SEO, PPC, Social media marketing. They're terms that all of us are familiar with, and not without reason. The Internet changed the way business works, and for small businesses, it affords incredible opportunities. The digital era advanced an age where companies could rise and fall overnight, as outlined by the successes of companies like Zappos, Instagram, and Whatsapp, who's near overnight successes and millions of consumers were an unheard of feat in the non-digital world. Most importantly, digital marketing allows small and medium businesses to reach those consumers without a big business advertising budget, essentially changing how we interact with consumers, and how make sales.
A study by Vocus shows that around 87% of small and medium size businesses currently use some form of digital marketing. But, to use it to your best advantage, you have to know how to measure your successes, so that you can use data to improve your campaigns, spending, and how you use your time.
Create Measurable Goals and Objectives
Business goals and objectives are part of any marketing strategy, but it is one of the most commonly neglected parts of digital marketing. By creating goals, such as boosting page traffic a certain percentage, increasing brand awareness, or building a certain number of followers for your blog or social media site, you can track your success by seeing how far you move towards those goals.
Define Your Audience
Your target audience, including different segments (such as short and long term customers, local buyers, or middle class moms) will help you to measure your success and journey towards your goals by allowing you to map your audience to KPI's (key performance indicators), so that you can track success based on individual platforms and types of customers. Because each type of customer will behave very differently, understanding which parts of your audience fall into which segments is important for tracking success.
Tying in with understanding your audience and its segments, understanding the difference performance indicators of different platforms and mediums is crucial to measuring success. On Facebook, engagement is the key factor, but on your website, length of time on the page is more important. Understanding how customers engage with your business, especially in multi-channel marketing, allows you to map your success more easily, because the platform changes the behavior of the user. Metrics that work tracking users on a website are completely different than those required on Twitter. You have to understand the path to conversion on every platform or channel your business is using. For example, if you're currently only tracking direct sales resulting from your digital marketing campaigns, then you're missing out on a wealth of information surrounding generated leads, that you could use to create long term sales through follow ups, email marketing, and consistent social media.
Consumers interact with businesses in myriad and complex ways, meaning that you have to use software to track and analyze data. Without collecting data, you will never know just how much you're doing or getting from your marketing efforts. Various solutions have different levels of sophistication and features, but you can use anything from free built in metrics or free options like Google or Bing Analytics, or use a paid version like KissMetrics depending on your budget. Many CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) have built in analytics that allow you to create consumer profiles (such as existing customer vs new lead). This helps you create a more customized experiences for visitors, allowing you to tailor the website experience accordingly, and drive more sales.
Define Your Reporting Needs
By defining what you need to track, and how you have to track it, you can save time and reduce complexities in weekly and monthly reports. If you know which data you need, you can cut directly to that data, and make use of it. Determining the most meaningful data for your business can be difficult, especially if you're not an expert in digital marketing, but it can make a world of difference to your campaigns.
Making it Actionable
Measuring data is just the first step of using your digital marketing correctly. The web is a game changer for marketing because you can collect data on almost everything, allowing you to see what is working, what isn't, and who's visiting. Using this data, you can create actionable plans to improve your marketing over time. One example is that by A/B testing different ads or keywords, you can improve your PPC (Pay Per Click) ads, using Google's own free analytics. You can do the same sort of testing and improvement with content marketing by tracking which types of posts and content get the most hits or engagement, and finding out why. It's even easier on social media, where direct response and engagement is easy to track, and fast paced enough that you can test strategies and methods without affecting your campaign, or your budget. Collecting data on consumers allows you to make decisions on how and when to advertise, to improve your conversion rate. Over time, you can use measured results to tweak every part of your digital marketing to improve its value and ROI for your company.
The ROI of any digital marketing campaign can be complex, simply because it can take many forms. If you're using social media to convince local consumers to come in using a coupon only available to them, you can track direct sales based on the number of people who come in with the coupon. But you also have to track how many of them come back for repeat business, which would also be a direct result of your sale. A PPC campaign for an ecommerce store has the same considerations, someone who clicks on your ad but doesn't buy anything might still come back later to make the purchase.
Digital marketing is complex and does require strategy, the correct tools, and the time to pull it off. While many small businesses start digital marketing on their own, you can see better results by hiring a professional. Whether for creating a strategy to drive sales, launching a professional website, or building campaigns around your company branding.