Showers frighten me. No, I don’t think anyone is going to ventilate me with a kitchen knife.
Instead, I worry about the water temperature. Sometimes I get under one of those faucets and turn on a torrent of freezing water.
Other times I scald myself. (South Africa is notorious for tap water temperatures that ordinarily occur only in pressure cookers.)
So when I start my shower, I turn on the tap and then wait a moment. I look for clues – steam, say. Then I stick a couple of fingers under the showerhead. Only if they feel good do I commit. If they don’t, I fiddle with the dial and try again.
When the water temperature is perfect, I jump in. No guesswork. No fingers crossed. No risk. (Unless someone then flushes a toilet and uses up all the cold water – yowww!)
Bad Marketing Also Frightens Me
You should create websites to accomplish specific purposes, whether it's to build a free email subscriber list or generate leads. The goal of the front end site is to get prospects to know, like, and trust you enough to say "yes" to future correspondence.
It’s through the follow up (emails, webinars, videos, Facebook, and Twitter engagement) that you can develop the relationship to a point where your prospects are willing to pay for exclusive access or pay-walled content.
Which begs the question: What does your market want to hear from you? What do they consider valuable, and what they yawn at (or get annoyed by)? What sort of follow up builds the relationship, and what sort erodes it?
Which leads to the next question: How do you find that out so you don’t throw your website and follow-up sequence under the cold (or scalding) shower of my traffic?
By researching your market. By looking up the answer before the test. (In school, that’s called cheating. In business, it’s called smart.)
Don’t Throw Your Website Under a Cold Shower
If you don’t know your online market, how can you give them what they want? And if you do know them – deeply – then how can you fail?
By combining quick and dirty (and free) online market research with AdWords testing of keywords, ads and landing pages, you can fail in small batches, with minimal consequences.
Like sticking a couple of fingers under the showerhead.
AdWords is not the world’s cheapest source of traffic. It’s called pay-per-click for a reason.
AdWords isn't the world’s fastest source of traffic. A viral video can bring you millions of visitors in a weekend.
AdWords isn't the world’s highest value source of traffic. An endorsed article on someone else’s site (like this one) can bring you traffic that’s already predisposed to like and trust you (or at least pity you for being a cold water wimp).
But AdWords is The World’s Best Testing Platform.
Use the web to discover everything you can about your market – how big, how passionate, how scared, how cynical. What products they are buying, what complaints they have, what they love and hate about your competitors, what they wish someone would offer.
Take that information and craft your marketing to appeal to your market. Heck, you’ll probably rewire your business to take advantage of the insights you gather.
Then, turn on the AdWords tap and give it a try. Send some traffic to your landing page and see if you’re right about what people want. See if your opt-in offer is strong enough to start building relationships via follow up.
If you’ve missed the mark, pause AdWords and adjust your message. Then turn the traffic tap on again and see what happens.
Once you have a steady flow of leads, you can begin testing follow up and conversion strategies the same way.
And Now for a Completely Different Metaphor
Reading about marketing is like reading a book on tennis.
Studying your market is like taking a tennis lesson. Engaging your market by sending traffic to your site is like playing a match. That’s where actually improve your game.
If you get the traffic via SEO or social media, you’ve probably put in hundreds of hours of work to send traffic to a lead and sales funnel of unknown quality. That’s like playing your first tennis match at the French Open.
Using AdWords is like joining a local tennis league. You get all the benefit of being in the game without playing way over your head.
And since being in the game can make you sweaty, don’t forget how to shower safely.
Image Credit: stevendepolo/Flickr
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!