Tracking your marketing analytics can provide a ton of great insight into the performance of your marketing initiatives, show your boss how marketing is faring, and help you to prove that inbound marketing is really paying off.
But that's only a small piece of why analytics are valuable. In fact, the true value of your analytics is what you can do with them. Good marketers use analytics for the first few things we mentioned. Great marketers use them to adapt, improve, and modify their marketing efforts . In other words, great marketers make their analytics actionable.
Oh, so you want to be one of those great marketers? Well here are 9 ways to make your analytics actionable.
Use Your Analytics To...
1) ... Identify Which Topics to Blog About
Use your blog analytics to determine which topics resonate with your target audience. To do so, group blog articles by topic (for HubSpot customers, export Blog Analytics and then sort in Excel) and then take a look at the views for those individual blog posts. Do you notice a trend in how certain topics perform compared to others?
Adapt your strategy to create more content about the topics your marketing personas care about, and less about the topics that don't resonate. For example, if you're a unicorn breeder and you blog about various unicorn care-related topics, you might find that your readers are more interested in topics about unicorn diet than unicorn exercise. If that's the case, you should create more content about healthy unicorn diets!
2) ... Refine Your SEO Strategy
Unless you're just getting started, hopefully you've already conducted some initial keyword research to inform your SEO strategy . But if you want to take it to the next level and start refining your strategy, the SEO analytics you've built up to this point can play a very important role in deciding which keywords to target in your link-building and content creation efforts.
Take a look at your closed-loop analytics to determine which keywords have driven the most traffic, leads, and customers for your business. This will give you a sense of which keywords people are already using to find you, and which keywords are actually sending you qualified traffic (i.e. the keywords that contribute to leads and customers). Using this information, you might want to start targeting other long-tail keyword variations based on these high performing keywords.
You can also use this data to identify holes in your content creation strategy . If you're generating a lot of traffic for a given keyword or phrase (maybe you have an awesome blog article that ranks highly for it, for example), yet none of that traffic is converting, it could be that you have no marketing offers relevant to that keyword for visitors to convert on. With that information, you could create new offers to address that problem and start capitalizing on all that lost traffic.
3) ... Decide Which Social Media Sites to Spend Your Time On
With so many social media sites at your disposal, it can be hard to prioritize how much time you should be spending on each one. Let analytics be your guide. Look at your traffic sources granularly to see how much traffic and how many leads each social media site is referring to your website. For many marketers, LinkedIn is the top lead generator among the social networks , but this may be different for you.
You should also used closed-loop data to determine how many of those visitors and leads are actually converting into customers for each social channel. Then allocate your time accordingly. If you're generating little traffic, leads, and customers from Twitter, for example, but are seeing a lot of ROI from Facebook, spend more of your time engaging your Facebook community and less time tweeting.
4) ... Determine Email Frequency
Are you emailing your list too much -- or not enough? To determine this, you'll also need to do a little testing, but the insights you'll gain from your analytics as a result will help you determine your optimal email sending frequency . First, figure out your hypothesis. Are you trying to see if increasing your email frequency yields increased conversions? Perhaps you want to see if decreasing your sending frequency results in fewer unsubscribes than usual.
Once you've used you analytics to segment your communications (see what we did there?), choose a segment of your list to use as your sample, and use email marketing metrics provided by your email service provider such as open rate, deliverability rate, unsubscribe rate, and click-through rate to establish the current benchmarks for that specific segment. Now create a series of emails, and send them using the frequency you decided upon in your hypothesis (maybe it's increasing from once every two weeks to once a week, for example). When the test is over, compare your analytics from the test against the analytics from your previous sending frequency. Do the results align with your hypothesis?
5) ... Decide Which Content to Use in Lead Nurturing Campaigns
Not sure which content you should use in your lead nurturing email campaigns? As you're mapping the content you use to a lead's stage in the sales cycle , you'll want to fill in that content map with the most successful content you have. So how do you identify which of your content performs the best? You check your analytics, that's how!
Use your landing page analytics to determine which marketing offers have the highest conversion rates and contributed to the most lead-to-customer conversions. When you're choosing the best content for a particular lead nurturing campaign , choose the most relevant offer with the highest lead-to-customer conversions.
