The Ultimate Marketing Optimization Guide For Small Businesses in 2024
Welcome to the ultimate guide to optimize your marketing in 2024. This guide is an extremely detailed approach on how I approach marketing optimization for my clients.
By reading this guide, you will gain a better understanding of all the intricate pieces that go into a digital marketing strategy, and how every optimization can pay dividends over time.
So let's get started!
Marketing Optimization First Steps
Before getting started it’s important to understand the pieces that go into a successful online marketing presence for a small business.
And for the record, when I say small business, I refer to companies that have 1-49 employees.
Some may say this is large, but I’ve noticed that marketing strategies for these companies are often similar to companies with 1-9 employees.
To get us started, let's break down each piece of our 2024 marketing plan.
How to Optimize Your Marketing in 2024:
- Understand Target Audience
- Optimize Websites
- Optimize Social Media Accounts
- Ensure Tracking Pixels are Placed
- Optimize Email Journeys
- Optimize Paid Media Campaigns
- Experiment and Run AB Tests
- Track & Iterate with Comprehensive Data
Each one of these sections goes over how I optimize a client's marketing presence and ensure they are getting the best possible returns on ad spend.
Understand Your Target Audience
Before I take the reins, I carefully take time to understand who the optimizing marketing efforts are for.
It would be a real shame if I went into a business, didn't talk to the subject matter experts (SMEs) and just chugged away - only to find out that months later, it was optimized for the wrong people.
It may not sound like this could happen to your small business, but recent studies show that over 70% of marketing endeavors fail because they haven't targeted their customers appropriately.
Having worked with small and large businesses in the United States, I have been on this rodeo over a 100 times in my life.
I’ve seen that ad strategy and understanding the target audience generally follows a standard approach.
How I Reach Ideal Customers and Understand Markets
- First, I identify the industry. I digest as much industry knowledge as possible from whitepapers and ebooks.
- Second, I determine the 30 essential keywords related to the business. Although the client may not be comfortable running paid ad campaigns, understanding what terms are commonly searched for in Google helps reveal different customer behaviors and their associated intent.
- Third, I conduct a complete competitive research audit for the client using SEMrush and LinkedIn/Facebook Ad Library. The main goals here are to identify competitors, analyze their websites, landing pages, ads, and creative. I document all of this info and place it into a document to eventually share with the client.
- Fourth, after conducting my research, I return to the SMEs and cross examine my findings with their insights. We refine anything that seems out of place, then I get set loose creating the first campaigns.
Wrapping Up on Target Markets and Ideal Customers
So that wraps up understanding your target audience. I think most marketing agencies don't spend enough time before getting started to thoroughly understand who they are supposed to be reaching. I hope you can already start to see the value and tangible insights that could be gained from doing so.
How to Optimize Your Website in 2024
Alright, now that I thoroughly understand your ideal customers, it's time to ensure your campaign's performance and owned assets all speak to those prospects. This means that your website not only loads fast, is structured to answer the most common objections/questions from individuals, and is a great user experience; but also, all the copy, the creative, and the brand's colors resonate with your ideal customers.
How to Optimize Your Website Speed
- First, I run a PageSpeed Insights test. This is a completely free tool that helps you understand how your website is loading in the search engine. I document the findings and begin crafting a plan to improve it over time.
- Second, I incorporate the StoryBrand Framework on all key selling pages. The StoryBrand Framework is a tried and true way to ensure your messaging is speaking to your prospects' questions at exactly the time and order they are thinking of them. These pages include the Home page and your landing page.
- Third, I examine each page's flow and page responsiveness. The website should load fast, as well as respond to small and large screens. Any issues with this need immediate adjustment.
Over 50% of your website visitors are from mobile. This means it's crucial that when optimizing websites, both mobile and desktop are considered.
Finishing up Website Optimization
This three step process can take quite a bit of time - but it is so important to do it early on the buyer journey. Always remember that all of your visitors must end up on your website before converting into a qualified lead. Ensuring the best experience possible is crucial.
How to Optimize Your Social Media in 2024
Your social media accounts are a direct extension of your website. I like to think that websites are the evergreen form of your online digital presence, while social media is the constantly evolving and rapidly changing form of your digital advertising presence. Both are necessary if your marketing optimization will be successful. So let's get started.
Optimizing Your Social Media Marketing Profiles
- To do this, I start by taking an inventory of all of the platforms your small business owns. It is possible that you only have a few channels - and that is okay - however, I always go out and try and secure the brand name on all platforms, that way in the future, the brand can scale their content to all platforms. If you haven't done this already - I advise you do it! You never know how much money could be saved by doing this.
