The year has come to an end. I assume at some point throughout the year you tried some sort of web marketing strategy whether it was SEO, social media, Yellow Pages, PPC, etc. As a small business it's time that you make sure your marketing dollars are being used where they are most effective and adjust accordingly.
ROI. Whether or not you started your SEO strategy in 2010, you can still use return on investment (ROI) as a metric. What investment have you put into improving your organic rank this year, if any. A general ROI formula is:
ROI = [(Payback - Investment)/Investment)]*100
Because SEO is long lasting marketing effort, you may see that your SEO ROI in 2010 was very good. Don't assume that because it has performed well to this point that you should ignore SEO in 2011. It is a long term marketing strategy, but it still needs tweaked. Changes in the engines, industry, seasonality or anything else that might effect what or how people search will require you to revisit your SEO campaigns.
It is extremely easy to gather data for a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign. You can easily see what you spent through the year in each engine and hopefully you are tracking some sort of conversion, whether it is a sale or email news sign up. There are several metrics you can use to gauge effectiveness, but the most telling metrics are ROI and CPA (cost-per-acquisition, cost-per-goal, cost-per-conversion, cost-per-action). CPA is calculated by taking the total cost divided by the number of tracked actions that occurred. Other metrics to keep in mind are your hard and soft conversion rates. A hard conversion being a sale or lead, a soft conversion being a whitepaper download, ect. Determine what engines, campaigns, keywords, ads, and landing pages are performing the best using these metrics and adjust the campaigns accordingly. You may find that you are overpaying for some terms that do not convert well, or underpaying for some terms that have more converting potential. There is so much data in paid advertising that it's silly to ignore.
You probably are still having a hard time measuring social. Consider the value of a like or a follow, as mentioned in Dave's post yesterday. Compare where you were at the beginning of the year and what you did throughout the year to reach this point. Don't forget about offline conversions. Hopefully people are bringing in the coupons that you offer your followers or people are telling you they found you on Facebook. If you can, take notes when someone tells you that. Look at referrals in your analytics to see if users coming from social are spending time on your site and converting. Don't blind yourself and think of social as only ROI, think of it as as longer term relationship building effort. Communicate and be social and earn or keep your customers that way. Still not as clear cut as SEO and PPC, but you should still have some sort of grasp on whether your 2010 social media strategies were effective.
Third Party Website Advertising
If you are paying money to local news sites, blogs, visitor information or anything else that you are solely paying for a link or ad on a website, now is the time to see if it is driving traffic. It is easy to see in your referring sites whether or not that site is driving traffic and what those visitors are doing on site. Even better you have set up a specific landing page for that ad only with conversions...a great option for tracking performance for 3rd party website ads. If these sites are generating traffic or low quality traffic you might want to allocate those dollars somewhere else.
How Does it Fit In With Your Overall Marketing?
I expect that you will find that your web marketing efforts are much easier to track than your traditional marketing avenues, and maybe even outperforming all together. Look at how your radio, newspaper, billboards, TV, and trade show efforts have affected your overall marketing goals. Ask your sales people how their customers are being directed to them and what they see as the most effective strategies.
Finally, determine what you want to do with your 2011 budgets. I am not saying need to abandon traditional marketing, but you must consider creating a better relationship between traditional and web marketing strategies to make them work together and keeping them measurable. Start using custom landing pages, qr codes, URL redirects, and even coupon codes. If you are able to measure every piece of your marketing you will definitely feel better about how you are spending your budget. Let's plan a more comprehensive marketing strategy together!