In today’s episode, Stacy sits down with Spencer Brooks, who is the Founder and Principal of Brooks Digital, a digital firm that helps health nonprofits improve their online presence. The two discuss the importance of finding your niche, building a great website, and discovering the digital metrics that actually matter. Spencer also shares his “agile” project management philosophy, and why be believes that copying your competitor can stifle your creativity.
Hollywood Branded Refresher Episodes
Check out some of the past episodes we’ve covered on this topic:
- EP 203: How to Make Your Website Grow with Drew Barton | Southern Web
- EP 126: Web Optimization And How To Fix It With Chris Dayley | Disruptive Advertising
- EP 238: All Things E-Commerce and Digital Marketing with Mike Mayer | Main Event Digital
Hollywood Branded Content Marketing Case Studies
The following content marketing case studies below provide even more insights.
- Top Interior Designers’ Brand Partnerships
- Web-Based TV is the New Black
- Five Instagram Hacks For B2B Brands That Grow Your CTR Up To 30% In 2 Weeks
The Path To Becoming A Certified Influencer Marketer With Hollywood Branded
Get ready to learn a ton of how-to’s and the tips and tricks of our trade, as you advance your influencer marketing game!
- Full-Length Training Videos
- Transcripts – Infographics
- eBook Guides
- Case Studies
- Hollywood Branded Surveys
- MP3 Downloads
- Animated Videos
- Additional Educational Material
- Quizzes & Exams
- Certifications In Influencer Marketing
We GUARANTEE that this class series will provide you with the foundation to make campaigns successful for your brand.
Thank You For Tuning In!
There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose Hollywood Branded, and we’re grateful for that. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it, you can see the handy social media buttons below and the left side of the page. 🙂
Also, kindly consider taking the 60-seconds it takes to leave an honest review and rating for the podcast on iTunes, they’re extremely helpful when it comes to the ranking of the show.
Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, to get automatic updates every time a new episode goes live!
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics. First, to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today.
Stacy Jones (00:16):
While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money. Whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
Speaker 2 (00:30):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Spencer Brooks. Spencer is the founder and principal of Brooks Digital, a digital firm that empowers health nonprofits to improve the lives of patients and assist in scaling their digital presence with better websites.
Stacy Jones (00:57):
Spencer helps organizations transform their complex websites, so they can provide the right information to the right person at the right time. Additionally, Spencer’s writing has been featured in publications, such as the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Tech Soup, and Nonprofit Marketing Guide.
Stacy Jones (01:13):
Today, Spencer and I are going to be chatting about the power of Agile Marketing and Website Design, the digital metrics you need to keep in mind to find the numbers that matter, and we’re going to be learning what works from Spencer’s perspective. What should be avoided, and how some businesses just miss the mark. Spencer, welcome. Happy to have you here today.
Spencer Brooks (01:31):
Stacy. I’m thrilled to be here. Thanks so much for having me.
Stacy Jones (01:34):
Absolutely. What I’d love to do is start off by letting our listeners learn a little bit more about how you got here today, because you’ve spent over 10 years in this industry. You’re certainly an expert on digital and website design, and you have so much experience to share that I’m excited to start learning from you.
Spencer Brooks (01:53):
Sure. It started when I was in a band. That’s always the start of a good story. Isn’t it?
Stacy Jones (01:59):
That’s the way to start.
Spencer Brooks (02:00):
Yeah. Gosh, I was about 21, I think. And so, I played drums and I joined this rock band. We were on tour at the time. You might hear, “tour,” and think, “Oh, the headliner events at the arenas and these hip local venues.” Those are like the [crosstalk 00:02:20]…
Stacy Jones (02:19):
You were in a band.
Spencer Brooks (02:20):
Right. That’s the pro level. You got the tour organizer, the whole thing. And then, there’s like the underground tour, where you just book anyone. Anyone who has a space where you can play. Then, that’s your tour.
Stacy Jones (02:36):
It’s the cool kids. It’s all about the cool kids. You were a cool kid.
Spencer Brooks (02:39):
That’s right. Yeah, totally. I was in a band on tour. That was it. But I just remember sitting in a 15 passenger van. And so, I was like, “I would love to have a hundred bucks to buy food. If I had that, that would be amazing.” And so, growing up in high school and college, I had studied web design and development a bit.
