4 Tools we could no longer live without

As we discussed in this week’s Marketing Matters podcast, one or two things have changed over the last couple of weeks!

One of the biggest changes for many is the need to WFH (work from home), remote from the normal office environment. For us, it’s no different, and I am now writing this post from home.

Up to now, the ability to work remotely was something we did occasionally and if we could not, it wasn’t a big deal! Now it is a necessity. A number of systems, which we had seen as peripheral to our operation, are now key. I thought this would be an opportunity to talk about our experiences with cloud applications and to highlight the four that we cannot live without right now:

1. Office 365

Through Office 365, Microsoft delivers a suite of office programmes as software as a service. Most people’s introduction to Office 365 will be Exchange email + Outlook. This in itself is a great tool, and gives you full access to your email from anywhere with a web connection. Anything you do being synced across all devices. But beyond Outlook, O365 delivers a full suite of programmes that allow you to be location agnostic (functional from wherever you are, as long as you have a connection to the net). Yes, this includes the staple office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc), but it also gives access to tools like One Drive, which gives you cloud access to files, Teams, for on-line collaboration, and many more.

With an Office 365 subscription and an internet connection, you can turn any PC (or Mac) into a fully functional office tool in a matter of minutes, with full access to all your contacts and files.

2. Zoom Video Meeting

2 months ago I had pretty much never used Zoom. Now video meetings are a key part of my working day. We have looked at and tried out a number of video meeting systems (Skype, Zoho Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Facetime etc.) but at the end of the day, Zoom.us is our favourite, and here is why:

  1. It just works – It’s my experience that the technology just works, and does not get in the way of what I am trying to do. In my book this is the number one requirement. If you have to think too hard using a piece of technology, you are probably not going to use it. Whilst there may be a learning curve, once you are used to it, it should just work and in my experience, in this area Zoom delivers.
  2. It is platform agnostic – Unlike options such as Facetime and Skype, where generally all parties involved must sign up to a proprietary system (Microsoft for Skype, Apple/IOS for Facetime) – With Zoom, only the person initiating the meeting needs an account. Whilst other people do need to download a small app (which happens pretty seemlessly) there is no need for all participants to create an account, and it works on pretty much any device, desktop or mobile.
  3.  It has a free option, and some useful paid add ons – With the free option, the only real limitation is meeting length, capped at 40 mins – This will probably be fine for most, but the paid version at £12 per month, is great value if you need longer meetings. What’s more, only the person initiating the meeting needs a paid account to gain this benefit.

….however….

As so often with technology, nothing is perfect. There are downsides, and in the case of Zoom, the downside is their privacy policy, which allows them to collect data from your calls, including videos, screen shares, chat transcripts etc. and to use this data for various purposes. Zoom do say they will not sell your data. Whilst privacy is a concern, it does very much depend on how and why you are using Zoom. For us, and the types of conversations we have, right  now we see it as a good tool with the benefits outweighing the negatives.

For those who want to use a video chat for more sensitive purposes, maybe an alternative tool might be more appropriate. However, in our experience none of the other options deliver comparable performance, functionality or ease of use.

3. Xero Accounting

Historically, we have used Sage Line 50, and recently moved our accounts onto the cloud with Xero.  Sage is a good system, that worked well for us for many years, but it was predominently desk based, and relied on a data file that needed to be moved if you wanted to access it from a different location. Whilst Sage has moved on since we switched and now offer cloud options, Xero is again totally location agnostic, and allows you to manage your accounts from whereever you wish (so long as you are on line!).

Again a priceless facility in these times.

4. Cloud PBX IP Phone system – 3CX

The final one on my list is our phone system. Coincidentally, we switched from an office-hosted ISDN phone system to cloud-based 3cx just two months ago. Boy are we glad we did! 3CX works seamlessly when we are in the office, working as a traditional system with desktop extensions. When we were forced to work from home, switching the extensions to home was a doddle. Again, because everything is hosted in the cloud, all management of the system can be done online, anywhere with a connection to the web.

