Or what I learned about Internet marketing from a 120 year old bookâ€¦
Claude C. Hopkins was one of the greatest advertising men of his day (1866-1932).Â After an extremely successful career, one that earned him a fortune in his day, he set out to record the principles that he uncovered and to write out his general philosophy on how to attain success in advertising.
The first principle he writes about as outlined in Scientific Advertising is that everything must be tracked and tested. We should never count on our own opinions or the opinions of a few others to decide whatâ€™s best where advertising and marketing are concerned.
Mastery is gained by repetition, tracking and learning from experience. Itâ€™s been said that it takes 7 years to master something or roughly 10,000 hours of study and application; however, if you continue to do the same things over and over during those 10,000 hours, itâ€™s unlikely youâ€™ll come anywhere close to mastering Internet marketing strategy or any other worthwhile skill.
When it comes to marketing, and especially Internet marketing, everything significant you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis should be tracked and tested.
Here are a few snippets from Hopkins book. Keep in mind these ideas are over 100 years old.
â€œIndividuals may come and go, but they leave their records and ideas behind them. These become a part of the organizationâ€™s equipment, and a guide to all who follow. Thus, in the course of decades, such agencies become storehouses of advertising experiences, proved principles, and methods.â€
â€œNearly every selling question which arises in business is accurately answered by many experiences. Under these conditions, where they long exist, advertising and merchandising become exact sciences. Every course is charted. The compass of accurate knowledge directs the shortest, safest, cheapest course to any destination.â€
â€œWe learn principles and prove them by repeated tests. This is done through keyed advertising, by traced returnsâ€¦ We compare one way with many others, backward and forward, and record the results. When one method invariably proves best, that method becomes a fixed principle.â€
â€œOur final conclusions are always based on cost per customer or cost per dollar of sale.â€
â€œSome things we learn in this way apply only to particular linesâ€¦others apply to all lines. They become fundamentals for advertising in general. They are universally applied. No wise advertiser will ever depart from those unvarying laws.â€
So how do you go about tracking and testing your online marketing efforts?
The first way is to install an analytics system such as Google Analytics on your website.
An analytics system will attract the majority of activity that takes place on your site.
The second way is to create and maintain a tracking journal. A tracking journal is simply a document you create where you track your marketing activities over the course of time. Ideally you will monitor and record your activities week to week. Luckily much of the work is done for you by your analytics system, however, there is still a lot of information that your analytics system canâ€™t account for.
For example the delay between when you promote a story on Digg or another social news site and when that story begins generating traffic to your site. Or how long it takes Google to recognize an inbound link after itâ€™s been created from another site that you own. These are good things to know and things that can only be figured out by meticulous tracking.
A few of the things is would be good to track include:
- The date of any posts to your blog and where you promoted these posts online
- The date, websites uses, and number of links you create on any given day
- Any and all changes to your pay-per-click marketing campaigns
- Any videos, emails or other content you create that resides on a third party website
- Any social media campaigns
- Your social media graph or the growth of your social networks over time
- The amount of traffic your sites receive each month
- The number of leads and sales youâ€™re making each month
And so onâ€¦
I prefer to use Google Docs for this kind of thing so I always have easy access to the tracker wherever I am. The tracker should be used with your analytics reports â€“ compare them from time to time, every 1-2 weeks so you maintain a tight watch on whatâ€™s working and whatâ€™s not.
Tracking leads to specific knowledge instead of generalities and specific knowledge of what works is powerful. Specific knowledge is what you should be after here. And the more specific you get in terms of results being generated, the more of an edge youâ€™ll have over the vast number of people who operate on general principles, who fail to track, and who end up operating sloppily as a result.
If Hopkins was alive today, I think heâ€™d end this post with this final, concise reminder. Take it to heart and apply it to your own online marketing and traffic generation efforts:
â€œSuccess is a rarity, maximum success an impossibility, unless one is guided by laws as immutable as the law of gravitation. No guesswork is permitted.â€ â€“ Claude Hopkins, Scientific Advertising