We all hear similar descriptions of the small business owner - they wear multiple hats, have too much on their plate, they are hard to pin down. And this is completely true. For those of us that have been in the corporate world, it's sometimes hard to understand the challenges of a person who is the equivalent of the CEO/CFO/VP Sales & Marketing/Chief Customer Officer and any other "C" label you'd like to give them.
There is no shortage of articles that try to help these owners to be more organized, make better decisions, and take control of their day. In this post, I'm going to focus on one thing that you likely have not heard much of - be more data driven vs. emotion driven in your marketing decisions.
This isn't "yet another corporate lesson" that can trickle down to small business owners. Rather, anybody that manages something of any size should be more data driven if they want to effectively measure, learn and grow. Let me offer a few examples:
- How many of you have a measurement tool (such as Google Analytics, which is free) for your website? I'm not talking about setting up conversion funnels, utm campaigns or other more detailed things. I'm simply talking about straight up Google Analytics on each page of your site. Google Analytics allows you to see how many people come to your site, what pages on your site they come to, and how long they stay. All great metrics to track.
- When you pay for an advertisement, how do you track its effectiveness? Do you know how many people interact with your ads? Once somebody gets to your website after reading (or clicking) on an ad, do you engage with them or do you throw that fish back in the water?
- When you send emails to prospects/clients, do you keep track of who is responding and who is not?
I read a recent blog post about the typical SMB Marketing mix, which states that the top 3 things that SMBs focus on is Social, Email and SEO. It got me wondering since the article didn't address two important and related questions:
- How many of the SMBs use multiple efforts, or are they just using one?
- In the question of how effective each channel is, were the SMBs asked how they measure effectiveness?
In many of the conversations I have with local business owners, many admit that their marketing strategy is based on "gut feel". Intuition is not a bad way to start your marketing efforts (after all, before you have any data at all, you need to start somewhere), but once you have started, if you continue to make decisions based on that gut feel you are ignoring valuable data that could, at a minimum, save you significant money that you're throwing away. Using metrics (data) allows you to re-focus your efforts on things that the data shows are working, and moving away from things that are not.
My favorite example was a young business owner that kept building beautiful landing pages on their website. They looked wonderful! But there were no conversions and he didn't know why. I suggested he install Google Analytics so we could see where users were coming from and what pages they were going to. It turned out that his beautiful landing page was an Island - there were no pages anywhere on his website that pointed to it! So, the only way you could get to that page is if you knew the full URL of that particular landing page. All the time/effort he spent making that page more and more beautiful, and the real issue was lack of visibility, that a simple measurement tool would have identified right away.
It's very easy to keep making decisions based on emotion, but it's more powerful and effective making decisions based on data, across the board. You are (hopefully!) focused heavily on data comprising your financials, why not for your marketing too?