When you think about small business marketing, what comes to mind? Many business owners view marketing in terms of a big-picture strategy, a broad set of goals driven by a central vision. That’s undoubtedly true, but marketing can just as easily be understood as a series of small decisions and everyday investments. Each decision, and each investment, can have a massive impact on your overall outcomes. Leveraging data analytics offers a host of benefits to organizations by arming them with the insights they need to drive success.
Leveraging data analytics
Leveraging data analytics involves more than looking at your data or even collecting it onto spreadsheets or dashboards. Leveraging data analytics means building insights from the data that helps you make better decisions.
So how can you ensure that you’re deciding and investing correctly? You can rely on instinct, or resort to simple guesswork, and sometimes get decent results. But to take a truly disciplined and strategic approach, it’s important to use actual data to guide these daily decision points. That’s where analytics comes into play.
Simply put, businesses today have access to more information than they’ve ever had before, especially when it comes to marketing where we had to settle for inferential statistics like awareness and interest to assess advertising and surveys fraught with inaccuracies when it came to assessing our success with customers. With the right tools, you can access information about who’s visiting your website, which search engine keywords bring in the right kind of visitors, how frequently your marketing emails get opened, and more. Such information can help you to optimize your efforts and properly allocate your resources, ensuring that your marketing efforts are laser-targeted to help you get incredible results but only when you leverage this data to build insights.
This points toward the need for every business owner to properly understand digital marketing analytics, knowing how to collect information, how to analyze it, and how to use it most effectively in decision-making, thus leveraging data analytics to improve performance.
Digital marketing analytics: What is it?
It is often helpful to start with a definition. When we talk about digital marketing analytics, exactly what are we talking about?
Simply put, digital marketing analytics refers to the data you use to analyze and evaluate the efficacy of your digital marketing endeavors, providing insight that you can use for improved decision-making.
Digital marketing analytics can encompass data obtained from a number of different sources. For example, the Google Analytics platform tells you about the kind of traffic that visits your website, while individual social media or email marketing platforms tend to have their own built-in analytic tools to judge what’s working and what isn’t. You may also use first-party data collection tools, like user surveys, to gain direct insight into the people engaging with your marketing materials using paid analytic tools.
By collecting data from a wide set of sources, small business owners can develop a more robust picture of how their marketing campaigns currently function. This provides information needed to eliminate waste, avoid spending on channels that aren’t yielding results, fine-tune messaging, gain a clearer understanding of the audience, and more.
Which digital marketing analytics are most essential?
One of the challenges business owners face is simply knowing which analytics are most worth their time and attention. If anything, it can sometimes seem like there is too much information out there, making it overwhelming to determine which data is most meaningful.
The data you need can vary depending on your business goals, but there are a few analytics that tend to be incredibly useful across the board. KPIs or key performance indicators are metrics that translate into benefits for the organization such as increased revenue or reaching intermediate goals like lower bounce rates or clicks to your website from external marketing efforts.
For your website, here are some of the things you should measure:
Contrast this with what we call vanity metrics that don’t correlate with performance. Among these are:
- Follower counts
- Number of visits
- Email subscriber numbers
- Number of page visits
- Open and click rates
- Page rank
Now, don’t get me wrong. These metrics are meaningless, they’re just not strongly correlated with business success. For instance, clicks from an email may represent curiosity or folks doing research rather than potential buyers. Follower counts are meaningless unless that audience engages with your brand. Even these vanity metrics become more meaningful when you look at the CHANGE in the metric over time versus a static number, as improvements suggest your campaigns are working.
Ultimately, however, you want to understand how any metric you monitor translates into ROI, so tracking each metric through to conversion, AOV (average order value), and repeat purchase is necessary to fully leverage your data.
Among other key metrics, consider these:
As a business owner, you naturally want visitors to come to your website. There are a ton of ways for people to find your site, and knowing which channels bring you the most traffic can provide some insight into where you should allocate your marketing dollars. At the same time, if you invest huge amounts of money on a particular social platform or ad stream each month, and you see less impact on your traffic, that probably means it’s time to start spending your money elsewhere.
