I recently received the following question, “What are the steps to improve my marketing return on investment?”

Like most general marketing questions like this, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  The steps for your business may not be the same for my business and vice versa.  It all depends on your current situation.

So the bad news here is that I can’t give you a definitive, specific answer to your situation (without knowing more about the details of your business).

The good news is that I’m going to walk you through a tried-and-true process that should reveal the answer to you.  That is, of course, if you actually follow the 3 steps below…

3 steps to improve your marketing ROI

Step 1. Identify What’s Working

Where are your sales coming from right now?  Is Google Ads search advertising working? How about search engine optimization (SEO)?  Facebook Ads? Email marketing?

If you’re scratching your head, don’t worry, you’re not alone! Most businesses I talk to struggle to identify which marketing channels are profitably driving leads and sales.

To be clear, I’m not talking about website traffic.  Just because you’re getting thousands of visitors from a marketing channel doesn’t mean it’s working.  I’m talking about conversions (leads and sales).  And the only way to talk about conversions is to have conversion tracking installed on your site.

That’s step one.  Install conversion tracking and then review the data to identify what’s working.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Step 2. Identify Your Bottleneck

In step 1, you determined which marketing channels are driving leads and sales.  Now it’s time to dig a little deeper to see how we can improve what’s already working.

The question we’re looking to answer is, “Where is your sales funnel breaking down?”  In other words, where’s the bottleneck? What’s preventing those marketing channels from generating even more leads and sales?

The analogy here is a hose.  If you’ve ever played with a hose, then you know that you can slow down, and even stop, the flow of water by making a kink in the hose.  I remember as a kid I used to make a kink in the hose, get close to an unwitting friend, and then release the kink to shoot the water out like a fire hose. :)

The kink in my example is the bottleneck.  And our job is to find these kinks and release them so the sales can shoot into your business.

In order to find the kinks, you need to document your entire sales funnel.  By that, I mean write down every single step in the sales process from when a person lands on your website to when they become a paying customer.  Once you have your sales funnel mapped out, then dig into your analytics to see the conversion rates from each step to the next.

I guarantee that if you go through this process you’ll find steps where a high percentage of prospects are getting clogged up and not converting to customers.

Step 3. Write Down the Specific Next Steps

Let’s imagine you run an e-commerce website. Let’s say you’ve been following along here and you identified that SEO is driving conversions but that your final checkout page is a major bottleneck to sales.  Lots of prospective customers are adding products to their cart, clicking through to the checkout page, but not completing their order.

Now what?

Well, the natural instinct here is to write down a task like “fix checkout page” or “improve checkout conversions.”  Don’t worry if you already wrote that down… I struggle with this as well.

The problem is that those two tasks are not the very next steps to make an improvement.  The very next step is to either brainstorm with your team or a consultant to get ideas to test.  Then you’ll need to get your web developer to create the new checkout page.  And finally, you’ll need to create a split test experiment to see if your new page statistically improves the conversion rates of your current page.

See the difference?

On the surface, it may not seem like much, but if you write down the specific next steps rather than the overarching goal, then you’ll be more likely to cross it off your “To Do” list — and improve your ROI.

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