DIY Research for Marketers

Not every marketer knows analytics. Even the marketers who do understand DIY research will still struggle sometimes trying to quantify their efforts in a way that their superiors will understand and appreciate for its value.

Let’s say you’re a one-man business instead. You understand marketing is a crucial component to your business strategy, and even have a couple of new projects you’re ready to implement.

  • How do you accurately assess if these marketing projects were successes or failures?
  • How can you learn from the information you gathered to improve your overall marketing strategy in the future?

These are the type of questions every professional marketer should be asking themselves at one point or another. Fortunately in our modern digital age, marketing research and analytics have never been easier. These methods allow you to see how your various marketing strategies are really affecting the overall performance of your business while assisting you with making key company decisions.

Here we will guide you through the proper set up for a creatively oriented marketer to hack his way into research and analytics. These strategies and tools will yield some impressive metrics that will wow the boss or allow your small business to make smarter marketing decisions based on facts and figures.

Online Analytics and Research

Odds are that even if 100% of your customer base is situated locally in your area, you still have a business website. So you did the whole nine yards of internet marketing and signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest, and started your own company blog. You might even be a little ahead of the online marketing game and bought online ads, paid search, and implemented an affiliate referral system. Maybe you even worked on building links to your site through online directories and sponsored article posts.

  • So how’s all that been working out for you?
  • How can you effectively measure the success of your marketing efforts online?

There are many methods and tools that will allow you to do it yourself (DIY) online. But first, it’s important to understand that online analytics will always center around the overall effectiveness of your company website. This serves as the last stop on your customer’s journey through the web. It’s the goal or the ultimate prize. Once they’re on site though, what are we supposed to measure?

Website analytics is comprised of 4 main metrics:

  1. Visitors
  2. Page Views
  3. Duration on Site
  4. Conversions

Visitors are simply people who have traveled on over to your site from somewhere else on the web. After all, it’s not entirely likely that people are going to fire up their web browser with your website as their homepage. That means that they must have found your site through some other means. The number of visitors you receive for any given period of time is known as traffic. Visitors to your site are comprised of either:

  • Direct traffic – Visitors are directly visiting your website by typing in your URL in the address bar.
  • Search traffic – Visitors are reaching your website through a search engine like Google.
  • Paid search traffic – Visitors are reaching your website through an ad they clicked on provided for by search engines.
  • Referral traffic – Visitors are getting to your website through a referral link on other website such as social media networks, blogs, or online directories.

Page views expand on the number of visitors you’re getting by providing you with the number of page views they’re seeing on your site. This could mean that they’re bouncing around through product pages or looking through your company portfolio. Whatever it means, page views analysis just how much of your website content visitors are actually looking at.

Duration on site is simply how much time people are spending when they’re on your website. This is an important metric to consider because you could have hundreds of thousands of visitors each month, but it’s a problem if a good percentage of those visitors are spending no more than 5 seconds on your website.

The final metric is conversions. This is probably the most important metric businesses should consider in their marketing analysis. Conversions are simply the number of visitors who actually went through and bought your product, subscribed to your blog, or contacted you for your services. What’s you end game? What’s the point of your business? Let’s say you’re selling products. A visitor spends a good amount of time on a product page, and then finally buys the product, then that’s a conversion. Did the visitor ultimately do what you wanted them to do all along? If they did, then consider them a conversion. Think of it like a measurable return on investment (ROI) so to speak.

Google Analytics

This program is one of the best, if not the best tool out there for calculating the 4 main metrics of website analytics. On top of that it also provides you with details on site speeds, geographical specifications on your visiting demographics, on site heat maps to see where people are clicking, keyword lists, and live metrics on site activity as well. The tool is completely free and it only requires copying and pasting a simple line of code in your website to implement. It is by far the best way to tackle DIY research for your online marketing projects.

Social Media Metrics

Social media has taken the marketing world by storm. In only a few short years, social media had attracted over 1.5 billion members that actively engage with one another on these various networks. It seems like elementary concept at this point, but every business should have at least an official company Facebook and Twitter page where you actively engage your customers and fans. Social Media metrics may seem like more of a challenge to quantify, but it all depends on how you look at it.

The purpose of social media is to connect and communicate with other people. It’s literally a social network. Your main goal then as a business should be to create buzz, nurture relationships, and market your products and services to customers on these social channels.

Each of these social platforms incorporates a tool where people can show their admiration or appeal towards a particular post or media update:

  • Facebook – The big winner here. Facebook is the largest social media network with over 1 billion active users. Participants can show their admiration for a company profile, posts, or other media through the Facebook “Like” button. Each like serves as a counter for the popularity and appeal of a particular medium on Facebook.
  • Twitter – Tweets, retweets and followers. Each tweet consists of 152 characters where users can share information about virtually anything they like. If you tweet something, you followers and other Twitter users are given the option to retweet it onto their own profiles. The follower itself is someone who subscribes to your profile to keep up with all of your tweets on their Twitter news feed.
  • Pinterest – The big secret. Pinterest involves “pinning” images and other media to a pin board where other users can choose to either share or “repin” your content onto their own boards. Like Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest users can follow other profiles to keep up with their pins and other Pinterest activity.

There are other social networks like Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Tumblr, but these are considered the top three at the moment. Social metrics simply involved calculating your social outreach through follower counts and social shares. You could also extend this to cover actual conversion factors as well. So for example, if you run a Facebook contest, you can count how many people travelled from the social media network onto your main website and then either signed up for your service or bought your products. This is part of the referral traffic calculated from Google Analytics.

Offline Metrics and Market Analysis

Even if you’re an online business, odds are that not every single one of your marketing efforts will involve online projects. Offline marketing is still very much a strong medium and people find success through traditional methods of advertising every day.

If you’re targeting individuals offline to your website, the best method to keep track of its success is to direct them to a specific landing page. A landing page is simply a one page website that details everything a customer needs in order to make a purchase. It’s a sales pitch and an order form all-in-one. From there you can use a quick online metric in order to calculate the approximate amount of visitors and conversions you’re getting on your landing page from direct traffic.

The second method is through sales codes. Most companies that offer discounts on their products will do so alongside a sales code that the customer inputs through their system in order to take advantage of the promotion. Like if you had to input OCEAN DRIVE in either a website application or during a phone conversation in order to receive a discount at a car dealership from a beachside promotional event they held.

Marketers can then create different codes for different offline marketing strategies they used. Whenever someone uses the code, all the marketer has to do is tally it up in order to gain metrics on whether the campaign was a success or not.

Vincent Clarke is a marketing analyst and content strategist for USB Memory Direct, a wholesale vendor of custom flash drives. He focuses primarily on content strategy but has a deep interest in analytics and reporting.