The daunting task of marketing a product or service becomes much less intimidating when broken down into two areas: tools and strategy. Many entrepreneurs have revealed that the key to a successful marketing strategy is choosing the right marketing tool to master. Once you know which marketing tool has the highest success rate with your target audience, you can design a strategy based on that tool’s best practices.
Some of the most popular marketing channels for small businesses include Google AdWords, email marketing, and of course, social media. All types of customers use at least one social network, and they use it quite often. Despite the incredible potential of social media marketing, it is still fairly inexpensive compared to other tools. If used correctly, social media can revolutionize your customer base for minimal cost.
Today’s shoppers are also more likely to discover information on their mobile devices than their desktops. If most of your target audience are heavy smartphone users, you must optimize your digital marketing strategies accordingly.
In part two of our business marketing guide, we’ll answer the following questions and more:
- What Are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?
- How Do You Develop a Social Media Marketing Strategy?
- What Are the Best Social Media Platforms for Small Businesses?
- What Is Post Boosting on Facebook?
- How Is Mobile Marketing Different Than Digital Marketing?
- What Are the Advantages of Mobile Marketing?
- What Are the Best Mobile Marketing Channels?
- How Do Businesses Build Email Lists?
- What Are the Benefits of Business Blogging?
- What Are the Best Web Analytics Tools for Businesses?
- Which Metrics Can Web Analytics Tools Track?
- How Do Businesses Perform Customer Surveys?
What Is Post Boosting on Facebook?
Post boosting is merely paying to have your post appear more often on people’s feeds. They don’t even need to like your page to see your posts. You can target your audience based on their interests, demographics (age, relationship status, etc.), and even behaviors (likely to purchase a Toyota in the next 160 days, for example). If you’d rather not get into that, or you think targeting your followers and their friends would be more productive, then there is an option for that as well.
You can boost most posts you create on your Page, including status updates, photos, videos, and offers. Posts you boost will appear higher in the News Feed to help more people see them and may also appear on Instagram. Keep in mind that boosted posts must follow Facebook’s Advertising Policies.
When You Create a Boosted Post on Facebook:
- How much money you will be putting in
- How long the ad will run
- The audience to promote to
- Payment method
You receive data on:
- The number of people who viewed your ad
- The average amount of times someone saw your ad
- How many times people clicked on your ad
- How many times people interacted with your ad (comments, shares, tags, etc.)
When Should You Boost?
Try to put yourself in the mind of your target customer. If you are a restaurant, think, “What time of the day would people want me the most?” And when it comes to food, it’s pretty safe to say that breakfast, lunch, and dinner times would be the best. Always start with your consumer’s wants and base your strategy around that.
What Should Your Budget be for Boosting Posts?
Even with something as small as 10-20 dollars a post, you could drastically change how many people see your content. Even with as little as five dollars, you could reach thousands of people on a low level. The key is to make sure you are targeting the right people.
How Can You Measure Performance?
Most forms of advertising, unless there’s a specific sales promotion, take months to see any sort of difference in return. That’s why many people have specific call-to-actions (CTAs) to promote a short-term behavior change (as opposed to a long-term change in attitude). For example, you could have in your ad, “mention Facebook to get a 20% discount!”
Promoting Your Page
Another way to increase your reach when posting on Facebook is to get page “likes” or “followers”. This works in the same way as an email subscription. If someone likes your page, they’ll have a higher chance of seeing your page’s content without the aid of boosting. Also, as crazy as this might sound, it’s almost like a little popularity contest. Pages with more likes and followers simply look more reputable. And in a time where people trust consumer reviews and virtually complete strangers more than advertisements, it’s worth putting time and money into. Check out your competition’s pages to see if you can at least set a goal to match.
Whatever that goal might be, the most effective way to increase the number of followers you have is to use the “Promote Page” function. This is separate from boosting posts and very effective in increasing your social media page’s visibility and functionality. Measuring the performance of this is as simple as tracking the number of new followers you get.
Above all, the longer you wait to implement this type of promotion, the more business you are missing out on. Start promoting your business’ social media presence before it’s too late, and the train has left.
Social Media Marketing Calendar
Marketing is an endless battle. It doesn’t matter how many goals you hit because there’s always bigger goals to strive for. And if you hit your goals and slow down your social media campaigns, your customer base could dwindle just as quickly as it grew.
You can avoid this outcome by sticking to a social media calendar or posting schedule. An example could be posting twice per day on one network and once per day on another. Once you find a frequency that effectively brings you closer to your goals, you should probably stick to that frequency until your data tells you otherwise.
Entrepreneurs are usually too busy to maintain their social media calendars manually. This is why most social networks have a feature that allows you to schedule posts for the coming days, weeks, or even months.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could create and schedule posts for all of your social networks in just one place? This is the primary purpose of social media management tools. We’ll go over the most popular management tools in the next section:
What are the Best Social Media Management Tools?
Social media management tools prevent you from logging on to a different network to post and schedule content. Instead, you can just open one platform to manage every account. Depending on the plan you choose, the platform could also provide meaningful analytics about different performance measurements.
Hootsuite is the most popular social media management platform, largely because it was the first of its kind to become a household name. Hootsuite’s user interface has a dashboard layout, where you can view streams from multiple networks simultaneously.
