I guess you can say I went through “a phase” during my latest 3 blog posts. In vivid Technicolor (and with some ambivalence) I went from:
- admitting my failure to properly market my membership website (not taking full advantage of the Rainmaker Platform’s many built-in content marketing tools) and, as a result; contemplating how my business and solopreneurial life would change if I began marketing my membership website exclusively using ONLY the content marketing tools available on the Rainmaker Platform…
- then second-guessing myself – seriously doubting my thoughts…
- and then finally accepting a 12-month challenge, committing myself fully to my somewhat radical (and somewhat puritan) idea of drastically simplifying my digital marketing toolset and activities, to “just” Rainmaker.
Consequently, I’m writing this very blog post. The first in a series – documenting my journey towards simpler, more focused small business digital marketing – and hopefully as a welcome bonus: less stress – and more success:)
So yeah: after much rumination and contemplation, I’ve given myself this 12-month digital marketing challenge:
How much can I grow my business by using ONLY the digital marketing tools available on the Rainmaker Platform?
Essentially reducing my digital marketing to the max ?
(I love that expression!)
For the next 12 months I’ll be doing everything I can to simplify my marketing – striving to use only the content marketing tools of the Rainmaker Platform.
Truly use what Rainmaker offers.
Two vital questions will be answered:
- Will I have to supplement Rainmaker with other digital marketing tools?
- Can I muster the needed courage and willpower to part with the digital marketing tools I’m currently using? (I’ll share which ones in a moment. Read on!)
Only time will show! Let’s go! (cue the Bloodsport soundtrack)
Reporting My Metrics Monthly = Accountability
Accountability is a great thing (although scary at times – this being one of those times). Accountability helps you crush perfectionism and procrastination – two sides of the same coin – a coin I’m fighting on a daily basis.
So, at the start of each of the coming 12 months, I’ll gather key metrics of my business performance and results – and share them with you in a blog post. The one you’re reading right now being the first one!
But which metrics should I focus on to improve my business? Which are to be considered key metrics – aka essential ?
Tracking The Right Key Performance Indicators
Remember that guy Perry Marshall I mentioned in my previous blog post? Perry wrote 80/20 Sales and Marketing – a great book I’ll be using as a guidepost during this challenge. According to Perry, the following are the key things to track:
#1. “Money In, Money Out” is most important to track
Yes, understood. Cash, and cashflow, is king.
#2. Click-thru rates of Google ads
Currently not advertising via Google AdWords – may start doing so at some point.
#3. Conversions of specific keywords to sales
AdWords-related, but definitely an essential metric to track.
#4. Opt-in and lead generation pages
Rainmaker has a great A/B split-testing feature that I haven’t consistently used yet. Will do!
#5. Landing/sales pages and order forms
Related to #4 above: I haven’t made enough landing pages.
#6. Individual traffic sources (affiliate, banner ads, email)
I don’t have an affiliate program yet, though I expect to launch one later this year. The Rainmaker Platform has built-in affiliate management features. Once I get the affiliate program running, I’ll also share affiliate program performance metrics!
In addition to Perry’s take on key metrics to keep an eye on, Alistair Croll (co-author of the Lean Analytics book) has an interesting take. In Lean Analytics, Alistair encourages extreme focus on ONE metric only. Not two or three. One. No more frenzied, frantic, frenetic clicking your way through Google Analytics, trying to make sense of it all. Nope.
One metric to rule them all.
(yup, it really does say “one metric to rule them all” – Gandalf somehow got the translation slightly… wrong. Sorry Frodo! Your trip to Mordor wasn’t really needed afterall. Perhaps Gandalf had forgotten his reading glasses as usual?)
Do YOU know your “One Metric That Matters” ??
Alistair Croll (and his co-author Benjamin Yoskovitz) has coined the term “One Metric That Matters (OMTM)”. To explain the concept, I’ll hand over the mic to Alistair and Benjamin! Below I’ve handpicked some interesting excerpts (emphasis by me) from Lean Analytics (a dense but clear book btw!)
One of the keys to startup success is achieving real focus and having the discipline to maintain it. You may succeed if you’re unfocused, but it’ll be by accident. You’ll spend a lot more time wandering aimlessly, and the lessons learned are more painful and harder-won. If there’s any secret to success for a startup, it’s focus.
The OMTM is the one number you’re completely focused on above everything else for your current stage. Looking at CLV (customer lifetime value) isn’t meaningful when you’re validating a problem, but it might be the right metric to focus on as you’re approaching product/market fit.
Reasons you should use the One Metric That Matters
It answers the most important question you have. At any given time, you’ll be trying to answer a hundred different questions and juggling a million things. You need to identify the riskiest areas of your business as quickly as possible, and that’s where the most important question lies. When you know what the right question is, you’ll know what metric to track in order to answer that question. That’s the OMTM.
So true! I believe most solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners can agree with the “trying to answer a hundred different questions and juggling a million things” – right?
