Sometimes marketing feels like pumping money into a black hole. What’s working? What’s not? How do you maximize your ROI? In this day and age, there is no reason you can’t answer these questions. A plethora of tools exist to provide insight into what is most effective. With a little bit of planning and a few small tweaks to your marketing strategy, you can ensure you’re making the most of every dollar. Here is a list of helpful tips to track your marketing strategies more efficiently:

Google Analytics

The best free website analytics tool on the market. Google Analytics provides users with a variety of tools to track their marketing efforts online. If you’re looking for analytics linked directly to your website, this tool is a must! It provides data into the number of daily, monthly, yearly users to your site as well as demographical and behavioral information. In Google Analytics, you can also how users got to your site such as directly from a Google search, from a social media platform and more. The options of tracking your marketing efforts on Google Analytics are endless. It has a fairly intuitive user interface, and there is no shortage of tutorials available online. By setting up custom goals you can see exactly what actions people are taking on your site and adjust your marketing efforts to favor platforms and mediums that are the most promising. It is free to create a Google Analytics account, and set up merely requires adding a small bit of pre-written code to the backend of your website. Don’t worry, they have instructions to walk you through it every step of the way.

Social Media Tools

With over 2 billion active users on Facebook each month, social media should be incorporated into your overall marketing strategy. Facebook analytics is an easy tool to track your paid and organic efforts. Although there are other programs available to track your social media effectiveness, Facebook provides you with a quick report including all the basics. When a Facebook ad is finished running, you can view a variety of information. If the goal of your ad was to direct traffic to your site, the report shows you exactly how many people clicked to visit your site. Also included is how many people you reached, the engagement of the ad and even how much you spent per click. Aside from running paid ads, you can view organic reports on all of your posts and your page such as how many likes, shares and reach you have received. The greatest thing about advertising on Facebook is that they take most of the work out of optimizing ads for you. You select the goal you are most interested in – is it awareness (which would be reach), website visits (clicks), conversions (based on a goal you set up in Google Analytics). You are in control to tell Facebook what you are trying to achieve and their automated platform does the rest of the work. Of course we always recommend validating and cross-referencing results back in your Google Analytics platform to provide even more insight and uncover opportunities.

Build Custom URLs

Okay, let’s get specific. You have a general idea where your traffic is coming from, thanks to Google Analytics, and you can leverage optimization capabilities on Facebook to drive results, but let’s say you are running multiple campaigns at the same time, through different agencies and partnerships. You want to know which is working best. This is where building custom URLS can come in handy. The practice of amending your website URLS with tracking information is called adding UTM (urchin tracking module) parameters, Despite the scary name, the practice is actually quite simple. UTM’s allow you to TELL Google Analytics, or your tracking software, HOW you want information reported from marketing campaign clicks. Again, we suggest leveraging the free tool options out there by performing a search for “custom URL builder.” Google has a great in their developer tools resource section. There are three main UTM components we recommend to build a successful URL:

  • Source – (newsletter, email, Yelp, etc.) Where is your click coming from? Did you work out a partnership with a local news site to run some display ads? Normally this type of traffic would be reported as “referral” traffic in Google Analytics, this is your opportunity to specify “publication-name,” so that you can track exactly website referrals from these efforts.
  • Medium – (banner ad, email, article) It’s great to know how many users the news sites sent you, but let’s say you were testing several different formats with them. Video ads, an email campaign, and a promoted article. Well your “source” will all say the same thing “publication-name.” Medium allows you to differentiate between various efforts. Let’s use “banner-ad” in this example.
  • Campaign – (spring kickoff, summer blowout, christmas clearance) Campaign is your third level of detail. The reason using the “campaign” field is great, is that is allows you to sort efforts across different sources that are part of the same “campaign.” Let’s say it’s your “spring-sale” and you ran ads on a local news site, as well as promoted this on your social platforms. You want to see all the traffic related to the sale, regardless of where it came from of the medium used. Campaign is the filed for you!

Based on the example above, the custom URL would look something like:

If you are focusing your marketing efforts in direct mail or even social media, Google URL Shortener provides an option to convert a long, or custom URL into a short link specifically for your marketing needs. You are able to analyze the link you developed and track number of clicks and user behavior to determine the most valuable marketing efforts for your goals.

The short amount of time it takes to employ these quick tips can impact the way you are analyzing your data. When developing your marketing strategies, implement any of these simple tricks above and watch your marketing ROI take off.