In addition to the five aforementioned social networks, you can manage WordPress blogs, Mailchimp, Evernote, and more. You can also monitor what people are saying about your business on social media and instantly respond to inquiries or comments.
If you’re going to be the only person using Hootsuite, it costs as little as $19 per month. The plan starts at $129 per month for multiple users, and you get to manage up to 20 social media accounts. Hootsuite’s delegating and messaging features make it particularly appealing for teams. You can assign tasks (i.e., responding to comments) to team members, who can also send private messages to each other.
2. Sprout Social
While Hootsuite is tailored to medium to large-sized businesses, Sprout Social is much more ideal for smaller businesses with smaller budgets. If you’re the only user, you can get access to nearly all of Sprout Social’s features for as little as $99 per month. This includes tools for publishing, engagement, monitoring, and social listening. You can easily track important metrics like reach, impressions, conversions, and audience growth.
If you’re unsure when to schedule your posts, Sprout Social’s algorithm can determine the most optimal days and times. The Corporate package for multiple users starts at $149 per month.
If you’re simply looking for the cheapest platform, your best bet is probably Buffer. For just $15 a month, you get access to Buffer’s publishing, scheduling, and analytics features. Buffer’s user interface is also straightforward to navigate, regardless of the data you’re looking for.
What Is Mobile Marketing?
The differences between mobile marketing and traditional digital marketing aren’t exactly clear. If you already have digital campaigns running, you may just need to optimize your strategies for mobile devices.
This section will explain the core elements of an effective mobile marketing strategy and how to develop and implement the right mobile marketing strategy for your audience.
But first, let’s go over why mobile marketing is so advantageous and important for small businesses in 2020.
How Is Mobile Marketing Different Than Digital Marketing?
Mobile marketing is a digital marketing form that aims to connect with specific audiences through smartphones or tablets. A mobile marketing strategy can involve many mobile channels or ways that brands connect with their audiences through mobile devices. Examples of mobile channels include text messages, mobile apps, email, or social media.
Though the latter two channels can also be accessed through your desktop, they can appear differently on your mobile device. And anytime you see an advertisement while scrolling through any web page (be it a website or social media) on your smartphone, that technically counts as mobile marketing.
What Are the Advantages of Mobile Marketing?
Mobile ad spending is predicted to increase over the coming years steadily. Soon, mobile ad spending could very well surpass the amount of money businesses spend on all other forms of advertising combined.
This wouldn’t happen if businesses from countless industries didn’t see real results from mobile marketing strategies. Here are a few reasons why mobile marketing has been so successful:
1. Highly Targeted Campaigns
Digital marketing, in general, is much more targeted than traditional marketing tactics, like television or billboards. You can control what kind of people see your advertisements when they see them and through which channels. Certain forms of mobile marketing require personal information like the user’s email address, phone number, and to download your business’s mobile app. The relinquishment of this personal information denotes a heightened interest in your business. For this reason, mobile marketing is considered a highly targeted marketing tactic.
2. High Intent Users
Research has found that compared to desktop users, mobile users are less likely to use their devices for casual browsing. If someone uses a smartphone to search for a product or service, they are probably very interested in that offering. This suggests that mobile marketing ads are less likely to go ignored, especially on search engines. Thus, mobile marketing ads are often designed to catch users’ eyes ready to make a purchase.
Since mobile marketing strategies are highly targeted, the content of your ads can be much more personal. When mobile users see your ads, that’s the only thing in front of them at that moment. Mobile ads should feel like a direct interaction between you and your audience. Your messaging can speak to them as if they are already interested in your business instead of a complete stranger who has never heard of you.
3. Rapid Data Collection
Earlier, we noted that successful digital marketing strategies revolve around audience data. With mobile marketing, you can obtain this data very quickly. For example, if you send an email, the user will either open it or scroll past it and forget about it. The same concept can be applied to text messages and social media ads. You can quickly tell how receptive users are to each channel. If someone doesn’t reply to your text, it’s probably because that user never replies to texts from businesses at all.
4. Ads Take Less Time To Produce
Mobile marketing ads are short and sweet because they appear on small screens. That means shorter copy, smaller images, and shorter videos. While it’s perfectly understandable to take your time figuring out what to say in your ads, the ads’ actual creation won’t take long.
5. More Shareable Content
Mobile marketing strategies often target social networks like Facebook or Instagram. This is because a great deal of activity on these networks is performed on mobile devices. One of the many advantages of social media marketing is the ability to share content easily. The heightened social media activity on mobile devices suggests that mobile users are more likely to share content than desktop users.
6. Mobile-Friendly Websites Rank Highly On Google
Mobile-friendly websites are more likely to rank highly on Google when a mobile user performs a search. Such websites load very quickly on mobile devices and are easy to navigate.
Creating a Mobile Marketing Strategy
With most other types of marketing, the first step is outlining your goals. But remember: mobile marketing strategies are highly targeted. So, before outlining your goals, you must first establish the specifics of your target audience. The size and preferences of your target audience will determine the most logical goals for your campaign.
Determine Your Target Audience
Mobile marketing strategies are highly targeted because they require more information about your target audience than the basics, i.e., age range, gender, education, or income level. It’s time to learn more: How do members of your target audience use their mobile devices?
Using resources like Google Analytics and online surveys, you must essentially figure out the role mobile devices play in your audience’s life. Do they use their mobile devices primarily for social media, checking email, shopping, etc.? How often does a member of your audience make purchases on a mobile device?
