The world of online marketing and advertising is crowded. Between Google AdWords, Facebook pay per clicks (PPC), and hundreds of other marketing tactics, it's challenging for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to track campaign effectiveness. To maximize online marketing spending, SMBs need to know how many leads, how many clicks, and how many calls their campaigns generated and how to evaluate results in comparison to other marketing activities.
By leveraging marketing analytics, SMBs can visualize which campaigns are working and which ones are not. This helps SMBs allocate resources to the campaign activities with the highest payoffs. Below are three steps for how your SMB can turn marketing data into valuable information to improve campaign productivity and support better decision making in 2013.
Embrace the marketing analytics concept as a new way of doing business
The average SMB owner does not have a lot of time to investigate, evaluate, or pilot new marketing initiatives. She is starved for time and focused squarely on her business. In many cases, that business faces a fine line between success and failure, and marketing is a key factor in which side of the line the business lands. Outside of personnel, the average SMB's largest investment is in marketing. And yet, the SMB owner is overwhelmed by the number of online marketing tools and their return-on-investment claims.
For an SMB owner, the goal has never been to build a web of data for its own sake, but to grow the business by gaining easy access to the most useful information that can be extracted from the data. Such businesses don't have a lot of confidence in the advice they get from their ad reps -- they want marketing plans based on analytics.
Make investments based on facts rather than pure intuition
Data can take base metal and turn it into gold. The World Economic Forum January 2012 report, "Big Data, Big Impact," declared data a new class of economic asset, like currency or gold. Big data is more than a "buzzy" catchphrase. In "The Age of Big Data," an article that ran in February 2012 in New York Times, Harvard professor Gary King said, "It [big data] is a revolution. We're really just getting under way. But the march of quantification, made possible by enormous new sources of data, will sweep through academia, business, and government. There is no area that is going to be untouched."
Moreover, big data will help to create growth opportunities and entirely new categories of companies, such as those that aggregate and analyze interesting data. Many of these companies will sit in the middle of information flows. By analyzing where they are spending their marketing dollars and the effectiveness of each campaign, SMBs can make informed marketing decisions rather than guessing what works best.
Leverage marketing analytics tools
Marketing data becomes useful when SMBs can visualize it and extract actionable information. A marketing analytics dashboard tool makes this possible. Such a dashboard delivers the three necessary building blocks for effective marketing and informed action:
Numbers without real meaning
Processed data with contextual support
Application of data and information
For example, Joe's Plumbing buys five or six online products such as Google or Facebook pay per click. With the support of a dashboard, Joe's can count the number of leads, clicks, and calls it received from those online products. The dashboard enables Joe to visualize the data and develop better online advertising campaigns for its business in the future.
By turning data into information and knowledge, SMBs can spur the kind of informed marketing action that grows business. And done correctly, marketing analytics dashboards don't require technical prowess. Instead, they present an open door to understanding the SMB's world and making better marketing decisions.
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