img source: pixabay.com
Nowadays, digital presence is a must for any business. The importance of being where our customers are is broadly understood and taken advantage of. After all, “in the first quarter of 2008, Facebook was used by approximately 100 million users, but in the 2014’s fourth quarter the amount of Facebook users rose to 1393 million people“. (Statista, 2014) So now, even the smallest bistro in countryside has a website and Facebook page. But most of them have no idea how important this tools for their business performance and growth are.
It wouldn’t be right to say that there are businesses that do not evaluate their marketing activities. Every businessman has a good look in their financial performance and can draw the line from this numbers to marketing activities in particular time segment. Indeed, the financial performance and market share are the most common marketing goals within small businesses. Nevertheless, this marketing evaluation is not sufficient for defining which investments were more successful and which less, and setting up the next strategies.
The digital activities have a great strength, that they are easily trackable. To get the statistics from your website, social media and digital campaign is very easy and costs usually just a little of your time. To compare, to get at least a rough idea of a billboard reach, you need a person, who would sit the whole day next to the billboard with a clicker and count the cars which drive along. And even then you are not able to define, how many people read your message and how many of them did the action you wanted them to (e.g. purchase the product). In the digital world, this metrics are accessible any time and are perfectly accurate.
Let’s say we are conducting an event. We created a microsite where the tickets are to purchase, we run the Facebook page and event, create the posts, are present on twitter and Instagram and even invest some money in sponsoring on social media and google ads. After all, we can evaluate the event by the number of guests and tickets sold. However, to be able to evaluate our investments and each activity itself, we need to go further. And this is even more important, when the sales are not our only marketing goal. In this case, it could be for example brand building and awareness, so we will increase the probability of a success of our next event.
“Multi-dimensional nature of brand equity demands multidimensional measures, i.e. not just financial. Furthermore, managers need to be able to relate short term measures with the long-term.„ (Ambler 2008)
So how we can evaluate the success of the campaign and each used tool separately and how we monitor our online marketing performance over the time?
Every external tool (social media, google ads) has its own statistics build in. For example, if you create a sponsored post on Facebook, you are able to see, how many people saw the post naturally, how much of it you paid for, how many people click on the link and how many of them shared it. However, in the moment, they enter your website, you lose the track of them. Here is important to know about Google Analytics (GA) and its great benefits.
1. Knowing your basic metrics
The most basic information you can extract from GA, is how many users visit your website, how many pages they go through, how much time they spend in there and how often or if they come back. You can then compare it to your goals and see, if the performance is sufficient, or you need to do some adjustments. For example, if you have a certain amount of text on one page, which you want the users to read, you can set approximate time needed to finish the reading and compare it to the time spend on your page. If the time spent on this page is smaller, you know, that the text is not being read at all, or the users leave somewhere in the middle. Therefore, you are able to define the problem and ideally fix it as soon as possible.
“Since digital mediums do not have the advantage of physically reaching out to its audience, losing a potential customer is literally just one click away.“ (Thrasher 2011)
The bounce rate is an interesting one – it shows the percentage of users, who leave your website immediately after entering it. If your website does include more, than one page, or it is not a blog, high bouncing rate (usually above 60-65%) indicates a problem to be solved. The example below is one page website, therefore in this case, the bouncing rate is all right.
img source: personal GA account
2. Knowing your audience
When exploring GA more, you can find more useful tools for defining your audience and its behaviour. You can see, where the users come from (google search, different websites or social media), what exactly they do on your website and in what point they are leaving.
3. Evaluating your external activities
While, how we mentioned above, the external tools, such as Facebook and google ads, have their own built-in statistics tools, you can easily monitor your website users, who came through these mediums, separately. Moreover, you are able to monitor the visitors regarding each post or link you put on the internet. Using UTM codes, you can define source, medium and campaign of the link, you are using (for example in one particular Instagram post) and see the metrics of visitors, who clicked on this particular link. This tool is helpful when evaluating the digital marketing activities, their performance and success, but also in further decision making (by defining what works better). Additionally, you can even use GA to help evaluate your offline campaigns, for example, when running TV ad with link on your website for more information, you can watch the real-time statistics of your website, to see, how many people actually come to your page while the commercial is running.
4. Meeting your goals
Every marketing activity starts with a goal. In your website, it can be the purchase of your product, filling up the registration form or many more. Coming back to our example of conducting event, our goal is to sell the tickets through our website. In GA, meeting such goals is easily trackable. It has a special tool, where you can set your goals – for example, we can set the goal as the visit of our thank you page, which appears after purchase. After adjusting the settings, we are able to track how many people finish this step and also where they came from by filtering them through media, sources and categories, we may have specified in our UTM codes.
5. Evaluation and monitoring
GA is a great little helper not just for evaluation of certain marketing campaign or activity, but also for long term monitoring of your website performance and goal completing. You can easily and quickly compare the data with previous time frames (e.g. March vs. April 2016 or April ’15 vs April ‘16). This monitoring can become a key foundation to your further decision making.
The best news for small businesses – GA is free. It costs just a little of your time to set up your account and collect the data. All you need to do to start is to copy a piece of code into your website backend (which takes approximately one minute) and it starts counting. And it is not just any freeware – GA is so professional while user friendly, that it is used by most of the big names of business, you can think of.
Author: Katarina Kopecka
Google Analytics – https://www.google.com/analytics/
Ambler, T, Roberts, JH (2008). Assessing marketing performance: Don’t settle for a silver metric. Journal of Marketing Management, 24 (7/8), 733-750.
Statista. (2014). Number of Monthly Active Facebook Users Worldwide 2008 – 2014. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-ofmonthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/
Salam, A, Bushra J (2015). Website Appeal: Development of an Assessment Tool and Evaluation Framework of E-Marketing. Journal of Theoretical & Applied Electronic Commerce Research, 10 (3), 45-62.
Skulme, R, Praude, V (2016). Social Media Evaluation Metrics. Oeconomia Copernicana, 7(1), 131-142.
Thrasher, JF, Huang, L, Pérez-Hernández, R, Niederdeppe, J, Arillo-Santillán, E, Alday, J (2011). Evaluation of a social marketing campaign to support Mexico City’s comprehensive smoke-free law. American Journal of Public Health, 101(2), 328-335.