This information should ultimately give you an idea of how receptive your audience will be to your mobile ads.
Establish Your Mobile Marketing Goals
Though your long-term goal is to increase sales, you need to set smaller, short-term goals to get closer to this objective. Common examples of mobile marketing KPIs include attaining a certain amount of shares, comments, impressions, or link clicks within a certain time frame.
It’s up to you to use audience data to determine which KPIs will most effectively move you closer to your long-term goal of increasing sales.
For example, let’s say your data says that website visitors who access your website through social media ads are more likely to become paying customers. In this case, a sensible KPI would be increasing website visitors from social media ads. What can you do to reach that KPI? Maybe you should optimize your social media ads for mobile and improve your CTA (call to action). The time of the day when mobile users see your ads and the number of times they see them may be huge factors. So, maybe you should schedule the ads at different intervals and frequencies. You could also test out multiple versions of your ad with different CTAs or other content.
What Are the Best Mobile Marketing Channels?
Several marketing channels can be optimized to appear more engaging when viewed on mobile devices. As we established in the previous section, the channels you choose to optimize should be based on what you already know about your audience’s preferences. If it’s successful on a desktop, it should probably be optimized for mobile.
However, virtually all businesses should have a mobile-friendly website, regardless of their standard website’s conversion rate. Here are the various mobile channels you can market through:
1. Mobile-Friendly Website
Mobile-friendly websites load quickly and flow smoothly on mobile devices. Users can easily find the information they need and scroll up and down without the content getting jumbled together. Depending on your audience, the lack of a mobile-friendly website could be a deal-breaker.
By definition, a website is considered “mobile-friendly” if each page’s content fits the screen of a mobile device. The user doesn’t have to scroll side-to-side or zoom in to read the copy. You can test your website’s mobile capacity with Google’s mobile-friendliness calculator.
Email is considered a mobile marketing channel because an increasing amount of mobile users rarely check their email on their desktop. The majority of your audience could very well belong to that group. Thus, your marketing emails must be designed to enable the same advantages of a mobile-friendly website, like the time it takes for the email to load. Using too many images could slow down your message’s load speed.
It’s also recommended to use buttons instead of links since the former is much easier to click on from a touch screen. Other factors include the placement of your CTA and the landing page connected to your buttons. Your CTA should be situated in the top half of the email so that users don’t have to scroll down to see it. These clicks are useless, however, if your landing page is not mobile-friendly.
As for the content itself, you won’t know what your audience prefers without sufficient data. You can obtain this information through A/B testing, in which you test different versions of the same email. Most email marketing services have A/B testing features that track the success of each version.
3. Text Messages: SMS
There are two types of text messages for mobile marketing: SMS and MMS. SMS stands for “short messaging service” because it has a 160-character limit per text, whereas MMS texts have no limit.
Before we explain how to structure each type, it’s important to remember that you must always seek permission from mobile users before sending texts. Each message should also present the option to opt-out of future messages.
The shortened length of SMS provides an opportunity to use highly personal and straightforward language. This means no slang terms or abbreviations since they make your business look sketchy when appearing via text. The reason for your text should also be obvious at the beginning of the message. Most mobile users probably subscribe to the notion that if a business is going to make an effort to text them, it better be about something special.
And unlike emails or social media ads, mobile users are not accustomed to ignoring text messages. It’s only in our nature to open them. So, if you structure your messages correctly, SMS could be one of your business’s most successful marketing channels.
4. Text Messages: MMS
Length is not the only difference between SMS and MMS, or “multimedia messaging service.” As the name denotes, MMS messages can include various forms of media like images and videos. The additional content gives you more room to showcase the elements of your brand identity. It also offers more ways for mobile users to engage with the message. MMS messages typically present the option to share the accompanying image, video, or GIF.
5. Mobile Ads: Banner, Native, Display, Etc.
There are several types of mobile ads, like banner ads, video ads, native ads, or display ads. What makes most types of mobile ads different than others is that they appear alongside other content. The user sees mobile ads when they are watching a video or looking at a web page.
It takes time to figure out which type of mobile ad has the best chance of success with your audience. Then, you have to figure out how to structure the ad and which users to target. This is why many companies outsource mobile ads to private digital marketing agencies rather than handling it themselves.
6. Social Media
Social media is like email in that most social media activity takes place on mobile devices. To optimize social media ads for mobile users, follow the same rules for mobile-friendly emails and web content: shorter posts, images that load quickly on mobile devices, and mobile-friendly landing pages.
Video content has proven to be the most successful type of social media ad. Like the other channels, video content on social media should be short, straightforward, and personal. Mobile users shouldn’t have to watch the whole video to conclude that this business aligns with their interests.
7. Your Business’s Mobile App
Your data may tell you that mobile marketing deserves the bulk of your total marketing budget because your audience is heavy mobile users. For this reason, it might make sense to invest in a mobile application for your business. Mobile apps can serve several purposes, like simplifying access to your products, soliciting engagement, and of course, obtaining more data.
The type of app depends on your primary goal. Are you trying to drive sales or just draw more attention to your business? In the latter case, your app should ask the user to provide background information in exchange for content related to their additional interests.
Mobile apps can also turn leads into customers through their notification function, which can involve push notifications and in-app notifications:
What are Push Notifications?
