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Track key marketing pieces of data for your small business

Columnist Dean Swanson says working a couple of points will make your website pay.

Ask SCORE column sig

This past week I spoke with some small business CEOs who were expressing their frustration with being the company’s marketing person as well as everything else. The conversation moved to the most important pieces of data to guide the marketing strategies.

I was able to steer them to some helpful SCORE resources. Here is a summary of some of the suggestions that our content partners have shared.

One way to increase efficiency is to stop tracking data that isn’t helping you make strategic, purposeful choices. It’s a good idea to pick a limited number of data points so you don’t get overwhelmed and your charts are meaningful over time.

1. Website bounce rate . When potential customers hit a landing page on your website and they aren’t immediately drawn in by what they see, they "bounce." Not spending sufficient time reviewing website data analytics is a huge mistake. A high bounce rate is the strongest signal that something on your site or a specific landing page isn’t working. Any landing page with a bounce rate of 50% or higher needs an overhaul.

2. Click-through rate . Whenever an ad is displayed, this is counted as an impression. For marketing purposes, the number of impressions means something, but what really matters is your click-through rate. This means that not only was your ad displayed, but someone decided to click on it to see what you had to offer. If your digital ad makes 100 impressions and four of those yielded a click-through to your site, you’re doing great. Most marketers dream of a 4% click-through rate.

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3. Percentage of completion . How many people landed on your site, immediately saw a relevant call to action, clicked on it, and completed the action? That number is the percentage of users who were actually able to set up an account, sign up for your email newsletter, or whatever your goal was. Various digital platforms offer conversion statistics baked-in, others may require your company to invest in various forms of digital marketing tools. If people are unable to complete a task online, this is something you’ll need to address.

4. Cost per acquisition. What does it cost your business to acquire one new customer? To find out, you’ll need to gather all of the costs associated with marketing for a specific amount of time. You might decide to do this by month, quarter, or year, whatever makes the most sense for you. You will also need to develop a method for tracking how many new customers your business gained during the same period. Dividing your total costs by the number of new customers gives you the cost per acquisition (CPA). Since the CPA can vary widely by niche, only you can determine what’s acceptable.

5. Customer lifetime value. What is the average amount of time a customer stays with you? If you don’t know, it’s time to start tracking sales by unique customer IDs such as a “rewards member” card or similar device. Once you know how long the average customer spends frequenting your store, you can multiply that number by the average amount spent over the lifetime of a customer to arrive at customer lifetime value. This metric will help you decide if you want to work harder to retain existing customers.

6. Number and type of comments/questions. If the digital space you’ve chosen offers the ability to like, share and comment, pay careful attention to these features. You can learn a lot simply by reading and responding to comments. This sends a positive message, namely that you care what people think. You may also be surprised to pick up solid tips from people who don’t think as you do. Things about your products and services that seem “obvious” to you may not be to others.

7. Your time. If you have yet to adopt the practice of time-blocking, start today. Blocking off your time will reveal how much time you spend on marketing. Knowing this will help you know when the time is at hand to hire another staff member or outsource.

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.

Related Topics: SMALL BUSINESSASK SCORE
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