This is a transcript of episode 7 of the OMGrowth podcast, published on December 30, 2020
There are plenty of people out there offering you aspirational and inspirational guidance on how to make next year “the best year ever!” but let’s look at all of that from a perspective that’s a little more data-driven, shall we?
My approach to planning is – well, I’ll tell you what it isn’t: it’s not fancy or bougie or glamorous. Just grab a sheet of flipping paper and a pen.
Full disclosure that my favorite planning tool: a cocktail napkin.
That feels convivial and special to me – so do you! – but know that while this seems kinda complex at first, the fact that you can easily contain your planning to little square cocktail napkin should be your first clue that you don’t need to overcomplicate this.
ESTABLISH YOUR BASELINES
You have to start at the beginning. That’s how growth works: you need a starting point.
And how do you know what your starting point is? Well, you can take a look at the ballpark in which your end point is! Because that will easily inform what your starting point is.
Let’s say you decide that you want to see more sales coming through from new subscribers who sign up to your email list. Excellent boss target!
This is what is more commonly referred to as an evergreen sequence. It’s where there are a series of 5 or 6 emails that are sent to new people who sign up to your email list. The goal is to make the reader aware of what your offers are, why those offers benefit them and how they can be purchased.
Now, YOUR goal with putting this in place is to see an increase in your overall sales for this specific offer you have. Great! So that means you’re focused on converting sales by putting an evergreen campaign in place.
Let’s interrupt this train of planning for a second, though, and take a look even further ahead: if your focus this quarter is to convert more sales by implementing an evergreen campaign, what is your focus going to be next quarter? I’ll give you a second to figure it out…
But if you said BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST, you’re today’s grand prize winner because:
1) while you’re always looking to increase your bottom line, you can’t always be in launch mode – that’s effing exhausting for both you and your audience; and
2) your business is like a Slinky: improvements in one area will always trickle down into the other areas so when you get in front of more people, when you grow your list and relationships, when you make more sales – more often than not, you will see a shift in all three areas; but
3) in this instance – where you put an evergreen sequence in place – it’s a brilliant idea to start filling that water slide because – hey! – you made the investment, now let’s set it up to see the highest returns possible, amirite?
GET CLEAR ABOUT YOUR INVESTMENTS
But I’m getting ahead of myself now because we haven’t established what that investment is. By the way, when you’re planning and forecasting, don’t skip this part – the part where you get very clear about your investments – because if you’re serious about understanding what your return-on-investments are (or what the cool kids call your ROI), you can’t know what the return is if you don’t know what the investment was. This is textbook “start at the beginning” stuff.
In this case of the evergreen sequence, what is the investment? You’re going to have to write the emails and schedule the email automation magic. Of course, you can outsource some or even all of this, too. But that’s your investment here: the time and energy for the emails to be written and scheduled, or the money you’re going to spend outsourcing that.
Great. So you’re clear about the time, energy and money you’re putting into this campaign. Now, what’s the starting point?
Because – again – if we want to calculate growth, if we want to know whether there’s an improvement, we’re going to have to establish “against what” we’re measuring that improvement.
In this case, it’s hella-simple because up until now, you didn’t have an evergreen sequence in place so the number of sales this campaign has generated for you in the past is “0”.
Anything higher than 0 will technically be an improvement so allow me to be the first to congratulate you.
But let’s aim a tiny bit higher, shall we?
ESTABLISH YOUR DESIRED RETURNS
Let’s say that for every 100 new subscribers you have sign up to your email list, you want at least 1 person to buy your product, but you’d really like for 5 of them to buy, and it would be amazing if 10 of them bought.
This is a goal-setting approach I have love for – and this did not come from my head, guys, but if you know whose head this IS from, drop into my DMs on Instagram at omgrowth to tell me please, because I owe them flowers or something – but this is what is known as the “good, better, best” approach.
So what we’re saying about our desired results for our evergreen campaign is that we would think that a 1% conversion rate from new subscribers to a sale would be good, and 5% would be great, but 10% would be bottled awesome sauce.