Ultimately, traffic source only matters in terms of which sources generate revenue and how much revenue you generate from each source.
Google Analytics, a free platform that’s available to any marketer or business owner, provides not just total traffic numbers but a more detailed breakdown of your primary traffic sources. The dashboard above shows some of these metrics and can be modified to include metrics most important for your business. Examples include:
- Direct traffic. These are the folks who enter your URL directly into the search bar, or who bookmark your site and then return to it later. In other words, these are the visitors who are making a targeted, intentional effort to connect with your business directly.
- Social. You may also see how many visitors find their way to your website via a social media feed or profile. You can build a more nuanced view by breaking social down to individual platforms and, using tagging, to individual posts to trace the click all the way to conversion.
- Organic search. This metric shows you how many people find your website by typing a potential query into the Google search bar. For instance, if you run an LLC registered agent company and people find you by searching “best LLC services,” that’s a clear indication that your SEO investment is bearing fruit. By the way, organic search is the largest source of visits for most business websites.
- Referral traffic. Referral traffic denotes visitors who find your website by clicking on a link from another site. If you have prominent referrers, it’s helpful to know that, as those are relationships to invest in!
Historically, Google Analytics prioritized a metric known as pageviews, which reflects the number of times users load a particular web page; this metric can let you know which of your website pages attract the most attention. While Google began to downplay this metric in favor of “Events,” it’s still a useful metric for small business owners to learn more about why visitors come to their website, and how they engage with its content. However, this metric offers more insights by assessing growth in pageviews than as a static metric.
This metric can influence marketing decisions in many different ways. For example, a page that gets more views than another is a good place to stack strong, compelling calls to action, and perhaps to boost via paid advertisements. At the same time, if a specific section of your site obviously gets a lot of traction with visitors, that may point toward a fruitful avenue of topic ideation for your blog, newsletter, and social media accounts.
A third metric for LLC owners to consider is session duration. Simply put, this metric lets you know how much time visitors tend to spend on your site. As such, it’s a valuable reflection of the user experience you provide and can be helpful for assessing the quality of your content, ease of on-site navigation, and more.
This is mostly useful as a “troubleshooting” metric. If your average session duration is quite low (or dwindling), that lets you know that something, somewhere on your website, needs to be fine-tuned.
Bounce rate is closely related to some of the metrics we noted above. What it measures is the number of visitors who hit one page of your website, and then “bounce” off before viewing any additional pages. The bounce rate metric makes more sense in tandem with the average session duration. If people come to your site and then leave right away, it may point to a bad user experience, confusing navigation, poor content, or overall subpar site performance. However, blog posts often display a high bounce rate since your content worked to inform the visitor.
But a high bounce may also suggest that you’re marketing your website in a misleading way. For example, if you promote your site on social media, promising a type of content that you ultimately don’t deliver, you can expect to see a high bounce rate. Also, slow load speeds lead to a high bounce rate.
Again, LLC owners may use this metric as a useful troubleshooting tool.
Important note: The bounce rate is not quite the same as your exit rate, which shows you how many people leave your site from a particular page. This, too, can be a helpful analytic, providing insight into the point in their journey when most would-be customers tend to lose interest.
Conversion rate can measure different things for different companies; it all depends on your goals. For example, you may define conversions as people buying a product from your online store, scheduling an appointment with an online appointment setter, or simply subscribing to your company email.
Once you’ve identified your goals, however, the conversion rate metric is invaluable for showing you how much progress you’re making. For instance, look at the cart abandonment shown in the image above. Obviously, the company needs to do something since they lose so many prospective buyers before they actually convert. As such, this metric is a great way to gauge the overall health of your digital marketing efforts.
