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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Phillips

How to get your digital marketing working harder.

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

Aftermath Digital has been live for just two weeks, but already I’m hearing a very consistent theme coming through from almost every business owner I talk to regarding digital marketing

"I kind of know what I’m doing, but not really”

"We dabbled but didn't get it right”

"I know my digital is woeful but I'm not sure what to do"

“We've got some people doing social, but they’re not really focusing on sales"

All of these stories are very similar, culminating in a belief that "digital is not working for my business”.

So I thought I’d share a tool I've used for many years that helps drive effective online selling, lead generation and database building, and my view on what you need to understand in order to get your digital working as hard as possible.

Digital is complex. I’ll never be able to cover all of the use-cases here, so this is a top-line guide on how to structure an effective, conversion driving digital eco-system. Please view this as a 101 (maybe a 201) in digital marketing rather than a solve-all solution. Firstly, this is a what a conversion-focussed digital marketing system looks like:

There are 5 main components here:

1) Digital Ads

When starting a digital marketing campaign I always recommend starting with multiple pieces of creative, on multiple platforms bringing people to your website. The reason behind this is that until you have a campaign live you never truly know what will be the most effective at driving traffic and sales. With creative and media buying, we should start broad (more creative, more channels), and refine as we get results and data to understand what works and what doesn’t.

Targeting is critical here. Platforms like Facebook & Google give incredible targeting opportunities including in-market (people are looking to buy what you have), and lookalikes (people who 'look like' past customers).

2) Website/Landing page

Assuming the primary objective is to get people to click your ads then buy something or sign up, this is where it will happen. We need to make sure the ads we showed match the page people are landing on - if someone clicked an ad are their expectations being met on the 'landing page? Or are they just being sent to the home page and shown generic messages? And is the page effective in telling the story and selling your brand, product or service?

3) Sequential retargeting

If the targeting on your ads was appropriate, and the message resonate, then someone who clicked your ad has some sort of intent or interest in your product/service. However, we know that most people who click an ad and land a website won’t convert/signup/buy the first time they land on a website. So our job as marketers is to educate them on your brand and proposition more deeply.

A highly effective way to achieve this is to create a retargeting sequence. This enables you to show a series of messages that are displayed as ads shown only people who’ve visited your website. The sequence could be a series of Facebook ads that talk about your brand, features/benefits of your product, customer testimonials/quotes, and potentially a deal. We show these ads over a period of time. The idea here is we want people to know more about your brand story, so we show a range of messages - not just the same ad that got them to your website in the first place. E.g, we might have 5 ads, and we show each for a day or two after the person initially visits your site. We then turn this sequence off immediately if they make a purchase or sign up.

4) Joining the community/database

Some people may not want to buy/sign up yet but are interested in joining your community. When new visitors arrive at your website, if they don’t buy, at the very least we’d like them to join your database so we can email market to them in an ongoing capacity. We need to make this easy - we should provide some sort of value exchange for joining the database; e.g a deal or a valuable piece of content. You can get quite clever (and aggressive) with this if you want… for example tools like shows a ‘join our database’ overlay on your website if people move their mouse toward the browser window close button.

Once someone has joined the database, you need to have a welcome sequence of emails. Send new members a confirmation and welcome email, then over the next few days or weeks, send emails that educate on your brand/product in a fun & engaging way. This should be automated, which can be done easily with tools like Mail Chimp or Campaign Monitor if you've not got a sophisticated set up. Remember people who’ve clicked an ad, visited your website and actively decided to join your database have shown a lot of intent and are actively interested in what you do, but they’re possibly just not ready to buy/convert yet. It’s your duty to reward their interest with good content or offers.

5) Successful sale/sign up

This is the core objective; selling, or getting a lead. We need to make this process really easy. When someone has transacted, the priority is to make sure the experience post purchase is positive... (but I won't get in to details on that now as it's a whole other topic).

In a simplistic way, that's pretty much how performance digital marketing works.

What I love about this model is that not only does it display how the components of a digital marketing work in a simple way, but it encourages people to think of digital marketing as a journey - it removes the idea that digital marketing is just ads that you pay for… it’s an end to end process.

The art of making this system work for your business is optimising each part of the journey. Making each segment do its job in helping deliver the sales or leads you require at a cost that allows profitability. This process is called conversation rate optimisation or CRO.

CRO looks at improving all parts of the system incrementally to drive better overall efficiency and outcomes for your digital marketing. E.g If we spend $1000 to get 1000 people through the system and it creates 5 sales, what do we need to do to turn that 5 sales into 10 consistently? And then how do we scale it, so we’re spending $4000 and getting 40 sales?

