Commandment 4: Stop Guessing

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The internet allowed marketers to, finally, quantitatively measure all their activities. Marketers can now stop guessing whether their campaign was successful or not. If you want to practice effective digital marketing, this one’s for you.

Before, the closest way to measure if what they were doing was effective or not was only through correlation. Take, for example, a clothing retail company. They executed a new campaign that includes ads on, say, both TV and billboard, then they waited. After a few weeks, their sales increased. Hmm.

Was it an effective campaign? 

Maybe. We’ll never know for sure.

But that was before. Now, you can measure and track literally everything.

I read an article before that Facebook and Google were tracking eye movements from their users to determine where to place their ads more effectively (creepy huh?).

Figuring out what to measure and where to start is a problem in of itself, but that’s not what this article is about. This article focuses on what you should do with those data to drive your business decisions.

Of course, the assumption here is that you already have an analytics software installed on your website (you do have it, right? I have always been a fan of Google Analytics primarily because it’s free and answers my needs).

3 Methods to Use Data to Achieve Results

Set Up Goals on Your Website

Goals can be “hard goals” or “soft goals.” Hard goals are revenue targets, number of leads generated. They have a direct impact on the business. Soft goals are those proxies we use to determine what success looks like. Some of these are engagement, playing a video, downloading a PDF, etc.

Setting this up differs for every company and industry.

I follow a framework when I start any digital marketing effort. It is called the Digital Marketing and Measurement Model. It has five basic steps. It sounds very simple, yet I found that many marketers are fond of vanity metrics that doesn’t contribute to the business’ bottom line. Here are the five steps from Avinash Kaushik:

  1. Identify the business objectives
  2. Identify goals for each objective
  3. Identify the key performance indicators (KPI)
  4. Identify the targets for each KPI
  5. Identify valuable segments for analysis Learn the basics.

Apply it to your company right now, then present it to your boss. I’m pretty sure she’ll be impressed. This should drive your marketing campaigns. Once you set this up properly, everything you do will be aligned. You’re guaranteed that everything you do moving forward should only contribute towards achieving the goals and objectives.

A/B Test or Optimize Everything

I recently came from a roundtable discussion facilitated by eConsultancy. A phrase that stuck with me was “moving from I think to I know.” The easiest way to do this is to perform A/B Tests across all your marketing activities.

You are using email to send out newsletters or updates to your leads, right? One of the best email marketing software out in the market today is ConvertKit. It allows you to A/B test your subject lines.

A/B Test Subject Lines in ConvertKit Email Broadcast

If you want to A/B test content on your website, use Google Optimize.

You need two other elements to do this: (1) a goal that will determine the winner, and (2) another variation of the content. Of course, this goes without saying that you need the original page as well.

Then, for the A/B test to work, you need to have another variation of the page you are testing. It should be live and public as well. For example the URL of the original content is …/original-page/ then the variation is …/variation-page/.

Segment Your Data

One of the most common mistake I see is not segmenting your data. Before I read Avinash’s blog, I was also a victim of this. No school or certification that I know of teaches this.

The reason why this is important is not everyone who visits your site is valuable to you. Cutting the long story short, your customers are more valuable than people who are just planning to buy from you (aka potential customers). The people who are planning to buy from you are also more valuable than those who accidentally came by your site.

In analytics, you do this by looking at the different groups who visit your site. Use segments to place your traffic into buckets. For example, During your DMMM, you identified that Goal 1 is triggered by people who requested a free product demonstration. You determined that they are high-value leads. So, looking only at their behavior on your website will provide you more insight than the entire blob of data. 

Here’s how it might work in real-life. The segment who requested for a free product demonstration all came from social media traffic. Drilling further, you found out it was from the post you published on LinkedIn. You also found out that, on average, they looked at 4 pages on your site. The last page, where they all converted was the About Us page. Usually, this behavior is different from “all” traffic. It does not give you that level of insight.

Here is another example. If you look at the image below, you will see that majority of the traffic comes from social media (if you don’t look into segments). However, some marketers already stop at this level.

What you will now think is that social media is the best driver of traffic for your company. However, if you look at the sessions with conversions (i.e. the visits that matter more), then you will see that social media is actually one of the lowest sources of these important visits.

Google Analytics Traffic with Segments
Google Analytics Traffic with Segments

So if you did not drill down further and assumed that Social is where you should spend your money, then you’d be wasting money there.

