You Sunk My Battleship!

Yesterday morning, my seven-year-old son and I played a rousing game of Battleship. Well, it would have been rousing if he hadn’t been too excited to mark the results of his guesses. He’d say “F-8″ and I’d say “Miss” and he wouldn’t put a white peg in the F-8 hole. Two turns later, he’d say, “F-8″ again.

Even though I was giving him two guesses to my one, I was still able to hold my own because he wasn’t registering the crucial feedback provided by the game. By the time he grew bored and started building lighthouses by stacking the white and red pegs vertically, I had a commanding lead.

I say this not to brag – well, maybe a little – but to point out a serious problem with most marketing: lack of attention to feedback. In the offline world of newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV commercials, etc., feedback was reasonably hard to come by. But online, everything you need to know to make intelligent decisions is readily available to you, for free.

For instance, if you’re using Google AdWords and don’t have Conversion Tracking set up – both the code and reports scheduled to run on a regular basis and sent to your inbox – you’re shooting at battleships and ignoring the results. If you don’t have Analytics running, you’re throwing away profits on sub-optimal (a fancy direct-marketing term for “lousy”) Web pages.

Never before in the history of marketing has there been a feedback mechanism as immediate, precise, and statistically valid as a Google AdWords pay-per-click campaign. Use it fully… and may your battleships float in peace.

[Ed. Note: Google AdWords can do wonders for your marketing efforts. If you need step-by-step instruction for this powerful Internet tool, pick up a copy of Howie Jacobson’s AdWords for Dummies.

And now you can meet Howie in person – and pick his brain about anything AdWords-related – at ETR’s 2008 Info-Marketing Bootcamp. He and 11 other Internet marketing masters will be revealing strategies that can help you make $1.2 million or more in 2009.]