Google Analytics

Analyze This! Why Your Google Analytics Matter

If there’s one thing I’ve come to learn about my clients, it’s that they expect results. Many of my clients place a lot of value on measurement, and I am often asked, “How were our leads this quarter compared to last? Are we seeing value from the amount we put into new content on our site?” I find it interesting that a lot of business owners and marketers are unclear of the value they can receive from their Google Analytics reports.

At CreativeWorks Marketing, we dedicate the last week of each month to compiling and analyzing Google Analytics data. Google Analytics is a free tool in which you are able to monitor the traffic to your website in terms of audience demographics, behaviour, referrals and more. Like any good tool, you get out of it what you put into it. A simple Google Analytics report is only valuable when analyzed to help you understand what it means to your business.

The analyzed data is central to your business as it allows you to understand what is and isn’t working on your site so you can implement strategic, not just tactical, initiatives. While many web companies offer Google Analytics reports as part of their services, few of them supply much other than the raw data itself. Being able to read and fully understand what is being told through the data is imperative to your marketing success.

I have worked with multiple clients over the years that receive monthly analytics reports from their “web person” and disregard the information due to a lack of understanding. By ignoring the information provided in each analytics report, you might be missing key information about your business. Variances in online behaviour are important to determine problems and identify trends.

Google Analytics go above and beyond recording how many people have visited your site, it can also help to identify “unusual” behaviour. For example, when one of our clients was the victim of a website scam, we were able to identify new visitors to the site that came from suspicious sources. Finding out this information and alerting our client was imperative to the security of our client’s site, and without Google Analytics we wouldn’t have been able to act as fast as we did.

Analytics are a key part of the marketing process, and website analytics are only one form of such data. If your business is on digital platforms, you need to make sure you have clear analytics reports that also include relevant data on your social media efforts, and ideally include summaries and recommendations for adjustments and changes for improvements.

If you are investing your time and money into a robust website, it’s important that you have an understanding of how your audience is using it. Ask your marketing agency to provide a detailed analysis of your digital assets and explain what changes, if any need to be made. The goal of truly understanding website behaviour is using analytics to its fullest potential.

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Google AdWords Made Simple

Today’s economy is challenging for many businesses, but it’s an even bigger challenge for the SMB owner, who is forced to use increasingly smaller marketing budgets to increase brand recognition and drive sales through lead generation tactics.  One such lead gen tactic is Google AdWords. You’ve seen those ads that appear on the side of the page every time you search for something on Google. Businesses bid for this online advertising through Google AdWords. All you have to do is create an ad, and choose specific search keywords which you would like to target, and, voila! Your ads might appear on Google, next to the search results. The idea is that people interested in your product/service can simply click on your ad to either make a purchase or learn more about your company.

Sounds simple, right? Well, from a conceptual standpoint, it is. In practice, however, we have found that for many of our small business clients, using Google AdWords is more of a science.  Finding the “right” balance of key words, with the words used in the ad, together with the right bid amount takes many, many hours of ad monitoring, key word adjustment, ads revisions, as well as working to increase ad click-through rates and daily budgets.

Google AdWords is generally thought of as an ideal advertising “add-on” for small businesses with limited budgets, but even if you know what you’re doing, depending on your industry and keywords, it can be an expensive venture, and therefore needs to be closely monitored (in fact, hourly monitoring is best!).

Here are a few lessons that we’ve learned about Google Adwords for small business that I’d recommend to any small business considering investing in this advertising program.

  1. Before you create your ad, spend some time reviewing your web analytics to see what terms people are using to find you online at this point. Google Analytics offers this type of information.
  2. In combination with the keyword tool Google Ad Words provides, create a list of targeted keywords (narrow these down to focus on a specific service/product and your targeted audience).
  3. Create two very targeted ads. Always create two ads, so you can see which one is doing better, and simply replace it as the campaign evolves.
  4. Decide on your maximum monthly budget (I suggest being able to spend at least $100 a month).
  5. Direct the ad to link to a specific page on your site. Or, if you have the budget, create a landing page on your site specifically for this ad. For services, this page needs to have the ability to capture lead gen via a form or download. For products, this page needs to have a special offer.
  6. Launch the campaign, and monitor it hourly. Keep a close eye not just on your cost-per-click (CPC), and the Average CPC (how much you are paying on average per click), but also the first page bid estimate (which tells you how much you need to spend to be on the first page).  These three areas will help you to decide which terms you may want to pause, and which ones you might want to increase your bid rate on.
  7. You’ll need to make sure that you have metrics on your website to track the number of people that are actually coming to the linked page via Google.
  8. Run the ad campaign for a month (if funds permit), and generate a report at the end of each week to capture the CPC, which key terms did well, increase in traffic to your site via the ad, how many leads were generated (or products sold), and note if there is a pattern emerging. For example, you might notice that there are lots of clicks on Thursday and Friday mornings, and it tapers off over the weekend, and early in the week.  You can then decide to put more money towards your CPC on Thursday and Fridays.

