In 2017 I was invited to become an adjunct professor of Digital Data Analytics at Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business, unfortunately that offer coincided with blockchain skyrocketing growth and i was working 24/7 at BlockchainDriven (BCD), so I had to turn down the offer. Yet my passion for using data in marketing has only grown and when I was asked to share my experience with readers of Silicon NYC on how startups can scale up by maximizing their data, I was happy to share some of the elements that had made.The easiest data that every team has access to is Google Analytics (GA) but from my teams experience, it is highly underutilized by most startups and companies. Today we will dive into how your team can utilize GA to get measurable and actionable results from various data points.
As a growing startup, your constant goals are to increase sales with the least amount of additional marketing spend. You should be getting the most bang for your buck. Finding areas where you can scale and amplify your growth is crucial to long term success. Known as growth hacking, there are a number of elements that play a role in identifying a model that allows your startup to amplify its conversion in thus improving your return on investment (ROI).
First things first, what is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and how is your current data synced to identifying it? Since ultimately you want to target the highest quality customers from the start. The best part about GA data, is that you have all the key elements in it: PPC, Organic Traffic, Social Media and Referrals. You can pinpoint down all the way to the location of where your customers are and what time they looked at it.
Now let’s break down why data analytics in marketing is so important. On one side you have your traffic and on the other is sales and leads, but what merges the two is your data analytics strategy. By looking at your data, you can learn exactly what is going to turn your traffic into sales. The first step of lead generation is learning the specific traits of your traffic such as: where they click, how they get to your page and how long they spend on certain pages. And with that data you are able to target those potential sales. For all start-ups, the objective in a nutshell is to create awareness in thus, driving more traffic and sales and to accelerate business growth. Your website traffic is only one part of a complex equation that can be solved though data analytics.
There are many ways that businesses try to stay ahead of the marketing curve, but they don’t all have to be costly. Since cost per lead acquisition can skyrocket as other businesses identify similar opportunities of acquiring sales. Think of it this way: every company is fighting for the same piece of the pie, whether it’s SEO, Content, PPC or Social Media.
“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
What if I told you, that you can increase your sales of the traffic you have now just by looking at your data analytics? Firstly, looking at the top of the funnel (TOFU) you can make the right data decisions. This means looking at the data that initially drew visitors to your site, and then following that funnel down, mapping out key steps they need to take and assigning values to them. In the long term, applying data to every business decision will lead to long term success, as incremental steps, add up to a large inflection trajectory over time.
1) Look Beyond Bounce Rate
Most people know that a low bounce rate is good! …Except when it isn’t. Bounce rate is meaningless unless you know what your key performance indicators (KPIs) are and what your objectives are for landing pages. At each step (Traffic source, lead, pages, contact form contacts, etc) you should have various KPIs to understand what works and what doesn’t.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu
Just the bounce rate, in isolation, has no value in practically every case. Here is an easy application that you can apply immediately: Set up 3 Segments: Landing Page + Time on Page + Bounce Rate. What will you find out?
More often than not, you’ll find out that it is not your main page. Often times it might be a blog article, or a page that you have no idea is getting high traffic. And how do you find out? Check your landing page GA. Our team spends significant time on analytics with each project to go through each of these components to figure out exactly which has the most drive.
“I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of Sherlock Holmes
First things first, get into the habit of looking beyond the bounce rate. The landing page tells you where visitors are coming from. This criteria is very important and here’s why: you might have traffic coming to a page, that you have no idea who or what is bringing that traffic. This happens all the time. We had a client where 50% of their traffic was coming from a handful of pages that the client had no idea was bringing traffic, which means those pages were not optimized for sales and conversion.
If you have not optimized your traffic and landing pages, when optimized you can see a large percentage uplift for those specific landing pages that targeted a specific audience. This sounds like science fiction until you try it, but the reality might be that you are missing out on easy leads and sales on your site, and all you need to do is raise the curtain of data.
By knowing what pages are driving the most traffic, you can edit and target them with relevant information (and call to actions) and remarket to push further lead generation. This alone can increase your sales significantly.
Now imagine you are a Blockchain based e-commerce platform distributing items (screenshot below) and you think your main traffic comes from the main page… wrong. In fact one of our recent clients found out that less than 30% of their traffic was coming from the main page. In the chart below, guess which one is the main landing page?
You probably guessed wrong, the main page is actually only #4 of the traffic drivers for this site. It’s only 10% of total monthly traffic.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Albert Einstein, Physicist
But notice that the bounce rate is so different for each page. That’s because each page has its own role. Some educate people about activities, some tell you about tokens and some are there to capture SEO traffic. Each page has its own bounce rate reasons, but you wouldn’t know that if you just looked at the entire site bounce rate.
Now that you have have KPIs in place, each page should be treated as its own conversion funnel, and by knowing the time on each page, bounce rate and where it’s landed, you can identify which pages drive the most traffic to you, how they do it, and what should be done to improve sales conversion on them. In the case of this client, we did page by page edits, breaking down who was the demographic of that page, why were they leaving and what we could do to have them go to another page, versus just leaving because they didn’t find what they were looking for.