Spencer Brooks (03:04):
And so, I went, “You know what? I could just post an ad on Craigslist. I could Tether via my phone, on my laptop. And I could earn a little bit of money while I’m in this band, so that I could eat and do things like that. Pay my bills.” Spoiler alert, being in a band, the music industry … It’s pretty hard to make money. At least as a drummer.
Spencer Brooks (03:26):
Anyway, so I started doing that. And I remember … I think the first client I got, I was designing these banner ads for a bad breath product. I was just finding all the stock images of people smelling other people’s breath and things like that. Just doing whatever it took. But over time, as a couple of years went by, I got married. Settled down a little bit. And I discovered that, you know what? I really enjoy this work.
Spencer Brooks (03:59):
I freelanced for a number of years, and that grew into a stable client base that was more work than I could handle. So I started bringing on more team members. And so, that’s how Brooks Digital was born. That was about six years ago, I think, is when I made that transition from just being a freelancer to actually running an agency.
Spencer Brooks (04:21):
And then, I got into nonprofit work just by examining what kind of clients were coming to me and my agency most often. I found that we had specialized in a particular website platform Drupal at the time. Drupal and WordPress, which tended to be pretty popular with nonprofits. And so, I went, “These are my people. They’re really finding a lot of value from the services.”
Spencer Brooks (04:48):
My brother also has a chronic health condition that’s actually left him disabled. So I really have this personal connection with health nonprofits specifically, who are specializing in these different diseases and cancers and things like that. So I made the decision, “Hey, I’m going to go pursue these people.”
Spencer Brooks (05:07):
I know what it’s like to be a family member of someone who’s literally … He’s disabled and that’s affected his entire life. We’ve done good work for these clients. And so, I’ve made the decision to push my firm into that direction and deepen my expertise in that particular area.
Stacy Jones (05:25):
I think the most successful agencies out there are those who actually have niched down. It’s excellent that you found a niche. I can think of all the advisors I know at their agencies who are like, “Yes, good job. Thumbs up. Super niche.” That’s what you’re supposed to do.
Spencer Brooks (05:37):
Exactly. All the people … It’s like, I only had to have that advice beat into my head for five years until I made the decision. But after the 10th time I went, “Maybe there’s something to that.”
Stacy Jones (05:49):
Yeah. It’s a different approach. I think the old school thought oftentimes was, “Well, brands don’t want to work with anyone if you’ve worked with their competitor,” versus seeing, “Oh. If you specialize actually in this field, even though you might have all this competitor intelligence … You have all this competitor intelligence and you actually know what works.”
Spencer Brooks (06:11):
I think that’s huge. You just get smart about this. You just see the same patterns. It’s pattern matching again and again and again. And I’m pretty shocked by … The more that I get to understand and know just a particular niche, you just start to see the same patterns over and over and over again. You solve that for someone.
Spencer Brooks (06:32):
I think, with nonprofits, that might be a little bit different maybe in some ways. I think it can probably apply to really any brand. But there’s a problem, and you can solve it for this specific organization, and that helps them. And they may not be in direct competition with someone else.
Spencer Brooks (06:49):
They might be cancer versus diabetes or something like that, so that can help. But I even think that getting smart about the issues in a particular niche, it’s super helpful. Because then you can just solve that problem really well, and get really good at it, really fast.
Stacy Jones (07:08):
Well nonprofits and especially the health and medical community seem to have some extra needs to be able to answer to, not just their board of directors, but their donors.
Stacy Jones (07:21):
And so, there’s a whole different approach of looking at how you’re marketing, because you have two very different stakeholders that you have to respond to.
Spencer Brooks (07:29):
A hundred percent. That’s one of the things that makes nonprofits so unique and fun to work with, is that the stakeholders are different. You do have the board, you do have donors. Oftentimes, specifically with like medical nonprofits, you have partners that might be pharmaceutical companies or other government agencies.
Spencer Brooks (07:50):
Or oftentimes in the space, there’s different working groups that get formed where it’s actually multiple organizations that are all together. And then, in addition to that, you actually have the people with a particular health condition that may be one of many. You have the actual person who’s experiencing it. You have their caregiver, family, the doctor or healthcare provider that specializes in that.
