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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.

Steps of the Branding Process – Starting From Step 1: Strategy

I came across this fabulous infographic that visually captures exactly what I cover in my weekly blogs: the idea that good marketing begins with a strategy.

Some of the stats here are also quite interesting, though keep in mind the sources quoted are a couple of years old.

What I particularly want to draw your attention to, besides the fact that everything begins with a marketing strategy, is how all marketing tactics are linked either directly or indirectly. This diagram is to marketers what a skeleton is to doctors – the strategy is connected to the plan, the plan is connected to the logo, and the logo is connected to the website, etc. (sung to the theme of “the shank bone is connected to the thigh bone”). You get the idea. Together all the parts make up a successful marketing approach.

branding-process-infographic_50291542325fe

Was this infographic helpful?  Did it give you a visual to better understand how all the pieces fit together? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

3 Essential Website Marketing Tips

WebThinkBuildAs the owner of a marketing agency, we often receive calls from SMBs asking us if we can redesign their company website.  While the simple answer to the question is yes, a website redesign entails more than layout and graphics. Websites are a marketing tactic, and several questions need to be considered to ensure that a website redesign is worthwhile.

It happens all the time; SMB’s get their website redesigned, they spend the money and then wonder why the website is not bringing them the results they were expecting.  In my experience, 99% of the time it is not the website that is the problem, or even the website’s design. The problem is that the website is not tied to a marketing strategy that outlines the company’s value proposition and brand.

Below I have outlined a few questions to help you determine if creating a new site is the right solution for you, or if there might be other key areas that need your attention before investing the time and money into changing this tactic.

  1. Need for Change. What has prompted your need to redesign your website? Are your sales down and you feel your site can help bolster sales, or have you received feedback from customers that have said that your site is ineffective?  Be specific here and really determine what exactly it is that has prompted your need for change.
  2. Site Analytics.  Do you know what is happening on your website in terms of tracking the behaviours of your visitors? Delve into your website’s analytics for bounce rates, specific pages, links, downloads, videos, referral sites and other useful statistics. Get a good sense of what your visitors are doing when they come to your website. That way, you’ll be able to determine if they are doing what you want them to do when they visit your site.
  3. Your competitors. Within your field of business, what are your competitors doing? Make a list of the top websites in your field and study the different information and features on their website against your website’s features. Gauge the technology used to serve their content (e.g. multimedia, flash, video, etc.). Read through their content. What does it say about their service offering? How are they different from you?

I hope that these questions help you determine if it’s your website design, content and navigation that needs to be changed, or if you need a clear marketing strategy, branding and value proposition. The bottom line is that no marketing tactic will provide long-term benefits for your company if it is not tied to a marketing strategy.

I am always interested in hearing from you.  Are you looking at changing your website? If so, what has prompted this change? Do you think having a strategy in place first makes sense or would you only consider this step after the redesign? Let me know in the comments below.

Small and Mid-Sized Businesses – Who Needs Integrity?

When small and mid-sized business owners come to me asking to redesign their website, my first reaction is always to start a discussion with them about their business, their goals and objectives, and then to drill down to what is working and what is not working on their site.  Seems like basic and straightforward questioning for most marketing professionals, right?  Well, unfortunately, not right.

I have dedicated my business and this blog specifically to helping small and medium-sized business owners because they often fall prey to unscrupulous companies looking to make a quick buck. I feel that these growing organizations, the backbone of our Canadian economy, are being taken advantage of by an unregulated industry that is just as likely to sell websites as it is to sell iPods or mugs.  They approach the small to mid-sized business owner with flashy razzle-dazzle and some even “talk the talk”, hitting them up for thousands of dollars in website design and site management with no intent to actually help the client.

Like most of us, unless you know what you are looking for, you don’t know what you don’t know. As such, I have outlined a few questions that will hopefully protect you, the small to mid-sized business owner, against web designers or web programmers calling themselves marketers.  If you need help in deciphering the legitimate companies from the charlatans, consult a real marketing consultant to help guide you.

When a business owner wonders why their brochures or flyers, e-newsletters or e-blasts are not working for them, or says that they really want to create a new website or add QR codes to their business cards – as a marketing professional – I have to put on the brakes and ask them why they want to do so.

The Anti-Charlatan Questions to ask:

  1. How did they hear you needed a new site – e.g. solicitation via email or online?
  2. How well-written was the email or letter of solicitation? Did it provide you with links to projects they have done?
  3. Ask to have a meeting with them at their office. This will give you some indication if they have a legitimate business.  If they work from home, then they should be comfortable telling you that.
  4. When you meet with them, do they spend most of the meeting talking about what they can do for you, or on finding out more about your company and your challenges and needs?  If it’s all about them, you might expect your site project to be as well.
  5. Did they claim to be a web designer or marketer? Can they substantiate their claims of experience and practice?
  6. Do they have examples of their work? You need to know exactly what their involvement was in the development of the site. Did they design the site?  Did they design it using a website template (e.g. WordPress), or are they custom sites?  Note:  A template is a sort of prototype that they would simply modify by adding your content and pictures. The amount of design is very limited, and these sites all look very similar, but this is the least expensive option. A WordPress site also offers templates, but can be customized (although the WordPress icon in the URL will be visible to your audience).  A custom site is developed from scratch by a true designer, and this is usually the most expensive option.
  7. Ask them about the project process – do they create a critical path, a site map, with timelines clearly stated, etc.?
  8. Do they have writers who can write the content for the site? Is the content written from an SEO perspective or is it straight copy?
  9. What kind of SEO provision is outlined in the project?
  10. Do they write the programming for the sites? You are looking for them to tell you PHP, Java scripting, etc.
  11. Do they provide you with a Content Management System (CMS) so you can manage the site in-house?
  12. Ask them if they create wireframe designs.  If yes, ask them to show you an example.  If no, ask them why. The answer should speak to their expertise.
  13. What types of quality control measures are in place?
  14. Do they have references you can call?  Look through their work samples, and choose ones you’d like to talk to. Make sure it is a senior person at the company, not a reference for a junior employee.
  15. How will you be able to measure the ROI of the site?  You are looking for them to tell you that they use Google Analytics or other site measurement metrics. You’ll need to discuss if they will be providing on-going site measurement and recommendations.  If they are not marketers, I strongly recommend you work with a marketing agency or consultant for increased site value.

As a marketer and as a small business owner, integrity is more than simply a word – it is something live by, to follow and believe in. Integrity is one of the most vital assets I bring to the table for my clients.

Was this blog helpful?  Do you have any questions I can help you with?  Please share your questions or stories in the comments, so that others may learn from your experiences.