Push notifications appear on a mobile user’s home screen, regardless of whether your app is opened. This makes them look very similar to text messages, and we’ve already touched on the natural tendency to open texts rather than ignore them.
After downloading your app, users have the choice to opt-in or out of push notifications. Heavy mobile users are typically opt-in.
The content of the notification depends on your app’s goals. If your app is trying to drive sales, your notifications might feature reminders or promotions. If your app is more about providing content, your notifications might feature something funny or educational.
While push notifications appear on the home screen, in-app notifications appear when users are using your app. Someone who is using your app is interested in your business, right? In-app notifications capitalize on this interest by promoting new app features, new releases, or the latest news about your business in general.
Mobile Marketing Tips
A successful mobile marketing strategy doesn’t just do the bare minimum. Many businesses were only able to reach their mobile marketing goals after implementing additional resources to maximize the effectiveness of specific channels.
The following tips may help you better serve your audience’s preferences:
1. Create Different Ads for Different Devices
Smartphone users tend to have different preferences than tablet users. So, when reviewing performance data from campaigns, make sure to distinguish users based on the device. This will allow you to create different campaigns (or make various optimizations) for each user type. If you treat all users the same, you could end up wasting money on ads that are performing well on one device but doing poorly on another.
2. Click to Call Buttons
Landing pages play a significant role in the success of various mobile marketing channels. In addition to being mobile-friendly, it might be in your best interest to feature a click-to-call button on these web pages. The user can simply tap the button to call your business. Remember: Mobile users are considered “high intent” because their behavior denotes heightened interest. Click-to-call buttons are just another way to capitalize on the high likelihood that this user is ready to make a purchase.
3. Enable Voice Search Queries
Voice recognition technology is often said to be the future of marketing. Think about how your customers phrase common questions about your industry or the questions they might ask to find a business like yours. One example might be, “How much does __ cost?” Then, put these questions into your mobile content. This will increase your business’s likelihood of showing up when a smartphone user tries to find your business via voice search.
How Do Businesses Build Email Lists?
Email continues to offer the best ROI of all marketing channels, and it should be one of the top priorities for any digital marketer. Growing your email list gives you more opportunities to convert subscribers and move them through the sales cycle.
4 Reasons to Build an Email List
It can be tough to generate growth on your email list, but you’ll reach your marketing goals if you consistently refine your strategies and find ways to differentiate your brand from the competition. This section will cover everything marketers need to know about how to build an email list:
1. Maintaining Control Over Your Contacts and Community
Email contacts are some of the most valuable digital marketing leads, as this audience has already demonstrated an interest in your brand. Email marketing is your chance to develop long-term customer relationships and build brand loyalty.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why email marketing offers so many unique benefits. Instead of focusing on moving each target down the funnel, you can experiment with different content types and prioritize engagement over clicks.
2. Subscribers Manifest Interest in Your Brand
An extensive email list sounds nice, but the truth is that quality is what sets email audiences apart. Marketers should review their lists at least annually to identify and delete superfluous subscribers.
Some marketers try to grow their email lists by purchasing leads, but these contacts are almost always low-quality. Organic leads, on the other hand, have allowed you to contact them personally. Considering how many emails most of us already receive, subscribing to your newsletter shows sincere interest in your products.
3. Email is a Very Easy Way to Reach Customers
Compared to social media, email gives you much more control over the marketing process. It’s the most direct form of digital marketing, and most subscribers check their email more often than social media. Growing your email list should be one of your top marketing priorities.
The bottom line is that email works, and its ROI is the best of all digital marketing channels at 4000 percent. It converts subscribers at an extremely high rate, and email marketing is typically cheaper than running ads on a search engine or social media platform.
6 Tactics for Building an Email List
Most businesses use at least one of the following strategies to build their email lists:
1. Place Forms on Your Site
Businesses can use various forms to increase subscriptions, including opt-in forms, exit-intent popups, and landing pages. These give users the chance to subscribe to your newsletter while browsing your site, and they’re the top source of email list growth for many companies.
2. Provide an Incentive
Most internet users feel that they already have enough subscriptions, so you need to offer unique value to increase your sign-up rate. An effective lead magnet gets readers interested and convinces them to subscribe to your email newsletter.
Some of the most common types of lead magnets include e-books, guides, gifts, and discounts. Once they accept the lead magnet, you can re-target them later on and attempt to keep them engaged with your brand. Create landing pages dedicated to your lead magnet to maximize subscriptions and start the customer journey with a positive interaction.
3. Target Forms and Landing Pages for Relevancy
Some online popups are invasive and annoying, but personalized, relevant popups can greatly increase conversions and subscriptions. More static forms and landing pages are also most effective when used with specific audience segments. Many businesses offer exclusive discounts to new subscribers to drive sign-ups and grow their email lists.
Instead of showing a popup when users first access your site, set up exit-intent popups to display before leaving. Tailor each popup based on customer data, including the referral source, intent to purchase, and the page they’re currently viewing. This will keep their interest for a few seconds longer and make them more likely to stay engaged with your brand beyond the initial visit.
4. Host a Giveaway
Giveaways are one of the most powerful methods of increasing outreach, and they’re especially effective on social media. Your current subscribers will share the giveaway with their friends, offering the same free awareness you can get with referral rewards. Facebook and Instagram are the most common platforms for giveaways.
