Many small businesses struggle to answer the “is it working?” question when it comes to their digital marketing. For those business owners that DIY their digital marketing, the time it takes to execute the work leaves little room for tracking, analyzing and optimizing these efforts over time. Even many marketers who serve small businesses aren’t providing a clear view of how these activities drive key results.

While many small businesses recognize the importance and need to promote themselves online, tracking these efforts can be a challenge. Many rely on intuition to determine what is or is not working. When so much online activity is measurable there isn’t any reason intuition should be the primary method for understanding marketing performance.

Most platforms and channels offer click and impression data which can be useful in understanding the kinds of content that drives engagement, which is a good start. But it is what happens after the initial click that needs to be understood, and every small business must identify the actions that are of most value and track these actions over time. The three online actions that almost all businesses should track are calls, contact form fills and gated content downloads.

Phone Calls

While many younger generations might not be inclined to talk on the phone, there sometimes is no way around it. Complex transactions and some business services require more immediate and real-time communication. So depending on the situation or the type of purchase being considered, the phone remains an important action.

Additionally, with more online searches taking place on mobile devices than desktops, there are likely to be more people browsing your website from smartphones. This is yet another reason why you must be tracking clicks of your phone number.

Two foundational ways to track phone calls is via Google My Business and your website. Google My Business offers weekly, monthly and quarterly call activity generated from Google searches. Calls from your website require a few more technical integrations that can be managed via Google Tag Manager. (See below for a useful how-to video showing you how you can track phone call clicks via Google Tag Manager.)

Especially businesses that prioritize phone calls over other actions, it is critical to track the calls being generated from your website to know if your marketing drives people to call. Additionally, if you get a large volume of calls, there are some really robust and sophisticated tools that can help you track and reengage with inbound calls to your business.

Contact Form Fills

The contact form of any website is a key communication channel for your customers that just want to get a little more info but aren’t necessarily looking to talk to anyone. Understanding how many people are contacting your business via this method and comparing it to phone calls, can help you understand your customer communication preferences.

As mentioned in the phone calls section, your industry, your customer and the urgency of the need will all dictate how people will engage with your business. The benefit of the form fill is that it allows the opportunity to collect additional customer information which can be useful in future marketing or sales activities.

Contact forms are one of the easiest to track because they often lead to a “thank you” page which, again, using Google Tag Manager and integrating it with Google Analytics, you can track every time that thank you page loads. There are additional views of the data in Google Analytics which show how users ended up on the thank you page, offering valuable data around website journeys.

Content Downloads

While downloads of free reports or guides utilize a form like the contact form, the context is very different. The general contact form is for customers that are ready to engage with your business or want more information and may be closer to an actual purchase. The content download is more of a prospect than it is a lead. Perhaps they are ready to buy but they may just be in the “research” phase of the purchase journey.

Still, you’ll want to track any content downloads separate from your contact forms because the two require different handling. Additionally, tracking downloads to a report or guide will help you better understand how well you are promoting the content and if your audience finds it engaging. These activities can help you get the pulse of your audience and craft future content pieces accordingly.

Conclusion

While you may have a sense of how your marketing is driving key actions online, in order to really know, you must measure key digital actions over time. By starting with phone calls, contact form fills and download form fills you’ll set a solid foundation for understanding when and how your customers engage with your business from your website and beyond.

Additionally, if you’re hiring a marketer to bring your digital efforts to the next level, you’re going to want to know how/if these activities are having an impact. If you don’t have time to set this tracking up yourself, it is critical that you ask for it and request regular (monthly or quarterly) performance reports highlighting how calls, form fills, etc., are growing or declining over time.

Analytics setup and performance reporting is included with any size marketing package we offer. Contact us today to get started.