paid down?), changes in platform processes (last year it was Twitter, this year I’m looking at you Google!), client requests (we want a cute mascot on our homepage to represent our chat bot!), and dozens, indeed hundreds of other elements that can affect traffic volume and cost, and user behaviour when they finally get dragged through to your landing page, kicking and screaming, cursing and spitting!


Phew! That was a long sentence. But it illustrates my point. The magic of a digital marketeer in harassing science and art whilst bobbing around like a cork on ever changing tides is not to be dismissed.


And whilst some things are beyond our control, we permanently need to iterate our marketing to test it to make sure it is delivering the best results we can. Or, to quote the most common and frustrating request on any marketing job role and which is a tick-box exercise for managers, and one which I can guarantee has never been met by anyone: “To maximise ROI.”


A day in the life of a digital marketeer in Worcester: Research your client’s funnel.


It’s a home working day for me as I begin our adventure in the magic-factory. I have time-blocked my day for this particular activity, and I’ve muted all my emails and socials so that I’m not disturbed.


For this activity requires concentration. And that is research. And black coffee (but only before midday).


To be specific, I start by mapping out the customer journey of our client. I break that down into the traditional funnel categories, starting with those that are ‘not aware’ which is the very top of funnel, all the way down through the ‘aware’ and ‘consideration’ stages to ‘purchase’ and even ‘post-purchase.’ Each stage of this funnel will need to have the mechanism in place to allow the prospect to take the next step, whether it be providing them with information, getting them on a mailing list after downloading some form of lead magnet, and eventually them becoming a customer.


I won’t go into funnel descriptions in this account, but I would like to make a few observations: many marketeers start their funnel too far down the process, they don’t really account for the ‘not aware’ stage. And yet, this is actually the hardest part of the funnel to identify and put together. You could find yourself spending large amounts of money at this more ethereal part of the market - so unless you can be sure of identifying this population, it does make sense to focus your efforts. After all, as they move down the funnel, you will get more information about them, and your iterations will be far more effective, noticeable, and attributable too.


Having set up a funnel, you can assign different content types to appeal to them, and you can also design the ‘Call to action’ that will take them to the next step. Higher up the funnel it pays to a have a ‘no cost’ call to action for prospects - help them make a commitment, such as reading a blog or product/service review, and then perhaps ask them to sign up to a newsletter. Getting them to say ‘yes’ in small stages is a key part of behavioural psychology, popularised by Robert Cialdini’s theory of persuasion, whereby a prospect who agrees to a small request increases the likelihood of them agreeing to a subsequent, larger request.


It must be said that in reality, this analysis and research would almost certainly take longer than a single day. It would involve competitor analysis, keyword research, and not least communicating with your client and their sales team for those golden nuggets that only human experience can provide.


Nonetheless, now we have our framework from which we can launch our iterations, and these can be based on three key areas which we, as digital marketeers, can control.


  1. Traffic sources and type.

  2. Call to action.

  3. Landing page design. (Also known as: ‘Your website is never finished’.)


Now, we have the basis of which to iterate my client’s funnel and traffic source and site.

Let my divine pursuit of magic and science produce results!


Introducing Company X: the global widget maker!


Let’s take this forward with a fictional example where we can throw a few numbers around to illustrate the benefits of iterative marketing and how small changes can influence a business’s revenue over the course of six months.


Company X sells widgets. They spend £2500 a month on paid traffic, get a £0.50 cost per click, and convert 5% of these 5000 visitors at the end of the funnel into 250 buyers. The average order profit margin is £20.00, so there is £5000.00 monthly profit.


Now, they’ve asked Babel Interactive, the coolest digital marketing agency in all of Worcester, to iterate this process and to see if we can add consistent incremental gains.


Now, I’ve done my research on their funnel. I’ve identified fresh calls to action, streamlining their process, and their web designer is on hand to tweak landing pages and content. (Hence my claim above, that a website is never really finished). I’ve analysed their heat maps, keywords, and Google Analytics reports.


We have the research to make a plan.


Month 1:

We move the buy button to make sure it is above the fold. We embolden it. We cull any confusing links that could send prospects off the page. We make sure there is a continuity in the text and imagery from the paid ads, so people see what they expect to see. Simple changes that can yield dramatic results.


We see an increase in purchases of 5%. That is quite a dramatic improvement, but is far from being unrealistic. That means of our 5000 visitors we now have a conversion rate of 5.25%, or 263 per month, so £5260.00 per month profit.


Month 2:

Some of our new content is ready to go live to help people navigate through the funnel. Distributed on social media channels and used to help the business’s SEO, it helps to reduce funnel drop out rate by 2%, which delivers 100 visitors to the conversion page, which is still 5.25%. So our sales are now 268 a month, or £5360.00.


