7 Things Your Online Marketing Tools Won’t Tell You


I am often overwhelmed with the number of online marketing tools we have today: Klout, Co-ScheduleBuffer, HootSuite, Open Site Explorer, Google Trends, QuickSprout, Newsle, etc.

These tools are amazing, but they mostly focus on two things: measuring your top-line growth and helping you publish content—tasks addressing QUANTITY. But it is really hard to find tools that help you with QUALITY.

Here are 7 things that you won’t be able to figure out using the same online marketing tools as everyone else.

1. How Many Fans Do You Really Have?

Today, it costs about $10 to get 10,000 Twitter followers. But those are empty shell accounts—not engaged people who care about what you do and who want to help you spread your message. If you have a mailing list with Mailchimp or Aweber, you can get a sense of your fans because you can see the open rate. But open rates are affected by things like Gmail hiding newsletters under a tab, so it’s best to triangulate your measurements across various user engagement profiles.

2. What’s the Difference Between a Fan and a Follower?

So you did some math, and now you think that 10-20% of your “followers” are true fans. It’s time to start setting up segments within your tools. With only 1,000 true fans, you can often create a great lifestyle business. With Twitter, you can add your true fans to a private list so that it is easier to keep track of them. If you want to make them feel extra special, you can make a public list called something like “Influencers” or “People to Follow.” When you add them to the list, they will be notified by Twitter. See if you can measure how many retweets and social mentions come from your fans. In most cases, you will find that up to 80% of word-of-mouth comes from the 20% of your followers who are your true fans (your promoters).

3. How Engaged Are Your Fans?

Are your fans voracious and rabid, like Apple users, or tame and tepid? Will they stand in line and pre-buy anything you make? Did you know you can quantify this quality of your users and keep track of its progress over time? The quantifying metric is called Net Promoter Score (NPS). Read The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld to learn more about NPS. You can measure your Net Promoter Score with services like Qualaroo which make it a feature of their survey platforms, but new startups like ours (Promoter.io) focus just on making a comprehensive automated platform around the “system” behind NPS that drives action.

4. Are Your Fans Getting the Content They Really Want?

Once you know who your true fans are and how engaged they are with your brand, it’s important to align yourself with their needs. With tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Docs you can quickly and easily set up forms specifically designed to target your true fans (that MailChimp list segment you set up earlier will now come in handy). Be specific in your questions, but leave room for interpretation. For example, Tim Ferriss recently asked his followers this question:

Tim Ferriss

5.  How Can You Make Your Content More Viral?

One of the most surprising results I read in the wonderful book Contagious by Jonah Berger is that only 7% of all word-of-mouth happens online. Ninety-three percent of it happens in real life, person to person. So, how do you unlock that magic? If you implement all the strategies discussed in the previous four points, you will have a great start. Your fans are the ones most likely to start a word-of-mouth viral epidemic, so give them things they want to share on a regular basis, and you will be well on your way to viral success.

6. What Are Your Customers’ Stories?

Testimonials are one of the biggest factors in online purchase decision-making, no matter what you are selling. A SaaS, a book, a course—they all need social proof. Most business owners feel getting those blurbs is a chore, so they ask people for just a sentence and move on. But the most powerful testimonials are stories that can never fit into a sentence. These stories are what reporters want you to talk about, so use every opportunity to dig into the lives of your customers and learn what makes them tick. What problems in their lives led them to find you? Use every customer interaction as an opportunity to look for these kinds of stories.

7. What’s the Most Effective Use of Your Time?

There are many online marketing tools out there to help you interact with customers and fans, but often we don’t have enough hours in the day to use them all effectively. But if you spend the time up-front to get to know the people who are most likely to promote your business on your behalf (using tools like NPS and follow-up engagements), your job becomes a lot easier. Focus on your true fans and the one platform they use most often (to find out which one it is, just ask them). Then you will have more time to give those people what they want and how they want it.


When you stop seeing your followers as numbers and start seeing them as people with needs, desires, fears, and frustrations, you will make everything you do more powerful. Take a moment today, and re-evaluate your online marketing strategy to see how well you really know your true fans.

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