Marketers can now stop guessing and move from “I think to I know.” With all these free tools available, there is no excuse not to use them to your advantage.

Have something to add? Let me know in the comments section below.

Commandment 3: Stop Selling

stop selling - commandment 3 of the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing

Effective digital marketing means you have to learn when is the right time to sell.

Sales and marketing activities are the only ways for companies to generate revenues. The people in sales and marketing are the link between the company and its customers.

History tells us that the only way this happens is through direct interaction. Here’s a good example to understand this:

The company creates an ad and sends it to their local newspaper. A customer saw the ad. They go to the store to see the actual product. The customer interacts with the people inside the store, ask questions then decide whether to purchase or not.

While marketing and sales activities are still important, the decision to buy isn’t made any more in stores. Rather, they’re made way before the actual visit.

Now, imagine a company whose primary (most cases, only) message is selling their products and services? They make variations of their messages as sales and discounts, limited-time offers, etc.

Let’s say 80% of what you see in their social media accounts are “buy from me” messages?

Would you grow fond of this company? Would you enjoy “following” them?

…the Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into

a real-time dialogue with millions.

Danielle Sacks
The Future of Advertising
Fast Company
November 17, 2010.
Buyer's Journey Then and Now

Decisions are now made before they interact with your actual products or services. People visit the store for the purchase, but decisions are already made earlier. So how can you influence them to buy from you? Change your communications. Instead of selling to them, educate them.

The Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions.

Before getting to the actual details, let me be the first to say that I am not against hard-selling or sales messages. I like to use the Pareto Principle, so a good ratio for sales messages vs. non-sales messages is 80-20. And just to be clear, the 80 is for the non-sales messages.

3 Quick Fixes to Create Value and Stop Selling

Write individual articles on your FAQs

This should be a no-brainer. If you get asked questions 3x, I’d consider that already as frequent. Use the whole question as your title and URL.

For example, you’re a marketing agency. A common question asked in that field is “How to Create Marketing Plans.” So make an article (or series of articles) with that title. This will help your readers find what they are looking for and help you with your SEO as well.

Application: When people ask you these questions, say, via email, answer them briefly, then link back to your article with the full explanation. Because you only have 1 topic per page, you can go all-out on this one — include images, include videos, if necessary.

If you don’t know where to start, head on over to customer support or the sales people and ask them what questions they get. They’ll love it. You’ll get your content. Win-win situation for everyone.

Pro Tip: Categorize your FAQs. It can be as simple as product-related or company-related. It can also refer to departments concerned (aka functional) like billing, technical, account, etc. Here are more default categories you can use: features, how-to, troubleshooting.

Another pro tip: Depending on how your company is setup, create a spreadsheet that is shared among concerned departments. Then, invite everyone concerned to a weekly 30-minute meeting to go through newly added items. For example, here’s a sample of what I have for one of the companies I’m consulting for. It’s a spreadsheet that is shared among marketing, sales, and operations.

It allows me to track all these FAQs, the answers to them, and whether we have an article about it or not. And it saves me time as well when I need topics for the blog.

Create articles showcasing the benefits of using your products or services

Focus on the benefits of what you are selling, not on the features. How can your product or service improve your customers’ lives? What is it that they’ll get or receive after buying and using your product or service?

As an added bonus here, an article I recently read to use emotions in your landing pages. This might not be a landing page, but it’s a good idea to think of the “soft” aspect, the emotions, and how it makes people feel.

Here’s an example I just came up with. I hope I’d done justice to this. Coffee (Java Chip Frappucino) at Starbucks (since I’m writing this post at a Starbucks and drinking exactly that).

  • Features
    • Freshly ground beans
    • Contains dark chocolate chips
    • Cold
  • Benefits
    • Cleanse your body with antioxidants while drinking the finest coffee
    • Feel relaxed and refreshed (chocolates have melatonin, the feel-good hormone)
    • Cool down and refresh your body

Talk about other people’s successes

One of the rules I live by is “You’re not that smart; they’re not that dumb.” It’s one of Horstman’s Laws and is very applicable here.

Your customers will know if all you are after is their money. It’ll show in your communications, your approach, your products and services. Eventually, you’ll lose them.