It forces you to draw a line in the sand and have clear goals. After you’ve identified the key problem on which you want to focus, you need to set goals. You need a way of defining success.
Equally true. Creative boundaries to work within helps you focus. Having a clear goal is one of those obvious pieces of advice that makes most of us go “duh! I knouuu dat man!” – yet we often… don’t have a clear goal. Clear goals are powerful! They set our intention. Intentions are strong – letting us form a mental picture of where we’re going.
When having too much to do, knowing where you’re headed, can be quite helpful ;o)
It focuses the entire company. Use the OMTM as a way of focusing your entire company. Display your OMTM prominently through web dashboards, on TV screens, or in regular emails.
Being just me in my business, there’s little sense in having my metrics projected on tv-screens 24/7 – but I definitely strive to make my metrics easier to keep an eye on, on a daily basis.
Oh, speaking of! Did you know that according research by digital marketing specialist HubSpot “The best (most successful) marketers check their marketing analytics 3+ times per week” ?
Leading marketers check their metrics religiously
Respondents whose teams checked marketing metrics three or more times a week were over 20% more likely to see an increased ROI in 2015.
We all know the adage “what gets measured gets managed.” But is it true? According to our data, it is. Respondents who achieved greater ROI in 2015 than the previous year were approximately 20% more likely to check their marketing analytics three or more times per week (or have someone on their team do so).
How to choose your OMTM
Which metric does Alistair recommend we track as our Only Metric That Matters? That depends on what stage your business is in.
According to the Lean Analytics book, I should consider tracking either engagement, churn or visitor/user/customer funnels.
The Tracking Trap
In the past, I’ve tracked the above metrics using Mixpanel and Heap Analytics. I emphasize the word “tracked” because tracking isn’t the same as “paying attention to” and subsequently acting upon those metrics, which is a clear failure on my part. That said, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one falling into the trap of tracking – not acting – right?
Anyway! Enough talking and beating around the bush. It’s time for me… to get accountable!
Gimme a Funky-*ss Baseline (props if you catch that reference!)
Without further ado and fanfare: below you’ll find my April 2016 metrics. They’ll serve as my baseline for the challenge. Hopefully I can improve those numbers, rapidly. Each month, I’ll share my updated metrics.
WebMatros KPI Report – April 2016
Note! I hope you realize how panicky I feel sharing my numbers publicly – even though it’s with you ;o) It’s frightening… And I wish the numbers were better… But reality and straight facts beats fear and self-deception and pretense anytime! Only be accepting the facts, can we wholeheartedly and rationally improve our situation.
The Tactical Power Triangle
I’ve organized the scorecard just like Rainmaker’s control panel: Content, Traffic, Conversion, Results. Conveniently, this corresponds wonderfully with Perry Marshall’s Tactical Power Triangle: Traffic, Conversion, Economics (aka Results).
This is already a long blog post, so I won’t go into details with the Tactical Power Triangle here. If you’d like to know more about it, I highly recommend Perry’s book 80/20 Sales and Marketing!
My current digital marketing tools list
As you can see on the scorecard, I’ve also listed the digital marketing tools I’m using in addition to Rainmaker. Hopefully that list will shrink significantly in the coming months, while I increasingly rely on “just” Rainmaker!
A few short notes about each tool:
- Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer – Helps assess headline quality. I’m also using CoSchedule’s headline analyzer and the two tools don’t agree what makes a good headline. Ideally I should test which one correlates best with my audience.
- Alexa – Great for market/keyword research and competitor analysis.
- Buffer –Buffer does social scheduling better than Rainmaker’s own tool. However, I sometimes wonder whether cross-posting across networks is even a good idea? What do you think? Thoughts?
- BuzzSumo – Great for audience research and competitor analysis.
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer – See notes above for Advanced Marketing Institute’s Headline Analyzer.
- Crazy Egg – excellent for heatmaps (for seeing “where users click”). By the makers of Hello Bar.
- Followerwonk – not for Twitter analytics but for audience research.
- Google AdWords – Just using its Keyword Planner.
- Google Analytics – Rainmaker gets its stats from it.
- Google Search Console (f.k.a. Webmaster Tools) – Essential. It’s “how Google perceives your website”.
- Google Trends – I ♥ Google Trends. So useful for researching where the market’s going!
- Heap Analytics – I like Mixpanel’s UI a little better, but Heap Analytics is easier to integrate on a Rainmaker site. Can Google Analytics’ new Cohort Analysis and User Explorer features replace Heap for me?
- Hello Bar – Won’t let go of Hello Bar. It rocks! Simple, elegant and effective. The world’s easiest A/B split-testing tool. I love it!
- Hootsuite – Has a few features Buffer lacks. I’m not a big fan though.
- KeywordTool.io – Its question-based keyword research is great for content creation.
- MailChimp – Former fan, now frustrated. Separate lists needed for everything, which is cumbersome (and expensive). Will look into ConvertKit and Rainmaker’s own, native Email Service, still in beta.
