Articles: Shake It Up, Baby!
Every Tuesday we have a two-hour marketing meeting at PowerMax HQ. During this meeting, we try to figure out this ever-changing advertising dilemma. The ongoing issue remains: how can we be seen? In this age of information, any web presence is but a grain of sand on a mile-long beach.
I struggled for five years to be seen as an independent author. I even wrote a book about Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author on some of the things I discovered about marketing online during my tenure as an emerging author.
By the end of my first year, I had spent thousands of dollars and countless hours in marketing efforts for my first book, a middle-grade fantasy novel. Imagine how soul-destroying it was to realize that I had to start all over again with the sequel.
It was as if nothing had stuck. Even after three thousand book sales and an 18,000-mile book tour, the big marketing campaign for book two’s release resulted in a whole 80 sales.
Frustrated and exhausted, I scrambled for new ideas and searched for new marketing trends. I couldn’t imagine starting from scratch.
In an effort to keep myself from complete burnout (and to keep our home out of foreclosure), I decided to do a marketing experiment. I wrote a racy novel under a mysterious persona, donned a wig and Victorian corset, and tackled the rising Steampunk market. This created persona gained more interest, landed me a fancy New York agent, got more invitations to events, and had more readers in just a few months. That first book went on to be an Amazon Gothic Romance bestselling novel!
I took a chance. I shook things up.
The experiment was a success!
Turns out, it was a fluke. It wasn’t the corset or wig or niche marketing that put my book on that bestseller list. Not at all. I think I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who could explain it. Some amalgam of the lovely cover design, the niche genre (Steampunk Romance), and luck. Perhaps my online marketing had a little to do with it, but it was very little. After all, if there was a proven formula for marketing success, everyone would be a bestselling author or a Fortune 500 company.
PowerMax’s CEO also conducted a marketing experiment by employing an SEO specialist this past spring. Over the course of this three-month experiment, an internet analytics program showed more traffic to the PowerMax website than previous months. It appeared the exorbitant amount spent on advertising worked.
There’s only one catch... the conversion rate hadn't changed.
As an author, my Tweets, Facebook posts, videos, radio shows, interviews, and blog articles sent more people to my website, but the bounce rate was high. The conversion rate, depressingly low. Analytics showed hundreds of unique visitors a day, quite impressive for an emerging author, but few (or, rather, none) of those people bought my book. They weren’t even staying on the website for very long. They came, and they left.
This is called the “bounce rate.” They came then bounced off the site.
A "conversion rate" is the ratio between the number of visits to a website and the number of those visits that turn into sales. In other words, if PowerMax.com has 5,000 visits one day but no one buys anything, that is a very low conversion rate. If 5 people buy something (0.1%), that's a better conversion rate. If 50 people buy something, that’s an excellent conversion rate!
Yes. 1% conversion is excellent in terms of internet marketing.
PowerMax’s spring marketing experiment showed more people visited the website, but those new visitors didn’t buy anything. They also didn’t call our Mac Experts.
We know all this because despite the internet traffic going up up up...sales didn’t follow suit.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, sales is the thing. It’s the bottom line. It’s whether we can pay our employees or have to shut the doors. It’s essential for a business model like PowerMax’s.
Don’t get me wrong! It was great more people came to the website! After all, it is a numbers game: the more people that visit the site means more will find the value in PowerMax and call our Mac Experts to order their new or used computer.
Numbers of visits do matter in the grand scheme of things, and analytics track those numbers.
But not if the ads aren't reaching our personal "niche" audience. If they get people to call in for the Barbie line of Mac Cosmetics instead of people in need of a Mac Computer, there is a problem with the advertising, a problem with the placement of the ads, and a problem with the keywords used.
A marketing campaign is only successful if it at least pays for itself. This experiment didn’t. When money for advertising (which is considerable) isn’t converting to sales to at least a break-even point, then a company must make a change.
So, our CEO decided to shake things up a bit.
Shake It Up, Baby, Now!
You might’ve noticed the front page of PowerMax’s website changed a few weeks back. In great big letters it reads: TECHNOLOGY SUCKS. It still makes me smile every time I see it. Our CEO emphasized how we needed something edgy, unique, and maybe even a little controversial. He threw that tagline out off the top of his head, and we all loved it.
Since we pride ourselves in providing a personalized experience, he wanted to inspire more of the web traffic to call our Mac Experts. He knew that people often get frustrated scrolling through page after page of search results. It’s so much more simple to find exactly what you need when you call our Mac Experts for help.
We have hidden a few “easter eggs” in PowerMax’s search pages. For those of you who play video games, you’re familiar with the concept of an “easter egg”: a fun little thing hidden for someone to stumble upon. Our marketing team came up with the idea and promptly implemented it. Our amazing graphic designer not only made the TECHNOLOGY SUCKS look amazing (as well as the rest of the site), but our coder worked his magic to make the fun happen.
Check it out!
Search for something and read those fun quips at the top. They get especially silly after about page seven (7) of the search results, where PowerMax is the very first to do something rather naughty. But make sure you follow the trail to the bitter end...
Max the Sasquatch might just expose you to something new.
Christine is a Technical Support Specialist and Content Writer for PowerMax. Follow her articles as she takes you “Behind the Sasquatch: A Look Inside PowerMax,” an inside look at the day-to-day operations from the perspective of a Woman in Tech. She’ll also post great Tech Tips, helping you get the most of your Mac apps as well as write about some common technical issues and how to fix them. Finally, Christine will periodically post some Tutorials that teach readers how to do things like make podcasts and iPhone apps. Find what you’re looking for in the categories on the right.
If you have a tech question or issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine for help.