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Friday, Sep. 26, 2008 at 5:37 am

99 Bottles of Beer On the Wall

By Bryan Eisenberg
September 26th, 2008

Do you remember chanting this song with your friends?

99 bottles of beer on the wall,
99 bottles of beer!
Take one down, pass it around
98 bottles of beer on the wall
98 bottles of beer…

I don’t really remember why I was thinking about this song, but it reminded me of how optimization is oftentimes a lot like singing “99 Bottles of Beer.”


Online marketing optimization isn’t sexy; often, it’s downright homely.

It’s not like “Mad Men,” where some Madison Avenue suit is sipping scotch and brainstorming glam ideas a mile a minute. Much of it is tedious and repetitive. Some of the best in the conversion business do many of the same things every day, over and over. We:

  • Analyze reports.
  • Try to identify areas of improvement.
  • Plan how we can make those improvements (oftentimes fighting resistance in the organization).

Over and over the continuous improvement cycle goes. It’s very much like trying to lose weight.

Gotta Know Where You’re Going

If you come in halfway during a recitation of 99 bottles, you only need to hear a few verses to know exactly where the song is going. The song is part of an overall plan that will get you down to zero bottles of beer on the wall. Just picking any old random beer bottle in any random order breaks the song and confuses the singer.

Same with optimization. You need a high-level plan that starts at your macro-conversion. So if your goal is to get more leads, you must devise a plan.

Start by brainstorming everything you can think of that will get more leads. Then sort your list based on effort, resources, and ability to impact conversion. You can then divide up the work into phases. Then you prepare to drill down into creating specific optimization tasks and tests. If you’re struggling with the order, use the hierarchy of optimization.

Often, most folks start with the tasks while overlooking the need for an overall strategy. Start with conversion optimization, then move on to persuasion scenario planning. There’s a big difference.

No Fun Singing Alone

If you’re optimizing online, you aren’t doing it alone. Even if you’re the lone person analyzing the metrics and constructing the test, you likely aren’t the person doing the design, or developing the code, or writing the creative. Optimization works better when everyone is working together toward a specific goal.

To do this, use a dashboard that you can share with everyone on your team. I also recommend that your marketing dashboards show a tie to revenue. Too many marketers don’t know the financial impact they’re making (or not making) because they neglect to fill out something simple like the dollar value of a conversion in their analytics software.

Numbers Matter

Someone must pay attention to the details. I remember singing this song as a kid and there was always one person who had an ear on the numbers. Inevitably, we would lose our place in the song, and that detail-oriented kid would get us back on track.

Who watches the numbers for your marketing optimization? Would someone notice if you were on a downtrend in lead conversion? What are you tracking and focused on improving on?

Numbers are wonderful little beasts, they keep us all accountable.

99-Plus Items on the Optimization List

The list of things you must optimize on your site can be menacing.

When you take down the first beer off the wall it seems like the song will never end. But eventually, when you whittle down the list, you’ll see light and, more importantly, better conversion.

So yes, like the song, online optimization can be repetitious, but it can also be rewarding as you start moving your needle.

And lastly, when you’re doing it right, you never run out of things to optimize. The same can’t be said about beers on the wall.

If you need help with any of those beers or optimizing your marketing to get better results contact us.

*Cross posted on ClickZ

Editors Note: Don’t forget to register for our Always Be Testing webinar on how to improve your design and layout for your landing page.

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Comments (11)

  1. Nice post. I too believe that advertising must be repetitive. You can’t too it once and forget about it.

  2. Makes me think of that awful commercial for “head on”, where they keep repeating themselves. Repitition is the mother of retention, though, it works!

  3. It’s all about getting the consumer to remember you, and your product. Repitition is one of the best ways to do it. Sending out high value coupons for a few months is also a good idea. Research has shown that once a consumer buys your product three times, they are likely to remain loyal customers. So offering the consumers a large savings at first (to get them “hooked” into buying it at least three times because it’s such a good deal) is good marketing strategy.

  4. Great post… love the analogy. I agree with Julie…that commercial (although annoying) certainly gets you to remember it and the product.

  5. I had no idea how you would tie optimization with ’99 bottles of beer.’ I clicked on the article out of curiousity. You managed to pull it off! :)

  6. To true it is a process of repeating over and over again then check results and start over again, got to be one of the most boaring jobs in the world at times ;) great when you get great results

  7. Hey Bryan,

    I’ve spent too much time over the past 8 years being the one going alone on things, and also being the one to do it all… analysis, design, implementation, advertising, etc… I’m learning to build a team, and your post really reminded me of my need to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    I did enjoy the tie-in with 99 bottles too. I wondered at the start how you were going to do it, but it tied in great! :)

    I’m looking forward to reading Always Be Testing. Still haven’t gotten my copy but I’m really looking forward to reading and implementing.

    Kind Regards,

    Jonathan Kraft

  8. totally agree with you. Great article

  9. Row row row your boat.. hope they have that familiar tune in the upcoming star trek movie. Couldn’t agree more with your article.

  10. Wow, seo sure is overwhelming especially when you are going after competitive marketing. Is it possible for a one man show to even attempt all that’s involved with keeping up?

  11. Also being the one to do it all… analysis, design, implementation, advertising, etc… I’m learning to build a team, and your post really reminded me of my need to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

More articles from Bryan Eisenberg

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