After wrapping up a three-part series around the Startup Waco and Public Improvement District Marketing Skills Toolkit, we thought it was time to take a deep dive into some of the essential tools that all businesses should be utilizing. For our June Bank & Brews workshop, Extraco’s own Digital Marketing Specialist, Carina Yebra, walked attendees through what she considers to be an essential, and often underutilized, tool for all businesses– Google Analytics.
Most entrepreneurs and business owners know that marketing is important, but many do not know why it is important beyond increasing sales. That is where marketing data comes in.
Why is Marketing Data Important?
Throughout her career, Carina has seen business owners make the same mistakes when it comes to marketing their businesses. “A busy business owner will often think they ‘know' their customer based on their day-to-day interactions with them, but they usually don’t have actual data to back their assumptions up,” she shared. Many local businesses assume collecting this data is expensive and time consuming, but she said that is far from the truth. Not only can you utilize free tools to collect this data, but the insight you can receive from them can have a major positive impact on your business.
Here are the top five reasons why Carina says marketing data is important:
- Better understand consumer behavior - Learn who your actual customers (or potential customers) are, what they are doing, and how they interact with your business. Use this insight to predict trends, troubleshoot existing issues, and plan for the future of your company.
- Improve product and sales strategy - Use the data you have about your customers and their behavior to tailor your product and sales strategy. For example, if from the data you learn that your primary consumer is a digitally-savvy Millennial, you may consider creating a 100% online sales process.
- Find proven marketing channels - Determine which marketing channels give your business the greatest traffic. Track your marketing efforts using custom URLs and conversion data.
- Cut unnecessary marketing spend - Focus on the paid marketing channels that have the highest return instead of ones that haven’t positively affected your revenues.
- Create more targeted and effective campaigns - Create target audiences based on your most profitable customers and market to them using your most proven marketing channels. Marketing campaigns and efforts should not be a shot in the dark. Use the actual data you have to create the most effective campaigns possible.
What is Google Analytics?
Most workshop attendees had heard of Google Analytics, but were not quite sure what it actually is. Google Analytics is a free website tool that allows you capture data on all interactions that people have with your website. It provides data points like the number of page views, users, and sessions on your site, as well as anonymized demographic data of website visitors.
What can you learn from Google Analytics?
“In summary...a lot,” Carina told the audience. To make things easier to understand, she broke the data Google Analytics provides down into four main categories:
- Data about the users that visit your website (ex. How many users visit? Do they visit using a phone, computer, or tablet? What age group visits the site most often?)
- Information about the websites that bring traffic to your site (ex. How do people find the website? Which social media platform brings the most traffic? Which campaigns create the most visits and conversions?)
- Specifics on the performance of pages on your site (ex. Which pages are the most popular? How long do users spend on specific pages?)
- Insights on the actions users take on your site (ex. How many users call the business from the website? How many pages do they visit? How many people fill out webforms on the site?)
How to Start Using Google Analytics
Step 1: Create a Website
If your business already has a website, the hardest part is already over. If a company doesn’t have a website yet, there are dozens of easy-to-use website builders available. Even a basic site is essential for each and every business. “It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, every single one of your businesses should have a website,” Carina told the group of entrepreneurs. Not only do you need a site to even be able to utilize Google Analytics, but a website is critical to building credibility by providing the information consumers are looking for and showcasing your products and services. All of your marketing efforts should refer back to the primary source of information about your company– your site.
Step 2: Create a Google Analytics Account
Getting started is usually the most daunting step for business owners. Setting up an Analytics account is quick and a one time process. To get started, you’ll need to fill in some business information along with your website domain (ex. yourbusiness.com). After filling out the required details, you will be given a piece of tracking code containing an Analytics ID (which will look something like UA-1234567).
Step 3: Add the Analytics Tracking Code to the Website
If you worked with a web developer to build your site, you will just need to send the code to them to place on each page of the website.
Step 4: Confirm the Tracking Code is Working and then Sit Back and Wait
Once the code is placed on each page of the site and you are logged into the Analytics platform, test that it is working by clicking on the Realtime dashboard while you have the website open. Analytics doesn’t collect data from before the tracking code was placed on the site, so Carina recommends waiting a few days, if not weeks, to start actively looking at the data. When Extraco launched their new website in 2020, Carina and her team did not begin analyzing the data for around 2-3 weeks. “We wanted to be sure that we had enough representative data to make informed decisions off of,” said Carina.
While some Google Analytics data is straight forward, Carina said that anybody who wants to efficiently utilize the tool should start with Google’s free Analytics certification courses.
How to use Google Analytics Data
Tracking Ad Performance
Once you’ve got a basic understanding of what Analytics can show you, you’ll be able to answer questions like “What are users most interested in on my site?” by looking at metrics like highest page views, lowest bounce rate, and time spent on page. Carina and her team utilize the Campaigns tab often. “We assess how traffic to our site changes month-to-month based on different campaigns or marketing initiatives we’ve launched.” UTM tracking codes are a great tool to measure the traffic from a specific source. Carina recommended using a URL builder to add tracking to links. “When Extraco places a digital or print ad, the link we include always has tracking attached. That is how we can determine how many people found us from that specific piece of marketing.” Some businesses that she consulted in the past "spent thousands of dollars on marketing that they didn't even know worked or not.” Tracking how certain ad placements or initiatives performed can help businesses avoid ineffective (and costly) marketing.
Set goals within Google Analytics to measure things like products sold, phone calls placed, inquiry forms filled, and downloads of resources. Tracking these metrics regularly should help you to be able to create realistic and achievable goals.
Google Analytics is just one of hundreds of helpful tools businesses can use to capture valuable marketing data. At our August Bank & Brews workshop, Carina will return to share about even more about Google’s suite of website tools and a closer look at search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and email marketing. We hope to see you there!
Information about Bank & Brews
In partnership with Startup Waco, Bank & Brews is designed for anybody who wants to learn more about starting or growing a business! These monthly events are free and are now hosted in person and virtually. Visit Extraco's Facebook page to learn more about upcoming Bank & Brews!
About Extraco Banks
Extraco Banks and its affiliate companies are dedicated to building people, businesses and communities. Since the Great Recession, Extraco has extended over $2.5 billion in loans to 25,000 customers, while financially supporting over 1,275 community organizations working to create economic vibrancy, job growth and overall quality of life to our communities across central Texas. Founded as a cotton warehousing company, Extraco, at $1.5 billion in assets, is the largest and most comprehensive locally owned bank between Dallas and Austin, serving over 120,000 customers banking, mortgage, insurance and wealth & trust needs with creative and innovative excellence.
Learn more at: https://www.extracobanks.com/.