“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker, American Merchant
Marketing is subjective. As marketers, it is our job to understand the qualitative behaviors that contribute to our target end goal, identify quantifiable data points that these behaviors can be attributed to, and then analyze the crossover of information to optimize each effort towards profitability – the return on investment. Simple enough, right?
Turning variables into profit is where marketing starts to get tough, especially if you’re not using the right tools to support your efforts. Remember, advertising is subjective. If you’ve had problems staying profitable, step back and ask yourself if you have enough information. Before you start working on campaign optimizations or targeting a new audience, make sure that you’re using the right tools to capture the data you need to make good decisions.
The six tools covered below can be used for free; however, some are limited under the free plans and may require an upgrade to take full advantage of their platform.
Website and Campaign Tracking Tools
1. Google Tag Manager (GTM)
What It Is: A tag management system that empowers marketers to create tags that send user interaction data, including conversion tracking, site analytics, remarketing and more, to Google Analytics. Using GTM will save you time, bypassing the need to involve web developers for direct updates to the source code, as you update your website or mobile app tags and code snippets for third-party data collection.
Why You Need It: GTM provides marketers with the flexibility to implement custom tracking tags on-the-fly, helping you capture important interaction data from your website and campaigns. Quickly add, update or test new tags to track key actions, like third-party conversions or user behaviors and click engagements on your website or mobile app.
Learn more about Google Tag Manager.
2. Google Campaign URL Builder
What It Is: A basic tool that generates customized URL’s that help track and differentiate your online campaigns. Simply add unique campaign identifiers (UTM parameters) to your destination URLs prior to launch. Google Analytics captures the information, like the campaign name or source, allowing you to analyze each campaign’s performance and effectiveness.
Why You Need It: Using custom tracking URL’s lets you cut out the guesswork on how your online campaigns are performing. The tracking parameters provide a real-time comparison of interaction data from each creative, product or media platform, helping you gauge whether your campaign elements are a hit or miss. These insights allow you to enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns and maximize your spending.
Learn more about Google Campaign URL Builder.
Search Marketing Tools
What It Is: Depending on your browser, SEOQuake is either a plugin or an extension that provides quick and easy access to organic research data, specific to the domains and landing pages you want to analyze. This tool includes many useful features, such as SEO audits, keyword density reports, link analyses and even social metrics.
Why You Need It: SEOQuake is an essential tool for any website owner who understands the value of content marketing and the positive effect that it can have on your search engine visibility and ranking efforts. This is one of the best free resources a marketer can use to gain a comprehensive understanding of missed or untapped opportunities that can enhance SEO performance.
Learn more about SEOQuake.
What It Is: A great tool for researching and identifying profitable keywords. SEMRush offers a level of data transparency with insights into keyword rankings, trends and optimization techniques, learned from an analysis of your business or a competitor. Use as a stand-alone resource or combine the data with others tools, like SEOQuake and Google Search Console, to enhance the development and effectiveness of your SEM strategies.
Why You Need It: The available insights offer a birds-eye perspective that enables you to make informed marketing and business decisions, not just from analyzing your own performance, but also from understanding your competitors as well. SEMRush offers real-time reports on keyword performance, removing the guesswork from your bidding strategy.
Learn more about SEMRush.
Social Media Management Tool
What It Is: A time-saving platform that helps you manage multiple social media network accounts from a single customizable dashboard. This easy-to-use tool feeds real-time data into your pre-selected streams, providing the key features needed to manage your social media presence. Hootsuite is ideal for businesses who have multiple people managing the businesses’ social networks, helping to bypass the hurdles of miscommunication and security issues from individual account access.
Why You Need It: Time is valuable and social media takes time. Using a social media scheduler allows you to maximize the best of both worlds. You can schedule your posts in advance, monitor your accounts and engage with your audience, all from a single platform. Hootsuite connects to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram* accounts, providing a time-saving approach to managing your brand across the major B2C platforms.
*Note: Instagram policies do not allow auto-scheduling. Instead, use the platform to monitor your brand or view market trends. [UPDATE: Direct scheduling and publishing to Instagram are now available via HootSuite dashboard. Source: HootSuite Press Release]
Learn more about HootSuite.
Analytics and Reporting Tool
6. Google Data Studio
What It Is: Google Data Studio is a simple, customizable reporting tool that connects with your Analytics, AdWords, and other Google-related accounts, feeding your various data into a shareable dashboard or report for a comprehensive analysis. Once a report is created and linked to your accounts, data will continue to populate the views you have created. Entire reports and elements can be modified, duplicated and even expanded as needed.
Why You Need It: When it comes to reporting or even information sharing, you want to be able to extract the most important data as quickly as possible. Google Data Studio enables you to turn boring spreadsheet data into a branded, visual story of metrics. The full editing capabilities allow you to add and remove elements that align with your goals. Whether you’re generating reports for internal or external use, this time-saving tool is an efficient approach to streamlining your reporting process.
Learn more about Google Data Studio.
If you are trying to get a better understanding of your online marketing efforts, try using some, or all six tools above. You’ll find yourself six steps closer to capturing the information you need to improve performance and profitability.