Our digital, networked world provides an unparalleled amount of insight into what drives business growth. Marketers and sales teams can immerse themselves in reports, analytics and data that lay bare patterns of customer behaviour and how these can be tapped to increase sales through different marketing activity.
However, how many businesses and marketers genuinely make use of this opportunity? And for those that do, how many are really getting all the information they need?
We believe that for too many, this avalanche of data is just so much white noise, preventing marketers from fully unlocking advantages from the insights available.
Why might this be the case?
Firstly, we might point the finger at the people providing the data. Analytics is still very much the art of the geek. And, whether consciously or unconsciously, it remains soaked in jargon and lacking in the traditional indicators of business success – business deal in profit or loss, not goals and conversions.
There is also a lack of integration. Businesses that do try and map customer trends often see leads coming in and sales being made, but rarely the direct connection between the two. Without knowing exactly which activity prompted each sale, they are left reading the tea leaves. Using trial and error to try and separate correlation from causation. Exactly the situation they were in before the ‘miracle’ of analytics.
Finally, there’s the missing link between digital and traditional engagement. Web data is all very well, but what happens when customers have the temerity to go ‘analogue’ on us? Without adding elements like call tracking into our evidence, we’re only ever getting part of the picture.
This report seeks to answer some of these questions – looking at how effectively businesses in different sectors are getting to grips with analytics and where they might best improve.
We polled 1,000 business owners and marketers across the UK (via online survey in July 2016), asking if they used analytics and if so what they tracked and whether it told them exactly what they needed to know.
The answers reveal that we are only at the start of our information revolution and that most businesses have potential to significantly increase the ROI of their marketing activity.
How businesses currently track marketing impact?
As expected, our survey shows that website analytics is now the norm. 92% of the businesses polled used some kind of analytics software to review the performance of their website.
However, it was a minority (42%) that felt satisfied with what it told them. The key problem was gaining actionable insight – with 57% feeling that they couldn’t use this data to manage their marketing spend more effectively.
It is clear from the research, that many businesses track only a few of the measures needed to give them confidence to make informed decisions.
The majority (78%) tracked the number of visits to their site and just under two thirds also tracked web form submissions or leads generated (64% each).
However, relatively few used their analytics to also tell them the return on their digital marketing spend (21%) or the volume or outcomes of resulting telephone calls (18%).
Worryingly one in seven businesses (14%) didn’t regularly track any of these indicators, making analytics (for them) barely worth the effort of installation.
Which sectors are most focused on ROI?
Looking at habits within different business sectors, there was a marked gap between the best and the worst exponents of embracing analytics.
Top of the tree were retailers, the most likely to be using analytics in some form. Although even for this group, less than a third analysed the impact of digital marketing spend and just over one in five tracked resulting calls (22%).
Shockingly, worst of all were marketing companies themselves. Marketing and PR businesses were almost four times less likely to be tracking key indicators of how digital impacts on their sales. A clear case of failing to practice what you preach.
Why customers call – Are you missing an opportunity?
Of all the tools at a businesses disposal, call tracking is the least likely to be utilised. While it might seem decidedly 20th Century to build this into a modern analytics framework, failure to do so can leave you missing a key part of the marketing puzzle.
The telephone plays a very specific role in the buying process for customers. While most of us will use online tools for research and assessing possible purchases of suppliers, for many, the telephone is still the channel used to finalise the deal. In a survey of 1,000 consumers, 35% said that they preferred to buy over the phone than online. 41% also stated a preference for using the phone as part of the process of shopping around and 53% said that they choose to speak to someone when checking final details ahead of a purchase.
In addition, Ruler also found that lead generation websites in the UK receive around 75% of their inbound leads via inbound telephone calls compared to 25% form fills. And 56% of these phone leads come from a desktop search rather than from a mobile or tablet (42%).
Therefore, the relationship between phone and online in the sales process is a crucial one. When looking to use analytics to attribute marketing to sales therefore, its inclusion is crucial.
Call Tracking: The Missing Piece in the Marketing Puzzle
Despite this fact, over half of the businesses we surveyed (53%) did nothing to monitor and track the calls received. Of those tracking calls, 17% still used a manual process of call logs, compared to 33% using call tracking software and 50% where calls were linked to a CRM system.
Looking at the facts below, it’s clearly an area where the majority of companies looking to analyse the impact and ROI of marketing need to up their game.
Lessons to be learned
Analytics are both everywhere and nowhere. We (virtually) all have them in some form or other, but few are fully utilising the tools at their disposal.
Worst of all is the lack of connection being made between the online and real world.
Despite phone calls being a hugely significant part of the sales process (according to our findings), very few seek to add this as part of the marketing – trying to make out the full picture with major pieces missing.
Businesses find themselves living in the age of big data and analytics, with still massive gaps in the knowledge that could drive their growth.
So what’s the answer:
- Recognise that insight is crucial. Not only does it give you control over your growth, it also allows you to make informed decisions about the ROI of marketing spend – which could mean the difference between making a healthy profit or a damaging loss.
- Get the right tools – look for insight that covers the key channels of communication and can be customised to your needs. What do you need to track and how do these relate to the important decisions you need to make.
- Use the insights you gain. Knowing the facts is one thing, acting on them is another. Make ROI your guiding principle – be prepared to try new approaches (with careful eye on the data) and drop things you have always done but are no longer profitable or the best use of budget.
About Ruler Analytics
Ruler Analytics is a visitor level website analytics product that provides call tracking and lead tracking showing the exact keyword, source and journey of each inbound telephone call and website enquiry.
With a fully documented API, Ruler Analytics can integrate with any product that businesses currently use such as CRM, email or Google Analytics itself.
Ruler Analytics was designed and built by lead generation and digital marketing experts that had used Google Analytics and other tracking products for years but found that they either did not provide the granular level of detail and accuracy that was required to manage campaigns properly or that the cost of using such products was prohibitive and too expensive.