Why You Should Use Marketing Automation to Gather and Use Analytics

Analytics. For many business owners and marketers, the word comes with mixed feelings: both excitement at the opportunities it could present, and intimidation, for the seemingly endless breadth of knowledge available on the subject.

First, what are analytics, in the context of marketing for your business?

Analytics: a collection of online data from which meaningful information and insights can be derived that can help you make better marketing and business decisions.

If you’re doing it properly, you’re not just collecting any data, but actionable data. Actionable data is useful, relevant, meaningful information that can be used to make intelligent, real-life marketing and business decisions. This is where marketing automation platforms such as SharpSpring come in.

Analytics-ThinkstockPhotos-473265020 Photo: Thinkstock / iStock / pingingz / 473265020

The Power of Marketing Automation

One of the best ways to not only acquire useful analytics, but to act on them, is to invest in marketing automation. Marketing automation allows you to do so much more than simply accumulate and store analytics and look at graphs, it allows you to take the data and turn it into something useful that will help move your company forward!

For example, instead of simply sending out an e-newsletter to an email list and wondering how they responded to it, marketing automation platforms such as SharpSpring allows you to not only collect actionable data, but they allow you to act on it!

With SharpSpring:

You you get a real-time report on the amount of contacts who open the email and click on specific links, and finally, have the software automatically sort them into lists based on their behaviour and interests (i.e. what they click on)! Now, you’ve learned something about each contact that you can use in a variety of ways. Further, if certain links in the email haven’t performed well, you’ll know, and can adjust your tactics accordingly to improve engagement next time!

Perhaps some of these same contacts have visited certain landing pages on your website, that show further interest in your company and/or specific services you offer – this criteria could be added to your list(s), too!

For example, you might create a list called “People who are Interested in Vintage Fashion” and have it automatically populate with contacts who have clicked on links to blogs about vintage fashion from your e-newsletter and have also visited product pages on your site devoted to vintage fashion.

From there, when it’s time for the next e-newsletter to be sent out, you’ll be able to send each new list a version of the e-newsletter that is tailored to their interests, perhaps with a link to a form with a new offer that they’ll appreciate (e.g. a free resource on vintage fashion). Of course, you’ll be able to automatically track all of this too, and to automatically save it with your contact’s profile. The more you learn about your contacts, the better equipped you’ll be to give them what they want and to continue to nurture them along the sales process.

This is just one example of the many ways in which marketing automation can enhance the value of your analytics and your ability to use analytics intelligently and profitably. Check out our other recent blog on what questions to ask when putting together an analytics report.

Three Questions to Maximize Your Analytics

The importance of monitoring your online properties is not understated. By monitoring, you learn where your ad dollars are going and can see exactly how you’re improving.

However, figuring out what to report on can be just as difficult. Most tools at your disposal have more than you could ever need, and determining what those metrics actually measure can be complicated.

Ineffective reporting is almost as bad as no reporting. When you don’t know what’s going on, you make choices based on incomplete information. Here are three questions to ask about your metrics before writing a report:


Image Credit: violetkaipa / iStock / ThinkStock

1- What Does This Mean?

The single most basic question is often the most important. Even industry professionals ask the exact parameters for every tool they’re working with, on every single campaign.

Each tool measures slightly different things, and they often update their guidelines to reflect changes in the Internet. As a result, this should be the absolute first thing you ask about your monitoring tools.

You can’t have any effective report unless you know exactly what you’re reporting on, and what surprisingly vague word such as “visits” or “unique visitors” are actually measuring. For example, a visit could simply be clicking the page, or it could be when somebody has spent three minutes on the site. You could also have control over the definition, meaning it needs to be set before you get solid numbers.

Once you know what your metrics mean, you can begin to grasp your campaign performance.

2- Why Do I Need It?

Another important question, this one to keep your reports down to a manageable length. There are hundreds of metrics available for your website, and if you implement every single one, you’ll be drowning in data.

Sticking to a few key metrics means you can really drill down on how to improve them. What you monitor should tie in to the goals for your online strategy, with everything else simply being a distraction. If you’re only interested in increasing the number of prospects that visit your site, the number of shares your blog post got is less important than the percentage of new unique visitors.