The best part is that it’s so easy not to be tagged as selfish. Just talk about other people! Here are a few things you can do:

  • Conduct surveys and release the results as an industry report;
  • Perform a case study (or two, or all) of your customers;
  • Share your customers’ success stories and how they use your products.
  • Ask them to write for you (guest blog) or write about you (blog about you).

Pro Tip: Easily do this by creating a stream on Twitter for your brand name and product. If you see someone tweeted something, take a screenshot. Write an article out of it and include that image. Share it on social media and tag that person. You can also do this on other social media sites.

Another pro tip: Create a Google Alert (or other alternatives) for your brand mentions. Perhaps even adding some known “words” in your industry. That way, you stay on top of all these things. You can then take action to increase value. For example, a customer blogged about your company and said she had a great experience shopping at your store. Immediately thank the customer on social media for featuring you and include that link. Reach out to her and thank her directly. Maybe send your regular feedback form. There’s really an infinite number of things you can do once you have this information.

The internet has changed the way people buy. Companies no longer has control over information and the buyer’s journey. There is a lot of competition out there as well — both direct and indirect.

The question to answer now is, “has your marketing adapted to these changes?”

Achieving Business Nirvana: Ask the Question “What’s Different Now?”


Questioning assumptions is one of the indicators of a critical mind. A lot of managers I know never do. They simply accept what is happening and blame other people and circumstances why things are the way they are. Sadly, it is this kind of thinking – of not questioning assumptions – that leads to the downfall of many businesses. 

As a young manager, I came across other managers who were older than me and more experienced. Some were bright; others, not so much. The worst experience I had were from those people who call themselves “experts.” They were great in their field. Or so they claim. At the end of their stint, the company did not become better off even after they left. In fact, we ended up in deeper waters because of what they did – and what they did not do.

Failing to ask the question, “what’s different now?” is the main reason why these experts fail in their role.

They rose through the ranks in their previous jobs because they were good. Probably. I would never know. I was not there. But I will give them the benefit of the doubt. However, during the time they were working with me, they failed miserably.

They failed to ask “what’s different now?”

How did I know?

They just did what they did in their previous jobs 5 years ago, 10 years ago. They were in a different industry, different city, different company. Now, if you applied the same, exact formula in your previous job, will that work at the new one? Any reasonable person will reach the same conclusion as I have before.

No matter what your realization is after asking that question, it is imperative to ask it first. Managers who fail to accept that their old ways are no longer effective are not fit to be in their positions. Peter Drucker dedicated an entire book proving a single point, a manager’s role is to be effective. Being effective means doing the right things. While there is no way for me to say that something is right or wrong, there is a checklist you can go through to make that decision yourself.

4 Quick Steps to Determine if You Are Effective

Establish a Baseline

Measuring activities is one of the basic managerial functions. If you are not measuring what you or your team are doing on a daily basis, then you are not doing your job properly.

My experiences tell me that this is the most overlooked function of management. Sadly, what Drucker said still holds true, even to this day – what you cannot measure, you cannot manage.

One of the things that managers say when there is additional work is that they need more people. Having more work does not mean you need more people. Saying that your team has a full plate and that you need more people just proves that you are not an effective manager.

You need to know whether your team is productive first.

Can you honestly say that your team is productive and are not wasting any of their time? I don’t think so. Oh, this applies to you as well. If you do not have metrics, then most likely, your boss doesn’t have it either.

Why not start measuring something then present that to your boss. The simplest way to do so is to start counting! Number of social media posts, number of articles written, number of reports submitted, number of calls taken, etc.

Determine Goals

Once you start measuring, you can now set goals.

Taking from the example above, once you know how much your team is producing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, simply set a goal. See if they can meet it or not. If they do, then that just mean that your initial thought that they have a full plate and need a new person is wrong. If they do not, then adjust it a little bit.

There is no way for me to assess your situation. But that is where you come in. Increasing the productivity of your team is one hallmark of a great manager.

One note though on setting goals. It is imperative that you establish a baseline first – whether your team knows you are measuring them or not. If you do not, then again, you are making false assumptions. You are simply forcing your team to reach a state that even you do not know they can do. It is one thing for them not to believe it at first, but another when you are not sure yourself.

Analyze your data and metrics

After a couple of weeks, take time to analyze what you have.

For example, your team (of 3) writes articles for your company’s blog. You started measuring. You know that they produce 1.5 articles a day. You set a goal of having 2 articles a day.