It’s critical to come up with a giveaway prize that matches your brand’s value. If you focus on pet products, for example, the award should be intended for pet owners—the more effectively you target your audience, the more sales you’ll make on each giveaway.
5. Leverage Referral Programs
User referrals are essentially free word of mouth advertising for your brand, and the cost of referral rewards is relatively affordable compared to the price of acquiring a new customer. Don’t underestimate the impact of a strong referral program on your email list.
Companies often provide small incentives to both the original customer and the referral to find new customers. Even a minor benefit will convince many of your existing customers to refer friends and family members. Offers like free shipping and discounts also bring users back to your store and extend the customer relationship.
6. Obtain Addresses at Point of Sale
Email lists are mostly grown online, but this isn’t the only way to get in touch with new subscribers. Offline list building can be just as effective as a landing page on your website.
If you run a physical location, give customers the option to subscribe at the point of sale. Let them know the benefits of joining your list and make the process easy to complete in just a few seconds. You can also print out business cards and give them to potential contacts.
Building an email list should be one of your main goals as a digital marketer, and these tips will help you reach your targets. Remember to evaluate your strategies and look for ways to grow continually—the best marketers are always getting better.
What Are the Benefits of Business Blogging?
Much like email marketing, blogging has become an essential tool for businesses looking to spread brand awareness, build brand authority, and increase website traffic. Achieving these objectives ultimately leads to an increase in high quality leads due to the connection these potential customers have developed with your business.
Here are four significant benefits of blogging:
The more content your company’s website produces, the more likely potential customers will stumble upon it via search engines. According to HubSpot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100.
When someone conducts a Google search, the SERP’s highest-ranking content (search engine result page) is usually the most recent and relevant to the individual’s query. If your content is posted regularly, it will likely feature the latest information about your industry or information that is “trending” and widely searched for.
Blogging also allows you to shower your posts with keywords about your industry that you want your company to be associated with. To raise your blog’s Google ranking, make sure these keywords, as well as variations of them, can be found in all of your posts. Choosing keywords is crucial in getting your rankings up in the SERP, so be sure to test what keywords people use the most frequently to search with and incorporate those words into your blog posts.
Your blog’s Google ranking will go up if your posts’ titles are formed from specific questions people enter into Google about your industry. An example of this would be making a blog title, “How to take out a small business loan when you have bad credit” because many people have already searched this phrase on Google numerous times.
2. Social Media
Perhaps the most crucial purpose of blogging is soliciting conversation on social media, which exposes your business to new potential customers and drives traffic to your website. Posts containing relevant and universal information about your industry are likely to be shared on Facebook. When a social media user shares a post, it appears on many of their Facebook friends’ news feeds.
Social media shares will raise your blog’s Google ranking and provide an understanding of the kind of topics potential customers are most interested in. Users tend to view the most active companies on social media as their respective industries’ leaders, presumably because they seem to be most dedicated to educating people about their industry and providing updates about new offers to increase customer satisfaction.
You can deepen your connection with potential customers even more by responding to their comments and thanking them for sharing.
3. Brand Authority
Regular blog posts will show your expertise in your industry. This expertise is a natural outcome of the constant research you’ll have to do to keep these posts coming since no one wants to hear about the same generic topics over and over again.
Instead, you’ll delve into unfamiliar elements of your industry, interview notable members, and release statistics displaying trends that can only be detected through careful examinations of your competitors’ performance.
The more an industry evolves, the more questions customers will have, and it’s your goal to make these customers count on you to give them answers supported by data. It’s difficult to discredit a company that takes the time to create infographics and videos to spread a message more effectively.
Regular blog posts will ultimately confirm that your business is alive and well since it is up-to-date regarding changes within your industry.
4. Humanizing Your Business
No matter how much attention you devote to your website’s copy, nothing humanizes your company and industry more than a regularly-updated blog. Trust is a significant factor in a customer’s decision to choose your company, and a blog allows you to honestly express why he or she should view you as a reliable partner and friend.
You can utilize a friendly voice, address concerns your customers might have about your industry, and speak to them on behalf of an unbiased peer who refuses to mince words about how tedious or inconvenient something may be.
Blogging about why you are so passionate about your work will also help you prove that your company isn’t just trying to make money. These posts will prompt potential customers to look at your work from a new perspective and understand that your utmost goal is making their lives easier.
What Are the Best Web Analytics Tools for Businesses?
Entrepreneurs often emphasize the importance of data. Some seem to view data as the “be-all, end-all” of running a small business. You can’t blame them. Before we explain why we must first establish the kind of data these entrepreneurs are referring to. In this context, data is essentially a synonym for “web analytics”. Tools that measure web analytics are designed to gauge the performance of your company’s website.
You can see how many website visitors end up buying your products. You’ll also see which pages your website visitors spend the most time on and various other useful metrics. The more advanced analytics tools gauge the performance of your digital marketing materials as well. You can see which marketing materials are bringing in the most website visitors. However, these might not be the same materials that are bringing in the most customers.
Web analytics ultimately shows you what’s working and what’s not. If interpreted correctly, this information can provide a wealth of meaningful insights regarding your target audience’s online behavior and general preferences.