Spencer Brooks (08:13):
All of these audiences, all these stakeholders, they need different information. That’s where it starts to … As you alluded to in the beginning, Stacy, it’s very complex. You have to speak to a lot of different people. And so, that’s a big challenge for them.
Stacy Jones (08:28):
And then, here you are, coming to save the day by designing an Agile website that can answer all these stakeholder needs and anyone else who might be out there.
Spencer Brooks (08:41):
Correct. I think the thing about … I could approach this in a couple of ways. The idea of Agile, it’s a philosophy. It’s really a project management philosophy that I’ve held on to. Just to lay out the basics of that for anyone who’s listening that might not know what Agile is … It’s just a way of thinking about, well, anything that you’re managing.
Spencer Brooks (09:07):
It started with software development. It could be marketing. Right? But it’s thinking of whatever project you’re doing as this ongoing living, breathing entity instead of a project. The typical waterfall. You think of a construction project, where you go in these phases and they’re all dependent on each other. And there’s a time and place for that.
Spencer Brooks (09:28):
But especially when it comes to conditions of uncertainty, where maybe you don’t know exactly what it is that you need to be doing upfront … Or you need to have the strategic ability to respond to change in the middle of a project, or you just recognize that it’s really risky to try and just do this all up front … To try and serve all of these complex stakeholders and just say, “All right, this is going to be our project and we’re going to do it for the next five years. Let’s hope we’re right.”
Spencer Brooks (09:56):
Agile is a response to that by saying, “Okay, we can try it. We’re going to get started, but we’re going to work in cycles … We’re going to launch a first version of this and keep improving it over time, baking in the ability to respond to change.” And so, particularly in a space that is complex, like with health nonprofits … And there’s tons of other spaces that are complex. It’s not just them.
Spencer Brooks (10:23):
Any kind of space where the playing field changes really rapidly. If it’s developing fast, and you need to be able to keep up, that’s another situation where Agile can come in really handy. Some other cases as well. But certainly, for my particular niche, it’s pretty valuable to be able to just recognize that you don’t have to do it all at once.
Stacy Jones (10:47):
I’ve gotten very involved in our own agency’s website design, clients’ website design. Whether it’s a nonprofit healthcare, or as you referenced, pretty much anything under the sun … Especially, with all those stakeholders, there’s always more ideas coming at you as a designer.
Stacy Jones (11:05):
It’s unlimited, where all of a sudden you need to do this, and I need to switch over here. “Oh, there’s a red flag emergency. Let’s go over there.” How do you work with your clients to help them best prioritize all these little fires, so that you can stay on top of that when developing?
Spencer Brooks (11:22):
Yeah, I like to think of it as fixed cost, but variable scope. What that means is, we need to decide on a budget for this beforehand. Obviously, we can’t just spend … No one has an unlimited amount of money, so we need to understand what the budget is for any particular client.
Spencer Brooks (11:44):
But within that, there’s the ability to change the details of the work or swap things out or reprioritize it, which is opposed to this idea of, “You have to write the detailed scope of work upfront.” This is exactly what we’re going to do, and Mr. or Mrs. Client, whatever … They have to sign off on that. If we change it one little bit, then it’s a lot of negotiations and change orders and the bureaucracy.
Stacy Jones (12:14):
Spencer Brooks (12:14):
Yes. Tons. And I hate paperwork. I’m sure the clients hate paperwork too. Everyone does. I think about it in terms of … With Agile, there’s the ability to respond to change. We collect a lot of ideas. The ideas come up throughout the course of the project. We say, “This idea is a great idea. Now, we just have to make a decision. Would you rather do this? Or maybe we could take this other thing out or delay it past the launch into another phase?”
Spencer Brooks (12:45):
It’s sort of the, “Yes, and …” response. “Yeah, we can do that,” and, “What’s more important to do?” Because, obviously, every project has a limited budget. Everyone gets it. And so, I think the ability to respond to change by actually being able to make the scope flexible during the project is very valuable.
Spencer Brooks (13:06):
And so, in practice, what happens is sometimes during the course of the project, things come up and they get slotted in. Other things filter down into a, “Now, we’re not going to do this,” list. Or, “This is a post-launch list.” It’s an ongoing discussion of, “As things change, what are the new priorities? What are we going to do now? What are we going to save later?”