Month 3:

We decide to tinker with the paid traffic sources. We go back to Google Ads and split test a few terms, we let it have a week on its AI, Performance Max, and we change the times of the ads to focus on when people are more likely to buy . . . but, we find we’ve spent an average of £0.60 a click, with no change in buyer behaviour.


Disaster! The client’s on the phone right now, explaining in vivid detail where he’s going to insert his size 10 widget (the biggest one they sell and the one with the sharpest point) without the necessary industrial lubrication! My dog puts his paws over his ears and wails. So do I. His visits have dropped from 5000 a month to 4160 or so. This month is a record low of 222 sales, or £4400 of profit.


Month 4:

But month 4 sees a rebirth. We tested Google Ads and found a few areas that didn’t work the previous month, but we also found some gems. We focus on them. Our cost per click is still £0.60, but our conversion rate has crept up to 6.25%, and with our optimised funnel process we did in month 2 this means we’ve sold 264 widgets for a profit of £5280.00. I can afford my dog’s treat this month!


Month 5:

We interview the company’s best widget sales person and include a few of her terms on text near the Call to Action throughout the funnel to encourage further traffic, and on the conversion page. Funnel drop off rates improve by a further 2%, and conversion rates climb to 6.5%. 270 sales plus 10 from the funnel improvement: 280, so £5600 in profit. A record month. My dog’s getting fat.


Month 6:

We return once more to Google Ads. Our SEO content from month 2 is now beginning to draw in more traffic, an extra 5% compared to our paid ads (so that’s 250 extra visitors). Our Google Ads work this month allows us to reduce the ad spend to £0.55 per click, so 4545 visitors plus organic search of 250 = 4795. This yields sales figs of 311 + 12 from funnel improvements, so 323, £6460 profit. Things are going wild here: the bloody dog’s doing cartwheels, the client’s on the phone offering me shares and his supermodel daughter’s hand in marriage! And in Worcester, for once, it doesn’t flood! Huzzah for me!


Obviously this is a fictitious example, but the point is clearly made that small, incremental changes that tend to give benefits really do add up. In our example, by the end of month 6 we have seen more than 20% increase in profitability: given interest rates in the banking sector by those pirates, and the current inflation figure, that is a growth rate I would sign my savings up to!


And I am quite sure than none of my readers will be ignorant of Einstein’s ‘eighth wonder of the world’ that is Compound Interest! 20% in a mere six months: Yes Please!


Science and art create the magic that equals these iterations: the compound power of Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) throughout the funnel and from traffic sources do add up. We make gold from the small changes.


Throughout each stage, we are pushing as hard as we can, and leaving time to see results, with Conversion Rate Optimisation. In our example, we have explained how each step can be targeted and improved, even for only slight, incremental gains. And we’ve seen how these can add up!


But also in our example, this does depend upon traffic of 5000 a month. And this example is from Google Ads, not Facebook or other social media: in other words, we have traffic to generate data that we can use. So there are nuances to be aware of. This technique does depend on selling products or services which do have standardised demand, they are not so easy to duplicate for bespoke solutions, as there is little client uniformity in their demand. Client uniformity matters as it allows us to make decisions based on numerical data, not on the choices of an individual.


So in my divine pursuit of marketing and CRO, I have harnessed both science and art to create alchemy. Babel Interactive has turned the base metals into gold. This is what Rory Sutherland, that savant of modern marketing, refers to as being the power of original ideas in creating marketing tactics that create revenue.


And I agree, though my example of iterative marketing is more conservative. There are often no great revolutions, just perpetual change and tests and measurement.


That is real alchemy, and I am reminded of the story of Hennig Brandt, the German who literally ‘boiled his piss’ in that heady year of 1669 and inadvertently discovered the element phosphorous.


(It is the subject of one of my favourite paintings by the fantastic Joseph Wright of Derby in 1771: “The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus.”)




My results might shine just as brightly to an accountant, and they come without the smell, but it is alchemy nonetheless! (Although perhaps I should choose Isaac Newton as an alchemical role model: loafing in an orchard on a spring day only to have an apple land on his head. He then went on to invent gravity(!) and after that he became Warden and Master of the Royal Mint, no doubt on a civil service pension too that we’re probably all still paying for! Bloody wastrel!).


What to do next?


If you have a website and you think you would like to undergo our full funnel iteration program, then just drop me a line or email and we'll schedule a short chat, and I'll be honest about whether I can help you.


Now, please make sure you share this article far and wide using the links below.


Until next time . . .


Tom.


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