The more knowledge you have about online performance and customer behavior, the easier it is to take action and work towards a solution. Without web analytics, you would only have a vague idea of what your audience does and doesn’t like about your website and marketing materials. You can’t take action when you aren’t sure that this is even the right action to take. When a company says it is “data-driven,” what they mean is “solution-driven”.
This section will go over the most popular web analytics tools for small businesses and explain how they work, along with their pros and cons.
Which Metrics Can Web Analytics Tools Track?
The amount of metrics you can track depends on the web analytics tool you’re using. But even the most basic tools offer a myriad of valuable metrics, mostly concerning the way visitors interact with your website. If you’re using a reputable tool, you can expect to learn which pages get the most clicks, the order in which pages are visited, and the last page visitors see before leaving your website. You should also be able to see how visitors were directed to your website, i.e., through an email, Google ad, social media ad, etc.
Other tools might focus more on your ability to convert website visitors into paying customers. Therefore, these metrics can show you which marketing strategies bring in more money than they cost, i.e., producing an ROI (return on investment). An increase in conversions isn’t necessarily a success if the cost of acquiring those customers increased. But thanks to web analytics, you can quickly see if you’re spending more money on a strategy that is doing your business more harm than good.
To take full advantage of web analytics, you must consider the underlying meaning of the metrics. For example, if your visitors tend to leave your website after visiting a particular page, it’s probably because something about that page did not suit their preferences. Thus, web analytics don’t just track metrics. They track customer behavior. When viewed collectively, different actions can be interpreted as preferences.
The 8 Best Web Analytics Tools for Small Businesses
The best web analytics tool for your business depends on several factors. A big one is the role of your website in your business’s overall success. Are the majority of your customers acquired online? Does your target audience spend a lot of time online? Are your top competitors putting more and more money into their websites?
Next, consider your current knowledge of your target audience’s general preferences. On the surface, your target audience might not seem too unique. But every audience has their preferences regarding the layout of a website, the tone of the web copy, or the way products are presented.
If your website is pivotal to your business’s growth, you will likely benefit from knowing as much as you can about your audience’s preferences. The more data you have, the more detailed and precise your strategy can be. Even the most minute aspects of your website will align with the data you’ve accumulated. But remember: The tools that offer the most metrics are only worth the price if you use all of their features.
Another factor in this decision is how each tool reports data or how easy it is to access your goals’ most critical data. If you find two tools that offer the data you’re looking for, it probably makes sense to choose the option with the least complicated reporting format.
Businesses of various industries and sizes use the following web analytics tools. It’s okay if you don’t know which metrics are most important for your business. Sometimes, the only way to figure this out is to learn what’s out there:
By far, Google Analytics is the most popular web analytics tool on the planet, not just because it was among the first of its kind. Many marketing experts would argue that Google Analytics, or “GA,” provides the most critical metrics for the average small business.
This is mainly because, in addition to web traffic, GA displays the ROIs (or lack thereof) of your various advertising strategies. You can see how much website traffic is coming from each marketing channel and which channel is producing the most website visitors. GA even provides personal information about website visitors like geographic location, age, gender, and the device each visitor uses (desktop vs. mobile).
Also, GA measures your social media accounts’ traffic along with Flash and video content on your website. And since GA has been around for so long, it’s not hard to find the myriad of tutorials that explain how to access and interpret the most granular metrics.
The basic GA service is free. Though this plan offers fairly general data, that’s more than enough metrics and insights for many small businesses. Thus, most companies are recommended to try out the free plan before concluding that they need to see more granular metrics to achieve their goals.
Parse.ly offers two unique and highly valuable features. First, users can see how many times visitors click on links and engage with different pages throughout their websites. If spending more time on your site makes visitors more likely to purchase, this feature could be beneficial.
Second is the availability of industry-wide web analytics, courtesy of Parse.ly’s massive customer base. This data is relatively broad, but it gives you an idea of what audience behavior looks like for other companies.
Parse.ly does not have a free package. You’ll have to contact them to find out what the right package for your needs would cost. This system usually results in higher prices than the other tools on this list. But it could make great use of the two features mentioned above, and a higher price may be worth it.
Most of Clicky’s features are the same as GA’s. However, what sets them apart is Clicky’s heatmapping function, which tracks cursors’ movements on web pages. This can tell you how much time elapsed before a visitor clicked a link on a new page, how they engage with different sections (top/bottom) of a page, or how often they move back and forth between pages.
Clicky users can view heatmaps for individual visitors or certain types of visitors. For example, let’s say you wanted to study visitors who spend time on your site but don’t end up making purchases. With Clicky, you could view heatmaps exclusively from these visitors and see the last page they visit before abandoning your site.
Clicky’s basic features are available for free. But compared to other tools, Clicky’s premium package is pretty cheap at just $9.99 per month. And like GA, Clicky users would likely say that the premium package offers every metric a small business could ever need.
MixPanel specializes in understanding online behavior. It shows you how many visitors filled up shopping carts but didn’t go through with the purchase, as well as which web pages are driving the most visitors away.
These features make MixPanel most appropriate for eCommerce businesses or businesses that provide a lot of information with their websites. Both types of businesses usually have specific goals for visitor engagement, like the amount of time a high-quality lead spends on the site or the page that’s supposed to confirm the visitor’s decision to make a purchase.