Spencer Brooks (13:24):
Which, of course, it requires some trust. I think a fixed scope of work upfront is certainly … Maybe it requires less trust, if you are hiring an agency or someone else, to do. It’s a little bit harder to say, “Okay, we’re just going to be flexible during it.” But I think if that trust does exist, then it can be a really great arrangement.
Stacy Jones (13:45):
I liked what you said and it’s something that is very, very little. But you said, “and,” instead of, “but.” You said, “And this is a result of what will happen.” Instead of, “But this is what …”
Stacy Jones (13:58):
And it turns something negative into such a nice little positive of, “Let’s reflect.” Instead of, “No. You can’t have that.”
Spencer Brooks (14:04):
Because I don’t like to punish anyone for coming up with a good idea. And I think that’s the vibe that I get sometimes. Especially, if we inherit a project that’s really struggling. It becomes a very much of a … These two partners, they’re sitting on either side of the table. You get this, “We’re going to read a number and slide it over the table. And they’re going to write a number and slide it over.”
Spencer Brooks (14:29):
It’s kind of this smoke and mirrors game that gets played. I don’t think that produces a great final product. And so, I don’t want anyone, certainly that I’m working with, any client to feel like they’re being punished for changing their mind or for coming up with a good idea. Realistically, the farther the project goes on, the more information you actually have about what it is that you want and what it is that you need.
Spencer Brooks (14:57):
At the beginning of the project, you have the least amount of information. And so, punishing someone for changing their mind, I don’t think it leads to a great result. I just want to build, within that project, the ability for that to happen in a non-punishing manner. And I think the great ideas just filter to the top.
Stacy Jones (15:16):
I think the important thing about website design is people sometimes come and approach it as, “Okay, I’m going to build it and it’s done. And I’m going to go onto my next project.” Really, websites are living, breathing, evolving, tweaking, adjusting, adding beasts.
Spencer Brooks (15:34):
Yes, it’s really true. I think sometimes the temptation can be … If we do this all in one project, this is going to be the super site that we build. We’re going to be able to do everything ourselves, and it’s going to be totally flexible to adapt to anything that we could do in the future.
Spencer Brooks (15:51):
And so, I think sometimes the temptation is … Especially, for you as the client buying the site. I think sometimes agencies are complicit in selling stuff this way … Sometimes you can build a site that way. But I think many times in reality, you do have to bake in some assumptions about the structure of your business and the requirements that it has. You actually have to set up this structure as you’re building the site. That is, baking in assumptions about the way things work.
Spencer Brooks (16:27):
And if you really do want to have the ultimate flexibility, then it’s extraordinarily expensive to do it that way. But I think the temptation can be, “Oh. We’re just going to get this amazing … We’re going to buy the Ferrari of a site. It’s going to do everything that we ever want it to do, and we’re going to be able to do it all ourselves.”
Spencer Brooks (16:46):
And I think that it really doesn’t work that way. Unless you have a ton of money to basically just develop your own custom platform. And if you’re doing that, you’re probably doing it the Agile way anyway. Websites … I think the thing about it is that your competitive environment changes over time.
Spencer Brooks (17:10):
Whatever industry you’re in changes over time. Your own organization, your business, whatever, it changes over time. And so, if you build a website and you bake in assumptions, because you’re going to have to do that … About the structure of the content, about your business requirements and workflows. The way this stuff works. That’s going to stay fixed.
Spencer Brooks (17:30):
Then, it just falls out of date over time. And so, I think the idea of Agile is just recognizing the simple fact that things change. That’s just the nature of reality. Things change. And so, your website is no different. If you bake in that ability to actually update it and keep it relevant over time, and make that part of your strategy to do that, then you’re going to be able to be positioned more on the leading edge in your competitive environment.
Spencer Brooks (17:59):
You’re going to stay ahead of your space. Whereas everyone else, if they’re redoing their site every couple of years, they’re going to be falling further and further behind redoing it. Falling behind. You can stay consistently on that leading edge.
Stacy Jones (18:13):
How do you best work with the client to get them to put the major ingredients of that recipe in before you’re adding in all the extra little seasonings along the way? What’s your approach to starting out and putting together a strategy for success?
