If Common Sense Contradicts Data, Use Common Sense

Email, web, and social media data is a great way to objectively view results.  However, careful analysis is often necessary to accurately gauge what the data means. So where does that leave you when the data doesn’t make sense?  If you find that your metrics defy common sense check to make sure that your analytics program is accurately gathering data.

We were recently working with a company who said that the effectiveness of their internet marketing had really tailed off. While leads and responses had remained consistent, the web reports had seen a noticeable dip that had persisted for months.  With such a decline we asked what had changed when the drop off occurred but the answer was that their campaigns had run as usual.  It was also strange that conversions had not dipped with traffic.  Essentially the data was saying that traffic had dropped by about 40% while lead conversion had increased about 40%, a little too convenient not to raise suspicion. All the project manager could say for sure was that “We have set goals for the amount of traffic on the site and we’re noticeably off the mark, something’s not right and we need to fix it.”

The decline had happened months before our initial conversation so we reviewed the data and found that not only was there a drop off in web traffic but the hits that did trickle in were almost exclusively on weekends.  As this client offered B to B consulting services, weekends were typically a lightly trafficked time.

The data flew in the face of common sense so rather than start making marketing initiatives to increase traffic; we looked a bit closer at the data itself.  It turned out that a server move had disrupted their Web Trends data and a faulty setup was missing a common source of web traffic.  So the project became a technical exercise in making sure that the data was being accumulated accurately.

This is an example of a larger and thankfully more obvious problem.  While “inaccurate data” is often an excuse for poor results, it’s good to place a critical eye on your metrics intermittently. If you’re seeing blatant inaccuracies in what common sense would suggest, then do a technical review on your analytics to ensure they are accurately being populated.  There are few things as damaging as making decisions based on false data.

Is Your Email Mobile Ready or Simplistic?

ID-10077778Mobile ready email layouts are becoming more and more relevant as greater numbers of people check email on phones and tablets. But mobile ready should not be an excuse for overly simplistic layouts or sacrificing lead generation elements.

We recently spoke with a sales trainer about his email campaign. We asked him to provide us with what he was currently sending. He sent a single column layout with an article and one image.

When we asked why he was looking to do something different he told us he was getting little to no response from his email campaign. Open rates were ok but click rates or direct responses were almost non-existent. He lamented that a year ago he was consistently getting leads and feedback on his email campaign.

So we asked to see a sample of his past email from a year ago. He sent an email with a two column format with a couple promo offers in the side bar. The main section had a sample of the article which linked back to his webpage where the whole article was available. On the article webpage was another promotional offer.

What we were seeing is that this sales trainer had consistently been offering next steps in his emails which were fairly successful and then abruptly stopped. This begged the question, “Why the change?”

The response was that he had needed to change to a mobile friendly template. While that was reasonable, it didn’t explain why the promo offers had been removed. His response was, “The designer that set the email up said that the single column was mobile friendly. The content would be more convenient for my audience and doing the article entirely in the email would streamline the process of creating it by eliminating links.”

In other words, creating the email became easier but elements that had generated results in the past were eliminated. Not a good trade off.

Mobile layouts are getting more and more sophisticated and the best ones will present a custom display based on what device it is being used on. Sacrifices like layout restrictions or limiting offers are typically not necessary. If a layout is overly complex for mobile an appealing translation is often possible that includes all the original elements.

The problem is that in an effort to make emails easy to create, many platforms are restricting layout options so that the layout can be billed as “mobile ready”. Successful elements from an email campaign should not be sacrificed in the name of mobile. A simplistic email is not the right option for an email campaign just because it’s mobile ready.

If you have an email campaign that needs upgraded to a mobile ready version, make a list of the elements that are generating results. That becomes your non-negotiable list of things that have to be included. As you set out a new layout make sure that the layout accommodates those things. After all, what’s the point of an email that displays well on mobile devices if it stops serving the business purpose?


Image courtesy of  FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net