Business intelligence shouldn’t be a paradox. It’s your ticket to ROI.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker

Back in 1861, as the U.S. was just getting the Civil War underway, a 23-year old Philadelphian named John Wanamaker was opening his first department store with his brother-in-law. His store was founded on the revolutionary principle: “one price and goods returnable,” which kind of made him an early version of Amazon.

Wanamaker’s store was a big success, and it wasn’t long before it became an empire and he became one of the richest men in the country. Of course, that didn’t stop him from bitching about ROI, which is why we’re even talking about him here.

But he DID have a point. It doesn’t matter how awesome your advertising is if it’s not getting results. And poor J.W. had no way of knowing what kind of results he got for the dollars he spent. His business intelligence sucked. But that’s what he gets for living a century and a half ago.

Today, we CAN know. That’s right. If J.W. were here today, he could know exactly who saw his ads, and whether or not those people were motivated to act because of them. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today, business intelligence not only reveals ROI, but also the way to get it.

Of course, if you haven’t figured it out, we’re talking about digital marketing.

And not just some of it. ALL of it.

For example, email marketing. Email systems like Constant Contact, MailChimp, and others (including CRM systems) can easily show you precisely who on your mailing list received your email, which of those people bothered to open it, and whether or not they clicked on your action button (i.e. “Shop Now” or “Slap a Chicken” or whatever). That’s pretty amazing. It’s a lot harder to tell if someone opened your direct mail envelope or just tossed it in the trash.

Your website probably includes business intelligence in the form of traffic analytics. While they can’t (usually) tell you exactly who was viewing your site, they can tell you what brought them there, how long they hung around, and what stuff they looked at while they were there.

Social media platforms offer all kinds of analytics built into their advertising systems. Not only can you target specific demographics pretty precisely, but you can see exactly how many times your ad gets seen and how much traffic it garners. Same is true with banner ads and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.

But business intelligence is only half the story. It’s what you do with it that brings the ROI. That means forming a workable digital strategy.

For example, while you (usually) cannot know who exactly is visiting your website, you CAN identify their computer by IP (Internet Protocol) and target them with display (banner) ads that remind them of their interest in your site. This is known as “retargeting” or “remarketing,” and can be a great way of not leaving business “on the table.”

Now retargeting banners could send users back to your website, but that’s not always a good idea. After all, they were there once before, and didn’t “buy” (in quotes because success is not always a sale) anything. Why expect a different outcome the next time? Unabashed optimism? Bah. Even J.W. is scoffing at you now.

Unless you’re selling online, your best bet is usually to build a digital marketing strategy around landing pages. Landing pages allow you to capture crucial business intelligence and gather lead gen (lead generation) data. For many businesses, lead gen is as much of a sale as you can make online. Then, once someone opts in through your online form, the sales team takes over with follow-up to close the last mile of the sale.

But even if you do sell online, landing pages can be a great way to convert a “tire kicker” to a customer. Say your visitor goes to your website to shop for scuba gear for their cat. They leave without purchasing, perhaps to go check out all of the other pet scuba gear retailers online. Now your retargeting banners kick in, and everywhere they go, they are haunted by banners depicting an adorable wetsuit-clad kitty. Eventually, the allure overwhelms them and they click, expecting to browse your site again, but instead, they reach a landing page offering them a 10% discount if they buy the scuba gear now. Bingo. Who could resist?

This is where the ROI comes in. Your scuba cat customer has not only purchased gear from you, but they’ve also given you a gift. The gift of data. You know how they found your website (through web analytics), what they shopped for (kitty scuba gear), and you can guess why they didn’t buy (probably price). You also know where they went afterwards (through retargeting), and what image/message convinced them to return to your site (scuba kitties), and ultimately, to purchase (10% discount).

Now, armed with these points of data, together with the data you gain from all of your other customers activities, you have ample business intelligence to KNOW what customers respond to. No guesswork. This is knowledge, and knowledge is power.

Digital media is dynamic. It can be edited and revised continuously throughout your campaign. This means that you can test different messages, images, and offers, and determine which ones get the best response. And then you can do it all over again, revising and refining until you arrive at the best possible combination. And then you can do it some more.

It only took about a century and a half, but John Wanamaker’s dream of verified ROI has finally been realized. So what are you waiting for?

Call DAMN GOOD today and demand that we give you your ROI. Do it for J.W.

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