Spencer Brooks (18:29):
Well, of course, how in-depth you do it depends on the client’s budget. I don’t want to give a mealy mouth dancer to that, but obviously there’s a range. Strategically, I always like to think about starting with the stakeholders in mind, the audience in mind. I think the default view for most nonprofits I would venture … I’m not an expert in other niches or other industries.
Spencer Brooks (18:53):
But I would imagine it’s the same with many others, is that you go into it thinking about what your needs are as an organization, as a business. What the needs of your staff are and what you want to get out of that. And if you’re thinking of it like that, that’s not bad. But you’re probably missing the perspective of your customer, of your stakeholders, and your users.
Spencer Brooks (19:17):
The ideas that you come up with … If you’re sitting at a whiteboard brainstorming about, “Okay. What can the site do? What can the site do?” You’re probably missing an entire segment of potential features or things, that you would have never been able to dream up in your wildest dreams, that your customers and the actual users are going to be able to tell you. If you take the time to go talk to them.
Spencer Brooks (19:41):
And so, I like to think about getting to this place of launching the first version of a website by taking it to the beginning, and actually having a client sit down and talk with the people who use their website. We can help facilitate that and perform some of the research as needed, but then … Usually, you start to find out a couple of things really fast about what that particular user group needs.
Spencer Brooks (20:08):
Like people with health conditions, they probably are going to struggle when they’re newly diagnosed. I think they’re going to have this moment of overwhelm where they say, “Oh man, I was just diagnosed with cancer. I’m freaking out right now. There’s so much information, and I need a structured path to learn what it is that I need to know today. And I can’t be overwhelmed with a thousand articles and medical terminology.”
Spencer Brooks (20:35):
You might find that. You might find, “I don’t know which websites to trust. It’s medical information, so I’m struggling to Google and land on what information can I trust or not.” You’re probably landing on something like, “I want to find other people who are struggling with the same thing, so I can find community and support.”
Spencer Brooks (20:58):
Anyway, you’ll start to hear these things as you talk to people. And then, those become some of the pillars around which you prioritize what you’re going to develop. Because, ultimately, what you want to do is have … As you’re later in the project, you’re making these decisions on, “What do we do now? What do we do later?”
Spencer Brooks (21:15):
You want to be able to have a framework in which to prioritize those things. Beyond just opinions or the highest paid person in the room making the call. Sometimes that’s necessary. You need to do that sometimes. But it is helpful to actually have the perspective of the people who are using the site and what their core needs are. And then, you can really shoot for checking those boxes for the initial version. And then, getting feedback and adding to it along the way. That’s how I like to think about it.
Stacy Jones (21:46):
So I think what you just said was that one of the major mistakes that many people make are not listening to enough people who actually matter. Potentially, just looking at one who is the overall decision maker in setting forward and designing the site. That’s probably something that happens quite frequently,
Spencer Brooks (22:06):
One hundred percent. It’s a huge mistake. I don’t think it’s bad to listen to the person who’s the highest paid. They probably have a pretty good idea of what the organization needs and someone needs to make the call. That’s fine. It’s good to listen to people in your organization.
Spencer Brooks (22:24):
But I think it can really quickly become an either committee-based decision process, where you just get a bunch of people in a room and you present it to the committee … Usually, what happens is some watered down compromise emerges between opinions. You don’t necessarily put forth your strongest offering there.
Spencer Brooks (22:50):
Frankly, I think the committee-based decision process is optimized to reduce interpersonal conflict between the committee, not necessarily produce the best outcome. That’s what you’re probably going to get with committee-based decision-making.
Spencer Brooks (23:06):
Again, my two cents perspective. Sorry if you have a committee listening. Don’t mean to rain on your parade. The other thing, I think, that can happen is sometimes as an organization, it’s difficult to read your own label. You’re on the inside of the jar. I think I heard this from … It might have been David Baker. Agency advisor guy. One of the many people that told me to get fixed my positioning.
Stacy Jones (23:38):
Spencer Brooks (23:39):
Exactly. It’s hard to read your label. You’re on the inside of the jar, and it’s just hard to see. Especially, I see this a lot when a nonprofit has a ton of programs. They get really locked into their terminology, and the way that they think about their organization.
Spencer Brooks (23:57):
It actually becomes almost impossible to actually objectively look at your organization from the lens of someone who’s totally new to it, and see what’s confusing and what’s not. You can just run circles around what you might think is a good idea. But the real litmus test is actually going and talking to someone who has that outside perspective.