With the right tools, Working From Home need not be an issue

For us at least, these four tools have meant the switch to Working From Home has been bearable, even if it is taking a bit of getting used to! From the perspective of our clients, it has hopefully been fairly seamless. We are still able to pretty much operate “Business as usual”. In many cases, somewhat ironically, we find we are speaking to to people “face to face” more often than we have before!

I think that some of the changes arising out of necessity in the current lock-down climate will have positive repercussions for our business long into the future.

The Truth about WordPress Security

As you can read in David’s post this week, WordPress is a great tool for small businesses. and is a significant playing in the world of internet publishing. Here are few stats to illustrate my point:

WordPress currently powers:

  1. 60% of all CMS powered websites
  2. 14.7% of the world’s top websites
  3. 22% of the worlds top 1 million eCommerce sites

Finally, there have been over 1.25 billion plugin downloads on WordPress.org.

Add to this the fact that the code is public domain so it can be analysed to identify potential vulnerabilities.

Add all this together and it is no surprise that it has a reputation of being susceptible to hacking.

But how valid is this reputation? Below, I look at the reality of WordPress security, and look at 4 top tips for keeping your site safe.

The reality of WordPress security

There is a flip side. It’s ubiquity on the web, and the open nature of its code, are also key to it remaining secure.

Because it is so widely used, there are a-lot of developers interested in keeping it secure, and thwarting hackers. As a result there is an army of people communicating about and fixing vulnerabilities as they are identified. there are also great tools for being kept up to date and alerted whenever a vulnerability is identified, and informing what fixes are available. The result of this is that usually the window for hackers between a vulnerability being identified & fixed is narrow.

Another consequence of the wide use of WordPress is that it mean the economics of creating world class security plugins for the system are attractive, and as a result, there are a number available at either no, or low cost. the plugin we use is Wordfence.  Wordfence is available as a free of  paid for premium plugin.  In our experience, the free version does an excellent job of protecting and monitoring the health of your WordPress site.

Keeping your site secure

With all of this in mind here are my 3 top tips for keeping your site secure:

Keep your site up to date

This is the number one way to keep your site secure. In our experience, security issues usually occur where sites are running out of date code. Experience that is backed up by the stats which suggest that over 60% of compromised sites are out of date.

One of the great features of WordPress is the easy of keeping it up to date. Updating plugins, themes and core can be done at the click of a button. Whats more, use a backup plugin like Updraft plus, you will be prompted to perform a backup before you do the update. As a result, if you experience any issue with the update, rolling back is again a click of a button. Just one footnote on plugins. The need for reliable updates means you should always consider the support available when you install a plugin. If you are installing a mission critical plugin, it is always worth considering the paid version, as this will usually come with enhanced support. Furthermore, the fact that developers are earning an income will incentive the update process for then

Use a good security plugin

We use Wordfence on all our WordPress sites. Wordfence performs 3 useful tasks:

    1. Brute force protection – Wordfence will monitor attempts to login to your site, and restrict or lock out visitors whose login activity is seen as suspicious. It will also monitor visitors generating a lot of “Page not found” errors as this can often be an indication of a hacker trying to find vulnerabilities on a site.
    2. It provides an Application Firewall. This is a set of rules. This monitors all attempts to run code on the site, and passes them trough an algorithm to identify suspicious activity. Again any activity deemed to be a threat to the site is blocked before it ius run. Furthermore, the algorithm is constantly updated by Wordfence based on what it learns from the 1000’s of sites running the plugin. The speed with which this is updated being one of the benefits of the paid version of WordPress. However in our experience the free version does a respectable job in this area.
    3. It will scan your site for anomalies. Most compromises to sites involve adding or changing the code running your website. To protect against this Wordfence will scan the site for suspicious files. It does this by comparing the code on your site to the original code published by WordPress & plugin developers. Where it identifies unexpected code, it will send you an alert. In circumstances where your site has in-fact been compromised. fixing it is usually simply a case of restoring a recent, clean, backup. This brings me to my third tip.

