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Tips for Analyzing Your Online Marketing

by Liz Hester, Staples® Contributing Writer

Measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing ensures you’re spending time and money on tactics that deliver the best returns. After all, if you aren’t measuring your marketing, then you can’t really know how successful it is.

For example, Brian Gatti, partner at Inspire Business Concepts in Phoenix, AZ, recommends that businesses evaluate the cost to acquire a customer for all marketing activities. For example, if you spend $1,000 a month and get 100 visitors to your site, then you’re paying $10 per visitor. After that, if 10 people call and five become clients, you’ve spent $200 to acquire a new customer.

Use this metric to see how much you need to spend to acquire the number of customers required for your business to be sustainable. Get even more granular by auditing marketing efforts by activity or channel to see which ones give you the best return on your investment.

Next, select metrics specific to your online marketing program. Avoid tracking too many things, which leaves you scattered and unfocused, and makes it harder to achieve success. This is called “analysis paralysis.” You can prevent it by tracking only metrics related to your business operations and goals.

Online Marketing Analytics

The first step for many small businesses is learning Google Analytics, says Cole Watts, SEO campaign coordinator for TheeDesign Studio, a Web design and marketing firm in Raleigh, NC. “Don’t be afraid,” he says. “The first page when you log in, that’s basic. Go below the fold and look at that information, too.” He recommends starting with these statistics:

  • Bounce Rate: The number of single-page visits, or those who left your site from the entry page without interacting. A high bounce rate could be caused by long load times, content that didn’t match a search, or sub-optimal links and calls to action. To improve your bounce rate, Google Analytics support recommends looking at factors such as site design, navigation and layout to find opportunities for improvement. Takeaway: Adjustments are best made one at a time to allow accurate assessment of each change.
  • Time on Site: The length (or brevity) of each visitor’s stay on your site. The clock starts when visitors enter and ends when they leave. The data also shows whether they engaged (clicked, scrolled, etc.) or not, and how long they were on each page. Takeaway: Time on site helps you understand how easy (or not) your site is to navigate, and what content is of most value to visitors.
  • Unique Visitors: The number of different people who visit your site in a selected timeframe. Compare it to total visits to determine the number of repeat visitors and your site’s Repeat Visitor Ratio (returning visitors divided by total visitors). Takeaway: The higher your RVR, the better your online marketing content engages the average new arrival and retains your loyal visitors.
  • Visitor Channel: The path visitors take to get to your site. Knowing how visitors find you allows you to increase your ads, links and promotions, as well as seek out sites with similar audiences for new marketing partnerships. For example, if people are finding your site from a Chamber of Commerce link, you can focus your online and offline efforts there. Takeaway: Break the data down by geographic areas to target people locally who are looking for your products.

Auditing Marketing

Here’s how one small business owner uses analytics to market more effectively.

Jordan Demos, owner of Amy & Jordan Photography in Scottsdale, AZ, tracks a variety of tactics to help him make better decisions. “We like to look and see where most of the referrals to our site and blog come from,” he says. For instance, Jordan knows exactly how many people come to the site from the business’s Facebook page, where he and Amy concentrate their social media efforts, so he can continue to drive traffic from there.

The data also shows which content attracts the most readers and helps him identify the best times to post new content. Since analytics showed that traffic was heavy on Wednesdays because photographers have downtime mid-week, Jordan now posts new photography tips that day, when more people are looking for information. Data also showed that about half of the visitors are accessing the site from mobile devices, so he’s optimizing the site to be more responsive to multiple viewing options.

Make Smarter Decisions

Use analytics to understand how customers and prospects receive your online marketing so you can make smarter decisions on how and where to promote your product or service.

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