Spencer Brooks (24:15):
They can read your label and they can tell you what your label is. And then, you can use their feedback to actually design something that is going to work for them. And so, I think that’s probably one of the biggest mistakes, is just not actually consulting and taking the time to go talk to the people that are outside your organization.
Stacy Jones (24:35):
What’s another mistake that you typically see?
Spencer Brooks (24:41):
I’ll pick a couple. Well, there’s a lot. I’d say this is one I’ve been thinking about recently. It’s the idea of copying other people. I don’t think it’s bad. What I see a lot of is that … It might be true in the nonprofit space and I’m sure it’s true in other spaces as well … Is that when you’re going through the process of redesigning the website, or doing really anything, you’re going to look at all your competitors and you’re going to say, “What are they doing?”
Spencer Brooks (25:09):
What are they doing? What are they doing? What are they doing? That usually becomes either a template for what you’re going to try to do, or it just becomes some validation or proof to someone in a senior leadership position. That this idea that they’re going to go ahead with has already been validated by someone else.
Spencer Brooks (25:33):
I think it’s especially true with someone, maybe a board member, that’s not particularly experienced in web. You’re proposing something. You do user research and you talk to your users, and you say, “We need to launch this new community initiative. To connect people.” They go and look at all of the competitors and they say, “No one’s doing this. I’m not so sure.”
Spencer Brooks (25:57):
And so, I think sometimes copying or looking too much to your competitors for a template … It’s not bad, but I think it can actually prevent you from doing anything that’s really innovative or unique. And so, I think that’s a mistake. There’s obviously an advice of caution in there too. It’s very good and appropriate to do a competitive analysis and see what people out there are doing and copy what’s working.
Spencer Brooks (26:29):
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. But it’s actually not going to get you anything new that someone else isn’t already doing. Sometimes I think that’s the opportunity to break ahead of the pack, is when you are doing something that no one else is doing. But you have done the research ahead of time to know that you have a fairly good shot at this landing. So that’s another mistake I see people make.
Stacy Jones (26:52):
One of the topics that you and I were chatting about before the podcast even began is some of the digital metrics that you need to keep in mind with your website, of what you’re actually measuring against. Because I know sometimes what people think they should be looking at.
Stacy Jones (27:08):
And then, the holy grail of, “Oh my gosh, I got this many visitors.” But if they’re not relevant visitors to you, who really gives a flying care? Because they’re there for three seconds and they’re gone. They actually aren’t helping amp you up. It’s hurting your SEO in general. What are the metrics that you should actually care about?
Spencer Brooks (27:26):
If I just threw out specific ones right now as a carte blanche, I don’t know if I would be doing anyone a service. But I will say, for nonprofits, I generally look at it as in categories. First, awareness is one. That’s obviously … That’s going to be traffic. It could be ad impressions or things that are generally getting people from the position of not knowing that your organization exists at all, to suddenly you’re on their radar.
Spencer Brooks (28:02):
We want to be able to measure that. And I think the details are depending on your marketing stack and your channels. But again, there’s a lot. It could be search impressions, clicks, website visitors, the ad impressions. Things like that. And then, the second thing that I would consider in the arc is their behavior on your site. Engagement would be the next category. Going from awareness to engagement.
Spencer Brooks (28:30):
And so, once they become aware of your organization, then what are they doing to engage with it in a deeper way? That could be … If you have a website with a lot of content, that’s things like, how often are they returning to your site? How many pages are they visiting? How long are they spending on the site? What are your top articles and the categories of those articles and the most read ones? Things like that.
Spencer Brooks (28:56):
And then, that can lead into things. If you have an email subscription, for example. Are they taking that step to take action, which is the final phase? For nonprofits, that can mean a lot of things. I think, for a business, that’s probably you’re making a sale. Or at least generating a lead that could convert to a sale. For a nonprofit, that could be a range of things from donations to signing up to a program. Even just joining an email list, that could be a significant action.
Spencer Brooks (29:27):
And so, there’s a lot of different specific actions and metrics that could apply to your situation. But I think of it in those buckets of awareness, engagement, and action. The definitions of those change from organization to organization. But generally, you can start to pick out, within the hundreds of metrics in that category, that top few that probably mean a lot for your particular business and organization.