Implement a backup routine

Make sure your site files & database is regularly backed up. By doing this, you ensure that even if your site does get compromised, you can make repairs without too much disruption.

For this task we use the UpdraftPlus plugin. This will automatically take backups of your site as scheduled by you. It will also automatically copy backups to a cloud storage system like Google drive or Dropbox, so that even if your web server is irrecoverably compromised, you should still have the necessary data & file to get up and running on a different server. We recommend backing up the database daily, and the site files weekly, we then keep a minimum 30 days worth of backups, just in case you take a few days to identify an issue.

Harden your login

The final tip is around login credentials.  Be sure to use secure passwords on your site (WordPress will monitor these as you set up users). Its also a good idea not to use “admin” as your default username as this is the first one a hacker will use when trying to get in by brute force. You can select your admin username when you set up WordPress, and if you are using admin, Wordfence will help you to change it easily.  Wordfence also offers the  facility to implement 2 factor Authentication (2FA) should this be deemed to be appropriate.

Be vigilant, Stay Secure

In our experience, if you follow the tips above, then in the real world, WordPress is a great and  secure website development tool. Add this to the benefits outlined in David’s post, and you have a fantastic & flexible tool for promoting your business.

 

 

 

3 Tips to the keep case studies flowing

Case studies and testimonials are a staple of marketing communications, but they can be seen as being challenging and time-consuming to put together.

In my experience however they do not need to be. So I thought I would put together my top three tips for keeping those case studies flowing.

1. Remember they don’t need to be fully attributed

Whilst it is always best to be able to directly name the client you have helped in your case study, sometimes this can be a challenge. Especially working within the corporate world.

Rather than naming the client, you could use “A leading player in the …. industry” or simply a “client working in … ” to avoid directly naming them.

Remember though that whilst no-one else will know who they are, the client is likely to recognise themselves in the case study, and in rare cases, they may take issue.

For this reason, I would always recommend talking to clients about the fact that you would like to use them in a case study. Ultimately in these scenarios, it is your call as they are your client. But sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission! In all my career, I don’t think I have ever had a client take issue when referenced in this way.

2. Create a template for writing the case study

Case studies usually follow a set format:

  • What’s the issue?
  • How did you help?
  • What were the outcomes and the benefits to the client?

Putting together a simple template for your case studies means you don’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper when writing them.

If you are able to attribute your client when writing the case study, ideally you should try to include a quote from them, as this will add authenticity. With this in mind, adding some stock question ideas to the template can be useful.

On the subject of authenticity, don’t be afraid to include issues that may have arisen during the project, maybe asking “Did the project go smoothly?” knowing full well that it didn’t. People recognise that things rarely go totally without a hitch and including this, and the way you dealt with unforeseen situations, can speak volumes about the value you add to a situation.

3. Develop a “Case Study Radar”

Tip number three is all about keeping those case studies coming. When you start the process, it is normally possible to come up with a few good case studies, but websites & social media are hungry beasts when it comes to content, so you will need to come up with a sustainable method for regularly generating news cases.

We have talked in the past about the concept of a “content radar” – So constantly having the question “Will this make good case study” in your head is a good start. For custom manufacturers, we have always recommended taking pictures of everything that leaves the workshop, one reason for this is because it makes you ask the question “Would this make a good case study”.

Service businesses can take a similar approach in that every conversation with a client can beg the same question. You will find it surprising how often the answer will be “Yes it would!”

Starting with Why – Beyond Features & Benefits

We have been talking a lot recently about the importance of vision in running a business, and today I wanted to take this thinking a step further, to look at the importance of this vision when considering the marketing message for you products and services.

The “So What” Test

The “So What” test is a tried and tested tool for making sure you focus on the benefits rather than features when developing a marketing message for your products or services.

