In recent years, boxing has given up ground to a new combat sport, mixed martial arts. The overall idea remains the same: get two tough people in a ring and let them try to knock each other out, with high kicks, choke holds, arm bars and other types of moves now a standard part of the contest.
For fans of MMA, this just adds to the excitement. To those of us in the web design and Internet marketing industry, it makes for a good analogy. After all, the web is getting more complicated – and more competitive – than ever before. It isn't enough to just have a great website, blog, or even a search marketing plan these days; you have to have a mobile strategy, social platform, and so much more just to stay competitive and profitable.
That means there are some great opportunities out there, but also some risks. That's especially true when you consider that things are changing quickly, and new analytics are available from your business website on a day-to-day basis. Just as an MMA fighter has to respond quickly to an opponent without falling for fakes and feints, it's up to savvy marketers to decide how they can best allocate resources and spot trends without overreacting to small shifts and meaningless bits of data.
Even though we are having a bit of fun with the comparison, this is a serious issue.
That's because there aren’t enough time and resources to pursue every idea or technique, but staying the course too long with a losing strategy can put a pounding on your marketing budget, leaving you out of breath and bleeding revenue.
So how do you stay nimble and still interpret information correctly? How do you stop the Internet from punching your business in the mug? Just like a cage fight, a lot depends on your strengths, and your competitors. But, here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction:
1. Look before you move.
The easiest way to avoid wasting your time, and your marketing budget, is to simply gather detailed information about your buyers before you start putting specifics into place. You have to know everything you can about their needs, wants, buying motivations, and other choices before you start composing landing pages, pay-per-click ads, and other elements. In other words, develop a strong marketing game plan early on, and you'll be less likely to find yourself changing it on a whim later.
2. Test your job before taking a big swing.
Sometimes, you just can't know all of the answers before you get started. That's okay. When you're facing the unknown, the best thing to do is test your options on a small scale before committing big time and dollars to them. Some ideas, concepts, and methods are going to be instant winners, others will take time to develop, and some won't develop at all. By finding this out early on with test projects, you can avoid more expensive failures later.
3. Trust your instincts… for a while.
If you already have experience in your industry and have a strong feeling that your idea (or next marketing campaign) is going to be a winner, then don't let doubt hold you back. At the same time, however, it's important to remember that gut feelings eventually have to be reconciled with data from your business website. If customer behavior is telling you a much different story than the one you expected, recognize that you might have to make fundamental changes, or abandon the idea completely, before it eats up your resources and stops you from pursuing better directions.
4. Make yourself a more well-rounded competitor.
The best fighters are good in many different areas (like strength, speed, and endurance), and you should be, too. Never be so dependent on any one marketing tactic – online or off – that your business would be crippled if it stopped working. Search engine algorithms change, as do things like pay-per-click prices and even e-mail response rates. Having a variety of tools at your disposal means you can always turn in another direction if you need to.
Learning to balance short-term information with long-term goals and ideas is becoming more and more important to success on the Internet. Once you can master the art of keeping an eye on the metrics without overreacting to them from one week to the next, you can stop worrying about getting sucker-punched by the Internet and start dishing out some punishment to your competitors.