Like GA, the basic MixPanel service is free, but access to more data comes with a cost. The $999 per year package gives users access to more data over time, though the price stays the same. Since larger businesses often use MixPanel, they have several packages or variations geared towards multiple users. For example, one package allows multiple users to easily view important metrics snippets, making it an ideal choice for stockholders.
If you frequently publish new content on your website, you should consider Chartbeat. Many news organizations use Chartbeat primarily because it allows them to see how many visitors look at the same web page in real-time. This metric is called a “concurrent.”
Since news content is usually time-sensitive, news organizations can use Chartbeat to learn the best times to publish articles, how long it takes for articles to draw page views, and how long it takes for those views to die down. Have you ever seen a news organization change an article’s title in the middle of the day? It’s probably because their first title wasn’t drawing enough page views, so they figured they’d see how another title performed.
Chartbeat can also show you which social media posts visitors clicked on to access your content, even if those posts didn’t come from you.
At $7,000 per year, Chartbeat is certainly not cheap. It’s easy to justify that price when your product is used by everyone from The New York Times to CNN. But you don’t have to be a media giant to place tremendous value on the metrics mentioned above. Chartbeat could very well be one of the smartest investments for an up and coming publisher.
Optimizely’s signature feature is similar to Chartbeat’s. But instead of tracking page views in real-time, you’re tracking sales-related metrics in real-time. This makes Optimizely highly advantageous for retail companies that wish to test different designs for individual product pages.
Minor changes can play a significant role in the efficacy of product pages. Since small changes can be made quickly, you could test several designs in short time frames to gradually increase conversions.
As you can see, Optimizely can be an excellent tool for businesses that do a lot of A/B testing. Prices are based on the user’s needs, but most users reportedly pay around $49 per month for the standard plan.
Earlier, we mentioned that some businesses put web analytics on a pedestal. Virtually all of their business decisions are based on data, especially when it comes to digital efforts. We also noted that data-driven organizations find solutions by acquiring lots and lots of data. How can you not take action with so much information about your target audience and past performance?
If this sounds like you, then you might be the target customer of Kissmetrics. This full-scale tool offers many features and metrics, making it the ideal choice for many digital marketers and other tech-related fields. By the way, the term “full-scale” refers to tools that provide audience and performance data from marketing strategies along with your website.
However, its top feature is audience segmentation, which narrows your target audience far beyond what you already know. You’ll learn what sets these audience members apart from the rest of your leads and website visitors. What are their common interests and behavioral habits? The more information of this nature you have, the clearer your next course of action becomes.
But as advantageous as data can be, new business owners might find it overwhelming in such large doses. To decide if Kissmetrics is right for you, try it out for free for 14 days. If you’re still interested, you’ll have to contact them to determine an appropriate monthly price.
Crazy Egg combines heat mapping technology and A/B testing to help users optimize their websites and maximize visitor engagement. Users can see if the changes they make to web pages are influencing visitor activity. Are visitors more likely to click certain links on one version? Are they scrolling down to view the new product information you’ve added?
Another benefit of Crazy Egg is that it’s very user-friendly. Data reports are easy to understand, whether you are looking for metrics on individual visitors or normal visitor behavior.
Crazy Egg is free for 30 days, with the basic plan starting at an affordable $29.99 per month. The most expensive plan offers a lot more features, hence the $189.99 price tag. New users should take full advantage of that 30-day trial to determine if the basic plan is sufficient for their needs.
As you go through this list, you’ll see that free trials for web analytics tools come in vastly different forms.
UserTesting shows you how visitors feel about your website or app, but with a very different approach. Instead of providing a list of metrics, UserTesting takes a video of people reacting to your website as they explore it. Visitors will simply give their honest, unfiltered opinion about the various elements of your website.
Yes, you won’t obtain as much audience data as the other tools. But certain qualities of your target audience can only be gauged through a person-to-person experience. Unlike numerical data, this information isn’t up for interpretation.
Video reactions could be particularly valuable to new businesses looking to establish their brand identity. A business’s brand is supposed to evoke certain emotions, and you can’t measure emotional reactions on a spreadsheet. You could also use this opportunity to present specific questions to visitors, almost as if you were conducting a focus group.
Each video session costs $49, and you can hold up to 15 sessions per year.
Woopra is another full-scale analytics tool, so all the audience and performance data you’ll need in one place, including mobile activity. You can view visitor behavior from an individual and group standpoint and monitor website engagement in real-time. Considering the amount of data available and the fact that you can customize the layout, Woopra is even comparable to Kissmetrics in terms of overall capabilities.
But unlike Kissmetrics, Woopra allows you to send notifications or personalized content to specific visitors and customers in real-time. This can increase the likelihood of conversions and build loyalty in returning customers.
Woopra’s basic plan is free and limited to 500,000 actions per month. An “action” refers to any audience metric you wish to track, like downloads, page views, etc. Once you exceed this threshold, you can decide whether to move up to the much more expensive Pro package ($999 per month) or wait until your actions limit resets the following month.
Surveys: Another Way to Gain Customer Data
Listening to customers and understanding their needs is one of the surest paths to a successful business. Customer surveys will help you get that feedback.
“History shows that when companies listen to their customers, collaborate with them, and innovate together, they thrive. And when they don’t, they fail,” says Andrew Reid, Founder, President, and CPO of Vision Critical.
Whether you just launched your brand or are reviving a struggling business, a focus on market demand as well as customer feedback will increase your chances of survival in a competitive business landscape.
