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Removing “I Don’t Know” Holes From Your Business’s Online Marketing

By Erin  |   Online Marketing

I Don't Know in Online Marketing

In a recent Freakonomics podcast, Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt discussed how the words "I don't know" are the 3 words in the English language no one wants to say.

Let's talk about how this relates to your business's online marketing.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way. 

There are most definitely things that great online marketing agencies should tell you they don't know.

For example: knowing how Facebook will decides to change up their algorithm about who sees your posts.... or what Google will decide to penalize next.  If the team at your online marketing agency feels uncomfortable telling you "I don't know" when it comes to things they have no control over whatsoever, it might be time to begin quietly exploring alternative options.

Sometimes "I don't know" truly isn't appropriate

Here's what we'll focus on in today's post: Two pieces of the online marketing puzzle about which you shouldn't be hearing "I don't know" from great agencies:

#1 - Which Online Marketing Tactic Is Best For Your Business

Great online marketing agencies don't simply offer one specific tactic... and then blindly recommend that tactic to every new client that walks in the door.  Instead, they should be able to offer clients data-based recommendations about which (of the many, many) online marketing avenues would have the most likelihood of making an impact on your business.

#2. - An Understanding of ROI

Great online marketing agencies will always be laser focused on the actual ROI (return on investment) your business is receiving from its investment in online marketing. [Side note: Online marketing companies worth their salt won’t just know what ROI you’re receiving, they’ll be able to communicate this information to you clearly and in an easy to understand manner.]

What it's like when businesses try to determine which online marketing tactics to invest in on their own

Let’s pretend you wake up one morning and decide you’re going to determine, for yourself, which online marketing avenues your business should invest in.

You determine that, in order to gather the information you need to make a smart decision, you’ll read a handful of the top online marketing blogs each morning for one week straight.

After reading articles for an hour on Monday morning, you come to an early conclusion that your business needs help with Search Engine Optimization.

But then by Wednesday morning (and after reading through another 12 lengthy blog posts) you’ve changed your mind after realizing that you actually need to invest heavily in social media.

But then comes Friday afternoon. You’ve read through another 20 articles by this time and are convinced that your business can see more success if it seriously commits to writing more blog posts.

This “We’re-sure-THIS-is-the-tactic-we-need-to-move-forward-with-now!” phenomenon is not uncommon. Why? Because the amount of data and recommendations and opinions out there long ago surpassed overwhelming.  Because nearly every single online marketing blog you read will suggest you invest in a completely different tactic or combination of tactics. And no surprise here folks: when it comes to online marketing, there’s absolutely no end to the number and flavors of tactics businesses have the options of investing in.

The better way: start with analysis and data, not with tactics

The beyond-overwhelming glut of online marketing advice that exists on the web is the exact reason any exceptional online marketing agency will, before doing anything else, first take a big step back and understand your actual needs and goals.

Let me make this crystal clear: There should be no discussion about the online marketing tactics you should invest in until an understanding of your big-picture needs has been established.

Any online marketing agency you work with MUST:

  1. Gain clarity about your goals. Goals vary by company, and can be big-picture business goals (such as capturing leads and making sales), specific website goals (increasing traffic and keyword rankings), or social goals (increasing fans and engagement).
  2. Review and evaluate the setup and effectiveness of your current online marketing efforts.
  3. Thoroughly examine your website for conversion trouble zones. These are points on your website that may inadvertently be driving away potential leads and customers.
  4. Review your current analytics data to see what’s working and what’s not. (Or, set up that tracking if it’s not already.)
  5. Look at your competitors to see what could work for you as well as what you should avoid.

Only after an experienced online marketing agency has done these things can they begin confidently exploring with you which tactics would have the biggest impact on your business, and which could most quickly and cost-effectively move you forward toward your goals.

What this means to you: If an online marketing company suggests you move forward with something—whatever that may be (PPC, SEO, new website design, etc)—without first taking ample time to assess your existing situation, *run the other way.*

Knowing your ROI

Before implementing specific online marketing campaigns, proper tracking must be in place to ensure everything you invest in either results in a positive ROI or can be stopped or adjusted so your dollars never continue to be invested in something that doesn't make an impact for your business.

If proper tracking isn't set up, you can't know whether what you're investing in is making you money or losing you money.

Examples of how ROI can be measured with tracking include:

  • Common tools like Google Analytics can track each time a visitor takes a desired action on your website, such as submitting a lead form or making a purchase. This tracked data allows you to learn more about your visitors, including basic demographics, where they came from (specific URLs or social networks), and what landing pages they entered your website upon.
  • Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have tools that can link conversions to each social advertising campaign that you launch upon their networks.
  • Third party social media tools can link conversions to each social media update you send to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

For ROI to be tracked, expert installation of the tracking is key. Some businesses we work with have had analytics data properly installed and tracking for long periods of time. With other businesses, the first time they ever have accurate data tracking is when they begin working with us. 

Either way, proper data tracking is one of the most critical pieces of an online marketing foundation; it’s what allows you to determine what marketing work brings results to your bottom line.

Key takeaways

Even though it's healthy for everyone, including consultants and experts, to feel comfortable saying "I don't know", be wary if you regularly hear those words from an online marketing agency when you’re discussing what’s working and what’s not.

Your online marketing agency’s recommendations and strategies should be based on actual data, not guesses or blanket strategies that all clients receive.


Ready for more clarity, confidence, and a data-based online marketing strategy for your business? Learn more about our social media strategy, and website consulting services

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