Why Is Tracking Consumer Behavior Important?
As a marketer, you likely have your own website. But, do you know how to accurately track your consumers' behaviors to best market to them?
Google Analytics and other data tracking platforms can be immensely helpful in tracking your customers' behaviors, but it can feel daunting to start the journey. In this blog, Hollywood Branded shares some of the best practices of behavior-based analytics in analytics. We also share some techniques and tools for managing a sales pipeline and customer journey effectively.
A Little More About Chris
Chris Mercer is the co-founder of MeasurementMarketing.io, where he helps marketers know their numbers in an easy-to-understand manner, by leveraging tools including Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, and Google Data Studio to track behaviors, measure the progress of the customer journey, and make sure the right users see the right message at the right time. With over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and training, Mercer started his career in radio advertising, where he learned he had a passion for sales and marketing. He now trains people on how to measure and improve their sales funnels and is a top contributor and speaker at multiple optimization conferences.
Interview Transcript Highlights
Question: How did you start this journey? How did you get where you are today, professionally?
Answer: My background is in sales, primarily in sales management. Since I've mainly directed and managed sales teams, I've always focused on measuring and managing a sales pipeline in whatever industry that I was working in. When I came into digital marketing, I had actually created a company to train people how to do WordPress sites. Then, my team and I moved into building that stuff out; we started exploring conversion rate optimations, which means that we built the websites and then helped the company optimize them. But, in order to optimize, you have to measure stuff. So, we started setting up analytics. This is where the merging of the two backgrounds came; one part of this was me training and helping people to learn all of this new information, and the other was this sales background that I had. I just can't help but think in terms of pipeline and managing a customer journey, as you move from prospect to a customer. When we first set up our Google analytics way back in the day, that's just kind of how we always did it. We didn't know that you shouldn't or couldn't do that. So, when we were delivering websites, it was people all of the sudden seeing this and saying, "Okay, now analytics make sense." Now I can tell if Facebook is causing a certain result and is helping people become more aware of a brand versus closing that customer journey. You can really start to see how Facebook and email start to work together. All of these traffic sources were really our claim to fame. When we started showing this to individuals, we actually pivoted the entire organization from using and building out WordPress sites to just showing companies how to use the tools that we thought they were already using. Most people would just sort of activate Google analytics and incorrectly jump into the data from the. They think that if they just hack through the data long enough, there are magical insights that are going to smack them in the face and immediately make them a better marketer.
Question: So, are you saying that if you are a company that just sets up Google Analytics and does nothing after the fact, it won't make everything magically happen for you?
Answer: Imagine that! To be even more precise, it's that word "set up" that is the challenge. A lot of people think that they have fully set up Google Analytics, but all they really did was just turn it on. Setup is really two things. Once you want to activate the tool, you're likely working with your Dev team to put that script on your pages, which turns it on and starts to show the data tables. Once that is on, you then have to customize and configure it so that it tells a natural story.
A lot of people think "If I just understood how to analyze my reports, I would be better at this tool," which is kind of a false belief. Most people don't have to learn how to analyze the reports, they just need to make the report simpler so that it doesn't require analysis. For example, if you're driving and you look at the speedometer, you see a number and you see how fast you're going. You instantly know if you need to hit the gas or the brakes; just knowing the number leads to action. A marketer's dashboard can be built that simply, as long as you have set up your Google Analytics correctly.
Question: There are so many things that can feel mind-boggling for those of us who might not be experts in the digital space that can be easy to get very confused or scared about and just step back from.
Answer: That's exactly right. I think the challenge with tools like this is that they are so easily complicated. You can go into Google Analytics and there are a million reports; the Google Analytics we know now is entirely different from other versions, so it's really to get overwhelmed and frustrated by these tools and just give up.
It's easy to go in and just think "I have no idea what this means; one report seems to contradict another report. I'll just come back in a few years and hopefully, by then I'll be able to figure it out." This happens a lot and it's a massive shame. It's like if I gave you Goldilocks and the Three Bears to read, you'd probably do a pretty good job reading it. But if I were to take that same book, rip out the pages, and smash them altogether between the cover, could you read that story to me? The answer is yes because I didn't change your ability to read, but it's a lot harder to see the story because you have to dump everything out to figure out where everything goes and how it all connects. Some of the pieces are going to get lost and you have to make some things up or make some assumptions as to what might be going on. You might be able to make a decent story out of it, but it's going to take you a really long time to figure it out.
That's what I think a lot of marketers don't realize: tools like Google Analytics, by default, if you haven't understood how to properly set it up by customizing and configuring things, are really just a bunch of ripped-up pieces of data. There are stories to be told here, but it's all wrapped up in no real format. When you get into Google Analytics, it's not that you're not a numbers person, it's that when it's a bunch of ripped-up pieces of data, it's much more difficult to see an obvious connection between all of the data. When you properly set everything up and tag the traffic that you're trying to properly measure to get results, a natural story starts to appear. This can quickly lead to you recognizing that Facebook is good at making people aware of your brand, while your Google ads retargeting campaign that is good about getting customers to become a lead, and your emails are helping close the deal with the product or service that you're working on. The thing that I think everybody tries to look around for is a multi-touch attribution moment, where we learn how to work all traffic sources together. Google Analytics will definitely tell you this stuff, but you have to set it up properly, which is what people don't realize is much easier than expected. The challenge is to not overcomplicate things to scare people.