Asking why you’re measuring something means you only get relevant data, allowing you to spend as little time reading reports as possible, and more time working on your company.

3- How Do I Use It?

In order to get the most out of your metrics, it’s important to know how to get the most out of it. Sometimes each page you’re monitoring needs a tracking cookie, while others automatically gather data. You could need to configure settings for what to include and exclude, to keep out non human users in your data.

Getting at least a basic understanding of what your tools can do is important for knowing what their limits are and what you can expect from reports. It also makes sure you’re maximizing your investments in analytics.

While nobody can tell you exactly what to report, keeping these three questions in mind when you set up analytics helps you get the most out of it. SharpSpring offers quality, simple to use analytics tools that make it easy to spend more time working on your business.

Internet Dating With Online Lead Generation

There is much hoopla in online marketing about the process of lead generation. Leads can be turned into sales, which is what we all seek, but what actually is lead generation? How literal is the “generation” part – can inbound marketing actually create leads? Can marketing tactics actually transform someone into a buyer? As in affairs of the heart, can you push someone to act before they are ready?


lead generation is like internet dating


The short and evasive answer is “we can nurture interest to a positive outcome”. Let’s expand on this and hopefully clarify what lead generation is and what it isn’t. And while we are at it, let’s talk a little bit about online (business) relationships.


Lead generation is…

Lead generation is a process of moving potential clients/customers along a line to a condition where they are ready to buy.

Most online visitors start out as strangers to you and your company so they need some good ol’ fashioned courtin’. As with starting any new online relationship, it’s important to find out what they’re all about before asking for their heart.

Lead generation tactics involve an exchange of information from both parties, buyer and seller, to get to know each other enough to trust one another and move the relationship forward. A classic example of such is the buyer exchanging his or her contact info for something valuable that the seller may offer, such as a whitepaper or a webinar.

The important point is that leads come from those that have a problem, need or want. They eventually need to make a buying decision and lead generation facilitates their buyer’s journey.


Lead generation is not…

This may be fairly obvious, but it should be said for clarity. Leads do not appear out of “thin air” especially in B2B selling. Impulse and emotion are minimal in most business decisions – business folks go that extra mile to be responsible shoppers.

It also must be said that people go to your website for many fact-finding reasons; some may be doing research from the other side of the planet and some may be your ideal customers, ready to buy soon. (Some may actually be trying to sell YOU something.) It’s the Internet and you may have to kiss a few frogs to find those you have an actual chance to do business with.

You will attract potential buyers — it’s a numbers game and you have a wide audience. The reality is that seductive web pages, magic emails, or pushy advertising will likely not turn fact-finding into “buy now”. In B2B, buyers are ready to buy when they feel ready to buy. No amount of push is going to influence their decision or timetable — especially nowadays.


In conclusion…

Lead generation is not a recipe for spitting out qualified leads at the touch of a mouse click. It’s damn hard work attracting the right buyers and then building relationships and trust. You set the stage, answer all the questions and provide the best info.

Inbound marketing methods, powered by marketing automation, gives you a process and the tools to generate leads. The leads come from an Internet full of people searching your product and services at different stages of fact-finding.

The trick is to have eventual buyers find your company just at the right time in their buyer’s journey. Early enough so they can appreciate that your product or service is the right choice but committed enough that they are actually going to buy something.

Really, lead generation is more like lead qualification. The tactics that result in lead generation are not “magically” creating leads from thin air. Nor are they, in reality, taking casual interest and converting in into burning need or desire. As they say, you can’t make someone love you.

Someone has a problem, need or a want. You just need to find each other. Call it lead generation, lead qualification, or just finding that perfect match over the Internet.

Is there Too Much “Con” in Your Content?


Any professional writer understands that the art of communicating effectively lies in the structure of the information, how points are stated and the selection of appropriate words. A good marketer would add the importance of understanding your audience and positively positioning your solution (and brand). An experienced SEO consultant would delve even deeper to determine what specific keywords your audience would search for to find the solution they seek.

This is a simplistic view of the process, but it illustrates the necessity of using the right terms in order to attract the right audience to your website. And most companies understand this, in a rather simplistic manner. In fact, many SEO companies have a superficial understanding of the role of content on your website, and that can cost you dearly.