I have tried to capture the basics to help create and launch your Google AdWord campaign, but it’s worth noting that this tool has a huge number of functions. There are other options to consider, including impression vs. clicks; how to increase your quality score; what is the advantage of display networks vs. search; what are filters and ad extensions; and how should you determine your campaign settings and so much more.

With such a deep online advertising tool with a multitude of variables you can see why, if used correctly, Google AdWords has the potential to increase your ROI. It does, however, require considerable thought, time and effort to make it work for your business.

Have you used Google AdWords in your small business?  If so, have you found it helpful?  Has it increased your ROI? Do you have any questions about how to set up a Google AdWords campaign? Please share your questions and comments below.

Steps to Making Your Online Campaign a Success

A large part of marketing these days involves developing some type of online marketing strategy. Online marketing can mean something as simple as using Google AdWords, or placing an ad on LinkedIn or Facebook, to generating an ad to be placed on a trade publication website.

The goal of online marketing is no different than that of any other advertisement: to increase brand awareness and find potential customers, in order to increase revenue and growth.

The huge advantage of online campaigns is that they are digital, and you can improve and adjust them throughout a campaign to help you achieve your objectives.  The other advantage of online marketing is that you have the ability to easily track and measure your campaigns by the day, hour, or even minute (if you really wanted to).

Generating leads and customers not increasing site traffic are indications of success and by tracking and measuring the success of your campaign, you can determine if your objectives are being met, and if not, you can adjust your campaign to meet them.

One example of how quickly you can react to an online campaign is to run an advertisement on a trade publication’s site, make note of the click through rate, use Google Analytics to track the traffic to your site and referral sources, and finally, to look at the conversion rate of traffic to leads.  If you see that there is a low click through rate, you might need to rethink your ad. But if you find you have a high click through rate, and high traffic, but see no leads being generated, then something is happening on your site that stopped a potential customer from becoming a lead. This might mean you need to make a change not to the advertisement, but to the mechanism that was designed to convert the traffic into leads.

Before you start planning your next online campaign, determine if you have the time and resources to properly monitor its development and success.  You might want to consult with a marketing agency, which can provide you with the insights and expertise necessary to make your campaign a success.

Over the past 20 years of marketing for small and mid-sized businesses, I’ve developed a number of questions that you should take under consideration before launching any online campaign:

  1. Clearly outline the goals and objectives of your campaign (e.g. increase leads by 5%, 10%).
  2. Identify which publication the ad should appear in (target the campaign to the audience).
  3. Clearly outline the time your campaign will run (1 day only, 1 week, etc.).
  4. Create an incentive offer, whether that is free product or service; leads increase depending on incentives.
  5. Put a tracking mechanism in place. That way, you can measure the results and make improvements to your marketing strategy as you go.
  6. An ideal tracking mechanism is Google Analytics. It is free to use, and is one of the most powerful online analytics tools available today. (It tracks much more than website traffic, as displayed in my example).
  7. Before the campaign launches, offer your campaign offer to existing clients.
  8. Post in your social networks the day you launch the campaign.
  9. Track your campaign by the hour, day, minute, etc.
  10. If you are not seeing the results you want, look at the flow of the campaign. Are there any ‘sticky’ places? See if you can make any adjustments to get your campaign ‘unstuck’.

Online marketing can generate the leads you are looking for, but you need to consider not just the message you’re sending, but also how you have planned to convert the message into a lead gen tool.

Do you have any questions on Internet marketing? What has been your most successful online marketing campaign? Or have you had any negative experiences with online marketing that have helped you to re-strategize your methods for future online campaigns? Feel free to share your questions and stories in the comments below.