Sales & Marketing Analytics

As a small business owner, it’s challenging to get your sales and marketing program in place. But learning how to measure performance and optimise results may seem like a whole other hill to climb.

You likely already have access to Google Analytics, and maybe some other analytics tools, but are you using them?

The challenge is less about the software learning curve and more about knowing what to look for and how to analyse data. That’s what this article is about; how to think about your website analytics as a business owner.

Let’s Start With Your Objectives

There’s no point in measuring sales and marketing performance until you’re clear what you’re trying to accomplish.

The most common goals include:

  1. To get sales from new clients
  2. To generate repeat sales
  3. To develop client relationships or to develop existing accounts
  4. To attract new distribution partners
  5. To drive sales through distribution
  6. To attract talent to the business

Most of these can be summed up as ways to increase your rate of earnings growth. But each of these scenarios requires a different approach to marketing and measurement.

Let’s focus in on the first scenario: to get sales from new clients. Before you can understand how well you’re doing, you need to define what success looks like.

You have two basic ways to look at it:

  1. Profit on an average first sale
  2. Profit over the lifetime of a client (ideally in their first year)

Either way, to determine your profit, you need to select a maximum amount you can afford to invest in acquiring a new customer. For easy math, let’s assume you can afford to invest $200 to bring on a new client. Using this amount, you need to step through your sales funnel, to see if you are attracting new clients at a profit.

What’s A Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel includes the main steps a person must take to become your client. The funnel starts with some form of first impression and cascades down to a completed sale.

Here’s an online example:

  1. First Impression – Person comes into contact with your advertisement
  2. Click-Through – Person clicks on your advertisement or types in your web address
  3. Website Visit – Person arrives on your website
  4. Visitor Engagement – Person decides to stay on website, looks around, or bounces off
  5. Sales Inquiry – Person decides to reach out (via phone, email or in-person visit)
  6. Qualified Lead – You talk and determine if there is a real opportunity and fit
  7. Completed Sale – You complete a sale and acquire a new client

Each stage in the funnel represents a conversion from one stage to the next. The ratio of people moving from one stage to the next is your conversion rate. Conversion rates are expressed as percentages. Each conversion accumulates a cost to get a person to that stage in your funnel. After all the conversions are calculated, you end up with an average cost per sale or an average cost per new client.

For example:

  • Let’s say you paid $2.00 per click to get visitors to your website
  • If 50% of those people engage with your site, the unit cost per engaged visitor is $4.00
  • If 5% of engaged visitors contact you for sales assistance, the unit cost per inquiry is $80.00
  • If 70% of those inquiries are qualified, the unit cost per qualified lead is $114.29
  • If 70% of those opportunities became a sale, the unit cost per sale is $163.27

In this example, the cost of sale is under the $200 maximum you established as your goal. Well done. However, what happens if your average cost per click increases to $5.00?

It’s common for all of these conversion rates to be different for each traffic source, device, demographic segment, etc. The active refinement of your audience segments, traffic sources and the organisation of your sales process is how you optimise results and maximise your return on investment.

Without measuring conversion rates along the length of your sales funnel, you’re left to speculate and rely on hope as your strategy.

The Trouble With Web Analytics

One of the biggest challenges with web analytics is the overwhelming amount of data. There’s enough data to choke ten cabinet ministers. The challenge is looking past the noise to see what matters. There are so many different lenses to view web data through that you really need to know what you’re looking for.

What Data Matters To Business Owners?

Let’s look at the data as an active investor. Your goal is to generate a good return on your investment. The main way to do this is to drive down your average client acquisition costs. Every positive refinement you make improves your rate of return.

Think about each stage of the process. There are refinement opportunities all the way down the funnel.

