How to Use Marketing Analytics to Drive Superior Growth #SEMrushchat with Steve Hammer

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How to Use Marketing Analytics to Drive Superior Growth #SEMrushchat with Steve Hammer

Becky Shindell
How to Use Marketing Analytics to Drive Superior Growth #SEMrushchat with Steve Hammer

The success of every marketing campaign – or business, for that matter – is measured by a single thing: the bottom line. The “measurement” part, however, is where Marketing Analytics comes in. Data helps marketers analyze their performance, change their tactics, wisely allocate their budgets, and manage and maximize the effectiveness of their campaigns.

On digital channels, all of this translates to metrics like traffic, clicks, views, engagement, and so on. During last week’s #SEMrushchat, our guest Steve Hammer shined more light on how organic traffic and other metrics influence customer acquisition, business growth, and revenue. Steve is the founder of digital marketing agency RankHammer, winner of the Best Small Agency award in the U.S. Search Awards. Here is a summary of his opinions and what our other chat participants had to say:

Q1. What are the biggest drivers of growth within a business? Does it vary by business size?

The answer to that is obvious. Steve clarified that awareness is the need of the hour for small businesses, while bigger ones could directly focus on conversion. Data, however, is the key to understanding your most significant growth drivers. Online metrics give an indication of gaps in overall business milestones. For example, less direct traffic to your site is an indication of low brand awareness

Almost all of the #SEMrushchat participants agreed that growth drivers vary by size, but their opinions differed on what the most important ones are. These included:

Dawn Anderson - @dawnieando, said that growth depends on a lot of different factors, including budget, team cohesion, focus, and leadership structure. Ekaterina Vasileva - @AskEkaterina also outlined a bunch of factors for consideration, including strategy, brand image, and customer relations. Most importantly, accurate data that helps you pinpoint what’s working and what’s not and pinpoint the best growth driver for your business is paramount to success.

Of course, business fundamentals state that it all depends on your marketplace and how your business fits within it.

There are also some growth drivers that don’t necessarily vary by size but are rather affected by the lifecycle phase where the business is at the moment. Innovation is one of these factors, especially in the startup marketplace.

The depth of customer experience and the quality of your product or service is something that is invaluable to business growth. Once you recognize and identify your hustles and motivations, you can then build on your reputation and scale your business.

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Q2. What are some ways that you can turn marketing analytics into effective marketing strategies?

Steve starts out by looking for gaps in strategy and then figures out how to fill those gaps. He also stresses on benchmarking and comparing with the competition, especially when it comes to strengths.

And when it comes to competitive analysis, SEMrush can help you a lot, especially when it comes to discovering competitors and tracking their search visibility using features like Position Tracking.

It is essential to understand the customer journey before you even begin formulating a strategy. Your analytics will help you to find customers’ pain points that you can then use to decide how to tweak your strategy and apply specific tactics like making relevant offers. Obviously, you need to tweak your budget and efforts as well to maximize ROI.

Good analytics comes from good data. You need to ensure you are collecting accurate data by using the right tags and applying the right tracking parameters. And this data should come from all departments of your organization, especially feedback from support teams. Further, the availability of historical data is necessary to help you to form long-term graphs, so that you can identify patterns and trends, as well as react quickly to inconsistencies.

Understand that no business ever goes according to plan; this is where strategists need to go back to business goals, capitalize on strengths, and iron out weaknesses. A simple rule of thumb is to see where your best-performing traffic comes from and do whatever gives you more of it.

Understanding user behavior from past data is key to planning and forecasting. Data, such as who your audience is and what products they browse on your site helps you understand their thought process and buyer intent; this helps you identify growth opportunities and even new markets. While user segmentation is critical, don’t forget the speed and direction of your business.

With analytics, marketers no longer need to shoot in the dark. You can discover why and how your audience is converting, and use that data to optimize conversions. Test out different strategies and pinpoint the ones that give you better ROI. You can also tie those back to your company goals and determine if there is a need for a pivot.

Finally, use your analytics wisely to produce relevant content that targets your customers better, as 20% of your content drives 80% of your visitors. For instance, Spotify regularly uses consumer data to create content that drives their marketing campaigns. Another great example where analytics influences content marketing is the #SEMrushchat itself!

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Q3. What are the most important metrics to measure when looking at your marketing analytics?

Never take your eyes off your goals! Steve gave the example of an inverted funnel when prioritizing metrics to measure: focus on sales first, then middle funnel activities, and then generic engagement. Sales matter most!

Some participants echoed Steve’s thoughts in as many different words. Goals, conversions, results – they all point to the same thing: revenue.

