Here at IXP we have respected Dave Ramsey for a long time. We appreciate his emphasis on debt-free living as well as his no-nonsense approach to personal finances.

More recently, we have been reading and learning from Dave Ramsey’s book  EntreLeadership,  which someone has described as Dave Ramsey’s “business playbook.” It’s a great read, highly recommended if you want your business to grow.

Last week, the EntreLeadership website published a great little article called “Three Steps to a Better Marketing ROI.”  That article was the inspiration for this post, because it connects to what we do here at IXP: Help you drive profit growth by improving your online marketing ROI.

So I want to piggyback on the EntreLeadership article by looking at six things:

  • Three potential distractions in your quest for improving your online marketing ROI
  • Three key success factors for improving your online marketing ROI
3 Gargoyles

3 Gargoyles by Peter aka AnemoneProjectors (Creative Commons  license)

Three potential distractions from improving your online marketing ROI

1. Flashy design

Design does make a difference, because it helps you build rapport with your buyers. But  content (text, images, video, audio, etc.)  is the most important factor in the effectiveness of your website and online marketing program. The purpose of your website design should be to highlight your content and enhance the perception of your brand. It should never be so flashy that it distracts from the message of your website.

2. Buying online ads

Pay-per-click ads can be a good investment in some situations. However, ads cannot (and should not) be the primary focus of your marketing efforts. Online ads are a marketing tactic, not a marketing strategy.

3. Mobile apps

Like online ads, mobile apps are a marketing tactic, not a marketing strategy. Unless mobile apps are what your business sells, or you can demonstrate that they are central to your business model, building a mobile app is probably a distraction. On the other hand, you should make sure that your website employs responsive web design.

3 cows

photo credit: Eduardo Amorim  (Creative Commons license)

Three key success factors for improving your online marketing ROI

1. Content marketing strategy

Content is the decisive factor in improving your online marketing ROI. Content comes in many forms: blog posts, e-books, white papers, podcasts, videos, infographics, and more. Content marketing is necessary to attract traffic to your website, convert visitors into leads, and turn leads into customers. You must have a well-articulated and well-executed content marketing strategy in order to drive profit growth.

Dave Ramsey’s websites (DaveRamsey.com, MyTotalMoneyMakeover.com, and EntreLeadership.com)  make a great case study of this principle. Dave Ramsey formed his company, The Lampo Group, in 1988 — just a couple years after losing everything due to poor debt management. He published his first book, Financial Peace, in 1992.  In 1996, he launched DaveRamsey.com, and began syndicating his radio show. By 2001, DaveRamsey.com was a full-fledged e-commerce website and was “making a modest contribution to company revenue,” according Patrica Seybold Group’s 2011 case study of DaveRamsey.com.

Ramsey makes no secret about the fact that a robust content marketing strategy has fueled the growth of his website from March 2013 and, in turn, his company. In 18 years, he has put a truckload of content on his site: Google estimates that it has over 500,000 pages from DaveRamsey.com in its index.    As he often says: “If you help enough people, you don ™t have to worry about money.”

You can read more the ingredients about Dave Ramsey’s content marketing strategy in my March 2013 article “web strategy advice from Dave Ramsey.”

2. Marketing ROI analysis

This is a concise way of saying “measuring what works and what doesn’t work.” Define your goals. Fire up your content marketing strategy. Then track your progress toward those goals.

There are a variety of tools for online marketing ROI analysis:

  • Google Analytics – The features of this free tool from Google continue to grow. This is a great place to start and, when properly configured, provides helpful insights into traffic acquisition and lead conversion.
  • HubSpot – HubSpot’s all-in-one marketing software allows you to put faces to your website traffic data. HubSpot’s analytics tools allow you to measure not only how many website visitors turned into leads, but also how many leads became customers. HubSpot calls this “closed-loop analytics,” because it shows you the path your customers took to close.
  • Adobe Marketing Cloud  – This is an enterprise-level analytics platform the Lampo Group has used to analyze and optimize the ROI of DaveRamsey.com.

3. Knowing your buyers

This is the most necessary success factor. You must know your buyers in order to develop a customer-centric content marketing strategy. Only a customer-centric content marketing strategy will attract the right visitors to your website, convert visitors into leads, and turn leads into customers.

Knowing your buyers is a constant challenge, but it is one we thrive on as marketers. Thankfully, there are tons of helpful tools you can use to get to know your buyers better. Creating buyer personas is essential. Understanding the buyer’s journey is crucial. Many businesses fly by the seat of their pants here, relying on intuitions. Successful salespeople usually have good intuitions about who their buyers are and what makes them tick.

However, imagine what kind of profit growth you could realize if you took the time (1) to research your buyers’ needs, motivations, and decision-making criteria and (2) to document and publish this information throughout your organizations. Buyer personas and buyer’s journey charts provide the context your entire organization needs to stay on track.

Related articles about the buyer’s journey and buyer personas:

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