Thursday, July 14th marked our last official marketing class at the Startup institute Boston. Upon completion, I felt a mix of powerful emotions: satisfaction, trepidation, pride, fear… Ok, maybe not, but I will say this last class was one of our most useful of the program!
When someone hears that I’m entering the marketing field, their response typically sounds something like this: “Wow, good for you! But what exactly is marketing?” Well, as Sarah Hodges (our fantastic instructor for analytics) put it, marketing doesn’t really have a specific definition: it can be anything from creating leads to bring through the sales funnel, to doing market research and product development, to researching competitors. With such a broad range of responsibilities, it’s easy to lose track of what benefits a marketing campaign actually has. That’s where analytics come in!
Analytics is arguably the most important aspect of marketing. Without tracking results, replication, analysis, and improvement are impossible. The four key aspects of successful analytics include:
- Setting specific goals
For any marketing campaign to succeed, you need to set up a primary (and usually a secondary) goal. Without setting specific goals, there’s no objective way to measure success. Moreover, where in the sales funnel does your goal lie? Are you attempting to secure new leads, convert existing leads, or drive “Likes” on a Facebook page? Each of these goals requires a different approach and a focus on different data. Do you care about cost per acquisition, lifetime value, or any other statistic that could affect your campaign? All of these can be turned into goals, and achieving goals dictates whether or not a marketing campaign was successful.
- Using the right tools (aka Google Analytics)
Unless you’re a large corporation, chances are you want the cheapest method for tracking your website traffic. With Google Analytics, any company can enjoy free detailed statistics regarding their site.
Unique visitors, bounce rate, and visitor flow: these are all terms to know. If you don’t yet understand Google Analytics, get on it! The search giant has provided us with an invaluable tool, and you can fully manage marketing campaigns (including setting goals), track each step of the funnel, and view statistics across a variety of devices, operating systems, and more. In addition to Google, other useful analytics tools include Mixpanel, Kissgen, Hubspot, and Hootsuite. Check them all out to find the right mix for your needs!
- Measuring everything
The only way analytics are actually useful is if you measure everything. In addition to setting goals, you need to measure all other aspects of your campaign to understand the end result.
If you set a primary goal of driving 10% more in sales in Q2, but instead your sales only increase 5% and your leads increase 90%, you can use analytics to determine where in the sales funnel those leads froze. Maybe the “purchase” button on your website didn’t work, or maybe customers entered their credit card information but couldn’t enter their billing address. Without measuring everything, you would only know that you didn’t reach your sales goal, instead of troubleshooting from the exact location of the problem.
A/B testing to optimize
Can’t decide whether to use a one-liner or a full paragraph to describe your product on the home page? A/B testing has you covered! Keeping everything else exactly the same, A/B testing allows you to test a single variable to determine how well it performs.
The tests are easy to implement and much cheaper than hiring a market research firm. For smaller companies, this form of research can be a lifesaver (visit Whichtestwon.com for examples of various A/B tests.) Small details matter, and even best practices sometimes lead to worse results.
Bringing it all together
Marketing analytics does just that: brings all of the data together. You can plan the perfect campaign, but without analyzing the end result, repeating the process or improving specific aspects is impossible. Sales people like to say that marketing is useless. Analytics is where we prove our worth.