Write a line describing your offering:

“We want to get to know your business before developing our marketing proposal”…

So What!

The line does not really describe the benefit to the client, meaning they could legitimately ask “So What!”

This leads to an iterative process that should lead to the real benefit. In this case, it may be something like:

“Our proposals are tailored  so they deliver real value to your business, helping you effectively meet your marketing goals and successfully develop your business”

A statement that is much more difficult to ask “So What..”

The Power of Why

The “So what” test is a great tool, but if you really want to engage with your potential customers and help them to buy into your vision, making it a reason for them to buy from your business, you need to link these benefits to your vision.

This is an idea put forward by our friend of the moment Simon Sinek in his breakthrough TED talk, “Start with why…”.

His suggestion is that communicating this way – Stating what you do and how this adds benefit, is not very engaging. To develop a truly inspiring marketing message you need to flip this on its head and “Start with Why..”.

  • Why do you do what you do – Your Vision
  • How does this vision drive how you run your business
  • What you do for your customers through your products and/or services

In fact, this means that your marketing message actually ends with the feature, the “What you do”. But because you have led with the more inspiring why and how, by the time you get to the feature (What you do) people are already getting interested.

In another post, we apply this to BSA Marketing, but here, to illustrate my point, I will use the same example used by Mr Sinek in his talk and that is Apple.

Apple make great computers, so traditionally their message would be:

We make great computers…. “So What?” – Feature!

“They are simple to use and beautifully designed” – “So what?” – Feature!

“They are a pleasure to own and take the frustration out of Computing” – The real benefit that Apple might present

But that is not why Apple are so successful, and is not in-fact how they communicate.

In reality, they flip the message on its head and start with why they do what they do.

  • “In everything we do we believe in doing things differently and challenging the Status quo”
  • “The way we do this in a world of clunky boring computers by making beautifully designed, easy to use computers”
  • “By the way, we make great computers …“.

Where are the Benefits?

But we must ask why this works? By traditional marketing thinking the communication ends with What we doWe make great computers – The features.  So where are the benefits?

The philosophy is that by the time the message gets to the feature “We make great computers”, people are already bought into the benefit of buying an Apple computer, phone, etc. The benefit is already clear in the buyer’s mind to the point that they do not need to explicitly state it. They are already asking where do I sign?

Your vision must add value

There is no doubt this works in the case of Apple, and there are many other examples where starting with Why is a great marketing strategy. But I think it is making one big assumption. That is that the vision delivers value in the eyes of the buyer. In many markets, especially the more cynical B2B arena where people may be less emotionally connected to their purchases, it is important that you communicate how your vision delivers value to the market, and in reality, this message should be central to your marketing communications.

Succeed in doing this and Staring with Why can be a powerful marketing tool.

 

 

3 Top Tips for Business Planning

We are looking this week at planning, so I thought it would be worth putting together a few tip to get you on your way.  With a focus on “Keep it simple and don’t forget the basics.” Hereare three simple tips that have come out of  over 30+ years of business planning:

1. Why am I in business?

From the media, you’d think every business owner wants to be the next Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg but in reality, many people’s ambitions are not so lofty. Where do you sit?

  1. I want a lifestyle business I want to work when I want to work with minimal stress. I want to earn a living but flexibility and lack of stress are more important than maximising earnings
  2. Small is beautiful I like having a team around me but I want to maintain my work-life balance.
  3. Take on the world Bring it on. I want to be the next Google

All of these are perfectly valid ambitions but clearly knowing which is your goal will significantly impact on your own planning.

2. Cash is King

Turnover is Vanity, Profit is SanityCash is King! If you can pay your bills, you are in business. If not, watch out! A growing business can mean rising turnover hiding a lack of profitability. Conversely, a genuinely profitable business with poor credit control can run out of cash as the debtor-book grows. Managing cash-flow is vital. A business can run out of cash surprisingly quickly. Realistic planning can pinpoint cash-flow weak points, giving time to address future problems in good time, either from internal resources or putting realistic financing in place.