Campaign Stage
  1. Optimise your choice of advertising channels in your marketing mix
  2. Review your choice of keywords and negative keywords
  3. Refine your target audience by gender, age, income, location, etc.
  4. Select the devices people are visiting you on
  5. Review the style, format and content of your advertising creative
Engagement Stage
  1. Confirm webpage people are directed to is relevant to the advertisement
  2. Refine content on webpage to ensure it will engage the user and invite them to continue
  3. Review rest of website to ensure it supports the visitor’s decision making, makes them feel safe and compels them to act
Conversion Stage
  1. This stage diverges depending on whether you’re focused on sales lead generation or e-commerce transactions. For Sales Lead Generation, ensure there is a clear call to action. A phone number to call, a form to complete, a download or similar – which is followed up upon by a person. For eCommerce, ensure the shopping cart and payment process are easy to use.
Follow-up Stage
  1. If you have their contact information, what are you going to do with it? How will you follow up to close the sale in lead generation? How will you support and re-engage a person to get them back for more in an e-commerce scenario?

Your data allows you to peer into each stage of the client’s experience to see how well your process is working. What you’re looking for are ways to refine every point in the process. In every stage, you have different data to dig into but you can start with the stages themselves. Which stage is the most problematic? Your data tells you where to look.

The Opportunity

What’s exciting about all this as a small business owner is how accessible this process is. The costs are very low, and the data is almost immediately accessible. You don’t need to be an expert in digital marketing or data analytics, you just need to ask better questions of your suppliers.

What Questions Should You Ask?

Key questions to ask include:

  1. What is the maximum you can invest in acquiring a customer?
  2.  What are your actual costs (min and max) to acquire a customer?
  3. Who’s the most responsive audience to your ads?
  4. Which audiences are the most engaged with your content?
  5. Who’s buying the most readily, for the least cost?
  6. How do you target ideal prospects with your promotions?
  7. What are the stages in your sales funnel and can you measure them all?
  8. What are the conversion rates and unit costs at each stage in the funnel?
  9. What’s a realistic conversion rate for each stage in the process?
  10. What would your rate of return look like if you hit those conversion targets?
  11. Which stages are most responsible for driving up your client acquisition costs?
  12. If you have issues, can you drill down and see what’s going on?
  13. What are your optimisation priorities?

If your marketing team can’t answer these questions, consider expanding your team or making a change. It’s not about you learning everything yourself. The greatest source of power is knowing what questions to ask and how to interpret the answers. After that, you need a team who can help you refine and optimise your marketing.

How To Start Measuring Your Marketing

Make sure you’re capable of tracking results all the way down your sales funnel. Depending on how your business works, you’ll use a mix of different technologies.

These tools include:

  • Webmaster accounts with Google and Bing
  • Online advertising control panels
  • Website analytics suites, such as Google Analytics
  • Heatmapping application
  • Call tracking application
  • Point of sale (POS) system
  • CRM (customer relationship management) software or an opportunity management system
  • Email marketing system
  • “Voice of the customer” measurement (online surveys, phone surveys, complaints and reviews)

Take an inventory of your systems and see what you have and what holes you need to plug in your sales and marketing feedback machinery.

Closing Thoughts

You don’t need to be an expert at business intelligence or data analysis. What you need are tools and suppliers to help you get your tracking infrastructure in place. Then you need reports that explain what’s going on. This stuff is not rocket science anymore. Analytics tools are getting to be as common as cappuccino machines. The low-cost and high availability of analytics and reporting tools have whittled down the excuses not to act, down to one.

What’s The Remaining Obstacle?

Here’s a hint. One Letter. Starts with U.

If you want your sales and marketing to generate a good return on investment, you’re the only one in your way. This is great news because you’re the person you have the most control over.

If you want your marketing investments to work, step-up and make it happen with all the affordable analytical tools and data. Once you get over your resistance, you’ll appreciate how much control you’ve gained. It’s really very exciting and not as daunting as it appears.

How To Move Forward

Start by asking better questions of your suppliers. Then look closely at their findings and ask them to explain your options. If you get in the habit of asking good questions and acting on the findings, you’ll be engaged in marketing and data analytics in no time.