2) Understand Your Traffic Sources
“A picture is worth more than ten thousand words.”
Fred R. Barnard
One of the easiest to use elements of GA is ‘on page analytics’. Even if you are advanced with GA, it will give you a new perspective on how you absorb and find actionable data. The way GA works, on every single page you can see where people go and how they use your site. The best part is, if your boss doesn’t understand how to use analytics or why it should matter, show him ‘on page’ GA. Nothing speaks volumes as much as actually seeing what happens on the page and what site visitors are drawn to.
3) Use variant and A/B testing it to increase sales: This includes online and offline sales. Same as the famous phrase ABC< always be closing in sales, in marketing it is always testing. A/b testing is used to compare two different variants to see which performs better. This is another element that alone can help you optimize your sales for a bigger ROI. Simply see what pages people are going to, maybe you should cut down on pages. For example, in this case they have 3 pages that no one ever goes to, but those menu items are taking up valuable above-the-fold site real estate. We hid those pages for the client, and we found a jump of 40% to pages that increase sales. Just by removing pages that are not used, you are removing clutter and focusing your visitors to where they should be going.
“The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”
John Tukey, American Mathematician
You can also see how people are browsing visually page by page, do they scroll down or stay above the fold? For this client we’ve found that only 25% of people would scroll down, the rest would take action above the fold. Which means 75% of people never go beyond where they landed, before clicking on another page. Depending where you are in your project, this might save both time and money as well as direct you on the right track in terms of engagement.
4) Benchmark Each Traffic Chanel
One of the biggest problems we see when working with startups , is that they’re not measuring the conversion of each channel. Sometimes you will have much larger traffic from one source and yet sales will be much higher from another source. One project I worked with like that was a blockchain logistics project built around transparency. Out of nowhere they started getting 30,000 visitors every month from social media and it was a significant part of their overall traffic. If we just looked at the traffic we would pat ourselves on the back and say great job! We on the other hand decided to look closer at the source of the traffic, and traffic behavior. Sure enough, most of the traffic was coming from the social media discovery site, StumbleUpon, and it was extremely low quality traffic. We had to segment it and remove it from our lead / sale calculation since it was skewing the math.
So know your channels, know how people take action and where they are coming from. Segment your funnels by channels, behavior and sales numbers. If you want to do a social media campaign, know the numbers. We found that, unless it’s very well planned and executed, social media lead is usually less valuable. From our data, your organic traffic (from google) is 4 times as likely to convert to lead/sale vs. social media traffic.
“Never confuse motion with action.”
A blockchain project in hospitality that we worked with took this to heart, and changed how they allocated their budget for holiday marketing, which resulted in a 180% increase in sales coming from online traffic. A lot depends on your field, your demographic and what you are looking to get out of the campaign. Knowing that your organic traffic will convert better to sales, you might want to consider spending more time on building out your organic engagement pages vs preparing your next big social media push.
5) Tracking your KPIs.
It’s really easy to forget when a change was made to your website, and if you don’t save it, even only a week later it’s hard to remember the exact date, time and nature of the change. Imagine a year later? When you do get results you don’t know if it’s one of the changes you did or not, or which of the changes you’ve made got you the results. This seemingly simple option, allows for amazing insights down the road, but often goes completely unused. A number of projects could save time and money by simply noting the changes. It is the norm in software development, but in marketing it is often overlooked.
This is the one option that everyone can make, and you don’t need any special skills or training. Just add a quick summary of what happened that day, and it immediately becomes a trackable benchmark (ex: welcome banner on page Y was replaced with promotional banner), something as simple as this, that can help you spot a drop or increase in traffic and changes in user behavior and determine what caused it and be able to make appropriate adjustments. For example, if you were to change a banner and then track that change, it can help you see the effectiveness of the new addition.
Recently we tested a mobile banner campaign for a SAAS Ai platform. The main change was a holiday themed banner and different products as the call to action; with the same text as before, and same color scheme. It resulted in a 108% increase in click through to product pages. A seemingly minor change resulted in doubled sales for the the company from those pages that were identifiable from measuring results from a timeline before, and after, the change was made.
By adding notes and tracking for every significant change and making it your operational procedure, you can always trace any discrepancy or change in buying behavior, sales, attributing and tracking your visitors’ activity.
The final takeaway? There are so many ways to increase sales and leads from proper applications of data analytics. At the core, it comes down to using the information available to you, and if you use even one of the above methods to harness your data, it will have a profound effect on how you view your visitors, make decisions about marketing, and have customers engaging more with your product without having to increase your budget. We have seen companies triple and quadruple their sales based on the integration of data into their sales process and start taking data seriously. The worst offenders are often companies that deal with data on the back-end, but ignore it on the front-end. Love and respect your data, and it will love you back.