The Local Marketing Stack

Attribution

HOW TO USE THIS GRAPHIC
Generally speaking, you should read the graphic from left-to-right and bottom-to-top. Points lower and to the left are more fundamental to the overall success of your business than points higher and to the right in the sequence.

THE STOPS
A suggested timeline of steps to build your Attribution & Analytics Stack follows below.

Web Analytics

Zone 1 • Difficulty: • Free Options Available

The goal of web analytics is to help you understand how consumers are finding and interacting with your website. Beyond just a “hit counter,” true web analytics can answer questions like:

  • Where are my customers coming from?
    Not just where are they coming from digitally (like Facebook, Google, or Twitter), but physically–are they concentrated in a particular country, state, or metro area?
  • What content do they find interesting?
    Which pages get the most views? When people visit those pages, how long do they stay?
  • Are my ad campaigns working?
    If a customer sees my ad, do they end up on my contact page (or checkout page, if I’m an eCommerce company)? What is the average amount of transactions driven from various channels?
  • and many, many more.

Despite a promising start in the mid-2000s, Google Analytics has become incredibly complicated and is now too difficult for many small businesses (and marketers) to get much value from. But this great guide from Simply Business can help you get started.

And even if it’s too overwhelming or time-consuming for you to dive into the data, simply installing the code on your website that collects this information can establish a data trove that future consultants (and other software products) can help you mine and interpret.

Recommended Vendors:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is designed for advanced marketers–it’s far too complicated a product for most small businesses to get much value out of. Nonetheless, it’s become the most widely-adopted analytics package and there’s not a free alternative with a polished-enough interface to recommend. Google Analytics integrates well with a number of third-party services, and as long as you have it installed on your website, third-party consultants can help you understand the data it collects.

Cost: free+

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Email Analytics

Zone 2 • Difficulty: • Free Options Available

One of the many advantages to using an Email Service Provider for your email marketing (as opposed to just sending them from your personal email account) is the analytics that ESP’s provide you as part of your subscription.

Metrics include:

  • Open rate
    How many people opened your email? Tracking this metric over time can help you identify the best days and times to send your emails, as well as the most compelling keywords or calls-to-action to use in your subject lines.
  • Clickthroughs
    Once they opened, how many subscribers (and which subscribers) clicked through to the content you were promoting? Analyzing this information can help you segment your audience by content type and optimize the content you deliver to each segment.
  • Bounce rate
    How many addresses are no longer in use? Back to the three C’s of email marketing, list cleanliness is one of the keys to success.

    Beyond that, tracking down subscribers who may have left their previous company can often help you initiate two new relationships–one with a new person at the previous company, and one with the previous subscriber at their new company!

  • Unsubscribes/complaints
    It may seem counterintuitive, but a handful of unsubscribes per email is probably a good thing. It helps you keep your list targeted to people who are interested in your content, and it helps cut down on spam complaints, which are silent killers of email deliverability over time.
Recommended Vendors:

Mailchimp

Hands-down the best email service provider for small businesses, Mailchimp integrates with all kinds of other apps and platforms. And, it’s free up to 2,000 subscribers. (We use Mailchimp for our Minutive newsletter.)

Cost: free+

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Local Analytics

Zone 3 • Difficulty: • Free Options Available

As part of their free local profile offerings, prominent local search sites like Google and Yelp (as well as others) provide basic metrics around number of impressions of your profile, and in some cases more detailed information about the number of phone calls they refer or driving directions they produce.

Directionally accurate, specifically imprecise
Google’s numbers are directionally accurate but their precision has varied over the years. They represent a good barometer for the overall health of your local search presence, but should be studied in conjunction with other data provided by your web analytics and point-of-sale system.

Place ZERO trust in Yelp’s numbers
Yelp’s impression and phone call numbers are also directionally accurate, but their ROI calculator is completely bogus, with a suspect basis in reality. For a host of reasons, Yelp is a valuable site on which to have a presence as a local business, but don’t buy their sales pitch about how much money they’re making you.

Recommended Vendors:

Google My Business

For many small businesses, Google My Business is the digital marketing starting line. Make sure you’re giving customers correct information and great photos of your business at a minimum by claiming your free profile. GMB also provides remarkably easy to understand insights about how customers are finding and interacting with your business on Google properties.

Cost: free+

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Moz Local

While we recommend directly claiming your Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and Apple profiles directly, Moz Local takes over from there, helping you manage your local profiles on the important directories and data aggregators in the local search ecosystem.

Cost: $8+

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Social Analytics

Zone 4 • Difficulty: • Sugg. Monthly Budget: $10+

As part of their free business offerings, most prominent social media sites provide basic metrics around likes/followers/fans as well as audience reach of individual content or aggregate reach of all of your content.

Limited actionability from free analytics
But these topline metrics are rarely meaningful or actionable (the suggested action is usually an upsell attempt into paid advertising to boost them even higher!).

