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Content Marketing

How to Use Analytics in Digital Marketing

September 30, 2014

Digital marketing is about getting people to view and interact with your digital content. In traditional forms of marketing such as mail, posters, billboards, and TV commercials, it can be exceedingly difficult to measure the effectiveness of your message. When marketing goes digital, however, every view and interaction is available as raw data. Knowing precisely how well your digital marketing campaign is performing based on any number of metrics will give you an actionable answer as to what to improve and what to preserve.

Web Analytics

The end goal of most digital marketing efforts is to have customers visit your site and ultimately convert by making a purchase, filling out a form, or picking up the phone. Simple web analytics tools help you see exactly what happens between visiting the site and converting, or, perhaps more importantly, not converting.

These tools allow you to count site visits, page-views, how visitors move from page to page, how long they stay on the page, and how much of the page they view. On the surface, these observations allow you to confirm the effectiveness of your site’s layout, design, and content. If visitors aren’t following your planned flow through the internal links of your website, then you may need to consider redesigning the navigation and layout. Likewise, you can see if visitors are incorrectly identifying your pages’ primary content, and you can learn from the successful content how to improve what’s lacking.

Going deeper, you can view the times of day and days of the week when you get the most visits, and compare those to the times when you get the most conversions in order to get some insight into where the highest converting traffic is found. You can also run test designed to target non-converting visitors, and identify ways to gain their interest (perhaps using a longer-term lead nurturing strategy).

Such web analytics efforts can be ramped up into real-time experiments in the form of A/B testing, where you show different visitors different versions of certain site features to gather statistics on visitor behavior. You can run these tests on all parts of your site and select the site versions that are most effective for your conversion rate. Large web entities like the Huffington Post will even A/B test their headlines, which lets them know within minutes which version has the higher conversion rate.

Web analytics also allow you to determine where your website visitors are coming from; whether that’s Google, links from other sites, direct visits, or social media.

Social Media Analytics

Social media gives viewers the opportunity to do some marketing for you, and provides great data on engagement in the form of tweets, Facebook likes, social shares, and more.

If your website has a blog, then social media may be your main avenue for advertising new posts, or your metric for how successful an article was. If you compare the quantity of social media interaction for each post to metrics about the actual article (post length, header/subheader layout, use of images/videos, writing style, etc.) then you can determine which features work best, and move future efforts in that direction.

Social media may also be your way of gaining traffic and promoting your brand, in which case you’ll want to monitor retweets and shares, and look into the emerging sentiment analysis market. This will allow you to observe, on a large scale, whether mentions of your brand are generally positive or negative, and what other things your users generally mention you in the context of (which can be the start of a targeted marketing campaign).

Customer/CRM Analytics

If you’re marketing content, chances are the ultimate goal of that content is to draw in customers. Every customer you receive information from is a data point that can be analyzed to learn about which people your marketing is and is not working on, and how it can be improved.

You likely store this data in customer relationship management (CRM) software, which is ideal for standardizing your customer data in one location. Such programs make analytics far simpler than trying to merge multiple records. Many CRMs come with analytics features built-in, but for those without, it’s still possible to use Excel (or a full business intelligence solution) to aggregate data from your CRM, web analytics, and social media interactions to find patterns and user correlations.

This is called data-driven customer profiling. Its purpose is to show you which customers you’re attracting, and which users you’re wasting resources on. Once you figure this out, you can either pivot your goals to cater to your already-receptive demographics, or reevaluate your content and marketing strategies to find out where you got off track.

Insight gleaned from these data sources (websites, social media, and CRM) can be used to improve your digital marketing strategy, either as a whole, on every blog post, or even with every social media share. Writing and design skills alone can only take you so far. Users click on some things more often than others, and you can’t know how your users behave until you begin collecting and analyzing the appropriate data.

Christopher Hebert is a junior research analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers business intelligence, project management, and other emerging technology. Connect with him on Google+.

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