In conducting CRO you need to consider a wide range of performance metrics of the system and you'll need good, trust worthy data sources. This means a robust analytics set up: typically goal and events set up in Google Analytics (GA), Facebook pixel with conversion tracking, demographic tracking & search console turned on in GA, heat-mapping and user videos, with third party tracking tools managed through Google Tag Manager. There's a lot more here, but the tools I've just described cover most analytics requirements & conversion outcomes.

The amount of data you can look at could be overwhelming… in my experience here are the things I always look out for.

Creative and media:

Which channels (e.g Adwords, Facebook, display) are most effective at driving traffic. I tend to put the most value on the actual number/volume of clicks and average cost per click. I very rarely look at click through rates, however relevance scores are important. Do some channels send better quality traffic than others? Look at the time on site and conversion rate for each channel/medium. Which creative seems to be performing the best. e.g getting the most clicks for the least media spend. and/or the most conversions. Are there any obvious insights here - do images of people work better than words? Is a certain headline the one that consistently works harder.

Website Landing page:What's the current conversion rate? Amazon is best in class here, claiming up to 74% (!!!) conversion rate for Prime members, but averages are closer to 3%. Are people staying on the page for very long or are they bouncing? Are people even getting to the area where the buy now/sign up button is located? There are lots of assumptions you can make here, I find that using tools like, and putting heat mapping and user recording on the site helps you understand how real potential customers are using your site. I love the 'rage clicks' feature on HotJar - it shows you when real users click in the same spot multiple times... it's a great indicator that your website's not doing the thing people expect it to.

Is retargeting working?

Looking at the metrics of the retargeting part of the campaign - are people coming back and buying as a result of your retargeting? Is it working more effectively than your ads to new customers (it should do)If not, are your messages and story compelling enough? When in the sequence are they returning - e.g which creative message is most effective at driving return visits? Do we need to change the order or cadence of the creative?

Database signups

How effective is the email sequence in getting people to make their first purchase? Are people opening the emails at an acceptable rate?Do you see a dip in the open rate or an increase in the unsubscribe rates as you go through the sequence? If so, the likelihood is that you're not providing enough perceived value, so you need to make the content of the email better...


Overall you need to be looking at the cost (media spend) per conversion. Are you actually driving on ROI? If so, can you scale it? If you spend double the amount on media today than you did yesterday, are you getting the same rate of sales? If not, what triage do you need to do immediately to make profitable sales?

The metrics that really matter With all this, it’s super easy to go down rabbit holes and worry about minute details, but you’ve got to remember the end goal: cost effective sales, leads or sign-ups. Before engaging in any sort of digital marketing you should have a very clear picture of the amount you are willing to invest in the set up of the system and the target cost per acquisition (CPA).

The metric you need to be laser focussed on is Cost Per Acquisition: on average how much media do you need to buy to get a sale/lead? And is this profitable?

The last point here is critical... CPAs can easily blow out and erode profitability if you're not running your system effectively. Until you achieve consistent sales at an acceptable cost your energy and focus should be solely on optimisation. I’ve utilised, recommended and implemented systems like this for close to 10 years now. As digital marketing matures, the tools and platforms we use change, but the fundamentals don’t. I have complete faith in this process because:

It’s low wastage

Every ad click and media dollar spent creates an opportunity to sell now or in the future.

Every part of the system can be improved

From creative to media buying, to the website and sequential marketing each part of this system can be optimised with data led insight over time. If you start and get average results, it’s only a matter of time and investment in optimisation until you get to a programme that kicks arse.

It can be completely automated. While you need human time to set it up, review the system and create optimisations, all the technical parts of this can be automated.

It's scalable. The system works as well if you have a $1,000 a month budget as if you have a $50,000 budget , if you work in a startup or a corporate. On the low side, you capture less data so have to use a bit more intuition. On the upper side, your system might be more complex to set up but the principals still work.

It's replicable.If you have multiple products or services to sell, you can replicate this model across your business easily.

It allows for increased sophistication

In this post, I have explored a basic sales/lead gen system, but as you get more confidence in your digital marketing you can easily add more smarts and complexity to it. In recent programmes I've designed for clients I've included months-long engagement programmes, win-back campaigns, and loyalty and referral marketing automation.

So there you have it - digital marketing explained in an 8-minute-to-read post. Easy, right? Yeah, nah. If you want to find out more about my thinking or how I roll, hit me up on


Aftermath Digital helps companies get the most out of their digital marketing investments. In a world that's not short on thought leadership or advice, we provide practical, actionable digital marketing that will deliver tangible, meaningful results. This is delivered through a 'Virtual Head of Digital Marketing’ service, offering best-in-class leadership and agency services for businesses who aren't able to justify hiring a permanent senior digital resource. 


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