How Do Businesses Perform Customer Surveys?
There are many ways of gathering customer feedback. You can gather feedback with social media, CRM solutions, call and customer services centers, and traditional or digital surveys. Various companies, such as Vision Critical, offer secure customer intelligence platforms with online communities of thousands of customers sharing their opinions with a company.
For small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs, an investment in a CRM solution or customer intelligence platform may be way out of budget. Surveys are a tried and true — and a viable and economical — way to interact with customers and gain their insights.
There are many different types of surveys out there, from traditional mailers to various digital platforms. You can gear survey questions toward the results you’re seeking for market analysis, tracking performance, customer follow-up, customer demographics, and beyond.
Online variations of the traditional survey method make the process easier and get your results quicker. And quicker information means faster action. Gathering feedback is only the beginning. You also need to analyze the feedback and act on it to reap the benefits. Technology helps you get your hands on the data sooner.
1. Internet Customer Surveys
Online surveys are one of the easiest ways to get feedback from customers. In today’s tech-savvy world, the options are many. Tools such as SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, and PollDaddy are only the beginning. SurveyMonkey is perhaps the most well known and easy-to-use platform. And once they joined forces with Boomerang, their survey tools and analytics offering expanded even more.
SurveyGizmo and PollDaddy are similar platforms that also let you create surveys and polls. Constant Contact, a popular email software, offers an online survey tool. If your company already has an account with them, this may be the least expensive and most straightforward option.
You can effortlessly embed these surveys and polls onto your website — whether directly or as a pop-up — or in emails, you send to clients and customers. With email surveys, you can create email lists and customer email invitations. These tools let you track your responses and send messages to people who haven’t responded to your survey.
Social media is also a great place to use surveys. If the survey is on your website, use Twitter to tweet a link to your survey. Facebook lets you post surveys on your wall or even your customers’ walls.
These online platforms make it painless to build surveys based on your company’s distinct needs. They are also designed to let you monitor and analyze responses in real-time.
Except for Constant Contact, most online survey tools are free at the basic level. There are paid options if you want more customization or scope — and many are still reasonably priced.
2. Mobile Customer Surveys
Mobile surveys have become common with the rise of smartphones. You can design surveys targeted at mobile users and place them in browsers, applications, or SMS messaging.
If your business already has a strategy around mobile devices, it shouldn’t be hard to incorporate surveys into your mobile mix. If your company is new to mobile, many software providers are out there with mobile survey solutions. Those solutions are pricier than most online survey tools. And as more consumer use of smartphones and tablets over computers continues to grow, this is an option you can use to leap ahead of your competitors.
Many of these solution providers offer free trials, so it might be wise to try out one or two. Some top-rated companies that offer free trials include Survey Analytics, SurveyMe, Snap Surveys, and Datafield. Surveys from PopSurvey are easy and fun to create. They have a strong mobile offering.
3. POS Customer Surveys
Point-of-sale (POS) surveys are another option for getting customer feedback. Gauging customer satisfaction while the experience with your business is still fresh in their mind is essential. By definition, a POS survey is offered to a paying customer in-store, as soon as a transaction takes place, through an electronic or checkout machine, or via email.
“Most shopping experiences fade from a customer’s memories quickly, unless the experience was either extremely good or extremely bad,” writes Andy Walton on Houston Chronicle’s blog.
The most significant advantage of POS surveys is how rapid the results are. You get the customer response right after they’ve interacted with your business. As a result, their responses will be that much more accurate. And there’s less risk that respondents will answer a survey just because they had a bad experience.
“Surveying at the point of sale helps provide a more consistent viewpoint and a better cross-section of respondents,” writes Walton.
How Do Businesses Administer POS Customer Surveys?
There are many different ways to use technology to administer POS surveys, depending on your business. Walton writes that a smartphone accessory store might install location-based technology to directly send the survey to a customer’s smartphone while a grocery store using self-checkout terminals could easily add the survey on to the end of its existing checkout procedure.
You can also put secured tablets at your checkout counter or have sales associates carry them to offer POS surveys to clients and customers after their business with you. If you ask customers for their email addresses, you can automatically email a link to the survey or send out a mobile push notification if you have their mobile numbers.
Customer Thermometer has a one-tap satisfaction table survey service that is great for hotels, event feedback, office buildings, etc. Customers just tap on a single on-screen icon as they leave or pay, and you instantly have feedback on their experience.
Which Survey Tool Should Your Business Use?
The presence of so many options for surveying your customers can be overwhelming. The fact that online survey tools are so similar makes choosing the one for your business even more difficult. Capterra has a survey software directory that compiles the most popular tools available and lists them by the number of customers, number of users, and social presence. Business software and services review site G2 Crowd also has a comparison site for survey software. If you’re wondering which platform is best for your business, these sites are the right places to start.
Business Marketing: Be Patient!
As you prepare to launch your strategy, it’s important to remember that the marketing tactics mentioned above (social media, blogging, email) require substantial experimentation. It takes time to learn what kind of content your audience likes, and it could be a while before your content begins to draw engagement. But since consistency is critical, you’re going to be posting a lot of content, no matter how well your initial posts perform.
You might not know what kind of strategy will work for your audience. What you do know, however, is that your business needs these tactics to survive in today’s climate. It’s time to get started on that first question by launching a strategy and simply seeing what happens.