Many companies spend a lot of money each month in defining, monitoring, researching, testing, tweaking and tailoring their keywords to increase relevant traffic to their website. This can be a very strategic and effective means to attract prospects. (Actually, I should have used the term ”leads” as that ranks much higher than “prospects” as a keyword.) So we are getting very sophisticated in determining the magic terms to lure leads to our lair. And that is a good thing: leading our market to find the solutions they seek is helpful for all concerned.

The problem, as I see it, is that an intense focus on keywords often seems to hijack the underlying intent. Getting relevant leads to your website is not the end game; effectively communicating your message to your target market is your goal. And too many websites are written to attract the reader, not to engage and inform the reader once they are on your website.

This is the potential “con” in content, attracting visitors with the promise of a solution, and providing an empty experience devoid of any substance or valuable information. When the primary intent is on keywords, websites tend to be repetitive and focus on claims and positioning statements. Ironically, many superficial and sensational terms rate well in SEO. Not because people are searching for empty promises, they simply don’t know enough about the subject to know what they should be looking for. So “top results for PPC,” despite sounding rather spammy or too good to be true, is possibly a good term to attract desperate companies in need of SEO guidance. Let’s assume it is: once the SEO prospect is guided to your website, there should be some information and depth that goes beyond empty terms, promises or slogans. However, if most of your website text is geared to attracting visitors, your content may be superficial and lacking the substance required to convert new leads to customers.

Focusing on keywords to attract new leads is a smart tactic. However you’ll only reap rewards if it is part of an overall content strategy that considers your message and how effectively it is communicated. And that will help you stand apart from much of your competition. Don’t be alarmed by their regurgitation of pre-digested slop or the lack of any new information, insight or constructive value… simply Stay Calm and Content On.

Related Reading:

5 Things You Need To Know When Writing Ad Copy

Truths and Myths About Going Viral

Top 3 Tips to Find a Great Social Media Manager

MillenialsWhen in need of a social media manager or community manager we often assume that if we hire a person born after 1990 that they should automatically be qualified for the job. I don’t mean this as a good or bad thing, but simply as an assumption that we make, myself included. Now that I am in charge of coaching and managing a junior team of community managers I realize that they need as much support as any other role within a company. To help you find the right fit for your team, here are a the top 3 tips to find a great social media manager, rookie or experienced.

When I started consulting in social media I realized that being familiar with the platforms and knowing how they work was not enough to truly help my clients build a strong online presence and maximize their business socially. I worked hard to improve my knowledge of each channel; the advantages and disadvantages of each, their main messaging, their focus and what kind of audience they target. I also improved my skills in content marketing and did a lot of tests to see what works. I looked at competitors in different industries to pull out best practices that could be applied in a variety of fields. Although I am not here to share my experience with you, here are a few pointers to take into account when looking at a resume.


Tip #1: Ask questions!

The best advice that I can give you is to ask questions. Although you might not know much about social media, ask your candidate about potential social media strategy for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Give them an initial case in which they need to explain to you how they will increase your engagement rate by 50%. Even if you may not know all the answers, you will be able to observe their reaction.

Answering-hard-questions-during-a-job-interviewAre they confident in their answers?

Are they stumbling over their words?

Are they rambling?

Do they seem to know what they are talking about?

Also, listen to their words and see if they are mentioning any previous projects and examples of how they implemented the approach they are proposing. My colleague from PROSAR, Jenn Jefferys, wrote a great article on how to hire an inbound marketer and what to look for. You can apply many of these tricks to your search for your next social media manager.

Tip #2: Check them out online!

The advantage of today’s social networks is that you can look up anyone online. Simply Google your next candidate and see what comes up. As a social media or future community manager, they should have started to build their online reputation with a LinkedIn profile, a topic driven Twitter account and even a blog. If they have a blog take a look at the articles and their style of writing and the level of language.

SM_PROSAR_-_findIs their written form grammatically correct?

Does the article have a good flow?

Are you captivated by it? Or bored?

And do they have any guest posts? Are they writing for another website? Or publishing on LinkedIn?

Another way to check them out is to take a closer look at their LinkedIn profile. Many profiles today have top skills that are endorsed by others, recommendations that are added to a profile and even the option to see one’s portfolio. Another way to help your search is to directly post your job opportunity on a network like LinkedIn. You will probably get a candidate that has an active profile and that looked you up online as well. It has been proven that a post on career-oriented social media generates more than 60% of referrals towards the homepage of your company.