3. Don’t forget the longer term

Do you spend all your time fire-fighting or do you look further ahead too? Whatever your growth objectives, a business with a solid, respected brand that delivers real benefit has inherent value and will serve you well. It doesn’t matter whether your brand is ‘YOU’ or ‘Apple’, if your customers and markets trust you and have confidence that you deliver value, they will want to do business with you. Building trust and confidence takes time so while you rightly have a focus on cashflow and the short term, remember to build for the future as well. We offer a free, no obligation consultation to readers. Do get in touch

Marketing is an Infinite Game

Over the Christmas break, I have been reading “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. The main message is that business should focus on long-term objectives driven by the vision of the organisation. In reality, this is a vision that is never finally realised. It will develop and move forward as time passes. In practice, most business leaders are driven by meeting finite goals or targets. Whilst these are normally easy to measure, they are often not helpful. They may even be harmful to the organisation in the longer term.

Great businesses are driven by a vision, and one aspect of a true vision is that it should be open-ended rather than achievable in its entirety. The aim of the business should be to continually move towards their vision. “Success” at any point, if this must be measured, should primarily consider “Are we happy where we are and happy we are moving in the right direction?

Marketing, with its objectives to own and communicate the company vision, must too be open-ended.  Success in marketing terms should be confirmation that people are buying into and getting behind the vision of the company. This can be demonstrated in many ways; by purchasing products/services or being advocates/champions for the brand, for example.

Is much marketing too finite?

If we believe the idea of an open-ended vision, we must ask why marketing is so often focused exclusively on finite goals?

Part of the issue, I believe, lies in the way marketing services are bought and sold.

In most cases, the sales pitch of companies offering marketing services and support is all about delivering finite solutions, targeted at achieving distinctly measurable goals: Social media likes, advertising clicks and conversions, SEO rankings, etc. All of these, whist important tools in delivering the overall marketing objectives, are just that; tools. They are important elements, but when they become focused solely on delivering finite objectives and winnable goals, the wider vision can be quickly lost!

Keeping things infinite

The antidote, I think, is to take a step back from the day to day when considering your marketing. Switch to focus on your overall vision; the “Just Cause” as Mr Sinek puts it. What is the thing that makes you get out of bed and go to work each morning? With this mindset, you may well find your motivation  is completely different. Now the goal is not to win by hitting targets, but to keep playing, moving towards you “infinite” vision. In this context the marketing objective will change.

The short term finite objectives (Social media likes, advertising clicks and conversions, SEO rankings etc.) and even bigger business objectives like driving turnover and profit, are no longer the ultimate objectives that must be met at all costs or abandoned. They are now simply necessary steps that keep you in business, and support the broader objective that is to allow you to continue towards your vision.

Staying in the game

One criticism of this way of thinking is that businesses must be viable in both the short and long term. Without embracing short-term goals, there is a risk that a business will fail.

Clearly, this is absolutely true and can not be ignored. If you run out of resources, your business will fail. However, rather than taking short-term goals as the final objective, they need to be seen for what they really are; a necessity to sustain the resources to stay in business, and allow the company to continually move forward towards its vision.

Short term marketing objectives too, should not be seen as the ultimate goal, but rather stepping stones on a path. Furthermore, if meeting these short term marketing goals does not support the wider vision of the organisation, then maybe their motivation needs to be questioned? What are you actually trying to achieve in your business?

If you think about it logically, we spend our lives striving to stay in the game. To suggest that we can ‘win’ and have completion is missing the point. There is always something more – at least until we die! Furthermore, to be a real visionary, you should recognise that even when you reach the end of your life, the game continues….

Want to read more?

If you would like to read more about business as an Infinite Game, you will find Simon Sinek’s book here on amazon.

