Analytics. Data insight. Fact finding. Number crunching. Whatever you want to call it, taking a good hard look at statistics is increasingly important for marketers in the ever expanding and oversaturated digital marketing space. However, analytical data analysis isn’t for everyone and even if it is, it can be quite a complex process.
Here’s a helping hand with a two-part guide on the topic that we hope is useful to any marketers who are trying to understand how to use analytics to inform their digital marketing strategy.
In this guide, we’ll provide information so you can make smarter, more efficient marketing decisions via this scientific approach to digital marketing. First, we’ll give an overview of the subject to demonstrate why it’s so important to record and analyse your data as well as give you tips on how to find the right tool to do this. Then we will show you how to leverage your analytics to see better marketing results. Watch this space!
Choosing the right analytics tool
Why do you need to look at data?
Marketing decisions making shouldn’t be based on guess work, but rather backed by hard fact. The millions of pounds that large companies spend on marketing don’t just go on advertising and branding, they also have dedicated teams that monitor the effectiveness of their campaigns by analysing collected data. Once they have formed an evidence-based opinion on whether things are working or not, they can then use this insight to optimise their efforts and avoid wasting precious money.
However, you don’t need to have a whole team of analysts to make smart, data-led decisions and see a better return on your investment. What you do need is a good, analytics tool and an understanding of what you’re looking at. But don’t worry, we can help there.
Google Analytics is not the only option…
How do we get to the right data and interpret it? The mistake many marketers make is simply installing Google Analytics and thinking the job is done. While Google’s platform is certainly the most popular analytic tool (it’s free and very easy to use), there are other options available that might be more appropriate. Alternatives such as HubSpot’s integrated analytics or standalone tools such as Mixpanel are all available to use but they vary in price, complexity, and functionality so it’s best to do your research before committing to one.
We could spend an entire blog post discussing each of these tools but we know you’re busy people so here’s a brief overview of what’s on offer:
- Web analytics: Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics
- App analytics: MixPanel, Amplitude
- Social media analytics: Hootsuite, Buffer or social media platforms themselves
- Advertising analytics: WordStream, Funnel, AdWords’ inbuilt analytics
- Heatmaps: Clicky, Crazy Egg
- Business intelligence tools: Qlik Sense, Sisense
- Integrated solutions: Hubspot Analytics
- SEM tools: SEMrush, Moz, Google Search Console, similar Web
- A/B testing tools: VWO, Optimizely
An impressive list, isn’t it? So how do you work out which particular tool (or combination of tools) is right for your business?
1. Decide what’s important
Before you commit to a tool, make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your analytics. The best way to do this is take some time clarifying your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to determine what metrics matter the most to you, and what data you’ll need to see in order to evaluate your marketing performance.
If the goal of your website is getting people to contact you, you’ll need an analytics tool that will tell you exactly how many people have submitted a contact form or clicked on your email address. If, on the other hand, you want people to make a purchase online, you will need one to track purchases and assign a value to these so you can analyse which of your marketing campaigns are earning you the most money.
2. Keep it simple
If your current analytics needs are basic then you don’t need to pay for a complete business intelligence programme. These tools can be complicated and there will without doubt be a learning curve, so you might want to pick a solution and invest in a tool that will help meet your present requirements but also has the potential to support your product’s future growth. That being said, do not pay for a tool if it’s not the right solution for you at this moment in time. Ultimately, you want to access the appropriate data that will help you optimise your existing marketing campaigns, not your “one day” campaigns.
3. Don’t be afraid to switch
Moving between analytics tools might seem like a terrifying prospect but if you find a more appropriate tool, it makes all the sense in the world to switch rather than stick with something that’s not quite working. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to download and keep all of your historic data so nothing will be lost. This process will also be a good opportunity to re-evaluate your KPIs if you haven’t done so in a while.
4. Take the time to learn
Many people are under the illusion that installing their analytics tracking code is the only task they need to complete. Sadly, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s so important to customise the chosen tool to meet your needs – setting up events, conversions and goals so that you can put your data into context and get the most value from it. Make sure you spend the necessary time getting to know your analytics tool inside and out so you can be sure it’s working as hard as possible for you.
Now that you have a better understanding as to why you should be tracking what people are doing on your website and how to go about it, it’s time to find out exactly how this data you gather can be used to gain insight about your audience in order to create effective marketing campaigns.
Once you’ve set up and customised your chosen analytics platform(s), you’ll have a load of lovely data at your fingertips. That’s a great first step but what on earth do you then do with it.
