Dating, like courting prospects, is a learning process. We're not born knowing what kind of person we'll get along with. Most businesses don't know beforehand who their best customers are going to be either.
Unfortunately, very few do their due diligence and figure it out before they start trying to date. Like a teenager hitting puberty, most rush out and just start trying to date anyone who is interested.
Maybe that is why the SBA reports that over 50% of small business fail in the first 5 years. (and also why over 50% of marriages also fail within the first five years. Coincidence? In our world, coincidences can be mathematically explained and duplicated.)
Later with experience (and maybe a few nightmare dates) comes the wisdom that the more you date, the more you know what you don't want. Through trial and error (and maybe a few and expensive nightmare clients), you learn that what you offer isn't right for everyone.
But you also learn what does work, and with the right tools, you can learn how to easily duplicate that. Let's open up the Book of Cheri and tell you about my most memorable date from high school when I, like everyone else my age, didn't know anything about what I wanted (or needed).
Jake: Disappearing After the First Conversion
Jake (names have been changed to protect the innocent!) took me out for coffee in Portland one snowy December night while he was on winter break. I was a junior and utterly thrilled that a sophisticated college guy wanted to take me out.
After coffee, we took the long way home through Longfellow Square to see the holiday lights. Standing next to the city's Christmas tree, Jake pointed up to the starlit sky and said, "Do you see that star on top of the tree?" I said, "No, where?" "Oops, must be the stars in your eyes." All the snow around us melted. Kiss. Fade out.
Long story short, Jake never called me again after that date.
Advanced Analytics Post-Mortem I: Jake
Since then, I've been on my fair share of dates and know a lot more about the type of person who makes a good boyfriend. Looking back, I see three things that a good boyfriend does that Jake didn't do.
- A good boyfriend stays in touch. The first time Jake called after he graduated from high school was when he was making plans for winter break.
- A good boyfriend keeps dates. The first time Jake and I made plans, he stood me up.
- A good boyfriend cares about others. Jake talked mostly about himself.
Back in high school, I just didn't know what makes a good boyfriend. So what does this have to do with advanced analytics?
If you can recognize what makes a good prospect (boyfriend or date), you can set up your website and marketing to appeal to them, and rule out the ones that are not a good match for you. You avoid the brokenhearted realization that the prospects in your pipeline are never going to call you back, because they are just not that into you. Instead of being busy chasing the ones that aren't a good match and being left alone without any sales, you are focused on finding the right match, not just a match right now.
Advanced Analytics Post-Mortem II: Your Customers
The first step to conversion optimization (or dating) is to be able to identify the goal.
What do your current customers have in common? What did they do and see during their buying process that lost opportunities didn't? Did they download a certain whitepaper, or use a free trial to do a specific task? Did they subscribe to your blog or a read a particular case study?
Advanced marketing testing and analytics can answer these questions for you, but you have to have the experience first to know what you are looking for. Some businesses don't have the traffic or even enough leads to start this process yet. They need to find (or get found by) more dates before they'll know enough about who their best customers are.
Advanced Analytics Post-Mortem III: You
Is this a "It's not you it's me." problem? To get good boyfriends (customers) you have to also be a good girlfriend. Do you stay in touch? Keep your dates? Care about them?