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Are you really making any money?

By Alan Berg, CSP

author, professional speaker and small business marketing consultant

Too often I hear people talking about the number of clicks to their ad, how high they come up in search results or how many friends they have on Facebook, but rarely do I hear people talking about how much money they’re making. Of course there are good reasons for that; you don’t want to share your personal finances; you don’t want to brag; you’re not making any money; or maybe it’s because you don’t really know.

There’s a big difference between getting people to click through to your website and making money from those clicks. There’s a difference between getting someone to open your email campaign and making money from that campaign. Getting someone to read your mailing piece or print ad doesn’t make you any money.

Google Analytics can’t tell you if your ads are working

It can tell you if you’re getting clicks from your ads, search engines and other websites, but it’s not connected to your balance sheet. Google Analytics doesn’t know when you make a sale, it knows if someone saw your site, but not who that person is. It’s up to you to connect the dots from the click to the sale.

This is not exclusive to the internet. It’s never up to the customer to tell you if your ads are what brought them in. It’s always been your responsibility to find out. This was true B.I., before the internet, it’s true for print ads, direct mail, email, bridal shows, radio, tv and any marketing you do.

If you’re waiting until she comes in to give her a form to fill out to know if your ads are working, you’re getting incomplete or incorrect answers. Don’t take my word for it, test it for yourself. List all of the places she could possibly find a business like yours, including places your business is not listed (other sites, magazines, ads). What you’ll likely find is that they check off boxes for some of the places you don’t advertise or were never listed. Try it, you’ll see. It will show you that, by the time she comes in, she doesn’t really remember… or better yet, she doesn’t care, since it doesn’t matter to her. She’s already in your office. She just wants to talk about her wedding or event.

Learn to connect the dots

What you want to do is connect the dots between the people viewing your ads and website and the sales you make. That’s a lot harder than it sounds since there are many steps along the way. For example: someone sees your ad on a website or a search engine result, so they click through to your site. Once at your site you want them to contact you, which probably happens via email, rather than phone (a topic for another article). They email you for information and pricing and hopefully you get them in for an appointment. Once in your office for the appointment you hope to make the sale. So how are you going to connect the dots from that sale back through them seeing your website to the original source… the ad or search engine?

Can you track it? Sure, but when you track is just as important as how you track. Most businesses track the wrong information at the wrong time. If you’re waiting until you’re sitting across the desk from her to ask how she heard about you, it’s too late. She has one mission and that’s to get a wedding pro in your category for her wedding or event. She doesn’t care, nor should she, about whether your marketing brought her in.

What should you track and when?

  • How people get to your site – ask them when they fill out your online contact form.
  • Which pages they view and how long they stay on your site – if they only view your homepage for a very short period of time and don’t view other pages… that’s a bad sign.
  • Your Bounce Rate from each source of traffic – a Bounce is when someone leaves from the same page they came in on. Don’t be fooled by the volume of traffic, get to the root of the quality of the traffic. A high Bounce rate usually means lower quality traffic. It doesn’t mean you’re not making money from the traffic, but if they only view the one page on your site, how likely is it that you’re doing business with them?

Ask better questions

So how can you make it easier to track? First, you need to track as close to the contact as possible. So if someone gets to your website and fills out your email form, make sure you add a question to the form “How do you find out website today?” Notice I didn’t say “How did you hear about us?” That’s not what you want to know right now, so ask a better question. What you want to know is how they found your site the day they contact you, so ask that.

It’s the same when someone calls you. Don’t ask “How did you hear about us?” or “Who referred you to us?”  Ask “Where did you get our phone number today?” She just dialed your number and you want to know what she’s looking at that has your phone number listed. Is it your ad on WeddingWire, your business card, website, print ad, email marketing or direct mail piece? She has to be looking at your phone number if she called you, so what is she looking at?

What should you ask and when?

  • On your website email form ask “How did you get to our website today?” – she’ll never be closer to this than at your site, so ask it there.
  • When she calls, ask “Where did you get our phone number today?” – she just dialed it so ask what she’s looking at
  • When she comes in it’s usually too late to ask any good tracking questions. She just wants to talk about her wedding, not get grilled or tested on marketing.

Put your tracking on Auto-pilot

Some ways to automate the tracking is to use separate URL’s in your ads, different phone numbers (easy to do with toll free numbers) and different email addresses. This way you’ll know without asking her how she got to you. I use different email addresses in each of my books so I can tell is someone’s emailing me while reading one of them. Of course, many people have had more than one exposure to your business before they contact you, so it’s almost impossible to track it perfectly every time.

All you need to do is learn to track better, or accept that you’re not really tracking and you’re OK with it. Take heart in knowing that if you want to be able to track better, you can, but it’s always going to be up to you to do it.