To help you learn about marketing performance optimisation, we’ve prepared several Free Marketing eBooks. The ones most relevant to this conversation are Investing in Advertising, then Successful Websites and Increasing Conversion Rates.

What Is Marketing?

When I started my first company, I started asking the question “What is marketing?” Why? Because I needed clients.

My approach to answering this question was to read dozens of books. I interviewed marketing consultants from agencies, engaged business coaches, hired an experienced salesperson, and I learned everything I could from mentors.

The more people I asked, the more confused I became. Everyone had a different answer.

Answers Referenced Tactics

I found people’s responses reflected the type of business they were in and the tactics they used. The tendency was to describe marketing as tactics like trade shows, social media, websites, networking or whatever.

The problem is, tactics don’t address the “What is marketing question?”. The tactics actually distract you from understanding marketing.

If the marketing insiders can’t agree on what marketing is, how is a small business owner supposed to figure it out?

Therein lies the problem. Most of us don’t figure it out. We either avoid it, or we fixate on tactics we hope will generate business, somehow. We end up searching for the proverbial magic bullet or simply chasing the next shiny thing. Then we engage in what amounts to “Random Acts of Marketing.”

So What Is Marketing?

The Oxford Dictionary defines marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

The Business Dictionary defines marketing as “the management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.” They go on to describe the classic 4 P’s of marketing being Product, Price, Place and Promotional Strategy.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “the activity, set of instructions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The Wikipedia definition is not bad. They say “marketing is the study and management of exchange relationships. Marketing is the business process of creating relationships with and satisfying customers. With its focus on the customer, marketing is one of the premier components of business management.”

The range of definitions is vast. Heidi Cohen published an article where she compiled 72 different definitions of marketing; which speaks to the difficulty in defining it.

Operationally Defining Marketing

If the experts can’t agree, the next best thing is to operationally define what marketing means to your business.

Let’s start with some core ideas. The first is, marketing is not about you. It’s about facilitating the needs of your customers as they journey through your business.

Start with the old marketing maxim, “What’s in it for me?”. I would however, encourage you to take this idea and extend it beyond the first sale. Look at the “What’s in it for me?” idea over the lifetime of you and your client’s relationship, with the intent to maximize lifetime value.

The second idea is to look at marketing as a process and an investment strategy, rather than a series of independent “to do” activities. Think, “I’m building a relationship assembly line”. A machine that systematically produces and nurtures profitable customer relationships.

If you’re building a marketing machine, how will it work? What is the sequence of steps? How will each sub-process chain together to create the outcomes you need? Then determine how your system will earn a decent return on investment by defining performance criteria.

This systems-thinking, process-mapping, and focus on key performance indicators will guide how you approach marketing and keep you from falling into the “random acts of marketing” trap.

Making The Shift To Systems Thinking

When I first started to get my head around marketing, I visualized a manufacturing assembly line. Then an oil refinery. I live in Calgary, Alberta so I ran with what I knew. An oil refinery is where crude oil gets refined into useful products like diesel, gasoline, kerosene, naphthalene, etc. I asked myself, how would my marketing refinery work? Then I wondered, how does the oil and gas industry work?

The oil and gas industry gets split into upstream, midstream and downstream segments. Upstream is about the exploration and extraction of raw materials (mining for clients). The mid-stream is about refining the raw materials into usable products (qualifying and segmenting customers). The downstream is about bringing the product to market (maximizing customer lifetime value). It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s workable.

Your marketing system needs to take all three of these stages into account to realize its full potential. No single act of marketing has a chance of doing much good, outside of the system as a whole.

Defining Your Marketing System

Think of marketing as choreographing your customer’s experience as they move through your business. Your marketing system must reliably and cost-effectively reach, enroll, develop and retain clients at scale. The two key outcomes of your marketing system are client relationships and earnings growth.

This notion of experience choreography (to earn profitable short and long-term relationships) speaks to the full scope of marketing. It also helps explain why it’s so challenging to answer the “what is marketing?” question.

