Most businesses have heard the definition of analytics at some point since 2006 (with Zimana being in business since 2009). Here is the definition, for those just joining the internet. Analytics is about the measurement of a system. With respect to small businesses, the interest is in web analytics. Web analytics is the measurement of website performance.
The next advancement of importance are smartphones and tablets. They changed the ways people review websites before making a purchase, because sites are accessed while visitors on the go instead of just at home. Moreover, websites are increasingly accessed by mobile devices, so the sites have to be mobile-friendly.
If you are starting your business, there are a few ways to start using analytics to confirm how your website enhances your business digital strategy. Planning for data collection can become complex based on the amount of marketing you have planned, but a dedicated planning pays off in organizing necessary steps, reducing effort needed over time.
If you are unsure where to start, here are a few great starting points if you are just planning to launching a website.
- Identify how your web presence will be laid out. Web designers use wireframes to lay our each page navigation, but if you are technically challenged you can do so on a piece of paper. This will also help assess costs for launching and maintaining associated components such as a microsite for an app or an e-commerce cart.
- Choose your downloadable material for the site – these can be tagged in analytics through features such as event tracking, a minor code typically added to the HTML links for the documents. Tag managers are also available to make tag management manageable.
- Consider names for each webpages that includes a highly-trafficked keyword if feasible. You’ll have to keep page name lengths simple for user convenience (and it may depend on the URL you select). Three words in a subdirectory URL is a good rule of thumb to maintain. So a URL can appear like this example below:
In this example, three words can be selected to the subdomain, kept relatively short in case a customer is typing the URL or speaking the words into a search window on a smartphone. Each word can be an opportunity to use a keyword – say “shoe repair” in this instance – or a useful high volume description like “Chicago” to help in local search.
There’s no one combination that will guarantee success, but the key is develop the most descriptive page names that will aid discovery in a general search engine.
- Make sure each page title and description are filled out, since those come in handy not only for search engine but in sharing content on Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, and other social media platforms.
- Identify a goal page from your website. This will aid reporting on how well people are navigating on your site.
- Plan your marketing in addition to executing a search strategy. Search traffic is helpful, but you may need to select marketing for an additional reach to your audience.
With so much interest in China and India, it can be easy to overlook substantial changes in other markets primed for growth. South Africa looks to be one market that cannot be ignored. Internet retailers should take notice.
Wal-Mart’s acquisition of South African retailer Massmart has highlighted international attention to a burgeoning retail scene. Barclays, for example, reported that the African continent is attractive for UK brands, with over half of responding brands indicating South Africa as a top market.
A budding middle class in South Africa is fueling the retail growth. South Africa’s black middle class has more than doubled in 8 years according to a study reported in Business Day Live. This reflects a growing trend across the continent. Experts debate about what constitutes the middle class throughout Africa – estimated at 313 million in 2010 according to Business Day Live – but nearly all agree that a robust consumer audience is developing.
Online marketers should consider the market’s high potential for m-commerce innovation. South African consumers use mobile devices to regularly go online. They are increasingly adapting mobile smartphones to conduct transactions. World Wide Worx, in a report commissioned by Google South Africa, considered South Africa to have the highest mobile device penetration among African nations. As I noted in my earlier post How Coupons Can Influence Mobile, US mobile users are increasingly taking action through their phone. Reports like the Google Africa report confirm that such behavior is not only a global trend, but a norm.
Entry into the market can require the retailer to be patient. The World Wide Worx/Google report noted that mobile users can potentially take 5 years to be an active participant in the new economy. It means that consumer trends happening now have a delayed impact on return if a retailer chooses to investment in the South African market. Large retailers with considerable financial reserves can plan first mover advantage with a greater chance of success. The user adoption time frame may be an advantage to retailers looking to refine their applications and services for the market.
Thus retailers without such advantage will have to innovate with unique mobile strategy to establish a solid consumer audience. For example, in the US mobile activity can drive purchase through a PC. South African mobile usage, however, calls for enticements that can be used at a mobile device. Identifying simple tasks that can be conducted on mobile and partnering with local established firms can help. Adding analytics measurement will help manage the exposure a mobile site receives, but metrics should also support retailer attention to customer needs.
Metrics should also help refine user experience to better complete those tasks. Measuring conversion periodically would help. And retailers can start simple – initiating a mobile site first before an app can help refine the mobile message before introducing a new product.
There has been much written about mobile, and challenges with campaign measurement because of smartphone growth. Participating in a premier market such as South Africa can provide excellent opportunity to innovate on those challenges through mobile marketing.
It happens at this time of year. Not just taking a breather with the Christmas holidays , or even reviewing financials. Each new year has become the perfect time for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to tighten the links between their online and real-world operations.
Most SMBs know their digital presence is essential to their success, but many don’t understand that once online, their core businesses will have to perform differently than before.
A USA Today article on small business trends back in 2012 offered some suggestions. If you are a regular Business Agility reader, these three points highlighted in the article may sound particularly familiar.
- Working 24/7: The 9-to-5 workday is a thing of the past. “The Internet, laptops, tablets, smartphones, apps, and software are the main culprits.”
- Video: Don’t overlook video on your site. The article notes a Cisco estimate that “online video now makes up 50 percent of all consumer Internet traffic.”
- Mobile: In case you’ve been living under a rock, wireless devices are everywhere, and a heralding the Internet of Things age. This means customers and employees will want to connect at all hours, and your site needs to support that.
Another trend that caught my immediate attention was that small businesses fall into one of three categories: understanding social media, not understanding social media, or not caring about social media.
I think the small business that achieves success with social media is one that is prepared to be bold in deriving value from its operations. That value-creation drive makes it fearless in leveraging social media.
The end result is the ability to enact the steps that close a sale — follow up by providing sales material, answer customer questions quickly, and offer information about services that anticipate customer concerns.
Gaining that intensity is possible. The starting point is gathering information on operations and making choices that leverage available assets. This can mean some initial isolation to reflect on honest feedback from employees and take in the status of a business.
This reflection does not mean becoming an isolated, brooding manager who goes to the mountaintop and returns holding stone tablets full of ideas. Instead, small businesses can start with two means to assess its capabilities, especially if a starting point is not entirely clear.
First, SMBs can review their web analytics data to learn what is working well online. As I have noted in many posts on this blog and in other sites such as CMS Wire, analytics can indicate site trends that may reflect how customers are finding and evaluating the business. These trends may also show how customer needs can be further served.
Second, a small business can also review its operations and determine what decisions keep cropping up. A recurring decision can probably be made more simply with a strategic, inexpensive purchase. If employees are on the go, what documents on the cloud should be available? And what is the best way to access them?
Using analytics to review online presence and manage business operations effectively can lead to new ways to become agile and provide true value.
Working remote can be a challenge, but more and more companies are finding success with it. 37 Signals, the firm that created Basecamp, has its workers mostly remote, with a central core workforce in its Chicago headquarters.
Marissa Meyer, Yahoo’s CEO, chose a different route. She mandated more employees to work at its main headquarters. Since that time Yahoo! has acquired a number of companies, including Tumblr. But its overall financial performance still has been questioned by Wall Street Analysts, according to Forbes. So time may tell if Meyer’s famed mandate inspired a significant change for Yahoo!
But consider this instance as a business intelligence lesson – analytics played into her decision. There are also lesson of treating clients who are remote. Meyer made her decision because log ins were reported low – so being remote implied a sense of inconsistent results, an unwanted characteristic for any business that seeks to improve itself.
Listen to the video and provide your comments here or at the All Analytics site.