CMOs and their teams are starting to realize that there is only so much optimization they can do around the marketing spend to drive website traffic without looking at how those visitors are converting on the website—but they’re waking up slowly.

shutterstock_73617679In Gartner’s U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Report for 2013, marketing leaders reported that the corporate website and digital advertising were the two most important online activities for marketing success, but testing and optimizing these efforts came in behind marketing on social networks.

Why? Simply, companies are still struggling with organizational silos. The budget and access to improve the website visitor’s experience are almost never in the marketing team’s hands. Rather, companies see their website as a product, which means the product owner is responsible for it—and that’s usually the website operations team.

But marketing plays a major role in driving and shaping the customer experience online, and needs to be able to enhance the website based on their customer insights and interactions.

In addition, the opportunity to segment website traffic and personalize the content, messaging, and offers for these groups in order to improve conversion also gets hamstrung by silos. The people who send the emails or place the online ads that help drive visitors are not responsible for the end goal of the entire marketing process. Without input on how the traffic they generate gets treated once it reaches the website, their focus remains on quantity.

In the age of the empowered customer—who will bounce when a website doesn’t respond to their needs—marketers are finding that the volume game doesn’t work like it used to.

Improve Your ROMS With Closed-Loop Marketing

Website optimization plays a major role in helping companies close the loop on their marketing efforts to improve return on marketing spend. The closed-loop marketing process involves:

• Capturing marketing campaign information (e.g., third-party data, such as the ID number from the email, ad campaign, or the search campaign keyword);

• Appending on-site behavior and third-party audience data from a data management platform (DMP) to the marketing campaign;

• Learning what works with different segments and what doesn’t; and

• Feeding these customer and campaign insights back into the marketing program.

conversion_closed loop marketingThe beauty of a website is that visitors come from discrete, sophisticated advertising and marketing programs, which means site owners know some useful things about this traffic—like, what they saw in their off-site experiences—and can leverage this information along with in-session behavior and insights gained through DMPs to immediately improve on-site experiences.

Building out from there, marketers can also uncover various segments of their traffic that move through the website in similar ways. For instance, one of the big opportunities for segment discovery comes from understanding the different platforms and browsers that visitors use. Marketers might find that the segment using Google Chrome is more tech-savvy and expects a feature-rich website, while those visitors using ancient versions of Internet Explorer might interact better with a stripped-down website.

That kind of information is not typically leveraged out in the marketing campaign. Website optimization helps marketing teams gain insight from visitor behavior—like this segment buys more than that segment—that could offer tremendous power to improve the marketing spend. When you know that most of the visitors coming to the website from a particular advertising channel or source perform well, then you can adjust your budget to spend more where your dollars have more impact. And vice-versa.

Website optimization is the one thing you can do to improve the on-site experience in order to influence conversion, sales, customer loyalty, and ROMS. If a company actually wants to find out which half of its marketing budget is being wasted, as John Wanamaker famously joked, the means to do so are within reach.

Arrows Different Colors and Gold Dollar Currency images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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