It’s no secret that in order to successfully grow your small business, an effective marketing strategy is key. But did you know that it’s equally important to track and measure your marketing activities?
When things are going well, we easily get caught up in the work we already have, focusing entirely on doing a great job with it. The problem is that focusing solely on the now can leave you high and dry if things go quiet! To ensure you’re consistently gaining traction, it’s crucial that you learn which marketing activities work for your small business and which don’t.
Why is this so important? As I explored in an earlier post, analysing your marketing allows you to evaluate, improve and adapt your campaigns, track your business goals and make sure you spend your money on the right marketing activities.
In this post, I’ll explore the different methods you can implement to track your results for the most common marketing channels for small businesses to learn from your past marketing activities.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that in learning how to measure your marketing, it’s important to consider your Customer Lifetime Value. This means how much you can reasonably expect to generate from one customer over their lifetime relationship with your business.
This will vary from business to business. A hairdresser, for example, is likely to see a lot more repeat business from one individual than a car salesperson! That being said, the higher CLV you can attract, the better. Keep that metric in mind when analysing your results from each of these channels.
To track your website engagement, make use of tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, or any built-in analytics on the site.
Platforms like Shopify, WordPress and Wix have their own analytics which can tell you a lot! This makes learning how to measure your marketing online a whole lot easier.
A lot of the other marketing channels (social media, networking, etc) are designed to draw traffic to your website. But how effective is your website itself? Use Google Analytics to explore how much traffic you are receiving and how much time people are spending on your site.
Stats like your Bounce Rate can tell you how quickly people are leaving, and keywords and search terms can tell you how people have found you.
Ideally, you want people to be spending a decent amount of time on the site to get to know your brand. And checking out the search terms they found you under can help you establish that your website is attracting the right people, who will convert.
Sales are, in most cases, the most important thing to look at when figuring out how to measure your marketing as a small business. Without sales, after all, the business isn’t going to get anywhere fast!
Put a note in your diary to spend a non-negotiable hour every month looking into your sales. Note down stats like your abandoned cart rate, the number of times someone filled out your contact form and (obviously) the number of conversions.
If you sell products on your website, you’re likely to have to spend more. To ensure you have an easy to navigate, professional platform for selling, sites like Shopify have a monthly fee. In addition to that, you’ll have your yearly domain name charge and fees from web developers (if you use them) for any updates.
Make sure you keep a spreadsheet detailing every penny you spend on the site. If you’re a service-based business, you might find that you’re spending more on the site than you’re getting out of it.
If that’s the case, take the time to analyse your social media or email marketing – if the majority of your leads are coming directly from these platforms, your money might be better spent there.
2. Social Media
Social media is one of the most common methods of marketing a small business. As a result, most social media platforms have built-in analytics, allowing you to assess your progress easily. In learning how to measure your marketing, this is a massive plus!
Here, you want to look at your social media following and engagement. Sit down once a month and look at your insights on each platform. Has your number of followers increased?
Follower count is what is sometimes referred to as a “vanity metric”, meaning it doesn’t directly affect your bottom line. However, steady growth in online following is a good indicator of increasing brand awareness.
Ensuring your ideal customer knows who you are is key. They might not buy from you this month, but six months down the line you might be just what they need!
To really track your progress on Facebook, consider installing a Facebook Pixel. This piece of code will allow you to track the customer’s journey from when they click on your Facebook ad, right through to when they complete their purchase.
This is ideal, as it allows you to see where, if at all, there seems to be a halt. Do they click away from the site as soon as it loads? If so, your ad copy could use some work.
Do they abandon the cart at checkout? Consider rethinking your shipping costs. This information is incredibly valuable.
Once again, look at your budget. If you’re advertising on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter, keeping a close eye on your cost per click is important.
Say your product costs £10, and it’s costing you £1.00 for a lead – it probably isn’t worth it. If it’s costing you £0.05, however, that’s a different story. Use the in-platform analytics to work out your ROI and establish if it’s worth continuing.
3. Email Marketing
No matter which email marketing platform you’re using, most of them offer a very good overview of how subscribers have been interacting with your newsletter. Make sure to check them out regularly to see which content performed best and what time is best for sending out your emails.
There are a couple of metrics to look at when it comes to your email marketing. The first, is how many people are signing up. If you are promoting a sign up link on your website or social media, and gaining steady subscribers, it’s a good indicator that your customers want to know more about you.
The second stat to look at is your open rate. Check out this research from MailChimp on industry averages! Lastly, look at the rate at which people are unsubscribing and the reasons why.
If you’re putting out too many emails in an attempt to raise brand awareness, it could have the opposite effect, making people switch off!
As ever, this is the key area to look at – how many sales does your newsletter or email marketing campaign generate. Don’t let a low open rate put you off if the few people who did open it bought from you!
Equally, a high open rate with little to no conversions tells you that while your awareness may be on the rise, your copy, website or pricing could use some attention. Email marketing can be incredibly effective when it works, but when it doesn’t it can be a massive time sucker.
If you’re spending hours a week crafting beautifully worded emails with incredible graphics, and receiving zero sales, that’s a huge missed opportunity for investing elsewhere.
Email marketing can be a really effective method of communicating with your customers in a budget friendly way. Generally, you should be able to set this up without spending a penny. Some email marketing platforms have fees associated when you reach a certain number of subscribers, but otherwise it doesn’t tend to cost much.