- Second, I work with a designer to enhance your logo and cover art on each profile. I have found that a lot of times, client's of mine have pixelated logos or inconsistent cover art images on their profile. I always want any message or communication received from the client to resonate with the brand guidelines we established early on during the target market research phase.
- Third, I draft up 50 social media posts that can be used for the rest of year 1. Yes, I look very far in the future when it comes to marketing. Yes it is a little extreme, but wouldn't you want to know what your social media is going to look like ahead of time? Any way I can help eliminate uncertainty and risk, I do :)
- Fourth, I place all the content ideas into a custom built social media marketing calendar that can be used by my designers and content managers to develop the messaging and the imagery for each of these posts. These posts are created on a monthly basis and I ask for your feedback on each post so we can ensure we are hitting the right chords with your audience.
- Fifth, all that is left is to post, track, and engage with your posts. Using a tool like Databox helps us uncover some insights quickly and work to improve them over time.
Finalizing Social Media Marketing Optimization
Great! Social media marketing is optimized. You may start to notice that when I go about optimizing something, it is pretty formulaic. Unlike most marketers who spray and prey with their "optimization" techniques, I approach each new client the same way. With a tried and true formula that is guaranteed to bring the results you're looking for.
How to Retarget Website Visitors in 2024
With your website and your social media optimized, it's now time to ensure proper tracking and pixels are enabled. Below is the basic routine I take to review pixel tracking.
How to place pixels on your website
- Visit the social media channel's advertising manager.
- Go to settings/Conversions/Tracking (it varies from platform to platform).
- Select Install Pixel/Tracking Code
- Choose to use Google Tag Manager
- Follow the instructions to create and setup a Google Tag Manager with the steps outlined on the platform.
- Debug what you have done by using Google Tag Manager's free debug tool.
I rinse and repeat this method for all pertinent social media advertising channels we are running on. Notice how I carefully didn't say all social media ads accounts. Here's why. Each tag you add to Google Tag Manager, the slower your site gets. Site speed is becoming more and more important for you to track with your website. If your site loads slow, then you lose customers. That is one thing that is universal across all industries.
A B2B site that loads in less than 1 second has a 5 times higher conversion rate than a site that loads in 10 seconds.
Wrapping up Pixel Placement and Retargeting
So I only place pixels that count. Generally speaking in 2024, it is the Google Advertising Tag, the LinkedIn Insight Tag, and the Meta Pixel. Everything else can be turned on and off inside your Google Tag Manager as you test new platforms.
How to Optimize Email Journeys in 2024
Just like Social Media is an extension of your website, email marketing is an extension of your social media. So the messaging, the imagery, and the colors have to be in line with your brand. Below are the steps I take to optimize email campaigns for my clients.
Email Campaign Optimization
- Review and benchmark current stats. Understand and track the communication cadence to customers. This is vital and oftentimes overlooked by other marketers. If you have only been sending 2 emails a month to clients, then you should start slow before greatly changing this cadence. Most marketers come in, don't take benchmarks, then start sending 10 emails a week and begin to wonder why unsubscribe rates are so high. Start slow - marketing is all about gradual change.
- Next, I work with my designers to improve your marketing email templates. I look to improve the copy, the layout, and the design of certain elements.
- After templates are completed, I review your customer journeys. Some clients don't have this setup, and that's fine, we just add it to the ongoing list of items that need to be created. If this is created, then we review the communication cadence, as well as the contents that each email is sending. We aim to understand if each email is speaking to a new objection and helping the prospect overcome questions they have about your brand.
- I establish a sending cadence and setup rules to ensure that if a user is tagged multiple times that they are not sent all the emails. This leads to fatigue and ultimately leads to that user likely unsubscribing.
- Last, I do one scrub. I make sure to remove any accounts that haven't engaged in a while and tag them as inactive. We make sure these inactive accounts are not included in your normal email sends.
Wrapping up email campaign optimization
Awesome! All of your email campaigns are optimized. Any time you send a campaign, it resonates with your brand and hits upon one of the key steps in the StoryBrand Framework that we discussed back in the website optimization section.
How to Optimize Paid Media Campaigns in 2024
This part is my absolute favorite part when it comes to the marketing mix. Here's why. Generally speaking, if your website, social media campaigns and email campaigns are optimized - then paid media campaigns are when you start to see the fruits of your labor. This means that all the branding and meticulous refinement done to your owned assets starts to compound and exponentially increase your conversion rates on your advertising campaigns. So let's dive in.
