Follow Analytics Like Breadcrumbs to Find the Best Marketing Channels
It’s easy to get lost in the forest of marketing channel options available today. Should you focus more heavily on social media? Is some aspect of traditional marketing still valid for your product? Are you missing opportunities by not going to more trade shows? Begin exploring these options, and before you know it you could find yourself waist deep in more questions. Luckily, as marketers in a digital era, we can find our way home to the best marketing channels using digital breadcrumbs: analytics.
THE DESTINATION: MOST-EFFECTIVE MEDIUMS
Before we talk about how to get there, let’s examine what it is we’re looking for. It’s pretty simple. We want to discover which marketing channels convert the most leads to sales. Furthermore, we want to know which mediums nurture customer relationships for the long term, because repeat customers tend to bring the most life-cycle profit.
You can see where I’m going with this. In order to determine which channels result in sales, we have to know what’s happening at every touch point with prospects, from the time they first appear on our radar all the way to the act of spending money. For effective life-cycle channels, we need to know how often buyers are spending, what they spend money on, and how much they’ve spent in total.
That’s a lot of activity to measure. In the old days, companies kept track of overall sales numbers, usually on manual spreadsheets. However, there was not enough time to keep track of the finer details, and often no way to easily get information about prospects.
Digital marketing systems make it possible to complete our knowledge of each lead (partly with data entry by customer service and sales, and partly through automatic recording of digital body language) and track their activity from beginning to end of the buying cycle. These little bits of information are the breadcrumbs that lead us to go-to marketing channels.
CLOSED-LOOP REPORTING PROVIDES AN ANALYTICAL PATH TO SALES
The only way to ensure information about a buyer is complete enough to reveal best channels is to ensure that all activities are discoverable and measurable. A closed-loop reporting process gathers as much information as possible about a prospect from the time he or she first responds to one of our marketing efforts.
HubSpot identifies the following steps1 to successfully use closed loop marketing to identify best marketing channels:
- The easiest way to close the loop is to make your website a central hub for all marketing activities.
- All channels should get filtered to your website, including organic search, social media marketing, email marketing, referral links, paid search and even off-line campaigns.
- To make sure you’re accurately assigning leads to the right marketing initiatives, assign a unique tracking URL to every marketing campaign sending traffic to your website.
- Once someone visits your website, you can put a cookie on them and start tracking their activity to see what most influences them toward a purchase.
- Up to this point in the process, the visitor is anonymous. Now it’s time to find out exactly who they are. Get the visitor to a lead capture form, where you offer them a premium in return for their information.
The resulting data from this “breadcrumb” activity can be compiled and reported to show you key metrics that identify the most successful marketing channels, including which webpages are most important to precipitate buying behaviors.
For channels not represented through activity on your website, you can add information into the contact record in your CRM program or automated marketing system. Most analytic reporting software allows you to see all channels in one view, so you can understand how each one contributes to your overall marketing strategy.
Ultimately, all of this data can be combined easily with the use of digital systems to make the path to sales clear.
1 How Closed-Loop Marketing Works, Pamela Vaughan, HubSpot
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