Over the past few years I have spent a considerable amount of time speaking to customers, colleagues, and anyone who would listen about both “tangible” and “intangible” results from online marketing including social media and search marketing.
Unfortunately to most people that own businesses or those that are in upper management the web is one big intangible mess to them when it comes to marketing. What can be frustrating about that is that it is much more measurable than any other marketing method that these same individuals have dealt with for years. But since a billboard can be touched, or a trade magazine ad can be physically seen those both seem much more “real” to the the decision makers or executives at a large company.
As we in the online industry know, those methods are as intangible as you can get as far as measurement. It can be done at some level, but real measurement comes from numbers. Although I completely understand there is brand identity that can come from putting your logo out at the end of the day people end up wanting people in their door. At some point its about more than your name its about dollars.
What is great is how simple it is to show people the light when it comes to this, in all reality the amount of data that can be given can be overwhelming for the business owner or exec and those of us that spend our time in all this data can try to share way to much when “trying to prove our point”.
If it is an E-Commerce site it could be as simple as orders placed. Although it would be wrong to mention the customers name, I will say we had one customer that was a very well known business in the area last year that previously had spent a considerable amount of money on a nice looking online store for their product. They were known to have a great product but in the past several years had not had more than a few, thats not an exaggeration no more than a few orders from a site that had cost them 5 figures between development and hosting and various monthly services.
After a site rebuild and optimization around product names and long tail keywords they had more sales in the week after launch than they had in the past 5 years. It was a combination of both proper design to drive people to purchase and proper keyword targeting. In this case as much as we could show targeted search drives purchases with keywords it was even easier to show month over month results, or quarter over quarter.
So that leads me to the next one and the most important, when dealing with a business that is not taking orders online (the majority of most websites BTW), showing the number and quality of visitors to the companies website can be done most effectively if they have had prior analytics tools on their website. The most common being Google Analytics.
In this case the easiest way is to do year over year (YoY) or month over month (MoM) reports for visitors, bounce rate, and specific keywords. If targeted search was the reason the business was working with you in the first place I find it best to show reports that show the specific growth around their key terms rather than traffic growth, although in most cases they go hand in hand.
This all may seem obvious to us, but keep in mind most of these small businesses have not had anyway to track their marketing efforts other than their sales person from the billboard or newspaper coming in to tell them that X amount of people viewed their paper or billboard location in Y demographic and then try to tell the customer that is measurable and actionable data for that business. Now with MoM or YoY keyword reports that can literally show exactly how many people searched for the business and landed on specific pages on the businesses site and then took specific actions (download a brochure, bought an item, etc) the business owner will start to understand that web marketing is VERY tangible in relation to the very intangible marketing they have become accustomed too.
Recently there was a project that we were able to show that the business had zero, yes ZERO results around their focused keywords the last full month before the SEO effort had been put in place. The next month the report showed over 40 different keyword combinations around that ONE keyword now bringing traffic, this does not include other keywords that had been focused on, this was just one specific one. That is how you can show data that seems “tangible” to the business owner. That is something that makes sense. Once data like this is shown it will now cause that business owner to think twice before buying that billboard or newspaper ad.
So, before speaking to your customers, or if you are a decision maker at a business, do not fall for the farce that the web is intangible, realize that the most measurable data you can find is through your web and social analytics. Data you could never find with your offline marketing methods are just a few clicks away with online marketing.