Is Your Online Marketing Working?

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Online Marketing

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Online marketing and social media are great, but how can you justify spending time in this medium when you aren’t tracking the effectiveness? Here is a guide to help you navigate the online marketing waters and determine your campaign’s effectiveness.

Create Online Marketing Goals

The first step of any marketing campaign, online (or offline), is to set goals and expectations. A goal is a measurable endpoint for your campaign that should align with strategic priorities in the company.

Goals for social media will differ wildly from one business to the next, so there is no cookie cutter set of goals that will fit every business embarking on a social media campaign. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are a few types of goals that can get you started on the path to developing your own customized goals for your business’s online marketing campaign.

  • Increase your community by X percent (or, a certain number of fans or followers)
  • Increase traffic to your website from social media by X percent
  • Bring in sales from social media, or sign on a certain amount of new customers

Each of these goals has one thing in common: a quantifiable goal. When you’re creating your goals, make sure it’s something you can track. It’s acceptable to have some more general goals (solidify branding, for instance) but setting a reachable number is one of the best ways to be able to find out if your marketing is working.

Define Expected Outcomes

Outcomes differ from goals because they are more general, qualifiable and anecdotal in nature. Outcomes apply to specific channels or content types. For instance, your outcomes for Twitter might be “answer questions from potential customers” or “engage with the local community”.

To define outcomes, first write down your platforms and the types of content you’ll be sharing. Some examples of content types are:

  • News
  • Events
  • Products or services
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Conversational posts

Define an outcome for each of these that lines up with your goals. Posting about a product or service on Twitter might have an outcome of “reaching new customers”, but would align with your goal of increasing sales.

Tracking

Social media is notoriously difficult to track and determine ROI, even when you have specific goals set up. You’ll need access to a range of tools for your social media platforms and a list of reports you’d like to run. Again, these should be dependent on your goals. Facebook Insights, YouTube Insights, TwitterCounter and Crowd Booster are just a few free services you can use to determine follower counts, traffic to your social media pages, best performing links, reach, views of posts, searches and more. Track your content types on each platform and report on the engagement levels of each (i.e. how many shares, retweets or conversations that were started as a result of the post.) It is also helpful to track the number of messages you post in the given time period to make sure you’re staying consistent with your posting frequency.

The flip side to tracking social media is tracking the resulting traffic to your own marketing website or blog. One of the most comprehensive (and free!) services out there is Google Analytics. It should be installed on your website or blog before you begin your campaign – preferably, at least two to three months before so you can get baseline reporting – and will give you information about bounce rates, page views, visitors, locations and search traffic. Another great feature is campaign tracking, which lets you add on a snippet of code to your website marketing or blog posts that you share on social media platforms (for instance,  your campaign name might be “social”, and you might specify links posted to Facebook). Google Analytics tracks the links with the information you provide, letting you know exactly who came to your website via your social media marketing.

Review and Optimize

The last step is reviewing the data from your reports and comparing them with your goals. You can track this as often as you choose – although two to three weeks is ideal. Information about your content types and outcomes can show you what types of content and platforms are working, and information from Google Analytics can show you how much traffic is coming in. connect these two information types to give a snapshot of your social media efforts, then optimize based on the results. If Facebook has brought in more traffic or sales, focus on that platform. If a certain content type isn’t working, drop it. Small optimization of platforms and content can go a long way to reaching your goals.

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Thank you to my Guest Post Author: Steven Taylor

Steven covers marketing and business related news and tips. As an SEO consultant, he also has over 10 years of experience with online marketing.
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