Guest column: Small businesses can use digital analytics to improve their marketing
Guest Column by Dean Swanson
I have visited with several small business CEOs who do not attempt to use analytics in their marketing strategies because they are “not tech savvy.” Unfortunately, trying to understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts without access to measurable results means your business is flying blind.
Most marketing professionals agree that Google Analytics is one of the most important tools for measuring the effectiveness of your marketing. Even non-tech savvy business owners should be using Google Analytics to make better marketing decisions. In this column I will provide several suggestions based on what I have learned from several SCORE content partners and mentors.
Like with any other part of your small business, marketing data gives you the insight you need to make well-informed decisions about future marketing efforts and know how to employ the right marketing efforts to drive the biggest return.
Reliable analytics will empower you to make data-driven decisions that improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Just about every business needs an online presence regardless of what they sell. And bringing customers and prospects to your website should almost always be one of your primary marketing goals. Google Analytics is the website analysis platform most used by businesses to get real-time data for insight into how many people visit their website, who those people are, which products or services they are most interested in and much more.
Because of its ability to dig into the weeds of your web traffic, Google Analytics is one of the best tools for determining the effectiveness of your marketing and learning how to improve it. Luckily, you do not need to be a technology expert or SEO pro to use the platform. By familiarizing yourself with how to pull some basic information, you can gain an understanding of how well your website is performing for your business. Even at its most basic level, Google Analytics is a tool that the non-tech savvy business owner can operate and benefit from exploring.
Google Analytics puts valuable metrics at your fingertips in real-time. Here is a sampling of the website metrics you can track through your Google Analytics account:
• Visitor volume. See daily and monthly web visitor volume, monitor trends, watch ebbs and flows during your marketing campaigns and compare traffic performance year-over-year.
• Average time on site. Track how long visitors stay on your website as well as which pages they view.
• Bounce rate. Measure how many of your visitors quickly left your website after landing on just one page. Visitors who leave quickly likely did not read your content and are not interested.
• New vs. returning visitors. Measure the ratio of new vs. returning visitors. This is useful data when measuring the impact of your marketing efforts on prospects vs. existing customers.
• Traffic sources. Determine where your audience is coming from (different websites and different geographic locations).
• Conversions. Set-up conversion tracking and measure the percentage of your website visitors who make a purchase, fill out a contact form or take some other desired action.
There are so many tracking capabilities available to small businesses through Google Analytics, and these just scratch the surface. One of the best is its comparison tool that allows you to compare data year-over-year to identify trends. This can be hugely helpful in planning your long-term marketing efforts. Google Analytics has the ability to give you better insight into your web visitors’ behavior so you can use that insight to make more strategic marketing and sales decisions.
Fire up your analytics and start making more strategic data-driven marketing decisions. Digital analytics is able to help you and your organization improve online marketing effectiveness, generate new customer insights, drive revenue and ultimately make better business decisions. Being able to make data-driven decisions on customer data in real time should be every business’s goal. As businesses collect data from their websites, digital analytics can give them the power to transform that data into useful knowledge they can act on.
Even if you are a non-tech savvy business owner, you can still easily make Google Analytics work for your business with the right support. There are many resources available to help small businesses navigate this tool and make sense of the data.
One of those resources is your SCORE mentor. A SCORE mentor can connect you with an analytics or digital marketing specialist who will guide you through your analytics set-up. Then, your mentor will help you make sense of the data and work with you to develop a marketing strategy that drives sales for your business.
Dean Swanson is a volunteer certified SCORE mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president.