Do you have a website? (if you are serious about your business, you should!). If so, you have the opportunity to get some real insight into how your customers and markets are engaging with you.
- Do you know how many people are visiting your website right now?
- Do you know how many people visit each day? How many and which pages they visit? How long they stay on your site?
All of this information is available to you and opens up real insight into how your customers, markets and contacts engage with your business. I have said it before and I will say it again, at heart, marketing is about engagement between your business and your customers and markets. Website Analytics can open up this information, but there’s a problem – actually, there are 2:
1. Analytics can be complicated
Most people who log in to Google Analytics (other Search Engines provide analytics tools but Google is the daddy!) take 1 look and never go back. On first sight, Google Analytics looks terribly complicated – and to some extent, it is. There are just so many possibilities and options you could spend all day analysing the stats – not very good for driving your business forward. It is also easy to get sidetracked. The more you delve into analytics the more the risk of it becoming the end rather than the means – another case of the techy tail wagging the business dog – I wrote about this here Despite the complexity of analytics, with a bit of thought, it can be tamed and put to work delivering real value to your business.
2. Analytics gets hijacked
How often do you see offers like this:
Want more clients and customers? We will help them find you by putting you on the 1st Page Google, Yahoo & Bing…
If you are anything like me it is at least daily. This is a classic case of the Marketing Magic Wand. You may have dipped your toe into analytics and seen how complicated it is, now here is someone suggesting they can use tools like analytics (and SEO (search engine optimisation) and PPC (pay per click)). The implication is that they understand the complexity and make it work for your business. In principle they may be right, there are certainly some highly skilled digital marketing specialists out there, but they are expensive and the process takes time. If your business operates nationally or internationally with thousands of website visitors daily, the investment may well be worth it but for most SME businesses, particularly in the technical/niche B2B arena, the true levels of website traffic simply don’t warrant this commitment. This said, there are a LOT of digital marketers targeting the SME B2B sector (the offer above is just one example I received today). These people often don’t know your business. They are working to their model where the focus is on rankings rather than traffic. Even when traffic is considered there is too much focus on quantity and not enough on quality. If you aren’t careful the end result can be a bill with no real benefit to you. – More reasons not to embrace analytics! However, there is an alternative…
Don’t let someone take over your analytics. Integrate it with your day to day marketing – OK you may want some help but make sure the focus is on your business, not making someone else look good! You can’t ‘fit and forget’. Making the most of analytics takes time but it is easy to get carried away. This is where a plan is important. Focus on your goals and don’t get sidetracked. Set aside time each week (I suggest no more than an hour or so) to learn and develop your analytics. Take it one step at a time and don’t try to do everything all at once. It is a process, not an event. You will need to stick at it but the rewards can be significant. There are lots of resources online but, in my experience, the best approach is to integrate analytics into your wider business marketing, using the numbers to test and reflect the marketing you are doing.
Here are my top tips for analytics in the real world…
- Know your traffic levels Before you do anything, benchmark your website traffic and work to increase/improve it. If you choose to engage specialists to help you, benchmarks give a basis for managing their activity.
- Profile your traffic In 3 words: Quality not quality. Having hundreds (or thousands) of visitors to your website may make you feel good but if they arrive then immediately leave, what is the point?The technical term is ‘Bounce’. A ‘Bounce Rate’ of 100% means every visitor arrives at your site then leaves without clicking to any other page. If you believe your traffic is the sort of visitors you want, look for reasons why they might not stick around then update your website content to make it more relevant to them.
- Set up Goals/Conversion Tracking Google Analytics includes some great tools for tracking website visitor engagement, measuring how often they download a ‘White Paper’, send an enquiry form, or even call you. In my experience, most people don’t use goals or conversion tracking. This is such a waste. Make sure you do!
- Join-up analytics with the rest of your marketing It is essential that conversions should equal sustainable engagement. By planning analytics in the context of your wider marketing it is easier to ensure all your efforts focus on the common purpose of taking your business forward.
- Keep it simple The last one isn’t easy but it is important. It is better to concentrate on doing a few things well than trying to do everything – which you won’t achieve! By integrating even one or 2 analytics fundamentals into your wider business marketing and using the information to make practical, common sense decisions that you can monitor can be enough to make a real difference.