Tip #3: Follow your channels!

Here’s some advice if you believe you have found a great social media manager and that they are the right fit for your business. Although you trust their resume, their credentials, and what you have seen online, it might be to your advantage to become a little more active online and on your own channels. Get involved in your own social media strategy. If you have an existing network then start following your company Twitter account, LinkedIn company page or Facebook business page. Without being a micro-manager, your engagement will help you understand the advice your social media manager is giving you and maybe learn a thing or two about your company, your customers, and what is being said about you online.

You are making an investment in social media as an advertising, brand awareness and distribution channel. Follow the content that is being published, the customer feedback that you are receiving and the increase in the engagement that you observe. Finally, like any great strategy, it’s always great to have an overview from an expert.PROSAR has worked with many companies to help them setup their social media efforts and coached their internal specialists to implement tactics that work. Why not guarantee social media success with results from day 1?

There Are Non-Human Visitors In Your Google Analytics Reports!

Go ahead and panic – there’s a ‘referral spam’ invasion underway!

Actually, there’s no need to panic, but this is certainly an issue for anyone who relies on their analytics to make business decisions.


What’s Referral Spam?

Referral spam is the result of spammers creating computer-generated footprints that simulate actual visitors to your website. This causes the number of visitors that Google Analytics reports to become artificially inflated.  These fake numbers creep into your Audience reports and your Acquisition reports making them less accurate – in some cases much less accurate. Referral spam is most evident in the Google Analytics Referral report, which can be located by following this path:  Acquisition > Overview > All Traffic > Channels > Referral.  Here, the referral spam presents itself as being sources of traffic to your website, but their domains will likely seem strange to you.


Why Are They Doing This?

They’re trying to trick you into visiting their spammy websites.  If you go to one of these URLs, you’ll either get directed to an online store, a marketing scam, or a website that will infect your computer with malware.

Is There A Way To Combat Referral Spam?

Yes, however you may never be able to get rid of 100% of the referral spam.  There are several strategies for combating referral spam, each with its own degree of effectiveness, so implementing multiple strategies is the best solution.

You can attempt to block referral spam from visiting your website in the first placed by either adding code to your website’s html, or by using WordPress plugins. These strategies, however, only help with part of the problem and they could cause unintended issues, for example: blocking beneficial bots, like those who discover your content and share it with others.

The other way to go about combating referral spam is to filter from within Google Analytics.  This can be done because there are some telltale signs that reveal them as fake.  For instance, there’s a portion of referral spam that claims to be triggering your Google Analytics code from a website other than your own.  Therefore, a good step towards reducing referral spam is asking Google Analytics to only report on traffic to your actual domain.  Another sign that that a reported visitor may be a result of referral spam is seen when a visitor’s screen resolution is reported as “(not set)”.  These visits can be filtered out as well. Finally, if you still see referral spam after implementing the first two filters, you’ll need to do hand-to-hand combat with the remaining offenders.  This is done by individually adding them to another filter you create.

Is There A Way To Clean Referral Spam From Past Reports?

Yes.  Similar to using Google Analytics filters, which only effects reports after implementation, you can also create Google Analytics custom segments that reach back in time to help clean up your past reports. Again, these won’t be 100% effective at eliminating the referral spam, but they will go a long way towards improving the accuracy of your analytics reports.

What’s Google Doing About Referral Spam?

Google hasn’t implemented anything specifically to combat referral spam, nor have they announced they intend to.  This is unfortunate. Hopefully they’re actually working behind the scenes to create a solution.  Meanwhile, they do have an existing feature within Google Analytics that may, or may not, help. They have a checkbox which reads “exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”.  This can be found in the Admin section, under View > View Settings > Bot Filtering.  This, however, shouldn’t be relied upon to fix the problem because it seems that nobody at Google is adding referral spam bots to their list of known bots.

If You’re Going To Take Action, Beware

Please be aware that there are best practices that should be followed if you’re going to attempt any of these strategies, so be sure to do your research in advance, or consult experts for help.  We, here at Prosar Inbound Inc., are available to assist you, so feel free to contact us.