He also has some great talks on YouTube

Love your clients & they will love you back

Given this week’s focus on relationships and the importance of finding a good fit between yourselves and your clients, I thought it would be worth revisiting this post that we did last year.

Many people think that marketing is all about finding opportunities to sell your products & services. The focus is on generating leads and managing them through the pipeline. In reality, this is sales. The heart of marketing is much more about understanding & building a relationship with your market, and giving them a reason to love your brand.

Step 1 – Understand what makes your customers happy

It may sound obvious, but marketing is first and foremost an outward-looking discipline. Anyone involved in marketing should spend significant time talking to customers. Talk online through social media, surveys etc, or face to face visiting exhibitions, networking or spending time with salespeople. Knowing what makes your customers tick, what makes them happy and most importantly what difficulties they have both with your company and competitors should be at the core of your activities as a marketer. Delivering value should be your number one priority, and the only way you can do this is understanding what your clients value.

Step 2 – Tailor your offering to Meet/Exceed their expectations

Only when you truly know your market, and how to add value should your focus turn inward to the services & products you offer and how you interact with your marketplace to deliver these. Even here your primary objective must be to tailor what you do to the benefit of your clients. If your clients don’t value something, then why do it. If they value it, they will be willing to pay for it, so do it. Apple’s customers value the quality & slick design of their products, and Steve Jobs famously said:

“When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

Now the bottom line is important to every business, and you ignore it at your peril, but whilst using the plywood would definitely improve the bottom line. If your clients value craftsmanship, then not using the plywood is the right thing to do, as it will help you to exceed expectations. Ultimately if they value it, they will pay for it.

 Love your clients & they will love you back

Step 3 – Work continually to develop the level of value you deliver to your clients

This process is iterative, and once you start on the journey, you need to keep going. As you deliver to your clients, their expectations will rise. As a result, you will need to be getting continuous feedback from your marketplace. You are back to step one. Embedding this process into your day to day management practices means that you will continually enhance your brand.  Stay in line with and ideally ahead of expectations. Your clients will love you for it.

The key to a long-lasting relationship

This is all well and good, but when considering all of the above, it is important to keep your own company’s objectives and goals in mind. As David discusses in his post this week, it’s important to find a good fit, between what your clients need, and what you are best suited to delivering. That way you will find it much easier to deliver for your clients without creating a headache for yourself.

Know your markets – Serve their needs

In this week’s podcast, we touched on the importance of knowing your markets. Looking back in our archive, I realised that we have never really done a post on the subject. Something I thought that needed addressing. So here goes.

One Market Many Segments

It’s a well known marketing fact that to be successful you need to know and understand your markets. But your markets are rarely simple. It is likely that you will be supplying multiple groups, each with different needs.

When looking at categorising or segmenting your markets. There are two key questions to ask:

  1. What benefits does the target of the communication gain from my product or service
  2. What message style will best engage with the group

For any group of customers, if the answers to these two questions match, then they will probably fall into the same segment.

At this point, I think an example is in order.

Segmentation and Slõ Drinks

One of our clients – Slõ Drinks, uses segmentation very effectively. Slõ supply a drink additive, that allows people living with Dysphagia (Difficulty swallowing) to make their preferred drinks safer to swallow.

If you would like to hear more about them, Check out this weeks podcast where we talk Marketing with Slõ Drinks MD Mathew Done.

Broadly, Slõ split their marketing into 2 segments:

  1. Health Professionals
  2. End Users

Whilst the core message is the same for both groups “Slõ Drinks make drinks safer to drink for those with dysphagia” The way this is communicated needs to be subtly different for the two groups as the benefits they see are slightly different.

Segmenting your messaging

Understanding that you are supplying multiple markets naturally leads into the idea that your message needs to be segmented too. In Slõ Drink’s case, the messaging looks different for each of the two groups, each message focusiing on the needs of the recipient, and how Slõ Drinks can deliver benefit.

