Don’t Ask What You Want, Ask What You Want to Accomplish

You don’t want a PageRank of 8, or a 10% click through rate or 1,000 Twitter followers.

Just like consumers in 1908 didn’t really want a better horse, they wanted a faster way to travel that didn’t poop— thus the whole “automobile” thing caught on. Professionals in 1976 might have thought they wanted a more useful typewriter, but they wanted a box that they could type on, and do math on, and access information from – but they weren’t saying they wanted a “personal computer”. Last April, I didn’t want a library/music store/movie theatre/magazine standd that fit into my briefcase, I wanted one magic little device that could serve up any media, and here I sit listening to Whitesnake my iPad.

In other words, we often get caught up in wanting a better version of what we know, versus thinking about what we want to accomplish. Ultimately, your online marketing program is probably about generating more sales, leads, voters, donors or members through your website. Things like where you rank on this keyword, or how much your traffic grows, or how many likes you get on Facebook don’t keep your shareholders happy.

Every day we get calls from potential clients asking if we can get them to page 1 on Google for this term, or if we can generate 1,000 new inbound links, or if we can increase their page views per visit. The answer to all of this is “yes we can, but we’d rather help you generate revenue.” If after six months of a marketing program, your time on site is down, and your traffic is down and you haven’t generated a single new link but sales have tripled and you’re showing a great ROI, count the campaign as a success.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in measuring everything. I believe you can build models that show if your website traffic increases by x% your sales increase by y%. I believe you can analyze how YouTube video views correlate with leads. I believe that you can associate longer time on site with more members. But ultimately, I believe the thumbs up or thumbs down on any campaign should be decided by answering a simple question: “What did I accomplish for my organization?”

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