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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Measuring Small Business Marketing Success

Measuring Small Business Marketing Success

One of the consistent challenges with small business marketing is knowing whether - and how well - your efforts are working. Marketing requires investing time and money, and it's important to be able to tell whether those initiatives are paying off.

Although determining the return on your marketing investment may appear complex, a number of tools and services can help.

A critical early step in determining the effectiveness of any small business marketing campaign is understanding your goals. Increasing sales is likely to be the ultimate goal, but there may be preliminary goals to track as you develop your sales process. For companies that sell products online, for example, increasing website traffic with pay-per-click ads would be a relatively straightforward process to measure.

For companies that are using online content to generate potential leads, measuring the effectiveness of those efforts can be more challenging, but is still possible.

Basic Tools and Metrics

If your marketing goals include increasing website traffic, Google Analytics should be the first tool you try - and it may prove to be the only one you need. Google Analytics will provide a variety of metrics about your website's traffic, including ways people find your company's site, how long they stick around, and what they do when they're there.

Over time, this will provide important insights about the types of content or advertising that's generating the most traffic and interest. If you offer a discount coupon or promotional offer, for example, measuring the number of visitors to the page making that offer - and counting the people who take advantage of it - will help you gauge the offer's attractiveness.

If you have a specific goal for your campaign, such as prospects signing up for an email newsletter or downloading a special report, the "conversion tracking" feature within Google Analytics can help you identify the percentage of website visitors who take your desired action. This number will likely be around 1 percent, so it's important not to have overly optimistic expectations - but you should track your progress as your campaign continues.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn also offer basic analytics capabilities for your social media and content marketing efforts. You'll be able to see which posts generate the largest audiences and the most engagement, and be able to identify trends about the types of information your customers and prospects are most interested in.

Email Metrics

If email campaigns are part of your small businesses marketing mix, there are a number of metrics that can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Your email service provider will be able to provide these and other statistics:

  • Bounce rate: The number and percentage of messages that were sent to invalid addresses. Email lists evolve over time, making it important to attract new addresses and refresh your list.
  • Open rate: A percentage of subscribers who opened the message, which will give you insight about the effectiveness of each message's subject line. The more compelling the subject line, the more people are likely to open the message.
  • Click-through rate: How many people click links in the message to visit your campaign's landing page or your company website.

As with website analytics, reviewing the reports for your email marketing efforts will give you ideas about which messages resonate with your audience, and whether you need to tweak your campaign to improve your results.

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