I remember thinking when I first got into SEO over 10 years ago, “Why did SEMrush chose ‘SEM’ instead of SEO in their branding”. I thought that other than SEO, there were only a few other marketing channels like email and paid advertising. This was pre-Facebook advertising and pre influencer marketing.
Needless to say, the marketing landscape grown in 10 years. Dramatically. Now we’ve got retargeting, Facebook messenger marketing and all sorts of push, pop-up, geo-location based channels. Now I get it why SEMrush’s branding was so spot on. Digital marketing is on track to be a $120 Billion dollar industry by 2021, and that’s only in the United States.
If you’re an average website owner or marketer, you know the daunting landscape and how difficult it is to navigate an overall marketing strategy. Marketing channels overlap, intertwine and are often times confusing, and there are a lot of channels to spend marketing dollars on.
The skill is to intuitively know which channels are likely to work, and invest in them first. But that experience is hard to come by, and your audience is likely dynamic. They move to different places on the web and behave differently from channel to channel.
Depending on the audience, some marketing channels just don’t work, no matter how optimized they are.
Imagine if you could see all your channels at once
I know, it sounds like a fantasy because all your marketing channels are in different places, but it is possible. I learned from a colleague a while back that tracking things in a timeline helps, and through some very informative tools I’ve been using recently, I’ve worked up a good helicopter view of all of my marketing channels.
So, how do you properly format so much data with different metrics, KPIs and touch points into the same view?
Step 1: Outline Campaign Stages On A Gantt Chart
From start to finish, these will be the starting points to align that all marketing campaigns have in common. The lifespan of the project typically goes through each of these phases:
Take a spreadsheet and mark the top columns by weeks, then put the part so of the campaigns that you know, into the appropriate columns, as shown below.
There’s a great template in the Google Sheets gallery that I use. I’m not sure who created it, but it’s perfect for looking at marketing campaigns across multiple channels side by side.
Step 2: Fill In The In-Between Tasks As You Work Through Them
You may have a team contributing to your projects, in which case you’ll want to have them fill in the data. Be vigilant about checking it weekly to keep up to date information on the sheet.
You’ll notice after 1 week, the different campaigns will start to align with the big picture. If you’re tested ads in Facebook, add that in the gantt chart. If you’re
Unique Marketing Phases For Specific Channels
Some channels have unique actions that others may not, like a retargeting pixel collecting enough visitors to start the campaign. This is ok, just mark that time period with the activity that was happening, and keep recording your action on the gantt chart. Once each campaign is complete, you’ll zoom out and match things up further.
Step 3: Matching Up Campaign Timelines
Since some marketing channels run longer than others, setting a specific lead value is important. Once a lead has value, you can measure multiple marketing channels at different lengths against each other.
If you don’t have a specific value per lead, you’ll want to measure your marketing channels based on time, and conversion. Conversion as a metrics makes sense because it measures leads coming into the top of your marketing funnel, regardless of marketing channel.
Here’s how it looks…
Step 4: Compare And Contrast Inside Specific SEMrush Campaigns
The great thing about transferring SEMrush data to a gantt chart is that most of the drilled down views inside SEMrush are exportable. One of my favorites is the SEO Ideas inside of the project view. If you have a larger plan, you can upload a ton of URLs and data.
Taking those SEO ideas and adding them into the roadmap as items assigned to someone puts a timeline on the work.
Top 10 Benchmarking is another one of my favorite to put side by side other marketing channels. It shows you how how much work there is to be done to beat competitors in the rankings.
Taking those additional action items for adding content, or adding backlinks and assigning them to someone inside of the roadmap, makes the marketing much more fluid.
Then when you zoom out, you can still see the marketing channels side by side. The goal here is to be able to compare marketing channels and find out what’s working, what’s not and iterate quickly. But to do that, you’ve got to be able to see everything at once.
Marketing with purpose
There’s nothing more frustrating than running marketing campaigns and not knowing afterwards what worked. It’s like marketing with your eye closed. Tracking all of your campaigns side by side is marketing with purpose. If you’re an agency or a site owner, this is how you stay afloat.
The trick is to start drawing marketing strategy inside of an actual roadmap with a timeline, not on a document. That way you can breathe life into the project by assigning it to others, and comparing marketing channels side by side. From there on it’s only a matter of stopping, analyzing and iterating.