Collecting data in your online marketing efforts is not a vanity game. And the purpose of data in online marketing is neither bragging nor soothing your boss. Rather, monitoring is a question of win and lose. Only when you are carefully collecting data and monitoring all processes and results are you able to figure out the optimal marketing process(es) for your special situation.
I still see far too many people flying blind in online marketing. And convincing some marketers (or their superiors) that they NEED to collect data, monitor all their activities and carefully track every process and every marketing idea they implement still takes far too much effort.
It shows that these “marketers” (or their bosses) have not really understood the game.
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I am not talking about vanity numbers like fans and followers. Yes, they these numbers do play a part in our marketing game, but it is not always the account with the largest number of followers, which gives the best marketing results.
But if you are not monitoring the sh$t out of your marketing processes you will never know for sure if anything you do works, where you can do better and what is working so well you should scale it. You will not be able to figure out where something goes wrong or where something performs well. You may see the final numbers and decide that this is enough for you – but you will never know how much better you could have done, if only…
Modern marketing presents you with an endless number of options, ideas, processes, best practices and failures. What has worked for your friend may go totally south for your own project. What worked yesterday may well be long outdated by the time you try to copy it.
It is not enough to study outstanding marketing examples and case studies and then try to copy what they did. Far too often it is the tiny little tweaks and optimizations which make a difference and you most of the time do not even know about. When the example was not executed by yourself you will rarely be able to study all the details, which decide over failure or success.
Modern marketing success is based on the ability to measure, monitor and track the hell out of all you are doing – and the ability to react fast and adjust accordingly. And we are not talking about “reporting” here. What use are numbers if you get them days, weeks or even months after they could have told you a story and helped you optimize your marketing efforts? When your marketing failed and you did not reach your goals, reports may help you analyze and try to do better next time.
But what you really need are numbers that accompany you throughout your marketing. Numbers you can watch and numbers you can work towards optimizing along the process.
Modern marketing needs the flexibility to react fast to flaws or situations where the audience does not react as expected. And you will only be able to identify these flaws and optimize your activity accordingly, if you can measure what is going on. Never ever forget about the Lean Marketing Process, as it should be your best friend in online marketing:
- Make and assumption and build a method
- Learn and start over
And lean marketing is never done with just monitoring traffic. How can you figure out what is going wrong with your marketing if you do not track more than just traffic? Traffic is a beginning and never the end.
When we were building our publishing platform exploreB2B, there was a time when we needed growth in number of signups and we needed it fast. Our investors wanted to see that people wanted our platform and that we were able to reach out to these people.
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We tried a lot of different marketing methods: We were active on Twitter and Facebook, we tried different things on LinkedIn. We tried some advertising with Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.We tried other social networks And yes we grew – for a while we grew exponentially and we managed to get more and more signups.
But not all of our efforts were paying off. Some activity on LinkedIn did not give us any success. Traffic from networks as StumbleUpon never resulted in any signups. Google Adwords only cost us money but did not give us any signups in return.
We needed numbers to identify the marketing concepts that really worked so we could concentrate on these and figure out ways to scale them.
Some monitoring we did…
Of course, we watched out traffic and the sources of the traffic. But you can do much more with analytics. Since our goal was to get signups and there was one page on our site, which people only reached right after the signup process, we monitored the traffic to this page and where it came from. This was the traffic which actually related to the number that was most important to us: signups.
We were very active on Twitter. In order to figure out if tweets or direct messages worked for us, we used campaign links (Google UTM links) and monitored not only if signups were referred to us from Twitter, but we also monitored which tweets and which DMs were successful. And yes, once we started to carefully watch what happened, we realized that seemingly minor changes i.e. one word in a tweet can make all the difference between success and failure. Without carefully monitoring each and every message we could easily have ended up with the decision that Twitter did not work for us. Instead, for a long time, Twitter was one of our best running marketing channels for winning signups for our publishing platform.
Sometimes when there is no tool or process to automize your data collection, it is even worth the effort to do some data collection by yourself. For a while, we invited people from LinkedIn with a personal message. This was relatively time consuming, so it was very important to us to figure out if it was working or not. For a while, I personally checked exactly who of the people we invited also registered with our platform. And it really paid off as we had a success rate of over 30% as obviously our targeting was good. When we tried to scale this method, obviously our targeting got less focused and the response rate dropped significantly. Eventually, we stopped doing this and turned to more successful methods.
This also shows that it is never enough to monitor a marketing method for a short while and then let it run on autopilot. Marketing scenarios in online marketing change all the time and small changes in targeting used networks or the content/story used can make a huge difference.
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Paying respect to monitoring
Setting up processes and the right tools which can help you monitor the numbers you need can cost money. And even if marketers know they need the numbers, they often have a hard time justifying the costs to their bosses. But before you turn away and decide to rather spend the money somewhere else, think about what you can gain – or lose. A considerable amount of effort (and budget) spent on setting up the right monitoring and metrics is money and time well spent. Just imagine finding the one growth hack that lets your business venture take the next step…