Others’ opinions were that there is a much larger set of numbers to look at, depending on the business in question. It could be the number of unique visitors, the number of views, time on site, nature of content consumed, bounce rate, task completion, engagement, customer sentiment, cost per acquisition, customer lifetime value, and so on. Look at which of them correlate more with your campaign’s ROI.

At the end of the day, while every bit of data is important, you need to base your ‘whys’ on your KPIs.

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Q4. Which digital channel has given you the hardest time to measure your success? Why?

Returns from social display ads are a big pain, according to Steve. Views are too broad a metric while clickthroughs are too narrow, so achieving a balance is more of an art. The key to success in measuring ROI of digital channels is experimentation.

The #SEMrushchat participants recognized the subjectivity of the question and were quick to point out that results vary depending on the channel, industry, target group, campaign objectives, and budget. Moreover, it’s crucial to differentiate between and identify micro and macro conversions.

SEO is a very hard channel to measure for ROI, especially when the business isn’t selling much. It is trickier to measure results compared to PPC, especially for B2B businesses. What’s more, Google Analytics – the very tool meant to make web analytics simple – withholds keyword data.

Thanks to tools like the SEMrush On Page SEO Checker, though, marketers not only have access to a ton of data about their website rankings and competitors’ content, backlinks and keyword strategy but also get actionable recommendations for using this data.

It is also extremely hard to figure out where your direct site visitors stand along the marketing funnel unless they take an action on your site. Once they do that, interactions like site search can be strong predictors of their purchase intent.

As far as social media analytics is concerned, the general consensus is that Instagram is a tough nut to crack. Telling which posts induced clicks, managing a business profile, and exporting data are some common pain points. All that is improving, however, as Instagram continues to introduce new capabilities for businesses.

The demands of your client also play a huge role in setting KPIs and measuring performance. It is easy to identify traffic sources, but optimizing your website to cater to the most profitable ones is not so simple. And it is not just your website – clients frequently confuse goals with metrics (like brand awareness with likes on social media) and ask for irrelevant or unclear metrics (such as audience learnings from display ads).

The diversity and depth of experience of the #SEMrushchat participants really showed when they discussed functionally limited platforms like YouTube, Quora, Reddit, Google My Business, and – wait for it – Google+!

Measuring results from a single channel is very simple; the real work lies in blending all the data together to get insights that help make decisions. APIs and software like Tableaux come to the rescue here. With a bit of an effort, it is also possible to pull data from sites that don’t allow tracking or charge a premium for data.

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Q5. How important do you think is it to assign dollar amounts to your activities, campaigns, and results?

Assigning dollar values to campaigns, customers, and even leads makes your processes much easier! Steve even dished out a timeless quote to emphasize that, “No one can take bounce rate improvements to buy groceries.” However, estimating the worth of online to offline conversions are challenging, especially in industries like auto.

Ultimately, all digital marketing activities are tied to ROI. So assigning dollar values is essential to identifying and prioritizing successful activities. Profit is the number 1 goal for a majority of businesses, and the best visual indicator of progress and growth. Without money, there is no business. Associating a campaign or an action with real dollars helps you pinpoint the next steps in the execution of your strategy. Failing that, your marketing turns into a bottomless pit that swallows your budget whole.

The primary benefit of assigning dollar amounts to marketing campaigns is to differentiate between what is (that may or may not include traffic sources, media, devices) working and what isn’t, and focus on activities that bring you the best ROI. Losing track of dollars will quickly vaporize your campaign!

Having said that, money should be used as a goal rather than a raw value. Think about the impact your spend will have on your brand as opposed to the money it will bring back.

Assigning a defined value to SEO is doubly important, given that the C-suite usually doesn’t understand its significance. Tying SEO dollars to major marketing goals helps digital marketers justify their work and makes it easier to get resources in the future. You can also go a step further and assign values to specific pages or traffic sources to demonstrate and clarify your efforts and results to clients.

Lastly, don’t go overboard with dollar associations – hard sales are what will bring in real money. Engagement or education don’t generate revenue by themselves. Attribution is a complicated process, and you need to be sure you are getting it right. Again, the attribution methods and approaches for B2B and B2C will differ, depending on the complexity and length of sales cycles. You need to be very sure you understand how to quantify campaign segments.

Remember, if you can’t gather accurate data, there is no sense in attributing value to actions based on that data.

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That is all for today! If you have any insights to add, we’re all ears in the comments.

Hope to see you this Wednesday – we’ll be picking Craig Campbell’s brain on “How to score true social media automation!”

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Becky Shindell is the Communications Manager at SEMrush and host of the weekly #SEMrushchat. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. You can find Becky at many of the US Digital Marketing Conferences, feel free to say hi!
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Jimmy Jacker
awesome!
Simon  Cox
That was a good session - enjoyed the chat and learnt lots as always!
Tammy Ane
Awesome Links of Blog Commenting!! Thanks for sharing