Last time I left off with the teaser “Stay tuned for Pt. 5 where we start to look at how to identify who to target, how to measure results and quantify your efforts as you go along.” ……I decided to break with that topic now and rename the continuation to “HOW to Add Viral/Social Marketing and Intro to Analytics”.
This is the beginning of the real hardcore part of social marketing that people get paid to do. We will first discuss how we will gather data and interpret it so that we can not only understand where we stand at any given momentandwho to target but know how the data points the way forward. It’s also crucial to establish accurate and measurable baselines PRIOR to starting any new marketing effort including social marketing in order to understand the effects of the new techniques.
Will Rogers once stated “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” This could not be truer in Social Marketing. The funny thing is many don’t even know if they are on the right track to begin with and for the most part are the overweight tourist with an outdated map standing at an intersection in a foreign country with cars zipping all around at high speed. You know you want to get somewhere awesome but don’t know where you are, have no idea how to get there, see people that obviously know where they are going but you don’t understand their language or customs……sound familiar?
HOW can we know if we are on the right track and know we have a current map with explicit instructions on how to get where we want to go?
The first and most crucial element is DATA!!!!, find a way to collect it, interpret it, discriminate what’s important and then act on it.
Luckily in the world of the World Wide Web we leave footprints everywhere we go. Companies like Google are very interested in knowing where we go and what appeals to us. They make an insane amount of money with this knowledge and amazingly you can use their data gathering tools and reports and get this…………………………………………IT’S FREE!
Analytics and You
When I was laying in the emergency room last Thursday evening after ingesting expensive salmon that had been mistreated and developed a toxin I was amazed at the supervising physician who almost instantly diagnosed me upon arrival. Junior doctors and the EMT’s who transported me were suspecting a cardiac event but his brain collected the data, interpreted all the variables and it all gelled into a diagnosis of Scrombroid poisoning.
The DATA by itself was not good enough to render a diagnosis in inexperienced hands but was indispensable in the process. The analytics of the situation though crucial were just data. It took a doctor with EXPERIENCE and SKILL to consume all the facts and come out with the road forward which in my case thank God was the path to saving my life. It was an amazing teaching moment and a great excuse for the delay of this blog entry.
As I was creating the graphic for this post I realized a crucial point; web analytics require experience, skill and most of all IMHO is a mix of humility and wonder to interpret and blend it all into an actionable path. Yet the social marketing paradigm is relatively young and those of us “playing” in this field also need to keep the soul of an enlightened child; the wonder, whimsy and creativity with the lack of fear of a child are indispensable in this new reality. We are creating the Socialverse as we speak….why constrain it to familiar boundaries?
The clinical definition of Analytics is: the discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data …sounds simple huh?
I would like to take this moment to thank the web gods for Google Analytics as I don’t believe in the history of computing has there been a bigger value proposition. This tool gathers the data that can drive a corporation to success with the right creative marketers for no charge. The Google analytics service gathers website usage data such as
- How did a visitor come to your site
- Are they a new or returning visitor
- Pageview information, unique and otherwise, time on page
- Event information (used as a metric to measure click events on a page with long events like flash video)
These are just a sampling of the buckets of data collected by analytics. Within these buckets reside multiple layers and categories of the data that put together by experienced hands paints a very important and clear picture of the current health of your brand.
So as an example, let’s say you have run Google analytics for a month while you plan out your social marketing campaign. You take a look at your numbers and you should have your baseline. Sometimes you may need a few months to truly notice a trend and hopefully it’s somewhat flat. Otherwise, something is already affecting your business and you will need to first try to identify what that is. Once you have a good idle condition or somewhat understandable baseline you can put your plans to work and start monitoring analytics.
You put your social initiatives to work….if you suddenly have many more new visitors than usual your efforts are starting to pay off. You want to find out how they came to you first; were they a direct visit? (they typed your address directly into a browser), a referred visit (by clicking a banner or something on another site) or organic (the result of say a web search). These metrics will give you a first and strong perception of ROI…..”have I attracted new prospectives for conversion”
When returning visitors increase it tells you your content is good (products or intellectual content that generates interest). People are coming and finding what you offer good enough to make note of you and return. Time on page is another good metric to judge what is working or not working on any given page.
Any time a change is made on a webpage of any kind that event needs to be recorded in order to compare it with what the numbers say happened after the event that was recorded. This will help you decide if the change was positive or negative. The numbers take time to accumulate so you have to keep good record of your changes to be able to correlate them against the metric graphs.
The subject of analytics is deep swimming for sure and beyond the scope of this blog, but luckily the Google Analytics site has comprehensive training in how to use their tools. The art exists in the analysis of what the data is saying and to determine what is affecting your efforts and what you should adjust in your tactics to fortify and grow your brand. Thanks everybody for your patience in waiting for this post, its been a crazy time for the Holst Family and I would just like to close this post with…………
My family and I thank you Dr Scholer! We will always be grateful for your amazing talent.
Stay tuned for Part 2.