It is a while since we have turned our attention to effective marketing analytics (here are some of our previous musings) but there is a lot going on in the field just now so I felt it was high time for an update.
What is Analytics?
I know half my marketing spend is wasted - I just don't know which half.
This quote has been variously attributed to numerous business leaders over the past half-century or so. Sometimes perhaps, as a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the perceived smoke and mirrors nature of marketing. Marketing is speculative. You communicate your message to your market in the hope/expectation that they will see the benefit of your offering. You then wait for customers flocking to your door/website to do business.
An effective marketing process certainly achieves this success but the bottom line is that some elements of your process will work better than others. It’s just not always easy to tell which are the nuggets!
This is where analytics come in. In parallel with the rise and rise of the internet as a marketing platform, analytics have developed as a way to measure how your market responds to your marketing messages. It used to be that you had to wait to see how many orders you took and then try to equate this business to your marketing activity. With analytics, you can see a granular measurement of the impact of different actions you take. You can measure virtually any interaction with your website, social media, online advertising etc. Thanks to Google Analytics, you can often do this at little or no cost. This is both a blessing and a curse. There is so much data available. It is easy to disappear down the analytics rabbit hole and lose sight of your main objective: to drive effective marketing to improve your business.
Avoiding the Rabbit hole
The path taken by many people is to simply ignore analytics entirely! This may not be ideal but at least it makes the problem go away, albeit at the expense of missing out on any of the benefits that analytics can offer.
Analytics: Just another marketing tool
I suggest that a better approach is to see analytics for what it is: Another marketing tool. By itself, it isn’t necessarily a lot of help. However, incorporate selected analytics into your Planning, and it becomes immensely valuable.
I’m sorry but there is no such thing as a free lunch. So many marketing tools are promoted as a magic wand but they just aren’t! Like everything in business (and life!) to get good results you need to invest time and effort (and sometimes some money!).
Dashboards are a great start
An analytics dashboard can be a great way of sorting the wood from the trees. As part of your marketing plan, select a modest number of key metrics that can give you a real insight into your marketing process and then build these into a custom dashboard which can automatically collect the data you are interested in and present it in a clear, easily understood format of graphs and tables like this:
This is an example of one of our own BSA dashboards. If your marketing processes are more involved, it is perfectly possible to set up multiple dashboards. You can focus separate dashboards on different aspects of your business and marketing.
By far the leader in the Analytics field is Google Analytics….and why not! It is free to use and, no matter which platforms and sites you use for your online marketing, you can integrate them into your Google Analytics account. This way, you create a one-stop shop for your web-based marketing data. As I mentioned before, it can have a steep learning curve. However, with a bit of help and/or some time spent researching, you can soon be generating valuable data to help you make effective marketing decisions.
However, changes are afoot….
All change for Google Analytics…
Google launched analytics in 2005, initially as a premium service but switched to the free model in the following year. The service is regularly updated with the (now ubiquitous) Universal Analytics (UA) platform being launched in 2012. Now, 10 years later, Google has announced that next year, Universal Analytics will stop tracking data. The service is being replaced by Google Analytics 4 (GA4). For the time being, UA and GA4 are running in parallel.
Make the switch to GA4
If you use Google analytics, now is a good time to set up GA4. Your existing UA setup will continue to work until the middle of 2023 but setting up the GA4 platform now will allow you to gather data on both platforms in parallel facilitating a seamless transfer next year. As things stand, Google has said that UA will continue to exist and hold historic data but it will not gather any new data after 1 July 2023.
There are lots of resources online to help you set up GA4 but if you would like some assistance, or to discuss analytics and marketing in the wider context of your business, do get in touch.