Paid media campaigns come in a couple flavors. The first of which is paid social campaigns. These are campaigns on social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook. The second campaigns are pay per click ads. These are on search engines like Google and Bing. Let's discuss the process for optimizing these each below.
Placing Paid Social Campaigns
- Starting out, it's important to choose a lead magnet. I like to choose a top of funnel piece of content like an ebook, a whitepaper, or anything that a prospect views as valuable. The key to choosing this piece is that it helps satisfy something they have questions about, all while embedding new questions in their mind.
- Next, let's decide which channels you want to run ads on. Thankfully, this part is easy because we have already completed the target market section above. So I choose channels where my ideal customers are.
- Third, I review what successful ads look like using the channel's ad library. Most major advertising channels have this and it's something often overlooked by most marketers. Just because you have been marketing for years doesn't mean you can't neglect what successful ads look like nowadays.
- Fourth, I take these insights back to my designer and content manager to create new copy and creative.
- Fifth, I plan the middle of the funnel and bottom of funnel retargeting ads that help get our ads back in front of the initial audience that interacts with our lead magnet. This is another thing that most marketers don't do exactly right. Most marketers throw all of their ads into one campaign and track results that way. But the problem with doing that is that you miss out on segmentation opportunities later on.
- Sixth, I place the ads and creative and get your approval.
- It's go time. Time to launch!
Optimizing Paid Social Campaigns
- Analyze the data. Since we set up a great and optimized campaign already, this part get's a lot more formulaic.
- Review the demographic data. Keep notes on the behavioral, psychographic, firmographic, and demographic traits of your audiences. Which are interacting most? Are they converting? Are they qualified? All of these help inform the updates you should make next.
- Optimize the campaigns with these insights you have taken above. I always check with the client before making major targeting optimizations to ensure that the target customers are still being hit and the messaging makes sense.
- Strap in and enjoy the ride. Optimizing paid social campaigns takes time. This largely depends on your advertising budget, however it's reasonable to expect a 90 day time frame from the start before you have a high performing campaign that consistently is driving new qualified leads.
Wrapping Up Paid Social Campaigns
As we finish up paid social campaigns, it's important to note that properly optimized paid social campaigns can take your brand to new heights - whereas, improperly optimized campaigns can lead to nothing more than a failed experiment leaving you feeling burnt and completely despondent to advertising. We hope you can see that our iterative and formulaic approach to marketing campaign optimization gives you back some confidence in advertising, and that your brand can have successful marketing campaigns.
Creating Pay Per Click Campaigns in 2024
Similar to paid social and digital ad campaigns, there is a process for creating pay per clicks campaigns on Google and Bing. Thankfully, since we have performed our competitive research already, then putting together these campaigns is a lot more simple. So let's get started.
- Identify 30 keywords that are industry specific and relevant to the brand.
- I place these keywords into Google's Keyword Planner and identify more terms that are similar.
- I conduct a forecast on what the average cost per click and the expected conversions I could expect from a given budget.
- At this point, I run some calculations in our advertising forecast template that I can share with the client. I also place all of the keywords that I used for that forecast in that template so the client can review them and ensure they are on brand.
- Once I review the forecast with the client, I then move on to placing the campaigns. Since tracking and pixels have been set up - this process is relatively straightforward.
- I walk through creating the campaign, while assigning UTMs to the landing page URLs, ensuring the keywords are the appropriate match types, and the ads have keyword insertion and sitelinks enabled.
- Once this is done, it is time to launch. The ads are optimized and ready to roll.
Optimizing Pay Per Click Campaigns
This process again, is formulaic in nature due in part to the optimized ad campaign optimization we setup. So let's walk through how we optimize Google Ads campaigns.
- I start by reviewing key metrics. These are Clicks, Click Thru Rate (CTR), Cost Per Click (CPC), Conversions, Conversion Rate, and Cost Per Conversion.
- From here, I can drill down into each if one is falling short of expectations.
- Generally speaking, conversions are the one most often that needs help. So I like to take a front to back approach.
- Starting with the keyword search volume, I can see where the current conversions are coming from. In simple terms, I can see what keywords are bringing conversions, or form submissions.
- Next, I can look in the search terms report under insights to see the exact searches people are typing in. This can help reveal not qualified keywords. These keywords should be added to a negative keyword list and added to the campaign as excluded terms.
- Following the search terms, I like to review position insights and see how our ads are performing in comparison to our competitors. If we are on par, then there is no need for alarm, however if we are significantly lower than it normally reveals a deeper issue.
- Usually this issue occurs from a device segment. This means that potentially all conversions are coming from the desktop, and all the mobile visitors are bouncing immediately. If this is the case then it is time to move on to landing page adjustments.
