How Numbers Matter in Marketing

I typically write a lot more about the “human side of marketing,” because I think topics like trust, sincerity, and emotions get overlooked in most marketing advice discussions.

And no matter how clever your copy and fail safe your system, neglect trust building and you will have to work twice as hard at your marketing for half the results.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the numbers side of marketing.

In this article I talk about why numbers are important and how to make them work in your marketing.

=== True Story ===

Last year I was promoting a new teleclass that I was very excited about. I had done the class as a live workshop twice and participants got great results.

It seemed to me that live success should easily translate into teleclass success, right?

I followed all the guidelines for successful online promotions, wrote a strong message, etc. And I didn’t get single sign up.

Someone suggested that I offer a couple scholarships so that we at least made or minimum enrollment of 8 participants. So I wrote another offer and posted it in a small business discussion forum in which I was well known and trusted by members.

Three days went by, then a week, and still, no one was signing up even to take the class for free!!!

Boy did that knock me off my center.

Lucky for me, I felt safe enough in this forum to post a second message telling folks that I was baffled and disappointed no one had taken advantage of my free offer.

Even luckier for me, other forum members responded with honesty and empathy. Of the ten people who responded:

2 said they were really excited about the class but they had other commitments on the class dates.

3 said they were focused on other parts of their business and weren’t ready to learn the subject I was teaching but to let them know if I gave it later in the year.

One said they were on vacation when I posted the offer

One said they didn’t feel they needed to take my class because they had already mastered the subject matter but they thought the class sounded great for those new to the topic.

The other three people didn’t mention the class specifically but said they appreciated my willingness to ask for help and encouraged me not to give up.

Here’s what I took away from the experience:

In marketing, especially in online marketing you must put your message in front of a lot of people and repeat your message over and over again over a period of time.

Why online marketing in particular? Because non-verbal communication–your smile, your tone of voice, your hand gestures, your posture–all go a long way to establishing trust.

When you promote online you often have only the written word with which to establish trust. Thus your response rate is a lot lower.

And, the chances of actually getting your message in front of the right people at the right moment is lower as well.

=== Understanding the Odds ===

For your marketing to work (for an audience member to act on your offer’s Call to Action) all of these things need to happen. Your prospect:

  • actually needs what you’re offering

  • is aware that they need what you offer

  • trusts you and believes you’ll deliver what you promise

  • actually reads or listens to your message when it goes out

  • has the time and money to take you up on your offer

The odds I use are 1 out of 10 in the case of responses to online marketing.

In other words, for every 100 emails you send to readers who have opted in to your e-mail list:

10 will act on your call to action (click through to your sales page) 1 will actually make a purchase

And 1 in 10 (10%) is actually a spectacular rate of response! It’s not unusual for rates to be more like 5% even 1%.

What’s important is to remember these percents are guidelines. And you can actually improve your odds.

Factors that affect your response rate include:

  • Familiarity with your offer. The more often someone sees your offer, the more likely they’ll take the next step assuming they want and need what you offer

  • A marketing message that is personalized to the problem and the way your prospect experiences the problem

  • How well you define your niche and the likelihood that everyone receiving your message has the problem you’re addressing

  • Your message avoids words and phrases that trigger spam filters, etc.

=== How These Numbers Apply to Your Marketing ===

If you’re a small business owner and use online marketing, here are the main points to take away:

  • Take Away Point #1 You Need a Large Email List

When someone tells me they’re disappointed with the low number of response they received from a promotion. The first question I ask them is, “How big is your list?”

How large is “large”? At least 500 subscribers, preferably 1,000.

It’s perfectly ok if you have a smaller list but you will need to supplement your online marketing with activities that are more personal: local networking, free presentations, etc.

  • Take Away Point #2 Repeated Offers Over Time are a Must

  • People don’t see every email you send because …

  • they’re out of the office

  • they’re reading their email on their phone and only look at the most urgent messages

  • they accidentally delete your email

  • etc.

And even if they open your email they may not pay much attention because …

  • your event is six weeks away and they just can’t think that far into the future

  • they aren’t ready yet to take a class on the subject matter because other priorities take precedence

Which is why it’s so important to repeat your offers to your prospects over a period of time; such as six to eight weeks.

Because eventually, the people who want to enroll in your class or buy your DVD or hire you as a coach will actually see your offer, read it, and take action.

  • Take Away Point #3 Relevance is Important

  • The main resistance to point #2 is “if I send too many emails, everyone will unsubscribe.”

    Which is why there’s point #3; they won’t subscribe if the offer is relevant to something they need now or are likely to need soon.

    You can email an offer for discounted tire inspections to your heart’s content but there won’t be many takers if most of the people to whom you’re promoting don’t own cars.

  • Take Away Point #4 Don’t Forget Those Annoying but Important Details

  • Once I sent out an offer and had no idea why people weren’t registering until someone emailed me saying “hey, I think the link is broken.”

    Sure enough, I hadn’t tested the link people were supposed to click to view the sales page on my website.


    So, don’t assume everything works. Make sure:

    • the links in your message take people where you want them to go

    • your message isn’t peppered with words that will send your email right into spam oblivion

    • you use the right dates and times,

    • and check for typos.

    Every one of those annoying little things can ruin an otherwise well done promotion and make it look like no one is interested.

    === Bottom Line ===

    Numbers in marketing are every bit as important as your sincere intentions to serve. In particular:

    • Remember you will lose about 9 out of every 10 prospects for each step they must take in the process to becoming customers.

    • The more you depend on online marketing the more important it is to have a large list of subscribers.

    • There are specific actions you can take to improve the odds so that you lose fewer people along the way such as

    • – repeating your offers

    • – making sure your offers are relevant to prospects, and

    • – testing for technical problems.

    Copyright (c) 2010 Judy Murdoch

    — Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, “Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!” go to You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or

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