“How Google Analytics ruined marketing” is the provocative title of a recent TechCrunch article by Samuel Scott. The interesting, if curmudgeonly, thought-piece essentially makes the point that Google Analytics has led to marketers forgetting marketing strategy and focussing almost entirely on earning online clicks tracked by Google’s free measurement tool.
Scott is right of course, without a clear strategy any marketing channel, digital or otherwise, is at best a punt. The essential questions of who is your customer, what is their core problem and what unique value you can provide to them, are enduring for any marketing programme. Without clarity on these key questions, any channels (whether online or offline), are going to be less effective.
What Scott doesn’t acknowledge is the absolute boon digital marketing tools have been to the profession, especially in Concentrate’s small, unglamorous part of the marketing universe – selling tech products business-to-business.
An issue that does remain with tech marketers is the need to get ‘beyond the bounce’. Google Analytics provides a plethora of data – at the most basic level you can gauge bounce rate (the percentage of unique visitors who ‘bounce’ away after only viewing your home page), average session durations, percentage of new sessions, pages viewed per session and so on. Then you can dive down into much deeper levels of detail.
For B2B tech marketers the big question should be - so what? As an example, the bounce rate for a high traffic e-commerce site (or even many B2C websites) will be crucial, but how relevant is it for a high value, long sales cycle technology product? The bounce rate indicates some interesting things – e.g. you are promoting to the wrong audience, your home page content isn’t working – but it is not that compelling.
There are many other data points in Google Analytics (and other analytics tools) that are compelling for some sectors, but not so relevant for others. You need to be able to pick and choose.
As marketers we love the opportunity to play with the big boys and girls like sales, accounting or operations by quoting numbers to management. Digital marketing has given us this whole new world of data, but we undermine our credibility by focussing on the wrong statistics, failing to prove anything beyond the fact we are now a digital version of the colouring-in department.
So what numbers do count?
To borrow from an excellent presentation I recently attended from Alan Sharpe, marketing head of Gareth Morgan Investments, there are only three things that really count when it comes to judging the effectiveness of your marketing - lead generation, lead capture and lead conversion.
All the other information you gather is nice to have, but this data is what it takes to be seen as grown up with other parts of the business. Sales wants it and management respects it, because it is directly related to generating revenue.
The metrics you need to gather, whether it’s with Google Analytics or a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, should include these basics:
Volume of website visitors and where they are coming from (i.e. direct, organic search, paid search, social media, email, offline).
The number of leads generated from these visitors, also by source, what content they converted on, and the conversion ratio of visitors to leads.
Customer numbers, also by source and by conversion rate from leads to customers.
As you build a clearer picture of this information, you can work towards building a model of your cost of customer acquisition, something that will really get the beancounters excited, and your credibility enhanced.
The data available to marketers is one of the most exciting aspects of the digital age. Being seen as grown-ups at the Board table requires us not to get carried away with the numbers, and focus on what really counts.