Using the data, many analytics tools offer valuable insight into your users, enabling you to understand the following:
- WHO is using your product, including their location, age range and gender
- HOW they are accessing it -what device or operating system they are using
- WHERE they’re coming from -referrals, social media, organic search, direct
- WHAT they’re looking at – which pages or blog posts are getting the most engagement
- WHEN they’re active – is it during working hours, in the evenings or at the weekend?
You can then build up a more accurate picture of the type of person (or groups of people) that are using your website or app. Create a profile of your ideal customer and identify what will resonate with them most by testing out various marketing approaches and content.
Monitoring your campaigns
Marketing is all about experimenting; seeing what works and what should be avoided in the future. Therefore, it is really important to have a good understanding of stats and data for monitoring each of your campaigns.
We recommend planning a clear conversion path that you hope users will take during each campaign and customise this where possible.
A good example of customisation is to create specific landing pages for individual campaigns and monitoring the traffic to these, whilst at the same time personalising the content depending upon customer persona or the visitors stage in their buyer journey.
Tracking inbound visitors
Modern analytics technology allows you to get pretty granular in terms of how people are responding to your marketing. For example, you can pair Google Tag Manager with your Google Analytics profile so you know when people are clicking on CTA buttons or filling out online forms. You can even add campaign parameters to your URLs so you can track them more easily in your analytics tool.
Although Google Analytics does a fantastic job of showing you how many people followed a campaign link or clicked to watch a promotional video, there are marketing-focused tools, such as Hubspot, that go into even greater depth, allowing you to specifically monitor the success of your content marketing, social media, SEO and lead nurturing strategies.
If you’re committed to tracking your marketing from start to finish, it may be worth investing in a tool like Hubspot so that your data has as much context surrounding it as possible and you can better gauge the impact of your efforts. We use Hubspot and for us it’s certainly been worth the investment for a tool that gets us the exact data we need. Having everything in one place really is a revelation for anyone handling digital marketing.
Carrying out testing
Using A/B testing tools, you can create different versions of a page or element and test out their effectiveness against each another. This is a great way of not only seeing which design people prefer, but also seeing what language they respond to better.
For example, you could create a second landing page that’s completely identical except the phrasing of the call to action – one option could be friendly and relaxed whilst the other is more urgent. Testing out the wording will then help you understand what tone of voice works best for your target audience.
There are tools that carry out this function specifically, such as VWO and Optimizely, or you could use a complete solution like Hubspot to ensure that the data captured links in to your wider analytics too.
Monitoring and reporting
As mentioned in Part One of our Analytics post, it is essential to define your KPIs first so you know what’s important to you. These should be used to set targets in line with your business growth goals so that you can review the performance against each of these.
Let’s turn this into an example to help explain what we mean.
- You want to make a recurring monthly revenue of £10,000 from your online product by the end of the year.
- The average customer spend per month is £100 so you’ll need to find a total of 1,000 customers by this time.
- You start the year with just 500 customers so you’ll have to attract an average of nearly 42 new customers every single month.
So, what does this look like in terms of your marketing efforts? If your current conversion rate from site visit to signed-up customer is 5%, then each month you’ll need to bring in 840 unique visitors. Make sense?
Although it’s likely to be a tad more complicated than that due to growth rates and so on, looking at your metrics in this way should give you a clearer understanding of where you are now versus where you want to be, and an appreciation of what your marketing will need to achieve to get you there.
Analytics, measure against specific SMART goals give you an accurate picture of how you’re doing every month, offering you the necessary detail to produce progress reports for your stakeholders. Most tools will offer a download function so you can have a play with your data and some provide good visualisation options so you can make graphs that can be interpreted quickly.
It’s important to view marketing as a science and therefore a strong analytics setup will enable you to learn from your data and allow you to make smarter decisions. Following a cycle of ‘monitor, analyse, act and repeat’ will lead to more effective, evidence-based campaigns:
- Monitor the important metrics in line with your KPIs
- Analyse the data to better understand what users are doing
- Act on your findings, using your new knowledge and insight to optimise campaigns
- Repeat the cycle with each successive campaign
There is an abundance of analytics tools out there, which we realise can be overwhelming and difficult to know which one is right for you, but if you’re willing to put in the legwork, the investment can lead to more effective marketing and a higher ROI. The best marketing campaigns are built on a solid foundation of data, so it’s important to make sure you have a strong understanding of how to access this information and how to leverage it for the greater good of your business.