Question: So for our readers who are now realizing that they've set things up wrong, what should they actually be doing to go back in and make sure everything is set up properly? Are there certain steps in place that they should be following?
Answer: First, make sure you forgive yourself for potentially setting things up incorrectly! You're definitely not alone; 99.9% of the people that come to us to learn how to work with Google Analytics are coming to us because they did something incorrectly. Even I did things wrong for years because I thought that a basic way was initially the correct way. In reality, the trick to this is to have a full plan. You then have to go through your build and launch it properly; let's go through each of these steps.
In your plan, we work with something we like to call QIA: questions, information, and actions. The first step (before you open Google Analytics) is that you have to plan everything out first. Most people don't realize that they should be planning something, but you have to build a measurement plan. How do you do that? First, you have to ask questions. You might not know if you're asking the correct questions that are pertinent to your business, so you might turn to Google for help. All of the sudden, you'll be getting a million blog posts, 300 YouTube videos, and a ton of articles like "All Of The Questions That Every Business Owner Needs To Know." You'll just get millions of results that all seem to contradict. In reality, there are only ever two types of questions you really ever need to ask. Results questions, which are questions like "how many leads did I get? How much did I sell?" Sometimes, if you're a content marketer, the question might be "How many clicks did I get sent to this site that I'm an affiliate for?" Those are results-type questions. The more important question to ask is how. How is that happening? For example, we have our flagship program, the Measure Marketing Academy. I only measured the number of people who bought the academy, and what the average ticket was with the revenue, that would be okay. But I have no idea what the customer's journey is that is actually causing this. I don't actually know what actions to take to improve things. What we do is we measure for that end result of revenue and the sales, but we also measure the how stuff. We asked questions like "How many people actually saw the offer? How many of those people actually added it to their cart? How many of those people actually completed their purchase?" Now, I have a customer journey; we're starting to see the pipeline appear. Those are the kind of "Results" and "How" questions you need to be asking.
Once you have your questions and you sit down, I think about it like they're three columns. Let's write those questions down, and next to them, ask yourself "what is the information that I need to collect in order to get these answers?" For me, I'd need to record the number of times every time somebody loads a page for the Academy. I want to see that page view every time the cart page loads; I want to be able to count the number of times that this happens. I can record all of the information that's going to give me answers to those questions that I'm asking. Most importantly, before you open up Google Analytics and before you look at a report, ask yourself, "what actions am I going to take based upon the answers that I get?" This is the secret sauce to this step; we call it "If This, Then That." What this means is, IF the number is lower than what I wanted, THEN I am going to do THIS, IF the number is higher, THEN I am going to do THIS, and IF the number is just right, THEN I'll do THIS. You think about all of the actions you're going to take before you even look at the number or before you can look at analytics or reports. That's a key process, a proper measurement plan. You have the questions tath will sit out, and the information that you're collecting or that you need to get the answers to the questions you're asking.
Then, you think about the actions you're going to take based on the answers you get. The action step is really important because it eliminates a problem that a lot of companies face. They have a lot of data, but no story. A lot of fo reports, but no action. They have this problem because they haven't role-played what they're going to do with the actions they might need to take. Going back to the speedometer example; when you look at your speedometer, you instantly know if you're going to hit the gas or the brake. But the reason you know that is because you knew ahead of time that this was an action that needed to be done. If this is the first time you've ever seen a speedometer, you'd have no idea what the number means; you'd have to sit there and analyze what you're looking at, and you'd crash right away. That's the problem with a lot of marketing; when something works, it works really well, and when it doesn't it works horribly. But no one really knows how, and that's a huge issue. But it doesn't have to be like that. Again, having a measurement plan is the first, most important step. Once you have your full plan, then you can move into your build. Here is where you can use a tool like Google Analytics. The first thing you have to do in your build is to make sure that you're measuring for the results. The measurement platform has to know what results from you're trying to achieve. Most individuals will set the measurement platform up and will get leads set up as a goal, as well as revenue and eCommerce, and those results will start getting measured. This is great, but the secret sauce to this step is what we call "ACE," which stands for Aware, Complete, and Engage. The trick to this is that you have to set up your results, not just for that final completion step of the customer journey, not just for when they become a lead or when they purchase something. You have to measure when they are aware of the customer journey that you want them to be aware of. You also have to measure as the customer engages, as well. For example, when somebody comes to the Academy page, we know that they're at the very least aware of the Academy as a product. So, we set up a completion goal, which is when they purchase the product and join the program. Then, we set up engagement goals. In our case, we want to measure the people who add the program to their cart and look at the ratio of who finishes that process. Now we can measure awareness, completeness, and as they engage along the way.
Next, you have to make sure that your implementation. You have to make sure that your implementation is measuring the traffic; it has to know who was sending you the traffic, what type of traffic they're sending you, and what was the purpose of the traffic in the first place? Once you have the traffic identified, you can connect them into a story where it shows what type of traffic you're getting, why you're getting it, and what the result is. You can now use your traffic sources in a way that will most likely give you the best results to move the customer journey forward.
Check Out The Podcast!
Chris has so much great information from his experience in tracking and measuring Google Analytics. Check out the podcast below to learn more about measuring and tracking consumers to best drive sales!
Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year:
- How To Gain the Highest ROI
- Build Your Brand Around Your Best Customers
- Manage Your Media Strategy With An Ever-Changing Climate
- Market Your Online Course Like A Master
- How To Properly Pitch Your Contacts
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