Think about how many different skills are involved in developing an oil refinery. Marketing is no different. Marketing requires systems thinking and leadership to design, develop and operate it effectively.

Breaking Down The Marketing Process

  1. Design: Develop your brand, positioning, purpose and process.
  2. Attention: An external process to make people aware of you.
  3. Engagement: Get people to interact with your content or information.
  4. Enrollment: Attempt to inspire people and incite action.
  5. Purchase: Facilitate a buyer’s purchase and support process.
  6. Reputation: The experience you design translates into customer satisfaction.
  7. Sharing: Delighted customers share their experience and offer referrals.
  8. Retention: Communicate with customers to entice them back.
  9. Recognition: Thank people to show appreciation and build relationships.
  10. Recovery: When mistakes happen, you work to restore trust in the relationship.

There’s more to it than this, but you get the idea. Marketing is a process that can span years.

Choreographing a long-term customer experience is a complex, transdisciplinary undertaking.

Marketing Is Not A Tactic

Hopefully, you’re starting to see that marketing is not any single activity. Marketing is the system you build to select and guide clients through your business, at a profit. When you put marketing in this context, you can relate everything you do in marketing to improving some segment of your customer’s journey.

My Answer To “What Is Marketing?”

Over the years, there’s one definition of marketing that I’ve adopted: “Marketing is everything you do to grow your business.” I like this definition because it’s broad, inclusive and outcome-oriented.

Where To From Here?

I fully acknowledge this systems view of marketing can seem too large to take on. It can seem intimidating like “eating an elephant”.

However, as the old saying goes, you eat an elephant one bite at a time, and so it is with marketing. People also say a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and so does marketing.

Don’t let the scope of marketing deter you from taking it on. All it takes is a little Pragmatic Planning.

A Marketer’s Lament

One of the most regretable things I see is 20, 30 or 100+-year-old companies that never moved past their random acts of marketing. Sure they developed goodwill and brand equity over time however, they’ve often developed few systems, processes, controls or intention behind their marketing. Their strategy often amounts to hoping for the best while controlling costs.

Despite whatever success they achieved, what if they had started their 1,000-mile journey and made consistent progress over the years? What could have been?

If you’re a start-up or a small business owner who’s willing to take small incremental steps towards a larger goal, you have a huge opportunity and the potential for a giant competitive advantage.

To start, envision your system and make sure that every small step aligns with your vision. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make in short order.

This argument might sound like advocating for the tortoise over the hare, but you don’t need to go slowly. The point is to have a system and to work your system.

Taking Constructive Action

If this explanation of marketing makes sense, we’ve prepared a series of 18 free marketing eBooks to help you get started. The eBooks are not how-to manuals on Facebook or some sales pitch in disguise. We are making these marketing eBooks available in the spirit of, “I wish I had this information when I first started”. Hopefully you’ll take advantage of them.

Making The Shift

If you’re anything like your peers, you’re engaged in Random Acts of Marketing and wasting a great deal of your marketing dollars. To invest wisely, you need to Make The Shift and start approaching marketing differently.

Read our Free PDF eBook and in 10 minutes, you’ll be re-thinking your marketing investment strategy. You wouldn’t be the first to share a few expletives under your breath either.

You’ll learn

  • A more effective approach
  • About six essential paradigm shifts
  • How the earnings growth process works

Where to start

The good news is the most important shift is in your thinking. The shifts are more philosophical than technical and even tiny companies can do it.

This eBook will help you appreciate the problem and the implications to your business. The eBook introduces a more systematic approach that gets results and puts you in control of your marketing investments.  To learn more Download this eBook or check out The Whole Series of eBooks here.

Want More Referrals?

If you’re spending time and money on networking there’s a good chance you’re wasting both.

In-person networking is time-consuming, so you had better have a plan to justify your investment. So what is your plan? Will you Join the Chamber of Commerce or a networking group like BNI and hope for the best? You know that hope is not a strategy.

