use of web analytics to provide a continuous feedback loop is critical
to the success of an internet marketing campaign.
By measuring the impact of our initiatives we can realign our efforts and create new ideas for testing. Establishing a well defined framework for an ongoing analytics process allows the maximization of local internet marketing ROI.
An actionable analytics methodology employs the use of metrics to measure level of engagement and rate of conversion. Specific sources, and categories of sources are segmented to enable the assignment of value and inform spend. Keyword commercial value scores and actual search behavior can be combined for powerful insites to inform strategy.
This is the “what” part of the
process. By identifying what we want to accomplish we will be able to
best identify the metrics to be used to measure success. We will also
be able to weight the resulting metrics based on priorities.
Local businesses and professionals tend to be focused on month to month results. Building business through the acquisition of new customers is critical to return on investment and positive cash flow.
These goals are related to generating contacts , creating foot traffic and appointments booked as well as brand building. Which goals take priority is many times a function of the business growth stage, economic conditions, seasonality and competitive factors.
Once goals are clearly identified they may be used to establish a set of metrics to best measure success.
Answering these questions can lead us to a set of Key Performance
Indicators (KPI) used to narrow down our measurements to the most
important business drivers. By focusing on the KPI we can keep on track
with our efforts and effectively measure our performance. Web analytics
metrics can be classified into two broad categories; Conversion and
Core to all of our activities is the conversion. A conversion is an action taken by searchers that achieves a predefined goal. For most of our clients a conversion is the submission of a contact form, a phone call, a live chat sessions or a walk in to their business. Using our methods and systems we are able to measure our efforts and work to continuously improve our methods.
Engagement is the first step towards conversion. Quality engagement will, in most cases, lead to more conversions. Tracking this aspect of the website allows us to enhance and magnify what works and correct what is not. Engagement is not only a function of site design but also involves connecting with the right searcher.
Collecting web analytics data is a bit trickier for a local business than for a .com or e-commerce site. All interactions are accessible for the e-commerce site through web analytics tracking tools. A local business relies heavily on phone calls and walk in business. Using a phone tracking system that allows for the identification of marketing channel referrals can help to resolve this disconnect. Site visitors that are converted to a phone caller can be measured this way.
Once enough data is collected for statistically significant measurements to create a benchmark opportunities can be identified and tests can be run. Our benchmark can be compared to industry standards to give a starting point. We can begin using A/B testing to try out ideas. By changing only one variable at a time and measuring the KPI from each we look for a significant variance to point us in a compelling direction.
A recent study reveals that nearly 1
out of 2 search marketers who outsource SEO and paid search services
either do not elect to measure ROI, are unable to calculate ROI, or
can't distinguish between SEO and paid search ROI. While web
analytics is not an exact science and we still have a long way to go to
be able to measure with a high level of confidence, we have come a long
way in recent years.
Yet, most businesses on the web employ very little of the available web analytics tools. Most still measure only click through at most (seemingly only to gain bragging rights at the dinner party) and use none of the information to guide changes. With the new and evolving technologies, local businesses are becoming more and more sophisticated in their ability to measure the effectiveness of their spend. This is good news for internet advertisers. It will serve to confirm the higher ROI internet marketing can provide to the local business.
Now that we have a benchmark we can
compare all future results. The process is ongoing. What and how we
measure will change over time as new insights and technologies emerge.
And of course, your business will change over time along with the
weight placed on each goal. What ever the case, the process will need
to be monitored and repeated periodically to adjust to the changing
environment and business goals.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rank position should not be the final goal. We should strive to connect, engage and influence the customer through our Local Search Engine Optimization and design efforts. And we should have a way to measure the results of our Local Search Engine Optimization in these terms, not just by Google® search positions.
This requires a business minded, straight forward approach to Local SEO. We need to know the competition and learn how to take their position. We also need to know what keywords are producing conversions.
There is limited SERP real estate for any given keyword phrase. If we are going to gain a position, another site must be displaced--there is no getting around it.
In addition, once a desired position is acquired we need to leverage it. You should stand out from the crowd and present a compelling message. Once the customer is on your landing page we need to influence them to the goal we have in mind. This is the essence of conversion oriented Local SEO.