Finalizing Pay Per Click Campaigns
Google and Bing Ad Campaigns are great investments for your marketing budget because you only pay when someone clicks your ad. Using an effective PPC strategy ensures that your ad spend for your brand shows up in Google when it matters the most.
Experiment and AB Testing in 2024
I start AB testing and experimenting with marketing channels once we are consistently seeing 250+ visitors to the client's landing page. This is important because we need a large enough sample size to determine if a test is successful or not. I use this rule not only for landing page AB tests but also for paid media ones too. I have found too often that AB tests aren't successful without paid advertising, so unless you have solid SEO bringing in hundreds of visitors, then it's likely you need to run ads to see value here.
Optimize Your Landing Page in 2024
With AB testing, you can test different variations of your landing page at the time to see which variation performs better. This is in the form of a control and a variant. Below is the process for optimizing your landing pages.
- Before I do anything, I review Google Analytics and any other quantitative data I can get my hands on. Having data to back up my decision making helps immensely.
- Next, I review Hotjar and any other qualitative data I can find. This is in the form of session recordings, heatmaps, and scroll depth. Essentially, what are the users doing on the website that can't be reflected with numbers.
- Now, armed with a great understanding of how users are interacting with your landing page, I hypothesize 1 small, but very noticeable change. This could be a new section, a removed section, a different headline, a different headline image, a new headline video, ... the list goes on. It is key that the change is noticeable. Way too many marketers nowadays cite changing a button to blue or red and think that the color difference is enough to influence a reasonable change with only hundreds of visitors. Small changes like that only work when you have thousands of users visiting your site - see case in point with Hubspot.
- Once hypothesized, it is time to execute. I usually do a Redirect AB test which is essentially just a duplicate of your existing landing page with the changes being made inside of Webflow.
- Finishing up, I set up the AB test inside of your free AB testing platform, FigPi and get it started. I run this test for 3-4 weeks. The time frame largely depends on your users. The more you have, the less time you need.
- Last, I place this test inside of an AB testing tracker for your business that way you can always review insights from tests in the future.
Wrapping up landing page optimization
Once you hit 250 users to your landing page, then it is a great investment to iteratively test your marketing landing page. I hope you can see the value of this formulaic approach and how it could be successful for your business.
AB Testing on Paid Social Campaigns
I wanted to briefly touch upon split testing on different paid advertising channels because this is something that most marketers don't do right either. Most simply place 2-3 variations of an ad inside of an existing campaign that already has a couple of other ads in it, and say that they are "AB testing" the ads. This is simply not true. A true AB test is a head to head test with 1 control, and 1 variant. This means one small, noticeable change in the ad's creative or copy in the variant.
Most agencies and marketers don't like to do head to head's to start because it requires more management and being a little more meticulous with the digital ad campaign frequency. As an agency owner, I have heard the term, "set it and forget it" come up too much. Unfortunately that is truly how most agencies operate. They set "new AB tests" and "forget them" while moving onto the next client.
I hope you can see the difference in my approach and why the insights you have gained are much more valuable.
How to Track Your Marketing Campaigns Efficiently
When I started out creating marketing campaigns, it was a lot more difficult to track data efficiently. There wasn't any platforms around that could simply connect KPIs into a dashboard and put my mind at ease. It required constant checking of different platforms and very meticulous URL tracking to get the data to populate well into Google Analytics. Thankfully, in 2024, there are plenty of easy, plug and play options for your business to track your KPIs. I list a couple of them below.
- Databox - My favorite tool for creating quick dashboards for my clients. They allow up to 3 connections and 3 databoards on the free plan which makes this ideal for each client I work with.
- Improvado - A direct competitor to Databox, with essentially the same features, just different style options available.
- Looker Studio - Formerly Google Data Studio, this free dashboarding tool makes it easier to view your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and YouTube data. You can also connect Supermetrics to pull in other marketing channels - but at a cost.
Wrapping up Tracking Data
My process for tracking data was laid out in the AB testing section, but I touched upon it quickly here. I first review quantitative data to see key performance indicators, get an understanding of key landing pages, and behavioral metrics. Next, I review qualitative data to uncover the intangible things that data can't tell me. That's it!
Wrapping up Marketing Optimization in 2024
Well that's just about it. I have broken down every key marketing channel, and the process for creating optimize marketing and optimizing the content on each. I wanted to wrap up this section with a quote that I have found useful when moving forward with marketing endeavors.
“The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing.” — Tom Fishburne, Founder & CEO, Marketoonist
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please let me know if you have any questions by dropping me an email at email@example.com. I respond as soon as I can. Cheers!
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