What you need to realise about networking is it takes commitment. It’s about building relationships and earning the trust and confidence of others. Once people know, like and trust you, you have a chance of getting referrals.

You also have to realise that people are busy, distracted and self-interested. They’re not going to work very hard on your behalf. It’s up to you to make it so easy for them to refer you. How are you going to make it easy for people?

This eBook on networking starts you off at the very beginning and walks you through the thinking of how to approach networking and how to make yourself easy to refer to. Download this eBook or Download  The Whole Series of eBooks here.

 

Free Marketing eBook

If you’re a startup or a small business owner about to start marketing, download our Free Marketing eBook. 

The eBook is meant for people with little to no experience with marketing and for those who’d like their existing marketing to be more effective.

The eBook starts you off at the very beginning with the fundamental questions underlying your marketing program. If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not ready to market without taking on unnecessary risk.

If you’re contemplating a marketing investment of any sort, take the next few minutes and review this guide. You’ll come away from the effort thinking differently about your marketing and ready to engage in a meaningful discussion about next steps.

Don’t worry there’s no fluff.  This is the same conversation we have with people every day who are just getting started or revisiting their marketing program. We hope you find our eBook illuminating and instructive. Download This eBook or our Complete eBook Series here.

Making Advertising Work

Advertising is all around us. We’ve all grown up with it on TV and radio, on signs, in magazines and now on our computers and phones. It’s natural as a business owner to want to advertise too.

Historically, advertising was a way to reach a mass audience, and in many ways it still is. If however, your business is local, or you sell to a niche market, it can be challenging to make advertising work.

The main challenges are scale, cost and focus. Many small businesses lack scale, and most media cannot focus down far enough to speak to your target audience, resulting in huge waste regarding the reach of your ad campaign.

What should you do?

Should you abandon the idea entirely? Not necessarily.

Ideally, what you’re looking for is the ability to focus exclusively on your target audience.

You want to be able to focus on:

  • Small geographic areas (ideally at a community scale or smaller)
  • Specific days and times
  • Tight demographic groups (age, gender, income, education, language etc.)
  • People with specific interests, affiliations, activities and life events
  • People with certain jobs or titles at specific types of companies
  • Specific devices (computers, tablets or phones)
  • Specific search criteria

You need to advertise to who, where, when and how you want.

Is this possible? It depends.

Each media option offers different combinations of focus, and you need to select the ones most suited to your needs. The media channels with the most control are search engines, social media, local search, mobile and online display advertising. Other tightly focused options include local signage, direct mail, telephone campaigns and affiliate marketing.

The problem is usually wading through the options to determine which is best for you. The ad industry does not make it easy as they don’t present apples to apples comparisons. People often need some help to sort it all out in the form of a strategic media plan and forecast model.

Is it affordable? It depends.

Affordability is relative. The cost of entry is usually low enough for small businesses to use and refine, but there is a steep learning curve to overcome.

Is it effective?

It can be if you do it right. You have all the means available to make it effective if you choose to learn how it works and you take the time to master it.

Typically, what makes your advertising effective is a combination of the relevance and attractiveness of your offer, your competition, your sales process, your ability to track results and refine your approach plus a host of other factors that have nothing to do with the advertising itself.

Making advertising work for small business translates into either a steep learning curve or working with an advocate who’ll help you through the process. The trick is separating the advocates from the media salespeople who’re paid a commission when you buy advertising from them. They only get paid if you buy, so expecting unbiased advice from them could be naive.

A true marketing advocate will help you understand your risks and readiness to advertise. They will show you what you need to do to prepare and they’ll help you set the stage for success, before risking your money on high risk and ill-conceived advertising campaigns.

All told the biggest risk to manage is often your own impatience and reluctance to take on an on-going continuous improvement process. Entrepreneurs are often predisposed to a one-off, trial and error approach.

