Marketing Analytics to Make Your Holidays Bright

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are upon us. For most brands, their websites are ready and their shelves are stocked in anticipation of two of the biggest shopping days of the year. It’s too late for advice about what to do to get ready for the onslaught, but it’s not too late to set up analytics to measure the success of marketing and sales efforts in order to prepare for next year.

Stop the Madness

Think about whether or not you really need to get in on the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal. If you’re a B2B company just trying to close business before the end of the year, consider waiting until the mayhem dies down and don’t compete for space. Wait until you can capture share of mind and have a chance at share of voice.

For B2C companies selling consumer goods that people purchase for the holidays, consider personalizing the shopping experience for your customers.

Here’s some advice from Erin Robbins O’Brien, COO GinzaMetrics, “If you’re a B2C company, consider making your own sale time for your customers. They’ll appreciate knowing they have a date and time that doesn’t have to coincide with the crazy. Might I suggest – “We’re Not Crazy Wednesday” or “That’s a Relief Thursday.”

Make a List and Check it Twice

Before the holiday season gets underway, make sure you’re measuring what matters. Look at the entire year, and not just the data from the holidays, or a specific campaign. Take the meta view of the entire year as well as a granular campaign channel view. All these perspectives will tell you different things and help you build smarter campaigns and drive strategic marketing plans. Make sure you are tracking the following KPIs.

  • Total traffic to your onsite content
  • Total traffic to your offsite content
  • Traffic to your site as a whole
  • Traffic to your site by campaign
  • Unique visitors as a whole
  • Unique visitors by campaign
  • Total conversions for you content

Watching the Traffic and Visitors

All content is not created equal. Be sure to track the onsite content from your website as well as any offsite content, such as slide shares, videos, and YouTube videos. Aggregate the views and interactions to create a baseline to compare across both types of content.

Track traffic to your site as a whole, but also the traffic that comes to your site from specific campaigns. Define your campaigns to get the data you need from your analytics platform. Segregate this data by

  • Content groups
  • Time period
  • An aggregate of groups and time
  • Keyword segmentation

Unique visitors are those people who have never been to your site before. You will want to track this traffic not just as brand new faces to your website as a whole, but by campaign. Know what campaigns are engaging these visitors and driving new traffic in the first place. If certain campaigns are re-engaging certain audiences, you will want to know the keywords and channels for those campaigns to repurpose in the future.

Conversions are the Best Stocking Stuffers

images-1Looking for that perfect gift for your CEO? How about a report outlining how your efforts are driving conversions? A gift like that just keeps on giving. Be sure to set up your analytics system to track conversions at multiple points. For B2C brands, track conversions both at the shopping cart fill and final sale points. For B2B, the download of a white paper, a demo request, or free trial might all be points along the customer journey that you count as a conversion.

Break out your conversions by these segments

  • Marketing channels: These include email, social, paid search, organic search, advertising, referral, public relations, etc.. Know how much each of your marketing channels is converting marketing performance.
  • Campaign: Know what campaign is converting traffic and where you might want to repeat campaigns holiday by holiday or season by season.
  • Content Type: Not all content will get the same results. Track each type separately; blogs, website content, videos, YouTube videos, landing pages, static site content.
  • Search engine: Your organic search visitors are your longest lasting conversions. These people are self-selected and are coming to your site because they are interested in what you have to offer. Don’t lose track of these folks! It’s important to understand their journey and what content is converting them. The content that brought them to your site is exactly the content you should be using in your next marketing or advertising campaign.
  • Device: Just about everyone has immediate access to the internet on a variety of handheld and portable devices as well as their desktop computers. Track the percentage of conversions by device.

Be sure to set your baselines at the yearly, quarterly, and monthly levels. You should also set baselines for Black Friday and Cyber Monday based on last year’s performance.

“For most analytics platforms, you should be able to go back and get this information. If you don’t have it, ask other groups and tell them you’ll share your information, as well, “suggests Erin, “I don’t want to get into the horrible effect that information hoarding has on organizations, but it’s really freaking bad. If you work in an organization that doesn’t let all facets of marketing see how others are performing or tells you how your goals, KPIs and tactics contribute to the larger picture – you might be working for assholes, or at least shortsighted business people.”

Get Started on Resolutions Now

2011-year-resolution-400x400This is a great time to make sure you’ve updated keywords and topics in organic search to match any ongoing campaigns. This way you’re starting to track their efficacy this season and you can use the comparisons in the future. You’ll also be able to note a blend of holiday terms and non-holiday terms that can make your ongoing yearly campaigns better.

“Sometimes we discover things during this end of year push that could be applied to any time of the year and we forget once the new year rolls around because we start out with new goals after a break,” noted Erin.

Start January with a review of at least 5 things that worked and 5 things that didn’t from the previous year. But before January rolls around, start looking at updating keywords and topics in organic search. Match ongoing campaigns and track what works best. Don’t wait until January to get going on your goals for next year. If you’re thinking about getting a new analytics platform, adding a new marketing channel, etc.. Why not try it now?

“I’m not a big fan of waiting until January 1 to start a resolution if it’s something can help me immediately ,” stated Erin, “Consider a weight loss goal – you really don’t ned to wait until January to start doing healthier things or taking a daily walk – get up off that couch today and you’ll have a jumpstart on your goals. The same is true for marketing. Honestly, I find the best time to do experimentation with my marketing mix is the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

The key to making the season memorable is tracking what works best and finding a way to duplicate that success in future campaigns. As you track results, you’ll learn some things about what words to use in the future, and what types of words to use to describe your product or your sales campaigns. For instance, some brands have found that using terms like deal versus sale have increased interest in special promotions. Note that you may have a different buyer during the holidays and take into account the language you need to use to attract that buyer.

Setting Baselines

A baseline is not a campaign. Aside from the campaigns brands launch based on themes or key ideas, baselines are the aggregate of all marketing activities – campaigns and brand as an average help to set baselines. The baseline is the aggregate over a long period of time – 3 months, 6 months, or a year.

“Take the year-long view and compare quarters to the year or months to the year or days to the year and get a better idea. I’m not just talking Google Analytics Data and I’m not just talking about visitors. I mean an aggregate of all marketing efforts,” remarked Erin. “Set baselines across all your metrics as you roll things out and you will understand how your efforts are affecting other things.”

Before the madness begins, make sure you have your analytics in place. Find 3-5 KPIs to track across campaigns that aren’t in your current analytics portfolio. As you track new things, you will learn about your business and your visitors. Pepper in new data points and chances are you will make smarter marketing decisions in the future.

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