- Majestic – for checking backlinks and keywords.
- Moz Content – Moz’ new BuzzSumo alternative.
- Moz Pro – A full SEO suite. But is it worth my time and effort?
- Perry Marshall’s marketing tools – nifty and occasionally useful tools.
- SEMrush – for checking backlinks and keywords.
- SEO Book’s tools – most notably, the Keyword List Cleaner.
- SERPs Keyword Research Database – for keyword research.
- Vimeo – Not a marketing tool as such, but Vimeo hosts my membership area videos. That’s also possible directly in Rainmaker, so maybe Rainmaker can replace Vimeo? Will test doing so. Several important factors/requirements: download protection, image quality, device compatibility , non-Flash player and of course: streaming speed.
So… 24 content marketing tools and services (in addition to Rainmaker) total. That’s… quite a lot! I hope to reduce that list to – ideally – just Rainmaker.
Many of the tools are used for market/audience research. I use them quite creatively for that purpose, and may share how in a future post if you’re interested? Let me know in the comments below!
As you can also see when you download the scorecard: I have no sales! The reason is simple: I currently don’t have any products for sale. I made my main membership product Headway Hero temporarily unavailable to new customers, until I could decide whether to update it for Headway 4.0 – released earlier this week. It didn’t feel right to have new customers sign up for a yearly or lifetime subscription, with the expectation I’ll update (aka redo) the whole course for the radical redesign that Headway 4.0 is.
Seen in retrospect, I should’ve just disabled the Annual and Lifetime options, leaving only Monthly and Quarterly subscription options. Truth is, Headway 4.0 has been expected “just around the corner” for close to a year now.
A situation I’ve found quite frustrating.
When Headway Themes (a long time ago) began teasing the soon-to-be-released Headway 4.0, with webinars, fanfare and all: sales of Headway Hero (and likely also of the Headway theme itself) slowed down. Potential customers hold back buying until they see the new version materialize. Until that happens, myself and other screencasters publish less content while we’re also waiting for the new version.
When subsequently nothing happens for months, it’s only natural for me to be frustrated.
Had Headway Themes simply developed Headway 4.0 in stealth-mode, quietly behind the scenes; their own sales (I base that on recent affiliate performance of Headway) + my sales + other third party vendor sales wouldn’t have slowed down while everyone’s waiting for the new version to appear. And those who get tired of waiting may even switch to competing products like Beaver Builder, the Divi theme and the Divi Builder plugin – some products enjoying amazing momentum!
Well, that became a slight rant I guess. Had to be said!
Where’s my OMTM – Only Metric That Matters?
You may wonder why my scorecard includes so many metrics, when “Uncle Alistair” says I only need to keep an eye on a single metric ?
I’ll hand the mic back to Alistair and Benjamin (emphasis by me):
Focus doesn’t mean myopia. We’re not saying there’s only one metric you care about from the day you wake up with an idea to the day you sell your company. We are, however, saying that at any given time, there’s one metric you should care about above all else.
You’ll always track and review multiple numbers. Some will be important: these are your key performance indicators (KPIs), which you’ll track and report every day. Capture everything, but focus on what’s important.
The OMTM is of most importance early on. Later, as your startup scales, you will want to focus on more metrics, and you’ll have the resources and experience to do so. Importantly, you’ll also have a team to whom you can delegate metrics.
So yeah, there you have it. I track more than “one metric that matters” but have identified one to be of particular importance to me, for now. It is:
Email marketing leads.
Since I don’t have anything for sale at the moment, it makes a lot of sense for me to gather emails of highly targeted leads, who’ll be genuinely interested in my upcoming online courses. Doing so worked wonders for my launch of Headway Hero, which exceeded all my expectations.
Top 3 Goals for May 2016
Theme: collect more email addresses!
#1: Sort out my email marketing platform
MailChimp works well for sending regular newsletter emails. It sucks for content marketing – in the sense that multiple landing pages for different products = multiple lists. MailChimp really works best with one, main list. Else it gets extremely cumbersome and inefficient to work with. So I expect a long-overdue switch to either ConvertKit or Rainmaker’s own, upcoming email service (still in beta).
#2: Create more landing pages (with opt-in forms) offering unique, real value
Currently, only a few, low-traffic landing pages on my site has opt-in forms. That’s a shame. Or tragedy even. And it’s something I have to do something about asap.
#3: Send more traffic to the landing pages
Blog more often (I aim for one blog post per week) and use Hello Bars to direct site-wide traffic to relevant landing pages (with opt-in forms).
What do YOU think? Am I crippling myself needlessly with this experiment?
How much can I grow my business by focusing my digital marketing tools to purely those available on the Rainmaker Platform?
Can I reduce my digital marketing to the max ?
Am I the only one suffering from marketing overwhelm? How about you?
This is gonna be a tough challenge! That said: I believe it’ll be worth it in the end. Wish me luck :o)