Success in advertising is like learning an instrument or learning to play hockey; it takes time, training, practice and the money to pay for all the gear. You being the primary barrier is the good news, because if you’re the main obstacle, you’re also the key to success. Success in small business advertising comes down to whether you decide to take it on and develop the skills to win.

Like everything else important you’ve ever taken on, it starts with goal setting, planning, committing to making it happen and then doing it long enough to get results, ideally with the help of a coach, mentor or advocate.

If you’re considering advertising and you’d like to determine if you’re ready, let’s talk. We’ll be happy to help you make an informed choice on how to move forward.

Marketing Is Not Advertising

Over the past six months, I’ve spent a lot of time meeting other business owners. What they keep sharing with me is their impression that marketing is just another word for advertising. When I share with them what marketing is, the most common sentiment is surprise. To my surprise, many business owners have little understanding of marketing beyond the ads they see and the sales pitches they endure.

If I stop and recall my introduction to marketing 25+ years ago, I remember how confused I was. It was such a foreign way to think. I struggled to get my head around it for quite a while. My mentor at the time explained marketing to me like this,

“Marketing is everything you do to grow your company.”

I’ve always liked the simplicity of that description and yet, when I first heard it, didn’t understand what he meant.

What Is Marketing?

What I’ve come to understand is marketing affects all facets of a company. That’s because all aspects of a company affect people’s experience. I now see marketing as the unifying principle behind a business. Its the leadership premise or the platform companies are built upon.

Marketing starts with an idea about who you are, and whom you serve. The idea expands into how you create value for people in a way that is distinct from your competitors. Marketing is the culture of a company and the experience you routinely create for people. Its who you are, how you sell and how you build the economic relationships that drive your businesses forward.

What’s The Purpose Of Marketing?

As a business owner, you are either in startup mode, growth mode, optimising mode or in transition. A transition is when you’re dealing with change, such as a downturn, new competition, succession or a pending sale. The strategic purpose of marketing is to guide your company through each stage and transition to achieve target business outcomes.

Confusing marketing with advertising is tragic, and yet that’s what many people do.

Marketing is not advertising. Marketing is everything you do to grow your company and to shape the experience you create for people. Shaping the experience you create for people is a long way from advertising. The leadership intent is different and so are your outcomes.

Given this expanded definition, let’s have a meaningful conversation about you, your business and what you’re trying to accomplish. I think you’ll find the broader definition of marketing exciting and a valuable opportunity to shape and grow your company, beyond what your current definition affords.

Over the past few years we’ve developed a series of Eighteen Free eBooks on different aspects of marketing and marketing leadership. The eBooks are meant to help you better understand marketing and how to take control of your marketing investments. Please download as many as you like.

15 Classic Marketing Books

It seems like every week I’m in a conversation with a writer, a designer, or a small business owner about what books to read to get up to speed on Marketing. That is a tall order for sure. There are far too many topics to do justice to the entirety of Marketing. However, having a grasp of the fundamentals across the core disciplines is all that most people need to shape their understanding, to direct their efforts, and to help them make better decisions within their own discipline.

In the interest of not wanting to answer this question over and over again, I offer this outline. Here are 15 classic and influential books I’ve read on internet sales and marketing over the past 15 years. I have organized these books into what I believe to be a logical sequence. These books address a comprehensive view of the basics. I can assure you that I needed to read 10 times this many books in order to find these 15 gems, so no complaining.

Your total cost to purchase these 15 books is about $500, and I wager it will take you 50+ hours to read them. This is the equivalent of an hour a week of reading for a year, or 10 days worth of TV time for the average person. At $100 / hr for each hour of reading, plus the cost of books, this constitutes a $5,500 investment in training. However, I invite you to consider the impact this learning will have on your business or professional career over the next decade or more.

Here it goes…

    1. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs
      by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah
      This is my current favourite introductory overview of the whole process of internet marketing. I must have recommended this book 20 times this year, and I have colleagues who are on their third reading of it. Read our full review

 

    1. The New Rules of Marketing and PR
      by David Meerman Scott
      This is my second favourite introduction, that is focused more on the current paradigm shifts occurring in public relations and marketing.

