Remember when marketing was a bit 'hit and hope'? You'd place an ad in a journal, make a few calls, go to an event, send out some literature and wait for sales to go up. Erm, job done…?
Well it won't have escaped your notice that we've moved on a bit from then.
The power of online marketing means we can get to more of the right people at the right time with the right stuff. And importantly we can actually see clearly what's going on, what works, what doesn't and generally have a better idea of what to do next.
That's a big deal for small businesses, after all why would you want to spend time, money and drain your limited resources on marketing tactics that aren't really working?
Real insight on prospects
Just imagine if you could get free access to reports on your web site with detailed information about your prospects; about the content they like, demographics, user behaviours, engagement and how they found you in the first place? Now that would be awesome.
Of course Google Analytics gives us all of that, and while it's only one web analytics tool it is (in my opinion) the best and most cost-effective tool on offer. Many small business may not realise it but they already have access to all this juicy data (maybe you get sent a monthly report) but choose to do nothing further. Often this is because they don't understand it, leave it to a web designer or aren't clear about the benefits. And after all data on its own is just numbers and graphs - it's insight and intelligence we're really after.
That does take time and expertise but if you're determined to dig in yourself (and you have the desire and the time) then here's a few tips that will help you go just a little bit beyond the basics.
The Standard Reporting 'Overview'
A good place to start and get an idea of your site's health. Use the compare dates to get an overall picture of how things are going. But that's just the start, we need to go a little deeper…
Seems simple but what are the most popular pages on your site? This can really help you to refine your future content strategy (in fact you have to use web analytics to do a proper content audit) and help you weed out irrelevant content that nobody is looking at.
A favourite of mine and a really useful tool to see the journey visitors take on your site. For example if a web site objective is lead generation then what is the most popular path people take before they get to your goal contact page or call-to-action?
Mobile has its own tab now, so that gives you an idea of how important Google thinks it is. Find out what devices your visitors are using to consume your content - and then take action to optimise.
Perhaps a tactic is to establish thought leadership with your blog and you are sharing blog links via LinkedIn - so is that channel working? It's important to know where your traffic is coming from.
Setting up Goals
Monitoring your conversions is easy when you set up goals. Form sign-ups is the obvious one, but if you're looking to deepen engagement with your visitors then set up goals based on page views or time on site.
OK, now you've earned your chops (as they say) you might be ready for Advanced Segments. This helps you isolate and analyse specific parts of your traffic. So for example if you want to know what LinkedIn referral visitors are doing you can set up a custom segment for that - and use it across various areas of your data. There are some useful predefined 'Defaults' but you can quickly and easily make your own.
Getting serious about ROI
I don't think you can get serious about your web site as a marketing machine until you start carefully analysing your web analytics. Not only will it give you real insight and some business intelligence but it helps inform your future tactical decision making by removing the guess work - and that's the key to getting a real return on your web site investment.
If you want to gain more insight with Google Analytics then please get in touch.