Using analytics to foster LLC growth
The metrics listed here are merely a few examples of the most commonly sought-after metrics. You’ll find that there are plenty of boutique metrics that you can measure, however. Over time, most business owners develop a sense of the metrics that are most meaningful for directing their LLC marketing efforts.
That brings up another important question: What are some of the ways businesses can use these metrics to provide direction for their marketing efforts, and ultimately for sustained business growth? Consider a few practical applications.
First and foremost, metrics help you monitor the performance of your marketing campaign. This is foundational: You can’t assess your marketing campaign unless you have quantifiable ways to monitor it.
Real-time metrics are especially important, allowing you to make changes on the fly. To maximize the efficacy of your ad budget, and to stay on top of trends in consumer interest, ongoing real-time monitoring is essential.
Understand your customers
In order to acquire and maintain customers, you need to understand something about the people you’re trying to reach. Once you understand the needs, goals, and pain points of your target audience, you can begin personalizing your content and tailoring your value proposition.
Metrics can provide a lot of insight here, letting you know which types of content generate the most engagement, what kind of search queries bring people to your site, and more. Breaking down your metrics by demographics and geographics also helps with leveraging data analytics to provide a more nuanced view of your performance. Are you not converting one age group or folks in one global region? Find ways to improve performance with that group.
Logging and analyzing historical data can help you identify trends in product demand, such as those that might come with different seasons. Being able to accurately forecast demand for your products is a great way to properly prepare your sales team or to optimize your marketing efforts. Alternatively, knowing that you’re heading toward a season of depressed demand may impact some of the decisions you make about your company’s cash flow.
Build strategies to improve performance
When you plan your marketing strategies around concrete data points, leveraging data analytics can dramatically improve your marketing success. And of course, the best way to arrive at those concrete data points is by having a vigilant, methodical approach toward analytics.
To ensure the best strategic approach, make sure you interpret data from many different angles. For instance, a high bounce rate may be a content issue, but it could just as easily reflect a laggy site speed. Additionally, make sure to test regularly. A/B testing your call to action verbiage and placement is just one example of how you can fine-tune your marketing efforts as you go, using analytics to evaluate which iterations generate the best results.
Getting started with digital marketing analytics
What are some practical steps your LLC can take to become more data-oriented? Consider just a few jumping-off points.
- Set clear goals for your marketing campaigns. The kinds of data and analytics you need will be determined in large part by your marketing objectives. Think about how you’ll define success in your marketing campaign, and what metrics can help you quantify and evaluate your progress.
- Familiarize yourself with different analytic reporting tools. If you’ve never played around with digital marketing analytics before, a good place to start is with Google Analytics. Connect your account to your LLC’s website, and take some time to explore the different types of reporting that are available. Google Analytics is free and also happens to be very good, but you may also want to browse some of the reporting features offered by your email and social media campaigns.
- Set core metrics. If you’re new to metrics, it is helpful to determine three to five indicators (KPIs) to keep an eye on at first, monitoring your progress through this small handful of analytics. This can prevent you from being too overwhelmed by the big picture. Use your marketing goals to determine what analytics are most relevant. As you become more comfortable, add other KPIs to your monitoring program and start breaking down metrics into groups to improve your insights.
- Establish rhythms. How often will you review your metrics and analytics? With which team members will you consult as you analyze this data? And where will you store information about historical data points? Develop formal processes and rhythms whenever you can, incorporating analytics into the everyday life of your small business. Creating interactive dashboards allows staff to view the metrics most important for their area of responsibility and establish time periods they wish to compare so you’re leveraging data analytics to make decisions that are right for their department.
The bottom line? Analytics are invaluable to strategic, data-driven online marketing, and ultimately for business growth. Every LLC owner should make it a priority to review digital marketing analytics on a regular basis.
Amanda E. Clark is a contributing writer to LLC University. She has appeared as a subject matter expert on panels about content and social media marketing. She regularly leads seminars and training sessions on trends and tactics in professional writing.
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