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This article was published on April 15, 2012

A case for analytics: If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing

A case for analytics: If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing

Many moons ago, I heard a great expression that has carried me through many days, “If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.” I wish I could properly attribute this quote, but it was one of those heard in passing, but made a profound impact on how I approach supporting sales and getting the word out. Now when it comes to measuring, there are a plethora of benchmarks for marketers to choose from, but one of the most very basic is website tracking or more specifically, analytics.

Time and time again, I’m flabbergasted by the number of SMB owners that either don’t track their website stats and figures, or, have some form of analytics installed, but don’t truly know what they’re looking at. In fact, 57% of marketers point to “measurement, analysis, and learning” as one of the biggest hurdles facing their organization.

Sure, business continues as usual, but for those out there trying to grow and expand, answer me this, without proper tracking and conversion numbers, how do you know which percentage of your sales leads are arriving via your website, or more specifically, your fine tuned landing page?

If you don’t know where your sales leads are coming from, there’s simply no way to formulate a proper online marketing ROI. And if you don’t know what the return on your investment is, well, I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there that will be happy to take your hard earned cash.

Know thy Conversion Rate

Recently, I had a similar conversation with a small business owner, during which he was very proud of his site stats, noting that over the past month, his website had seen over 30,000 visits. When I asked about his conversion rate, the conversation abruptly came to a halt, as it was very clear he had no answer to this question.

Your conversion rate, or goal tracking, helps you to separate the “visits” from the “buyers”. These leads can be anything from newsletter signups, a price quote, a whitepaper download, etc. Anything where users must hand over information in exchange for a service from you are conversions, and conversions are one step towards becoming a viable sales lead.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Google Analytics simply because it’s free, customizable, and the never-ending web ring of support from other users is impressive. Using Google Analytics, it’s quite easy to track each and every single move your visitor makes. If they arrive at your landing page and then click through to the “find out more” page, you’ll know about it. If they fill in a form and download a PDF from you, ever better! All of this information is readily available inside Google Analytics.

Ultimately, these figures can help you determine the cost of driving a qualified visitor to your site. What would you pay for this visitor? $15 per? $50 per? Where does the cost of acquisition outweigh the profit margin? Without analytics and analysis, most SMB owners are just taking a stab in the dark and hoping for the best. While this is all fine and dandy for those with unlimited budgets, without the measurement, there’s simply no way to accurately predict the increased number of qualified leads you can expect in relation to an expanded online marketing budget. And without accurate (or at least detailed ballpark) estimations, how can you plan for growth?

Keep it trending

If you’re not already convinced and headed over to install an analytics package right now, let’s have a look at the bigger picture. Currently, how do you spot trends within your marketing efforts? Is it a, “Hmmm, after we sent out this newsletter, we received XYZ number of inbound calls, emails, RFPs, etc.” or is it, “Since newsletter 27 went out, we received X visits to the landing page with Y conversions from link Z”? Better yet, which statement would you rather provide to the boss?

With a solid analytics base, you can not only keep an eye on your current marketing initiatives, but look back over time and zero in on those “outta the park!” moments, and do your best to repeat them. Moreover, these trends help you identify which content and delivery formats resounded best with your consumers at different phases during the sales process.

Put it to use

Hopefully I’ve made the case for getting aboard the analytics train as fast as possible, if you’re not already. But in addition to knowing your conversion rate and bigger overall trends, what other actionable items can you derive from these heaps of data?

1. Whether we want to admit it or not, SEO is still a huge part of what and how customers arrive at your doorstep. Put your newfound power of analytics to use! Analytics can provide deep insights into how your customers think and search, not how you think they think and search.

Once your goal tracking figures are in place, and you have enough actionable data (one week at the very minimum), have a close look at how visitors arrived. Were the keywords they searched for the ones that you’re putting the heaviest investment in? If not, it’s time to adjust the ad spend and focus on those new keywords.

2. Serious social. Sure, social media can drive traffic and ultimately leads, but with so many platforms available, which ones are worth the bucks and which can you be a bit more passive about? Your analytics will answer this question in a flash. Facebook is a dead simple answer, as everyone including your Grandma is on it, but is it valuable for your business? A presence is a no brainer, but most marketers know that a much larger number of leads can be generated through various LinkedIn activites.

3. Remember those landing pages mention above? Nothing says refinement like a good ol’ fashioned A/B split testing with a healthy does of analytics included. For the uninitiated, a A/B split test is a simple way to fine tune your call to action mechanism by presenting different users with different versions of a specific page.

One of my favorite tools for this activity is Optimizely, as the service is dead simple to use, and the reporting features zero in on which actions work, and which viewers are simply passing over. No analytics+no idea what works+no testing=less customers.

4. Email segmentation. This might not be the sexiest thing you can do with your analytics data, but according to MarketingSherpa, those that segment their email communications with targeted content and personalized subject lines saw a click through rate of 44% (Page 5), an almost 100% increase over previous mailings. Now, if you’re putting resources into driving conversions and sales through email communications, wouldn’t it be nice to segment various groups, deliver targeted content, and see a high click through rate? And what do you need to begin formulating your segments, why analytics provided data of course!

There are a variety of ways to segment your outbound email lists, all of which can be determined from your analytics. Specific content, geographic location, phase of the sales cycle, you name it, chances are you’ve got visitors that fit into specific segments. If a user arrives via a whitepaper download and signs up for your newsletter, are they interested in a particular product or offering? Sure, you could group them in with your overall mailing list, or you could segment them out and make sure that they receive the next release of “Top 10 things you can do with XYZ,” mailing.

Granted, I’m only scratching the surface with what can be done with a strong analytics package attached to your web presence. If you’re an SMB or individual, putting analytics to use can literally change your business overnight. You can still be proud of your 30k+ visitors last month, but also have a much deeper understanding of what makes them tick, and what you can do to make them tick even more. And remember, “If you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing.”

Zoom Team via shutterstock

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