Upgrade if you’re an active social median
Depending on your frequency of social media usage and the size of your audience, it may benefit you to connect a more robust, third-party analytics suite to give you insights into exactly who your biggest fans are, your most popular content, the best time(s) to post new content, and more — and especially which members of your digital audience are simply fans, which are prospects, and which are regular customers or even lapsed customers. The best analytics packages help you make informed decisions about which marketing is performing best for you and give you specific action items for how to improve it (or make it more cost-effective).

Recommended Vendors:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is designed for advanced marketers–it’s far too complicated a product for most small businesses to get much value out of. Nonetheless, it’s become the most widely-adopted analytics package and there’s not a free alternative with a polished-enough interface to recommend. Google Analytics integrates well with a number of third-party services, and as long as you have it installed on your website, third-party consultants can help you understand the data it collects.

Cost: free+

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Buffer

Buffer enables you schedule and cross-promote your content on multiple social media platforms. Sign up for the Awesome Plan at $10/mo.

Cost: $10+

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AgoraPulse

Similar to Buffer and Sprout Social, AgoraPulse helps you stay on top of all of your social media channels. Analytics and reporting are its key differentiators.

Cost: $49+

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Sprout Social

Although a little pricey for what it does (especially relative to Buffer’s Awesome Plan), Sprout Social is a great option for small businesses whose customers exhibit higher levels of engagement on social media.

Cost: $59+

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Call Tracking

Zone 5 • Difficulty: • Sugg. Monthly Budget: $30+

You might think of call tracking as “phone analytics.” The idea behind it is to help you figure out not only which marketing channels are driving the most phone calls, but what the quality of those phone calls is, and whether or not the calls turn in to actual customers.

Can backfire if used improperly
The potential for helping you fine-tune your marketing is great, but poorly implemented, call-tracking can absolutely ruin your SEO, as it’s not a good idea to present Google multiple possible phone numbers for your business.

A lightweight option that works great on mobile devices
If this is at all a concern, keep in mind that lightweight call-tracking on mobile devices doesn’t require a special number — you can make your phone numbers clickable by using the “:tel” parameter and tag phone number clicks as a special event using your web analytics package. (You might need to ask your website developer for help with this if you’re unable to edit your website.)  You can then extrapolate your overall call performance based on the percentage of mobile visitors to your website.

Not all calls are good calls
And, you should take the metrics reported by call tracking services with a grain of salt — just as every visitor to your website is not a prospective customer, neither is every phone call. Many are robots or salespeople dialing for dollars.

Recommended Vendors:

CallRail

The team at CallRail is acutely aware of the impact of call tracking numbers on local SEO, and the metrics and reports they provide about where your customers are coming from and what they’re calling about are powerful.

Cost: free+

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Coupons & Deals

Zone 5 • Difficulty: • Sugg. Monthly Budget: $150+

Small businesses are right to be leery of coupons and deals after the predatory sales tactics and unrealistic margins peddled by Groupon and other daily deal sites during the early ’10s.

The #1 reason consumers follow brands on social media
But consumers love receiving discounts (in fact, coupons and discounts are the #1 reason consumers follow brands on social media). And when they’re well-targeted using customer data and/or loyalty programs, coupons and deals can be real revenue-drivers for small businesses.  They’re also effective when used in combination with a referral program, as we see with many widely-adopted consumer apps like Airbnb and Lyft.

Look at the total cost of your product or service, not just revenue
When calculating what level of discount to offer, think not only about your average product or service revenue, but the cost of goods (both hard costs and labor) to produce those products or services, as well as the likelihood that a customer who purchases from you using a discount will return with future business.

Recommended Vendors:

CustomerLobby

CustomerLobby offers a complete customer retention solution, that includes reputation management, email, SMS, and direct mail outreach. Integrates with basically every accounting and point-of-sale solution on the planet.

Cost: $199+

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Local Saver

LocalSaver is a free DIY coupon creator offering suggested templates and distribution to the most popular coupon sites and apps.

Cost: free+

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Beacons

Zone 6 • Difficulty: • Free Options Available

Beacons are physical-world sensors that collect data from and push data to digital devices around them.

Foot traffic sensors
The typical use-case for beacons in a small business context is as a foot-traffic sensor. A beacon can gather information about who’s walking in your front door and display a push notification from you, or simply keep track of who’s walked in your door. You can then use this information to remarket your products and services to them, or find additional consumers who share their geographic or demographic characteristics.

Kubrick called it
The dystopian future of beacons is the famous “Minority Report” scene in which a hologram welcomes Mr. Yakamoto (Tom Cruise with transplanted eyeballs) back to the Gap. This is possible with beacons today, not eye-scanning, but the major tech companies have shelved it (for now) due to the creepiness factor.

A less invasive option
Free wifi portals offer the same benefits of beacons to the business, with more explicit opt-in permission from the consumer.

Recommended Vendors:

Facebook PlaceTips

Almost all of your customers have a Facebook account. PlaceTips are free. So if you’re eager to try beacons, there’s no reason not to start here.

Cost: free+

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ZenReach

Though not a beacon per se, Zenreach lets you offer free wifi to your customers in exchange for their email address, with the same downstream marketing benefits promised by beacons.

Cost: $199+

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