The famous management strategist Peter Drucker said, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure. It follows that you can’t get the most out of your marketing (and manage away wasteful spending) without being able to measure your results. This requires putting a proper marketing analytics foundation in place and reviewing your results periodically.
Unfortunately, 42% of SMB business owners never look at their analytics.
With so much as stake, why don’t businesses stay on top of their marketing results? As a small business owner myself, I can relate to the excuse that other priorities get in the way. It’s also difficult for business owners who don’t know much about marketing, let alone analytics, to know where to start.
The first step is almost always the same, and it’s free: install Google Analytics. From there, it’s ideal to get someone to show you the basics and to build a habit of logging once a week to review what you see.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do with marketing analytics, and it really isn’t enough to know if your marketing is working. To do this, you need to go beyond the basics.
First, let’s establish what I mean by “the basics.” By this, I mean what you can see in analytics reporting tools and dashboards that are available to you at no additional cost and require no configuration. This include Google Analytics as well as reporting you can see by logging into Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Ads, or other marketing and advertising platforms you might be using.
What I define as “beyond the basics” is anything that require additional configuration, installation, or cost. An example is call tracking software, which lets you know who called you and how they found you. While this service provides valuable insights for businesses whose prospects call, it requires you to pay for and configure the service.
Generally speaking, basic analytics will let you see top of the funnel analytics that answer simple questions. For example, Google Analytics gives you a wealth of information about how users find and interact with your website. Questions you can answer include what sites visitors were on before they came to your website and how long they stayed on your site.
However, the basics don’t really let you know if your marketing is producing a financial return. If you want to understand where your qualified leads and sales are coming from, or want to know your cost per lead or your Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), you need to go beyond the basics.
Reading about how analytics work is about as exciting as watching the paint dry for most people, so to make it more interesting, I’ll tell a story about a small business owner, Danny Namerow, who we helped go beyond the basics and who was able to grow his business as a result. He owns a successful electrical contracting company, Farryn Electric, and is all around good guy. While I’m sharing Danny’s journey, the lessons below apply to any organization, large or small.
Danny’s business has grown nicely since he founded it a few years ago. He has a great reputation, so he gets a lot of referrals, but he also gets leads from people who learn about him online, visit his website, and then contact him.
When I started working with Danny, he had Google Analytics set up. The monthly report he was receiving from his marketing agency was a Word document that featured screen shots from Google Analytics. All of the metrics he had access to were from the top of the funnel. He knew he was getting traffic to his website and that the average visitor was browsing for 2 or more minutes. However, his reporting wasn’t telling him how many people were contacting him because Google Goals hadn’t been set up.
Google Goals let you track conversions. Conversions measure user actions that happen on your website. What conversions a particular organization should set up to track depend on its business goals. Google has designed the goal completion tracking system to be very flexible, so you can track almost anything that happens on your site that might be important to your business. Some companies use Google Goals to track conversions that would be categorized as leads, such as contact form completions. Companies with long sales cycles typically track additional top of the funnel conversions, like the downloads of white papers. Google Analytics also lets you track eCommerce conversions, which don’t apply to Danny, but are highly valuable if you are running an online store. They let you track the marketing sources that are generating sales, including what items were sold and the total revenue earned from the sale.
Danny wasn’t tracking any goal completions, so while he knew he was getting leads from his website, he had no idea if prospects were coming from clicks from the Google Ads he was paying for, the investment he was making in SEO, or people who were simply being referred to him.
How did we want to evolve Danny’s metrics? First, we wanted to set up Google Goals so he’d know which marketing efforts were generating conversions in Google Analytics. Although Google Goals include all conversions, including calls and contact form submissions from people who aren’t prospects, we wanted to do this so conversions could be analyzed alongside other Google Analytics data. We also wanted to import conversion data into Google Ads which would let us bid more on the keywords that were generating leads.
We also wanted to take him beyond what Google Analytics could do. We wanted him to be able to see how individual prospects found him as well as how much he was paying for those leads. We also wanted to set up the infrastructure so he could calculate his Return on Ad Spend. This is important because some of his leads resulted in small residential projects while others led to long term commercial partnerships. Not all of his sales were equal, so it was important for him to be able to measure the quality, not just the quantity of his leads.
That was our plan for Danny. Continue reading in Part II how we transformed his analytics to get beyond the basics.