Spencer Brooks (29:55):
And I think … Speaking of mistakes that people make. When it comes to these kinds of metrics, it’s choosing too many. You could fill up a dashboard with a ton of metrics and you can be like, “Wow, this is a really impressive dashboard.” And I refresh it once a week and don’t do anything with it. It can be overwhelming. I think the metrics should be small. A small number.
Spencer Brooks (30:22):
Probably, in total, less than 10. I’d say just as an off the cuff number. Across awareness, engagement, and action. And then, those things should tell you how well you’re doing in whatever that particular metric is. So if it’s newsletter signups, that should … The conversion rate, for example, on website newsletter signups. That should inform what you’re doing with your actual website.
Spencer Brooks (30:51):
Are you optimizing that conversion rate? Is it going up or down? Did you just launch something? If so, go to your dashboard and see. Did that change actually help bring it up or down? That’s what I’d recommend to get away from the vanity metric dashboard refreshing that happens a lot.
Spencer Brooks (31:10):
Anyway, that’s my framework for thinking about digital metrics without just making it a super general answer. Because the reality is, it does change from organization to organization. But there are principles that stay the same.
Stacy Jones (31:23):
And so, for all of our listeners who are like, “Oh. Spencer’s saying things I really like. I want to learn more about Spencer.” How can they find you? Besides our show notes. But if someone wants to reach out, what’s your contact info?
Spencer Brooks (31:35):
Sure. Best way. You can feel free to email me. It’s [email protected], not dot com. I’m sure, Stacy, Sam will have that in the show notes as well. You can feel free to visit the Brooks Digital website at brooks.digital.
Spencer Brooks (31:51):
There’s some articles there about a lot of the stuff that I’ve talked about. I also host the Health Nonprofit Digital Marketing podcast. So if you want to listen to me muse more about and interview other guests that work at health nonprofits, you can listen to that. There’s some webinars and other content on there as well. Those are two good ways to reach me.
Stacy Jones (32:14):
Awesome. I know our time starting to wrap up, but is there anything we didn’t touch on today that you would like to reinforce, share, guide, teach our listeners?
Spencer Brooks (32:24):
I’d just use the opportunity to reiterate the core point that … I think this is the most important point, is listening to your users and your stakeholders. We already touched on that, but I think that is something that can be the difference between an average website redesign.
Spencer Brooks (32:51):
It’s like, “Okay, that went well. This looks better and the technology is good. Okay, we’ll do this again in another couple of years,” to, “Man, this is actually pushing our entire business, our entire organization forward. This launched us to a new stage.” The difference of that is listening to your users. And it’s different than … A survey is great. All those things are great.
Spencer Brooks (33:15):
But I think when it comes to the context of the website, actually going and talking to people and saying, “How do you use the internet to find this kind of company? To research this kind of product? To find this kind of organization?” Really get specific on how that particular person uses the web to connect with that information and that company.
Spencer Brooks (33:37):
You’ll start to get some really, really juicy nuggets of information that will help you move forward and actually progress. Instead of just getting it a shiny new website and doing the same old, same old.
Stacy Jones (33:54):
Well, Spencer, I want to thank you so much for joining us today. And I want to thank all of our listeners for tuning in. Thank you again, Spencer.
Spencer Brooks (34:03):
You’re very welcome, Stacy. Appreciate the opportunity.
Stacy Jones (34:06):
Again, for all of you listening to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, Spencer has provided us with so much awesome insights and information. I know our topic today was really focused on nonprofit and healthcare, but everything that was said really can apply to whatever business sector you’re in. With some little tweaks here and there.
Stacy Jones (34:26):
I appreciate you, Spencer, for all of your insights. Thank you again. I’ll look forward to chatting with you on our next podcast. To everyone else, if you’re a fan of the show, make sure you go to hollywoodbranded.com/podcastupdates.
Stacy Jones (34:40):
This is a new one for you guys, hollywoodbranded.com/podcastupdates, to get notified every time we drop a new episode. You can also stay up to date with all things marketing, business, and pop culture by checking out our weekly blogs at blog.hollywoodbranded.com. Subscribe and you can join over 30,000 readers who are already in the know. Again, thank you so much. Have a great day.