Reports and data are a wonderful thing for strategic direction in our businesses – but only provide us value if we know how to read and interpret them!
How often have you received a report, or had to issue a report, only to wonder how useful the exercise was? Your boss is demanding a return before spending another dime on marketing, but everyone is unsure how to measure effectiveness. If we understand how to capture and utilize data with the right analysis, it can really make our decision making so much simpler. We’ve put together a quick list of the types of data that will save you money and time in your digital advertising efforts, and help you dominate your competitors over time:
Local Presence Audit
If you can understand how visible a business is within their local search directories, this will give you an indication of what their exposure is to potential clients in your local market – look at tools like Google My Business and Yelp. A check of the business name and any online reviews ( ie. on Google or other industry specific review sites) are available for potential customers to read.
There are tools available to test and analyze the level of paid search advertising activity that is presently being used by companies. With this information, you can then determine how much money is required up front to bid against your competitor, whether you have deep enough pockets for advertising and for which products, and also how much of it is paid versus organic search. You may decide after this research to conduct just a targeted local campaign, or that you are unable to invest in paid search due to your budget at this time. You may also see that search is a great compliment to a PPC strategy for longer term growth. The point is, obtaining this information prior to making any advertising decisions can save you a lot of money later on.
By analyzing levels of social media engagement, the frequency of content posted, as well how often competitors are sharing information on social channels, can help us determine methods that are working to develop contacts online. Does it look like your competitors have a lot of followers, are they sharing more often or more pertinent information? Are they on the right channels for your type of industry?
Organic Search Audit
Is your website easy to find and index? Have you submitted the site to google or other search engines for indexing? There are a number of key factors that directly contribute to a website’s ability to be indexed by the search engines and be found online by searches for your particular services. Make sure you have the basics covered- these are easy fixes that will ensure you are in the game.
We can test the technical performance of each website as well as other technical factors that can affect customer usability and business conversions. Does the site load quickly? Are all the links properly working and pages loading? Do you have proper backlinks in place that show you are an authority on your topics?
A competitive analysis is a great way to come up with all this information in one place and make side by side comparisons. It can help you identify key strategic openings for your campaigns and how to exploit any obvious cracks in your competitors’ online presence, making you get a leg up on your competition online.
I recently helped a customer who was thinking of combining her previous real estate experience with her expanded skillset of feng-shui. It was just an idea, but she wanted to understand if there was anyone already doing this in her area and if so, could she make it work as a way to differentiate herself in her marketplace and boost her revenue with something she enjoyed doing.
The agent had a general idea of who might provide this service today, but was unsure if there was actually a demand for the service. She was understandably cautious about delving into this new arm of business before doing some market research and hired us to do the analysis for her.
Through conducting a competitive analysis on her known and newly-identified competitors, we determined that there was in fact demand in her marketplace by doing some keyword research. We in fact found that complimentary keywords such as ‘meditation’ would bring in even more traffic.
We then wanted to validate whether those she saw as competitors actually were- and we found out these people were in fact not even present online. A further diagnosis turned up a laundry list of easy things she could do immediately to help her website stand out against her competitors.
We also could determine that with an effective pay per click campaign and social media strategy, it wouldn’t be too hard for her to start to garner a significant amount of traffic to help get her qualified leads to talk to.
By investing just a bit up front before spending a dime on advertising, the data we collected and then interpreted enabled us to determine not only that this would be a good business decision, but also the strategy on how to get there. Rather than guessing at tactics, we had real time information with which to make a valid business decision, eliminating a lot of the questions she had about entering this new market. Data in digital marketing will become even more critical in the years ahead as we are required to make business decisions even more accurately and quickly in a rapidly changing world.
This article was authored by Sharon Herrnstein and first published in WSIWorld.
About Sharon Herrnstein
Sharon Herrnstein is a consistent and results-driven Certified Digital Marketing Professional and social media trainer in Toronto, Canada.