Online marketing has, to a certain extent, blinded many business people to some of the simpler rules of business. Analytics is one area where the online world often seems to have different rules than an offline business. What’s the most important metric for a small business. Traffic? Conversions? Search rankings? These are all areas that online businesses concentrate on, and whilst they are important areas to measure, they are not the most important.
For small businesses, the bottom line always has been and always will be profitability. Engaging in a pay-per-click campaign is fine, and measuring traffic and conversions is always going to help with future planning, and perhaps even modifying your current campaigns. At the end of the day, if your pay-per-click is not making a profit, then your business could be on the slide. The same can be said for SEO and social media marketing. If your profitability is being compromised, then you need to either modify your marketing campaign or to look for alternative marketing methods.
Pay-per-click, search engine optimization and social media marketing are not always the best channels for some businesses. Alternatives such as email marketing and banner advertising can achieve better results in terms of profitability – the former, often achieved through data collected offline. You would be surprised at how many brick and mortar businesses now collect email addresses at the checkout and then use those email addresses as very successful email marketing campaigns.
The most important metric for any small business is the return on investment (ROI) that is measured against any campaign. There are times when a marketing campaign – for example, a brand awareness campaign – doesn’t result in short term profits that are easily identified. As a small business owner, you need to make judgements as to whether or not a marketing campaign should be measured or designed more for PR or branding. Analytics are important, however, you need the right data and that data should be measured against a desired goal.