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BLOG POST PREFACE: I didn’t set out to write a blog, initially I wanted to just collect a few of my thoughts on the subject as I was talking to my team about the challenge we have helping our clients track their marketing ROI accurately. It turned into the blog post you see below when I realized that I want to share my thoughts with other businesses and start a conversation about this topic. I’d really like to hear from you on how you allocate budgets and track ROI, so please share your thoughts in the comment section here or reach out to me on my SEO social platforms:
Twitter (I am most active here and mainly tweet out SEO and marketing stuff)
Facebook (this is my professional page where I share business and marketing posts)
Google+ (I know G+ is dying, but I still find good info in the tech and SEO communities there)
Eminent SEO offers a wide array of services to help other businesses find success online. Over the years we have developed and expanded our service offerings in order to accommodate the growing needs of our clients. This includes a lot of business and website services that are not necessarily marketing.
Here are some of the main reasons business owners hire us:
- They want to increase their website traffic and leads (SEO, organic and/or paid marketing).
- They need a new or refreshed website (design, content, development).
- They need help with their brand (brand development and management).
- They need help with an issue (audits, website cleanup, penalty resolution).
Before we begin, we ask: What are your needs and goals?
- A new logo or site design?
- Tools to track your efforts?
- An audit of your SEO to see where you stand?
- Help with your bad reputation?
- Updated website content?
- A new social media campaign?
- Expert advice on overcoming a Google penalty?
We offer different services depending on your specific needs. Many of our solutions are marketing, but some of our services also fall into the categories of website management, creative work, preventative services or business expenses as well.
For example, is website hosting really marketing? Or, is it a necessary expense in order for your business to be online?
What about design? Although website design does enhance the user experience and can definitely help your website traffic convert, design in itself is not a marketing effort.
So, what are the differences in our services? What IS marketing, what is NOT?
To keep it simple we have grouped our services into two buckets:
- Operations – The Cost of Doing Business Online
- Marketing – The Cost of Getting Traffic, Form Fills, Phone Calls and Conversions
Clearly there is a lot of overlap, but this should help give you a better understanding of the intent behind each service.
So, how do we measure results?
Each service comes with its own measure of success, including operations and marketing tasks. Not all services are intended to have the same outcome, so there isn’t one single point of data or one single tool that can tell the whole story.
We suggest a combination of the following to properly track your marketing:
- Google Analytics for traffic and visitor data
- Google Analytics Goal Tracking for website conversions
- Gravity Forms, fed to Google Analytics for form tracking (website form fills)
- Call Tracking Metrics for calls and call conversion tracking (check them out, they are pretty rad)
The above tools will collect data that we can combine into a report to show you:
- Changes to website traffic, by source (organic, referral, direct, paid, social, etc.)
- Changes to user behavior (time on site, page views, top landing pages, etc.)
- Where the traffic for the forms is coming from, and what action they took (subscribed to newsletter, filled out the contact form, downloaded your eBook, etc.)
- Where the website conversions are coming from and how many conversions you received
- Where your calls are coming from and (if you use the tool to enter in call sentiment and conversion data) what sources are driving the calls that convert
The data then helps us better understand:
- What is working, what isn’t (with the site and the marketing)
- What content/pages get the best visibility
- What lead sources drive the best leads
- What marketing channel converts the highest
- What your ROI (return on investment) or ROAS (return on ad spend) is, per source
- Where you should be focusing your efforts moving forward
- How you should allocate your marketing budgets in the future
However, we would like to point out that no matter how many experts you have working on your team, no matter how many tools you have collecting data, and no matter how much time you spend evaluating the campaigns, there is no such thing as PERFECT reporting.
NONE of the tools are perfect, not even Google Analytics. Marketers report on inaccuracies all of the time. Sometimes it’s the implementation of the tool. Sometimes Google samples data. Sometimes third-party tools buy their data from someone other than Google. Some reports even say that Google only gives you about 70% of what they see. There are a million reasons, but the point is NO tools are perfect, and therefore you cannot expect to get perfect data from them.
Lead sources are never perfect. Even if you have cookies and sophisticated tracking methods, the lead source is only the first or last point of entry. For example, a visitor could find you on Facebook, follow your fan page and engage with your posts – having never clicked a link to your site. Later, when they decide to look you up they might go to Google and search for your brand. From there they could click a pay per click ad, your map (Google My Business listing) or your site in the organic results. What source gets credit for the lead?
Online Marketing Campaigns don’t come with clear parameters. At first, evaluating website and call tracking data seems pretty straightforward. If you see visits and calls from one lead source and not another, that must mean the second one isn’t working, right? Not necessarily. Big brands didn’t become household names by only focusing on the measurable data. They understand that it takes a multi-channel approach to get big results. For example, you will likely never be able to attribute a lead or call to a clean logo and website design. But, you know that your professional website helps users trust your company, leading to increased conversions. The same goes for blogging, social and even press. Although they CAN give you direct clicks (referral traffic) and phone calls, they are really part of a bigger marketing strategy intended to help your brand and website gain visibility with the search engines.
Branding is impossible to measure perfectly. I would almost never use the word “impossible,” but in this case, I feel confident saying it. Why? Your brand awareness began the first time you handed out a business card or sent your first company email. Your brand includes any mention of your company name and any image of your logo, online and off. Raising awareness for your brand doesn’t start and stop with marketing: It can be TV, billboards, radio, mailers, brochures, wearables, handing out your business card, emails, comments on blogs, listings on directories, the yellow pages, social media platforms, apps, blogs, press, attending events, newsletters, referrals, your storefront, signs, partnerships, etc. The list goes on and on. If you are using tools to track your lead sources, keep in mind that just because the tool shows one source, that doesn’t mean that the other campaigns and efforts didn’t contribute to the lead/conversion.
The Bottom Line
- Website and online business services are not necessarily “marketing” and therefore should not be included in your tracking efforts as marketing, but rather the cost of doing business.
- When budgeting for the year, always develop a separate budget dedicated to website changes, fixing issues, adding content, etc. Trust me, you need it.
- When analyzing the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns, don’t forget there is no such thing as perfect tracking and reporting. Don’t get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the bigger picture. What’s most important is that your overall conversions are increasing… because that is why you are really investing into marketing in the first place, isn’t it?
If you have a question about business services verses marketing services and how to effectively track and measure results, give us a call at 800.871.4130, comment below or drop us a note. Team Eminent SEO is here to support you, your business AND marketing needs by working together to achieve the best strategy and reporting for you.