5) ... Segment Your Email Communications
Are you segmenting your email communication? MarketingSherpa reports that emails that have been tailored to specific audiences through segmentation get 50% more clicks than their counterparts . If that's not reason to start segmenting, I'm not sure what is. But if you want to start improving the performance of your email sends through segmentation, guess what you need? You guessed it: data!
There are a number of ways you can segment your email communications : by geography (especially if you're a business for which location is a major factor), by industry/role, by content interests, by point in the sales cycle, etc. To determine which segments make the most sense for your particular business, take a look at the data you already have available. Analyze the information you gather from your leads via lead-capture forms and lead intelligence. Figure out the most logical groupings based on your buyer personas, the information your recipients want from you, the questions they might have, or their stage in the buying cycle. For HubSpot customers, the List Creation Tool makes it easy to segment emails, and the Marketing Automation Tool allows you to trigger email communication based on specific visitor activities on your website.
7) ... Improve Your Calls-to-Action and Landing Pages
When was the last time you did a little audit of how your calls-to-action (CTAs) and landing pages were faring, and how they complement each other? Have you ever? Analyzing the click-through rates of your CTAs as well as the traffic and conversion rates of the landing pages they point to can reveal a lot about how effective each asset is, and also provide hints to what can be improved about them. (Note: HubSpot customers can get this data from the Call-to-Action Module and the Landing Pages Tool , respectively.)
For example, if you have a high click-through rate on your CTA but the conversion rate of the landing page it points to is low, then you probably have a problem with your landing page. If your landing page has a killer conversion rate but you find that traffic to that page is low, then it's likely the CTA for it is the element that needs work.
So what do you do after your initial diagnosis? Start A/B testing! When it comes to CTA and landing page design, a little tweak can go a long way to improve click-through and conversion rates. Here's a great guide to landing page testing , and another one for CTA testing . For HubSpot customers, A/B testing is easy with the CTA Module and the Advanced Landing Pages Tool .
8) ... Score & Prioritize Your Leads for Sales
Lead scoring is a great way to help your sales team prioritize your leads and only work those that are qualified. If you're a business that generates lots of leads and you want to implement a lead scoring program , there's no way around it -- you're going to need to rely on your analytics to set it up. First things first: you need to decide what a marketing qualified lead (MQL) looks like for your business.
An MQL is a lead who is more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on their demographic information and their activity on your site before they become a customer. To paint a picture of what an MQL means for your business, you'll need to gather three types of data from your analytics: demographic information, lead intelligence , and closed-loop data. Demographic information is data you gather from your lead-capture forms to tell you about a lead's role, company size/industry, etc. Lead intelligence data will give you information about a lead's interests and activity on your website (e.g. forms completed, number of pages visited, etc.). Closed-loop data can tell you which conversion events you offer on your website have the highest close rates.
Combining this data together will help you identify which criteria make for a marketing qualified lead. Then you can assign point values to these criteria depending on which are more critical than others and decide on a total score that warrants a lead being passed onto Sales. Then your sales team will have a very numerical way to prioritize which leads to work, and which leads they should let marketing nurture more.
For a more in-depth explanation of how to implement a lead scoring process, read this post . HubSpot users can leverage the Lead Management Tool and the Lead Grader App to set lead scoring criteria, auto-score, and re-score leads in real time.
9) ... Focus on the Marketing Channels That Actually Work
While we're on the topic, lead scoring isn't the only thing you can do with closed-loop data. Another very valuable benefit of closed-loop data is that it lets you compare how effective each of your channels is compared to others. Similar to how you'd use analytics to decide which social media channels are worth your time, you can use your analytics to see which marketing channels -- social media vs. email vs. SEO vs. blogging vs. paid search vs. any other channel -- are the most effective at generating actual customers for your business, and which ones are lagging behind.
If you notice that email is your best source of customers and that SEO and blogging generate few customers for your business, for example, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity. Invest time in ramping up your blogging efforts and better optimizing your blog content and the rest of your website so more people can find you through search. Or perhaps you're spending a lot of time on your social presence, but the leads you generate from social media never actually turn into customers (but leads generated from your blog have a high customer conversion rate); it might be wise to start directing more social media traffic to your blog rather than to dedicated landing pages.
Thinking critically about your closed-loop analytics can help you determine which channels are your bread winners and which aren't so you can adjust your efforts accordingly to make the time you spend marketing more fruitful.
How else can you use your analytics to make actionable improvements to your marketing programs?
Image Credit: Courtney Dirks
Originally published Feb 17, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017
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