You now take that data and figure out if 2 articles a day is already a stretch or they are simply wasting their time. Then you look at your own data. You also started measuring yourself. You are writing 3 articles a day. Hmm. Seems like there is a disconnect.

Are you really that much better than them? Maybe. Only you can figure that out. One thing I do know is that the goal of 2 articles a day is not being met. Now, what do you do?


The last portion is something that only you will know what to do. While analyzing the data, questions have most likely popped your mind.

  • Why aren’t they meeting their deadlines?
  • What are they doing apart from writing articles?
  • Do they lack resources?
  • How about some more training?
  • Aren’t they equipped with the skills needed?
  • Is my team really not good?
  • Do I need to replace them?

No matter what questions or options you have, one thing to remember here is to simply decide and do. Don’t wait for more data.

In today’s fast-paced world, inaction is tantamount to explicitly allowing your competitors to pass you by. It’s like driving on a narrow road. Your competitor is right behind you. They want to get ahead, obviously. And you allow them by slowing down, stopping by the shoulder, and waving at them and saying “go ahead, take my customers away from me because I am still gathering more data.”

You might argue that making hasty decisions might lead to mistakes or failures. Yes, that is true. But that is better than not doing anything. If you fail, then you crossed off one on your list then move on to the next. It puts you on the right track by the process of elimination. What if you were right?

You would be already ahead of everyone else. Look, that is the nature of every business — it is full of uncertainties and risks. No matter what you do, you do not know if you will succeed.

Don’t think that successful companies get there because they can predict the future. Just like you, they don’t know that either. They just took a leap of faith and push forward instead of waiting and doing nothing. That is how these companies achieve business nirvana.

Commandment 2: Be Human

be human - commandment 2 of the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing

The internet has transformed the way we live. It has also affected the way we conduct business. Technology enabled us to connect with each other even if we are not physically located together. As a result, this reliance on technology and the efficiencies it brings slowly changed the way businesses talk to customers. Companies that use effective digital marketing are succeeding, while the ones stuck in the traditional ways are falling behind.

Businesses lost the social aspect. Whether you are in a B2B or a B2C company, remember that you are still talking to people. Some are no longer making a distinction between a B2B or a B2C company. For them, all businesses are P2P (people to people).

Humans love to be with other humans. History proves this to be true, just read about Dunbar’s number. While technology continues to make things more efficient for us, it has not removed mankind’s need for social connections. This holds true in this digital age as well, especially for marketing, because you are the primary person in-charge of communicating to customers and would-be customers.

If you are communicating like a robot, you are alienating a lot of people from your messaging.

Why not connect with them at a personal level? Trust me, you will reap more rewards. Hint: customized, anyone? 

A little aside here: I consider myself to be an introvert. Yes, while working, I prefer to do things alone but at the end of the day, I still go back to the comforts of having my family and loved ones around. I still talk to my colleagues. I talk to my friends. No man is an island, remember?

Ok. I’m convinced. So, what do I do now?

Before getting to specific actions, let me take this time to elaborate on a concept you might not be familiar with. Marketing (this means you) represents the company to the customers.

By virtue of your role, you are already the “assigned” point-person. You don’t need any further “authority” to speak in behalf of the company. In addition, as a function of you being an employee of the company, you already carry its name wherever you go, even after office hours. You are the company to the customers. Those two concepts are basic career concepts you can’t ignore if you want to be successful.

6 Quick Changes You Can Do to Represent the Company Effectively and Be Human

There are two aspects to this. First is administrative side and the next is the actual communication.

Administrative Aspect

1) Use your personal work email

This has got to be the easiest change you can do if you’re using email marketing. Stop hiding behind a [email protected] email address. If you are using a newsletter or practicing Inbound Marketing, send from YOUR work email. Just search for it on Google about how sending from your email and you’ll find tons of results about its effectivity. To prove this, I quickly searched for “using work email increase open rates” and got tons of results. Here’s a quote from regarding using your email address:

Our emails are by people, from people, for people. They aren’t from vague brands, apps, or objects with a possible nefarious agenda against humans. People connect with people, not with inanimate objects.

2) Include a photo of you

If I told you that including a photo of you increases the chances of your recipient replying to you by 30%, would you not place yours?

Putting a face in the mind of the recipient (lead, customer, or prospect) makes you more credible. It gives off that sense of “hey, I’m talking to another person. I might as well reply because I know this person.” Check out these 10 email marketing statistics that will convince you to grow your email list.