You know where you’re starting from, and you’ve established where you want to go. That’s some bossy pants, “know your numbers” type of planning that most people don’t take the time to figure out!
And you can take this one step further – because this is just one campaign – but let’s say you wanted to assess how this one campaign impacts your big picture: what do you need to know?
You know you need to get clear as to where your starting point is so in this case we’re talking about:
- Sales made for the specific offer your evergreen campaign points to; and
- Page visits to the sales page for that offer.
An increase in the number of visits to your sales page and, of course, an increase in overall sales, will also be indicative of the success of this campaign.
TRACK YOUR CAMPAIGNS LIKE THEY OWE YOU MONEY
You’ll hear me say this often – I should probably get a t-shirt made or something – but for all the things we do – for all the things you check off your To Do List – your Done List owes you money.
The campaigns you invest your time and energy and money in – they OWE you! Channel your inner Tony Soprano and track them down, shake ’em up, because they’ve got your money (and it’s sooooo hard for me not to double-clap when I say that out loud #ripODB)
Because here’s the thing: a whole lot of people skip this last part and it’s what makes the difference between someone who fills in cute planners but never hits their goals, and a boss who, well, whose got their money.
So how are you going to track your campaigns? Start with what you have!
In the case of this evergreen campaign, we have a few things we can easily check in with, without having to put in a whole lot of extra tracking in place. We can look at:
- email open rates;
- email click-through rates;
- sales page visits;
OK. And then what? What do we do with that information?
Start comparing your apples and your oranges. For your emails, are some emails in your sequence being opened more than others? Ask yourself why. Are some emails seeing better click-throughs – meaning, some emails are more likely to lead to a sales page visit than others? Switch out Tony Soprano for a second and now channel your inner 2 year old and ask, why – because if one email sees twice the click-throughs than all of your others, you’re going to want to hone in on why that is and find a way to replicate that behavior in your other emails.
Because the more click-throughs you get to the sales page, the higher your chances of making the sale, right?
As much as “making the sale” is your goal, it’s actually all the little micro-goals along the way that you’re trying to improve because those incremental improvements are how you make those big gains.
Now, I mentioned that you start with what information you have – but once you’re in this habit of optimization, there are ways of getting more information and making bigger improvements. In the case of this evergreen sequence, I would suggest using UTM parameters – and we will dedicate future episodes to this topic because it’s definitely its own thing – but this is essentially like putting individual GPS trackers on each of your emails so that you can see exactly what happens after the click-through. For instance, maybe your second email gets the highest click-through, but your third email actually is most likely to make the sale. You can know all of this by implementing more advanced tracking, but START WHERE YOU ARE.
Optimization is a habit that you build on; it’s not a one-and-done process.
So how do you know what to look for when you’re trying to optimize and improve your results? You can start by:
- comparing comparable sources to each other
- comparing numbers/conversion rates to the previous period
- identifying noticeable trends in your results
- identifying areas that aren’t being sufficiently tracked
So what’s the ACTION ITEM here? What are you going to write on that cocktail napkin?
1) Figure out what you want to focus on and how you’re going to do that;
2) Establish some baseline numbers that represent today’s “school picture” moment that captures where you’re at, right now;
3) Decide what “good, better, best” results look like for you;
4) Figure out which micro-goals – which metrics, which indicators, which actions and behaviors – would inform your performance along the way;
5) And then put some time aside in your calendar to check in with those micro-goals – pay them a visit like you’re Made in the Jersey crime family – and stay on top of the opportunities to get paid!
The point is that it isn’t enough to implement a strategy or promotion; you do have to check in with how that strategy or promotion is performing.
And it’s OK if it performs poorly – it may not be positive results, but that’s good to know – because knowing what works, understanding what doesn’t and being able to identify what needs a little tweaking is how you improve.
Marketing is just a wash-rinse-repeat cycle, and the goal is always to take what you did last time and make those results serve you better the next time around.
While fancy campaigns and launches and strategies are exciting to plan, it’s your ability know, understand, identify and act on your numbers that will allow you to compound better results quarter after quarter, and year after year.