Does your marketing strategy involve having a website that "speaks" for your business or nonprofit? If so, then you need data to provide insight on how people got there and what they did while "visiting." Online marketing - from the smallest mom and pop website to ecommerce behemoths like Amazon - is rich in data; but to mine it, you must ensure the data is available to you.
When website owners come to me to discuss how their site might be improved, one of the first questions I'll ask is, "are you using Google Analytics?" Access to that information removes a lot of guesswork and makes the work of any online marketing consultant more productive.
Use Google Analytics: It's Free
Many of us are thinking about or actively preparing a 2013 marketing plan. Planning takes time and most strategies are a work-in-progress. Meanwhile, the one thing you can do - right now - is to activate Google Analytics on your website.
Google Analytics is one of several free tools that Google provides to help online marketers improve their website and marketing methods. With the data it collects you can get a general picture of how people came to your website: for example, what proportion of visitors found it through searching online, which keywords were used in the searches, which pages were most frequently visited, and the average time spent on any given page.
From the picture that emerges you might conclude that people have missed the pages you feel are the most important; your priority then becomes to work out a strategy to fix the problem. The list of keywords might reveal opportunities you hadn't thought of. That's the idea behind Google's tool - to use the information for a better "user experience" and to improve how your website communicates.
How to Activate Google Analytics
--First, set up a gmail (Google email) account, if you don't already have one:
--Next, head over to Google Analytics and sign in with the same password:
--Look for and select the "Admin" tab in the navigation bar (top right of page).
--On the Admin page, look for and select the button "+New Account."
--On the Account Administration page, answer the question, "What would you like to track?" by selecting the Website button. Then fill in the fields - assign a name for your account (can be anything, but use the name of your organization), the URL of the Home page for your website, select the data-sharing options you want, and click "Get Tracking ID."
--Read and follow the instructions for copying the tracking ID code and where it should be added to the website. You can email the instructions to yourself or to the person who will help insert the code. I like to copy the code to a blank page and save it in my computer files.
--Add the code to the website - most of us are using a website content management system that is set up to insert it in the right place. (Search "add google analytics" in the help area for instructions.) Otherwise, ask the person who normally makes changes to your website to insert the code per Google's instructions.
That's it! Data will be collected the moment the site is verified; log into Google Analytics to check the status. Then get in the habit of checking back regularly and exploring the data.
Every Marketing Plan Needs Data
Marketing is a numbers game, one that impacts the decisions you make as a business owner or nonprofit manager. Whether your approach to marketing is DIY or by tapping the help of a professional, activating Google Analytics is the first step to taking charge of developing a smart marketing strategy.