If you're investing in digital marketing, small business data analytics should be top of mind as you link efforts like content, social media, ads and email to realize a return on your investment.
According to research from HubSpot, just 61 percent of marketers believe they have an effective strategy, while 24 percent have no idea whether their leads are turning into sales. In addition, 40 percent said proving ROI is a top challenge.
Those stats suggest there's a lot of room for improvement. However, the beauty of digital tech is that it allows for detailed tracking and analysis of everything you do — but only if you're set up correctly and know how to use the tools.
In this post, we'll discuss all the tools and platforms you should use for small business data analytics, and provide tips on getting the maximum ROI from your digital marketing efforts. Whether you're new to the game or want to bolster an existing online presence, here's what you need to know.
Small Business Data Analytics Basics
If you haven't already, the first thing you'll need to do to get your digital marketing strategy on the right track is to set up Google Analytics (GA). This is essential whether you're handling your marketing in-house or using an agency.
Google offers extensive resources not just for getting started, but also for using its analytics platform at an expert level — all for free. The Analytics Academy is an invaluable resource for business owners who are new to digital marketing.
There are several helpful metrics and insights you'll be able to cull with just basic knowledge of GA, including:
- Monthly traffic and its sources
- Completed goals and conversions (e.g. purchases, form submissions, downloads)
- Goal flow (i.e. the path your visitor took to convert)
- Most (and least) popular pages
- Visitors' region and demographics
- AdWords traffic and costs
These metrics don't even scratch the surface of what you can obtain with a mastery of GA, but they're still necessary and valuable to your business. Dig even deeper and you can obtain information on your customers' lifetime value, cohort analysis, user behavior, campaign performance, organic search terms and more.
If you're only going to use one analytics platform, make it Google Analytics. That said, it's still wise to beef up your arsenal of tools and find ways to measure your organic performance by keyword, as well as compare yourself to the competition.
Keyword Tools and Competitive Analysis
Google offers its Keyword Planner to sites using AdWords, but it's not an ideal platform for measuring organic performance. The data and metrics it provides assume you'll be making a bid on keywords, which is a different game than organic search. However, if you are using AdWords, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the Keyword Planner. Again, Google provides great resources on how to use its platforms.
For the purposes of organic keyword research, you'll want to choose a tool that can accurately tell you:
- Keyword volume, difficulty and competition
- The terms you're ranking for, by page
- Backlinks to your site
- Ad metrics on your target keywords (CPC, competition, etc.)
Using this information, you can determine the keywords you should be targeting with both your organic and paid strategies. Additionally, you can use the tools to record your baseline metrics and improvements over time, which allows you to clearly see what terms are working for you (and those that are considered wasted effort).
There's no shortage of keyword tools out there. SEMrush gives some of the most reliable, comprehensive data of all, though one flaw is that it typically cannot pull data for very low-volume terms or pages, so beginners may not find robust baseline metrics. Serpfox and LongTailPro are other keyword tools you may find useful.
Visitor Monitoring and Tracking
If you have expert-level knowledge of GA, you can track your users by IP address to see every page they visit, their session duration and any goals they complete. This allows you to see what content gets people thinking — and buying.
Sites like Full Story and Mouseflow provide reports on visitor usage and heat maps, respectively, which allow you to see where your visitors are engaged and where you're losing them. If you use Facebook ads, you'll be happy to know that installing a pixel can give you excellent lead tracking abilities as long as there's an e-commerce component to your site.
Businesses that rely strictly on brick-and-mortar locations may have more difficulty tracking leads from their website, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. The easiest (albeit not always reliable) way is to set a visit to your Directions or Location pages as a goal in GA. While this won't help you see which leads turn into sales, it can give you an idea of how effective your content is at inspiring people to make a visit.
A more reliable way to track leads from your website to your store is through loyalty programs and coupon codes. These let you assign an ID to each customer, so you can know for sure who came in through your site. You can also use lead-collect forms or pop-ups to get people to register for your program or enter their email to receive a code. The more enticing your offer, the better chance people will sign up.
There are plenty of ways to effectively use data analytics to build your business. If you're still not sure where to begin, an experienced marketing professional can help you determine the best strategy.