 

    1. Scientific Advertising
      by Claude C. Hopkins
      Written in 1923, this is a groundbreaking work that is still relevant and contrary thinking today. The book highlights the need for measurement in marketing. It is also available as a free PDF download online if you poke around a bit.

 

    1. Crossing The Chasm
      by Geoffrey Moore
      I recommend this book because it drives home the point about what marketing really has to do for businesses that do not sell commodities. This book highlights the problems I spend my life trying to solve.

 

    1. Duct Tape Marketing
      by John Jantsch
      For similar reasons, I recommend this book to writers, designers, and small business people because it highlights our job as marketers more clearly and pragmatically than Moore’s book. It focuses on sales lead generation and bridges between traditional and internet marketing. Read our full review

 

    1. SPIN Selling 
      by Neil Rakham
      SPIN Selling is my all time favourite sales book. It doesn’t seem to matter how effective the marketing is, the sales leads ultimately end-up in the hands of a person who needs to make a sale. SPIN selling is another paradigm-busting book that is still relevant after over 22 years. Read our full review

 

    1. Made To Stick
      by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
      Likely the most challenging aspect of marketing is figuring out how to make our ideas relevant, impactful, and sticky. This book will challenge your thinking as it invites you to take your communication from boring to extraordinary. It offers principles to follow and loads of examples to consider.

 

    1. Net Words
      by Nick Usborne

      This is one of the first books to contrast writing for the web from writing in general. It is simple, relevant, and challenging. This is an excellent place to start looking at your writing differently.

 

    1. Web Copy That Sells
      by Maria Veloso
      This book will challenge you to go beyond writing for the web, into writing to make a sale. It is the most comprehensive book I have found on the subject. What I like about this book is the emphasis it places on measurement.

 

    1. Don’t Make Me Think
      by Steve Krug
      This book on web design and usability is aptly named and what is more impressive is that the book follows its own advice. I challenge you to find a more accessible and better-designed book anywhere. It will also challenge you to think about websites differently.

 

    1. Save The Pixel
      by Ben Hunt
      Now in its second edition, I was pleased to recently upgrade my first edition. This book is also focused on usability. It provides dozens of before and after examples of original and improved web designs. It also breaks the whole design process down into key principles to follow.

 

    1. The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization
      by Enge, Spencer, Fishkin, and Stricchiola
      You don’t need to become an SEO expert, but you do need to understand how it works. This is true for writers in particular, but also designers, coders, and business owners. This is a hefty book and you need to spend some time wading through it to grasp how your decisions can make or break your website from an organic search perspective.

 

    1. Landing Page Optimization
      by Tim Ash
      Where the rubber meets the road is with landing page conversion effectiveness. How do you take an average run-of-the-mill landing page and transform it into a high performance selling machine, is the topic of discussion? This is one of the first books on the subject worth reading.

 

    1. Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics
      by Brian Clifton
      If you are not already familiar with Google Analytics and its capabilities to increase your marketing effectiveness, then you need to read this book. It takes you beyond the basics available from weblogs into what is possible with Google Analytics.

 

  1. Always Be Testing
    by Eisenburg, Quarto-von Tivadar
    Split testing and multi-variant analysis of a landing page’s performance may be an advanced topic, but why would you bother to read all these books if you are going to stop short of the finishing line? This is the ultimate goal, where you have your marketing system up and running and you get to focus on squeezing every ounce of performance out of it. This book will give you a glimpse into where you and the rest of the competition are headed.

There You Have It

These are some key books to help shape your thinking about marketing. I sincerely hope this list saves you some time, streamlines your learning process, and has a positive impact on your business and career.

If you have any questions about these books or if you would like to recommend better alternatives, please comment on this post or contact me to share your ideas.

If you’re not up for reading 15 full length books, we’ve developed a series of Free Marketing eBooks to get you started and on the right track as a small business owner. Please have a look.