However, when you’re analysing your sales, if you find you aren’t getting traction from your emails, it doesn’t really matter that it’s free! You might find that you’d be better off actually investing more money in another, more profitable channel. This is why analysing all of your marketing efforts, and carefully tracking the results and spend is so important.
4. Trade Shows
To track your results from a virtual or in-person event, you can use custom discount codes or specific URLs for landing pages, built specifically for attendees. You can also sign up people then and there, either for your mailing list or for your latest series of workshops.
When it comes to brand awareness, trade shows and exhibitions can be fantastic – no matter if they’re held online or in-person. It’s an opportunity to get in front of real-life people and talk up your business. These shows allow you to mingle, form connections with other businesses and meet new customers from all over the world.
If you’ve had a stand at a show, ask yourself the following – did your web traffic spike during or after the show? Did you see a notable increase in social media followers and engagement? And did you meet any other businesses who could have great potential for future collaboration? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes”, then the show was a success in terms of raising your brand profile.
You know where this is going by now! How to measure your marketing always comes back to this – did you make any sales? Before even booking a trade show spot, do some maths and work out exactly how many sales it would take to make this worth your while.
Brand awareness is great, but all the awareness in the world isn’t going to pay the bills! After the show, compare your actual sales with the numbers you noted down before. Do they match up? If not, think carefully before signing up for the next exhibition.
Unlike the other channels here, a trade show stand is, under most circumstances, a huge financial investment. This isn’t a £10 boost on Facebook – some events cost thousands! So it’s more important than ever to evaluate your ROI here.
Don’t give in to the pressure of attending trade shows simply because other people in your industry are doing so. Work out how much of your yearly marketing budget you’ve spent on the show – weigh that against the number of sales you had.
Whether you’re keeping a spreadsheet of contacts made at networking events or use a CRM (customer relationship management) software, keeping track of your contacts and possible follow-ups after the event is a great way to measure the results of your efforts.
In 2020, networking has, of course, changed format in many cases. Check out my post on how to be pro in online networking calls! Whether it’s face to face or virtual, networking is a fantastic opportunity to meet new potential customers.
After you’ve attended an event, take note of the following. How many new connections have you made on LinkedIn/how many business cards did you give out? Whatever you do, networking should be an essential part of your strategy – it’s just a matter of finding the right fit!
Another thing to consider is whether you have had any follow-up, one-to-one discussions with attendees. If so, how many of those chats have become a hot lead, and how many of those leads became a sale?
If the answer to these is “none” or “very few”, consider whether this particular networking event or group is worth carrying on with. It sounds harsh, but there are so many networking opportunities out there.
Don’t let yourself get stuck in one that isn’t working for you! Do remember though that these sales may not happen right away. Review any traction from networking events after a month and then again after six months.
Spend here is bound to vary. Some networking groups are entirely free, while others can have substantial annual fees. Something to keep in mind here though is that what you spend isn’t necessarily just about who is in the room.
The important thing about networking is that you’re making connections in order to access the networks of the other attendees. While you don’t want to throw money down the drain, it is true what they say – sometimes you have to spend money to make money.
And if a subscription to this group gives you access to the networks of one hundred different individuals, just think how many ideal customers that could be!
One way of evaluating the success of print materials is to put a specific code or web address on the flyers. Consider offering a downloadable freebie that is only referenced on these specific leaflets. That way, you have a concrete way of measuring how effective they have been in capturing your ideal client’s attention.
One of the downsides to more traditional advertising – like flyers – is that unlike social media or a website, these methods are a lot less trackable! However, even in this digital age, there is still a place for them within your small business marketing strategy.
To see how many people have seen and reacted to your leaflet, you can check for increased web traffic or new social media followers right after you’ve handed them out. In case you were promoting a special offer, you can gauge interest and reach by tracking the number of sign-ups or downloads.
If you’re mixing on- and offline marketing methods, consider adding a question to your sign-up form or initial consultation, asking the client where they found you. This allows you to track how many people have come to you from flyers or leaflets.
If, after a while, no customers have referenced the flyer as their method of finding you, it might be time to call it quits. It can be hard to say goodbye to a method you’ve used for a long time!
But the bottom line is this – if you’re paying for flyers only to get no money back from them, it’s a wasted investment. Figuring out how to measure your marketing is a learning curve – don’t be afraid to admit when something isn’t working.
Spend here can vary, and it’s something to think carefully about. Flyers might take longer to see results than online methods, but if you’re finding results trickling in from them, consider changing your approach.
There is no substitute for a trained designer, of course, but if you want to save money while testing them out, make them yourself! Sites like Canva allow you to design your own professional flyers for free, and sites like SoloPress and VistaPrint are great for affordable printing.
If after a while you find that you’ve found your groove with them, and the locations you’re dropping the flyers off at are seeing them fly off the shelves, you can invest more money once again. It’s all about managing your budget, after all.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Whatever on or offline channels you use, it’s crucial to track your results. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas on how to measure your marketing efforts. Using the metrics outlined in this post, you can be sure to stay on top of it!
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
The Best Online Marketing Channels for Small Businesses
How to Choose the Right Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
The Pros and Cons of Marketing Channels for Your Small Business
My Favourite Small Business and Marketing Tools