Well hello there and welcome to 2019, a year of many variables for your business. It would be safe to say that 2018 has taught us about the variability and volatility of the marketing landscape in the digital space.
Many small to medium businesses (SMEs) struggle to keep up in this space largely due to a lack of resource in the digital space. As per most business problems, it boils down to two aspects. Time and money!
There is a light at the end of the tunnel though if you know where to look. There are many really good free to use tools that will suit an SME and for which there is plenty of learning material and how-to guides.
We are an SME and work in the data-driven marketing space and below you will find the stacks we use for our business and many of our SME clients.
Performance Monitoring and conversion tracking
If you are creating, implementing and managing online campaigns (Organic and Paid) there are some basics that you really need in place. We have a tendency to use the Google Stack for tracking campaigns and platform performance. You can use these on Websites, Progressive web apps and some web portals etc. Depending on the platform, the integrations are generally quite simple.
Our basic stack is:
- Consider this as your base level of tracking. Out of the box, Google Analytics gives you some really nice tracking features and data points for understanding your online position and performance. You can track volumes of traffic, quality of traffic and content engagement using Google Analytics with some basic setup
*Tip: Come to grips with custom segments in Google Analytics to cut your data for greater insights.
- As a digital marketer, you have probably had multiple interactions with developers where you have needed additional tracking implemented for what seems like a very simple application. However, you have also probably hit the almost impenetrable wall of it being a low priority item for devs. GTM was designed to solve this. After a single installation of the GTM snippet you, as the marketer, can take control of managing conversion tracking and implementing events for greater insights. Using GTM you can implement your tracking items for Google Analytics, Facebook Pixels, LinkedIn tags, Twitter Universal Tags, AdWords conversion tracking Remarketing and so much more…..all without having to butt heads with your dev team. It takes a little playing around and learning about the Data Layer and creating triggers to fire when you define a conversion, but it is a must for the modern marketer.
*Tip: Look for the real thought leaders giving away free education and information on GTM. There are many. We like Simo Ahava’s blog and MeasureSchool as a great starting point. Also, use the Google learning resources and Forums.
- Are you wondering if the changes you have made to your website or content production have actually helped your position on Google? Well, stop wondering and implement Google Webmaster tools. The search console will allow you to see how well your site is performing in Google search results and highlight areas of your site that could be affecting your rankings. You can see the ranking position, clicks from search results, impressions in search results and site errors. For an SEO this is a basic but if you are a marketer it is a good tool to have in your arsenal.
- Similar to Google Analytics in many ways with a feature or two more but not quite as refined, Yandex is a good secondary analytics implementation. We often use it to compare data acquired from Google Analytics against a second set to identify outliers and determine what may be causing unusual results in our collected data.
- Facebook Analytics uses the Facebook Pixel to collect, analyse and report on users who have a Facebook account and visit one of your digital properties. In our opinion, it is still a work in progress and has a few nuances that need to be considered and worked on. In many ways, though it may be better than Google Analytics for measuring your audience. Where Google Analytics focuses on the user’s device, Facebook analytics tries to focus on the user themselves. It is a definite though if you are a heavy content producer and using of the Facebook networks
Most of the digital advertising systems online use algorithms to create higher performing campaigns for the ad system users. However, as automated as a system can be, it usually requires some human intervention and custom integrations to your site. Here are some of the basic items you need for different ad platforms.
- Conversion tracking needs to be included on your site. This can be installed via a tag snippet from the Google Ads conversion section or via Google Tag Manager which has a built-in integration. If you are using and are more comfortable with Google Analytics for conversion tracking you can import goals from Google Analytics into Google Ads via a built-in integration.
*Tip: Use Google Tag Manager to create unique events that are specific to types of conversions you want. Make these goals in analytics and they can be used for conversion tracking in Google Ads
- Using the Facebook Pixel will help you gain greater insight into your target market as well as helping the system identify user types that are more likely to reach the goals you are aiming for. Without the Pixel, the system can not use its machine learning processes to provide your ads to users more likely to convert. Much like GTM and Google analytics, Facebook needs you to include certain event snippets to know when a conversion occurs.
- LinkedIn has an ad platform that is really good for B2B marketing. It also has an optimisation process similar to Facebook’s, if nowhere near as sophisticated. Again, including these in your campaign setup will provide higher return against your ad spend. This needs to be implemented on your site by either adding the tracking snippet to your site’s code or via the Google Tag Manager integration
- If you are advertising through an Ad Management company or Premium Ad provider you may find they are using a specific DSP (Demand Side Platform) that has its own tracking setup. They may ask you to install this snippet and the associated conversions in certain locations on your platforms. The easiest way to do this is most likely via a Tag Manager such as GTM. Again, this helps the system better understand a user and their path to conversion and can, therefore, create better experiences in getting a user from awareness to conversion.
User Experience Tracking and testing
If you are living in 2019 and are doing moderate to heavy digital marketing you should really be testing and monitoring your user’s experience across your platforms. Using tools that track user interactions and which allow you to create basic testing scenarios (such as A/B) tests can take your marketing from ‘ok’ to ‘great’.
Some cool tools include:
- Designed to track users interactions on your site, HotJar can generate heat maps of your pages as well as screenshots of user interactions. With this information, you can review pages where you have a high drop off to see why users seem to be exiting your site at that point. You can identify areas that users struggle with, areas of the site that hold additional opportunity and review tests of page variations to see if your updates created better experiences
- A free tool provided by Google, Optimize is a must for the arsenal of any UX specialist. Google Optimize allows you to create tests of your pages. You can create two variations of a single page to test different design aspects of a page. You can assign primary and secondary goals to test against and monitor how the changes affect user interaction. At the end of the process, you can view a report on the outcomes of your test. It has many more features that should be played with
*Tip: Use GTM to create events that you can test in Optimize
- Data Privacy and Protection. If you have not heard of or seen the acronym GDPR, we can only assume that you live under a rock on the ocean floor. Data Protection has become exceptionally important largely due to the abuse of Personal Information by companies such as Facebook and Google. To combat this, many countries have implemented data protection regulation. It’s worth looking over if you have any intention of tracking users.
*Hint: Most tracking systems using tracking items called Cookies. These are regulated and need to be accounted for in your digital marketing activities