Are you in the loop when it comes to basic website analytics? Quick! – Answer the following four questions:
- Where does your website rank on Google for the top target (important) keywords?
- How many visitors came to your site last month?
- What was the conversion rate for this traffic (number of visitors who opted-in or became leads)
- Which of your lead sources generated the most customers?
Most small business owners we talk to cannot answer these most fundamental questions related to their marketing metrics (see below). Can you? Fear not, soon you’ll be able to rattle off your website analytics faster than an auctioneer on a five-hour energy drink.
The days of “spray and pray” marketing (spending thousands on un-trackable, unaccountable advertising and marketing and hoping for a result) are officially over (or they should be for your business). Given the limited marketing budgets and easy access to valuable information that are available to small business owners, we must all become metrics-based marketers. If you’ve been a follower of Geek-Free for any amount of time, you know that the core of our philosophy is that online marketing must be kept simple and actionable.
We think the best way to do this is by viewing everything you do in the simple online marketing funnel: Reach, Engagement and Conversion. This is a powerful concept, as the practice of applying every marketing-based activity to this funnel can both simplify and increase the effectiveness of your marketing. And by everything we mean blog posts, videos, directory listings and even print ads. Everything.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start by implementing a fast and simple website analytics program that’s focused on the 4 essential metrics you need to be paying attention to.
The 4 Metrics Every Small-Business Owner Must Keep Their Eyes on
If you’re new to online marketing, you may feel overwhelmed by the overflow of information that goes along with doing business in our digital world. But after a few weeks of adjustment and getting in touch with your “inner geek” (you know he or she is in there!), you’ll fall in love with metrics, because they provide immediate feedback and insight into exactly what’s working and what’s not, saving you and your business a great deal of misspent time and money.
However, until then, here are the four metrics that every local business marketer (even the most advanced) must remember:
- Visibility: Where you rank on Google for your target terms
- Traffic: How many visitors your site receives within a given month
- Conversions: How many of these visitors become leads (via phone, e-mail, or lead form) or opt-ins (newsletters, downloads, etc.)
- Sales: How many new clients (and the related dollar amount) you generate from these leads
That’s it: V-T-C-S. Of course, you can and eventually will measure dozens of data points for each of these four main phases of this basic online marketing funnel. But you’ll achieve great success if you begin with this basic version.
Visibility: What’s the Best Way to Track Your Search Engine Rankings?
You can begin to measure the success of your website by keeping track of how well it ranks on search engine results pages for different key words.
Try this: Perform a Google search for “[your business category] + [your city]“. For example: “dry cleaners Cleveland”
Where does your site show up? If you’re somewhere on the 20th page, your website needs an overhaul. If you’re on the first page on search engine rankings, you’re doing something very right. (And that pat on the back is a good idea.) What’s important is that you track your target keywords, b0th short and long tail. Knowing where you rank on Google compared to your competitors will help you understand which of your content marketing and SEO efforts are producing desirable results — and which aren’t.
To track your rankings, I recommend that you use — you guessed it — a simple Excel spreadsheet (or a Google Docs version if you prefer). Follow these steps to create a basic search engine ranking tracking tool:
- Open a new Excel (or Google Docs) spreadsheet and name it “Search Engine Rankings,” or anything you prefer.
- In the first column, list the eight to ten most important search terms, or called key words, you’d like to rank for(show up on the first page of Google).
Note: You’ll be adding to this list after we cover SEO and key word research in the next section. For now, just list the top cities and search terms you feel are most important, like so:
San Francisco law firm
Law firm in San Francisco
Bay Area Divorce Lawyer
- Perform a search on Google for these search terms and log the placement and date on your spreadsheet (see example above).
- Repeat the previous step at least once per month and note increases and decreases in your company’s rank for each important term.
Traffic- Using Google Analytics to Measure Website Traffic
Going back to the first phase of the simple online marketing funnel, Reach, traffic is the core measure of getting in front of your target audience.
With Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/analytics/), you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. What you do need to do is install a little code into your website, and then you’ll be able to log into Google to see what your site’s been up to.
If you have a WordPress site (which you should), use the Yoast Google Analytics plugin
Within about 24 hours, you’ll begin to see results about your website. If you have more than one website, you can create unique tracking codes for each one, allowing you to measure every site on its own merits (or lack thereof).
Google Analytics is an awesome tool that reveals several core metrics related to the behavior of your site visitors:
- Visits. How many times did people visit your site during a particular time period
- Page views. How many pages have your site visitors viewed
- Pages per visit. How many pages were viewed, on average, during a site visit
- Bounce rate. How many times did a visitor come to your site and then quickly “bounce” to another site? This number can seem high, because sometimes people come to a site ‘by mistake, having used the wrong search term. Or this number can signal that your key words aren’t suitable and that people are coming to your site based on key words that aren’t related to your business.
- Average time on site. How long did a person stay on your website
- Percentage of new visits. How many new visitors have come to your website during a specific time period
- Conversions. What percentage of visits turned into leads, or opt-ins (by completing a lead form on your site)
All of this information is highly valuable. It can help you create the best possible strategy for changing your website, evaluating the effects of these changes and acting on the results for better results.
Measure Conversions to Get an ROI on Your Marketing
A conversion is that awesome moment when a member of your target audience takes action! This could mean filling out a form for a consultation, joining your email list or even liking your content on Facebook (called a “micro-conversion”).
The most simple way to track conversions is by creating a “thank you” page on your site (www.yoursite.com/thank-you) and set up your web forms to drop off visitors on this page after completing a form. Then all you need to do is use the URL for the thank you page as a goal in Google analytics. Now, you’ll be able to measure the conversion rate for your website: the percentage of visitors who completed a goal.
Here’s a great article from Pat Flynn at smartpassiveincome.com on setting up conversion goals in Analytics: CLICK HERE
Measuring Sales: Which Lead Sources Are Generating Customers
Once you have a clear view of the first three phases of the basic online marketing funnel: organic search rankings, traffic and conversions, it’s important to “close the loop” on your marketing funnel and measure sales. The goal here is to track every new customer to a lead source. This way you’ll know which marketing and advertising expenses are baring fruit and should be exploited, as well as those which aren’t and need to be scrutinized, reduced or eliminated.
The following are common lead sources:
- Referrals – both online (other websites) and offline (associates, partners and clients)
- Paid campaigns -Google AdWords, Facebook or other online sources, as well as print advertising and direct mail
- Organic traffic – visits generated by searches on Google and other search engines
- Direct traffic – folks typing in your web address in browsers or clicks from email campaigns
Put a program in place to track every new customer to a lead source. Train your staff to do this and measure the results. After you’ve collected some data, revisit the numbers and devise strategies for further leveraging effective sources and troubleshooting lame ones. This is a very powerful and easy to implement strategy that’s sure to help you get way more from your online marketing programs.
Related Video: Getting Started With Google Analytics