Elements of Modern Professional Services Marketing 6: Analytics

By Aaron Taylor

You've probably heard the famous quip by John Wanamaker, founder of Philadelphia's first department store: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” Today, John would have no such excuse. He would not only know, he would be doing something about it.

In fact, you could argue that the most important advance in marketing over the past 10 years is the rise of measurement. As more marketing activity occurs online, it's easier than ever to find out — often in real time — what resonates with buyers and what doesn't. The tools that make this possible are called analytics.

Analytics come built in to most online tools today — from LinkedIn to Vimeo. But the most essential tool for most professional services is the analytics package they use with their website. And for 90 percent of businesses, that means Google Analytics. This powerful, cloud-based package can be installed on virtually any website and provides more than enough data for most firms. If you don't have it (or some other capable analytics software), by all means install it today.

But in my experience most firms that have web analytics software aren't getting much value from it. Either they check it infrequently, or they don't understand what the data can do for them. Even basic data can reveal important information about a firm's visitors and website — information firms can use to improve the web experience and encourage visitors to become clients.

What Basic Web Analytics Can Tell You

Here are just a few questions that even the most basic web analytics data can answer for you:

  • How many visitors come to your site on any given day, week, month (or other period of time)?
  • Is there a correlation between other marketing efforts and increased web traffic?
  • What pages (and types of content) are most popular?
  • Where are people entering your website? (It shouldn't always be your homepage.)
  • What keywords are people searching on to find you (and what important terms aren't bringing any traffic)?
  • What sites and blogs link to yours?
  • How much is social media driving traffic to your site?
  • Are people using mobile devices to access your site?
  • How much time are people spending on your site? And where are they spending most of it?

This is critical information that can and should shape your marketing decisions. If you aren't looking at this data crtically and trying to figure out how to use it to your benefit, you're missing a huge opportunity.

What Else Can You Do With Analytics?

Why stop at the basics? There's so much more you can do with analytics. And the more you put into them, the more benefit you will reap. Here are just a few of the slightly more advanced things you can with them. (For the record, we do all of these here at Hinge.)

  • Decide what you want people to do on your site (such as download an article or fill out a form) and track how many people do it (these are called “conversions”).
  • Track how people move through your site.
  • Monitor how the behavior of visitors from different cities, states or countries differ (who spends more time on your site, for instance).
  • Set up an A/B test for two landing page variations and track which version performs better.
  • Track you pay-per-click campaigns.
  • Discover which pages load slowly (potentially discouraging visitors).
  • Track how many people download specific files and documents (such as PDFs).
  • Determine which sidebar offers perform better.
  • Discover how much revenue and new business is your site producing.

Of course, all the data and fancy reports in the world won't do a firm any good if they don't act on the information. Analytics provide all sorts of valuable insights that, if translated into small and large adjustments, can dramatically improve the effectiveness of a website.

For instance, if you determine that visitors are spending a lot of time reading certain types of blog content and giving other posts short shrift, consider writing more on the topics that are generating interest and traffic. Or suppose a certain page gets a lot of direct visitors but has a high bounce rate (people leaving right after reading the page). Consider adding in the sidebar an offer or link to similar content on your site. That might be enough to keep visitors engaged and compel them to explore your services. The possibilities are endless.

Without analytics, modern marketing is — like its traditional forebears — a hit and miss proposition. But any firm that takes the time to master analytics will be able to understand which aspects of their online marketing are working and which are just wasting resources.

That's what true power looks like. And John Wanamaker knew it.

Further Reading


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