Here’s a standard signature block I have at my previous work:


3) Include a name when responding to social media

This is another fairly easy task to do. Call it a hack if you will.

Use your name when replying to comments on Facebook. When I was doing this, I use the convention of [Admin Ariel] at the end of the post or message, wherever the customers post.

On Twitter, sometimes I reply “as the company.” Sometimes, I reply “as myself.” Then, as what I learned from Honeycomb Communities, “leave a trail of breadcrumbs” to lead these people back to your brand.

What does leaving a trail of breadcrumbs mean? By including in your bio description who you are. If you’d look at my Twitter account, you’ll see that I am the Operations Officer of buqo (the brand). Just make sure you are consistent (signature block and title on bio description are the same).

Oh, and I hope you noticed the preparatory comment I made above? The one that says as an employee, I already represent the company wherever I go. Obviously, my Twitter account is personal, but I included that bio description there. Check my LinkedIn account and you’ll see that there as well. 

Communication proper

1) Talk / write as if you are talking to a person in front of you

Stop sounding awkward. If you are writing a letter, sending out an email, or writing a press release, please do not use “greetings” or “good day” in there. Simply drop that from your writing / speaking style.

Business communication is all about being personal (tired of hearing this?). Do you do that when you talk to someone face-to-face? Imagine walking down your company’s hallway and your colleague is walking towards you as well.

Greetings John!

Weird right? So stop doing it. Use everyday language.

Here’s a hint: record yourself while reading the message out loud. Play it back. If it sounds like a robot, that’s how your customers would also feel. And last I checked, humans prefer dealing with humans. That’s why the customer service industry globally is so huge.

2) Answer questions when asked on social media. Don’t refer them to an email black hole.

Social media enabled the customers to talk to the company directly. Before, the only way customers interact with companies is through the store or the sales people. That’s not how it works anymore. What used to be a one-way communication street turned into a two-way street. Your customers (and noncustomers for that matter) follow you and/or see you on social media.

You are in-charge of the company’s social media accounts. Your customers asked you a question about your product or service. You reply to them by saying please email us at [email protected] or tell them go to our company’s product page.


If that happens to you. How would you react?

I’m guessing you’d feel irritated. Those questions can be easily answered then and there. Use BLUF (bottom line up front). Answer the question, then provide necessary details or resources. For example, they asked you if you have a warranty. Reply “Yes, we do. Our policy is usually 1 year, and because we believe in our product’s quality, if you have any concerns with the product you purchased, we still accommodate the concern even if it’s out-of-warranty. Here’s a link to our website’s warranty page <insert link here>”

Now, won’t you love to hear that instead of “Please read our warranty page for your concerns” or “Please email us at [email protected] for your concerns.”

3) Engage with the community.

Communities have been there ever since. These are groups of people with shared interests. They have existed and will always exist. Put this into context of digital marketing, these are your brand’s fans and followers. They follow you because they “want” or “love” to be associated with you.  Continuing from the previous item, social media is a way to talk to your customers and noncustomers. The more you know about them, their needs and wants, the better you can market to them.

Plot in your calendar this daily routine. Before, I allot 15 minutes (yup, only 15 minutes) each morning to go through my news feed (both Twitter and Facebook) then scan for comments or questions. I answer them and schedule the replies to be sent out within the day. (the scheduling is primarily for Twitter since too many replies in within a short span of time seems spammy)

I explain this to other people as having both a short-term and long-term strategy for social media. The long-term is your planned messages. These are articles you put out, marketing messages, insights, quotes, etc. These are already scheduled and plotted out for days. The short-term strategy is primarily for engagement. These are following your followers, thanking them, retweets, reshares, answer to comments, answer to questions, etc.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about software, I use HootSuite before. For my current work, I’m using HubSpot.

There are a lot of alternative options out there (just search for social media management software and you’ll get tons of results). I had a chance to use HootSuite, HubSpot and Buffer. Each one has their own pros and cons. You just have to find what suits you best. 

The internet has changed our lives. It permeated both our personal and professional lives. However, we should not lose sight of the social or community aspect of being humans. I believe the popular word for this is called empathy.

Connect with your audience.

In turn, this will build their trust, increase your credibility, and be more receptive to you. This is the second commandment of effective digital marketing. Let me know what you think in the comments below.