Analytics and Reports
After all the time and effort you put into a great website, social media, reputation management and offline branding you need to know if you are making money from your efforts. There are lots of different ways to look at this, but they all start with a good foundation and honest analysis. You start with a basic financial tracking plan. Even if this is just a spreadsheet with your monthly gross income, the number of customers you sign up, your advertising budget and the actual amount spent on each ad medium. Obviously there are many other factors in determining a profitable business, but let’s focus on a profitable marketing campaign first. You should start tracking this data even before your website goes live and make benchmark notes as you add or edit your marketing plan. These benchmarks give you a basic idea of how your marketing is producing. As you really get cooking there are many contacted customer management programs you can use to track prospects to customer conversions based on the type of ad they responded to. These programs allow you to trace prospect history, their cost per acquisition and allow you to market to them in the future. Many of these programs allow you to nurture the prospect until they sign up and are a great tool for completing the conversion. They also integrate with website and advertising analytics. Of course these programs require a diligent intake process, continued follow up and data mining. So let’s stick with our basic tracking and analytics for now. There are several free programs that provide code you put on your website to count traffic, track visitors and monitor there progression all the way through completing a form mailer or making a call if you use a trackable number. The various paid ad platforms, such as Google Adwords, provide sufficient information to get your costs, clicks, impressions and other key performance indicators. You should review these reports monthly and add the data to your spreadsheet, along with the other information you are tracking and voilà – you have a very basic report indicating whether or not your advertising is paying off. With this information you can calculate cost per acquisition versus cost per contact and make adjustments accordingly.
All of this information is just scratching the surface of an effective small business marketing plan. As stated in beginning the purpose of this information is to give you enough knowledge and ideas that you can create an outline for your business and to research and discuss the various concepts. If there is one common theme you may have noticed, it is that there are companies out there that will handle every aspect of your online and offline marketing. Hopefully by reading this you have enough information at the 30,000 foot level to smell a bad sales pitch and find a great company. If all of this does seem like too much and you do decide to hire someone to handle part, or all of your marketing, remember, no one can promise that you will be number one in the search engine results unless they are talking about paid ads, and if that is their pitch – watch your wallet. No one can remove bad reviews and no one has an insider a Google, Yahoo or Bing. An honest and reputable company will share their customer list, have a reasonable contract and can easily explain their strategy for helping you achieve your goals. There is no magic wand you can wave once to make your online presence create money. It takes time and energy effective offline branding and consistent monitoring. Hopefully you now understand how all the moving parts of a successful small business marketing plan work together and independently, coexisting to support and build the brand you want to be. From your letterhead to your reports a profitable advertising campaign is achievable with a little knowledge, sweat equity and some friendly guidance. Good luck and don’t fear technology – put it to work for your business.