Health Professionals: Slõ drinks provide a fantastic cost effective solution for your patients, which is soundly backed up by scientific testing. So you know if you recommend Slõ Drinks, it is a good decision both clinically and financially.

End Users: Slõ Drinks offers a safe and tested way to make living with dysphagia less intrusive. With Slõ Drinks, you can get on with enjoying life knowing that you are managing your dysphagia.

For both the core message “We make drinks safer to drink for those with dysphagia” is consistent. It’s just the angle that is shifted to match the perceived priorities of each group.

All part of the same story

When looking at this subject, its easy to end up with a highly fragmented approach to marketing. To avoid this, the objective is to be consistent in the central messaging, but then tailor this communication to the needs of individual groups. This is the key to successful segmentation.

As we discuss in the podcast, at its core marketing needs to be consistent. But it also needs to be highly relevant to those reading the message, especially given how much we can know about our customers (but that’s a whole other post). The key to achieving this is market segmentation.

Getting your messaging right for each of the segments you are targeting is key. If you would like to talk to the experts about how best to do this, we would love to talk to you.

 

 

 

The Power of Dashboards

Marketing data is everywhere these days and allows deep insight into the workings of your marketing campaigns. With this plethora of data comes the issue of information overload. It is often difficult to see the wood for the trees.

In my view there are two key issues:

  1. Data Overload – there are so many metrics available, how do you focus on the important ones?
  2. Data fragmentation – each platform will have its own set of analytics making it difficult to see a joined-up view of all metrics.

It is these two issues that I explore in this post; looking at how a marketing dashboard can go a long way to addressing them.

Seeing the Wood, Clearing the Trees

The first thing that a dashboard will do is to allow you to pick out the key analytics, and display them in an easy to read format.

Most people will be aware of Google Analytics. Whilst being a fantastic platform for getting an insight into how people are interacting with your website Google’s data is not that easy to read. The sheer variety of statistics available makes getting a clear picture of you marketing’s effectiveness challenging.

For example, Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors you are getting, and where they are coming from. However, having your website visitor numbers broken down by source and charted month by month, makes it much easier to see what’s going on.

Furthermore, by pulling data into a dashboard, you isolate it from all the other metrics making it much easier to read.

And you are not just limited to charts. You can display data in many different formats, for example, tables, maps, and my favourite; the gauge.

Say for instance you are running a pay per click campaign. You could set up a gauge showing how much each conversion (enquiry for example) is costing you in advertising. Making it very easy to see if you are on target and that your advertising is being cost effective.

 

Bringing it all together

The other issue is the wide variety of platforms and the fact they all have their own analytics systems. Whilst you can see some external data in Google Analytics, this is limited to the number of visits to your site. Whilst key data, I believe you need to be “joined-up”. To achieve this you are going to need stats from the other platforms and having to switch from Google, to LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter…. to get the information can become tiresome.

Here again, dashboards are great as they allow you to use the APIs supplied by the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook to bring their data into a central dashboard. What’s more, the dashboard systems usually have connections set up with the main platforms. So usually all you need to access the data is your login to the relevant platform.

Another great use of guauges is to monitor activity on social media platforms. Say for example you have a target of posting 5 tweets a week or 2 LinkedIn posts per month. You can set up a guauge to monitor the number of posts on a platform in a given period. That way it is possible to check, at a glance, whether you are on target.

Data at your fingertips

Metrics and analysis are incredibly valuable. But remembering what you looked at last time, and how you access the data, means that reviewing marketing metrics often gets forgotten. Usually reviewed only when you have time, or when there is an issue.

There is a bit of work to do in setting up a dashboard. But once done, the data is easily available whenever you need it.  It will also be in exactly the same format as last time you looked.

The system we use – Klipfolio also allows you to permanently display your dashboards on big wall screens, so the data is there for you without even having to go and look for it.

If you would like to explore the power of dashboards, we would love to hear from you. So please feel free to get in touch