The former chairman of Unilever, Niall Fitzgerald, once said, “Data makes your briefcase heavy… insights make you rich.” Being a small business owner, you probably feel that way sometimes. Maybe you haven’t taken advantage of Google marketing tools.
Technology is changing way too fast, and it is hard to even keep up because you’re weighed down with so much information, data and subsequent indecision. That “heavy briefcase” described by Niall can be likened to the analysis paralysis of decision-making. In essence, if you have too much to consider, then you basically “freeze” your decision-making to prevent your mind from overheating and melting to mush.
Take advantage of tools and products, many of them made available by Google, to help you start using your data and digital insights to make informed business decisions and grow.
Before exploring Google marketing tools, it’s important to understand the true definition of insights.
What is a Google insight?
Insights help you make more informed business decisions, using strategies informed by real consumer truths — whether they’re brand strategies, creative ideas, product innovations or media plans. The trouble with insights is that they are extremely hard to pinpoint. For instance, if you were to ask 100 people for an example of a business insight, you’d most likely get 100 different responses.
According to Google, insights are based on data, but they must be novel, credible and actionable:
- Novel: The insight must unlock new opportunities for your business.
- Credible: The insight is based on data, which is produced by customer actions like website visits or purchases, so it must be true.
- Actionable: The insight must inspire you to take action and make an informed business decision.
How to make informed business decisions with Google insights
To better understand how to uncover and leverage Google insights, let’s follow the hypothetical story of Meghan. Meghan owns a sandwich shop in your area, and she just set up her website and added the ability for online ordering. Customers are now able to place an order via phone, computer or in-store. Business is going well for Meghan, but she wants to take full advantage of the “digital opportunity” that all of her fellow business colleagues keep mentioning. In other words, Meghan wants to see if her online activities are working and if it impacts her bottom line. (Sound familiar?)
Without looking at her data and the stories it tells her, Meghan finds herself making decisions based on her gut instinct most of the time.
In fact, according to a recent Inc. article:
“There is no such thing as a purely rational decision. The brain uses a combination of logic and emotion when making decisions of any kind. … Going with our gut, however, implies uncertainty and does not guarantee a good outcome.”
Sometimes, making decisions based on gut instinct works really well for Meghan, but what if she had tools to help her base her decisions and actions on actual data?
For example, Meghan loves experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. She decided to innovate the classic Cuban sandwich by adding a spicy banana sauce. She made it for her employees, and they loved it, so she added it to the menu.
But if Meghan had used digital insights — such as the online reviews she collects in Google My Business — she would have realized that customers love her Cuban sandwich because it has all of the fresh, classic ingredients that make the original Cuban a thing of beauty. Essentially, they don’t want it to be changed.
Meghan also noticed that sales were lacking on certain days of the week, so she decided to offer a Buy One Get One (BOGO) deal to increase her sales on those slower days.
Instead of cutting her prices when sales were down, Meghan could have boosted visibility by advertising or trying different promotions, using data from tools like Google Analytics or Google My Business to see if it helped drive more sales.
Although Meghan is trying to grow her business, the changes she made were not supported by data. In the end, both changes did not help her succeed the way she had imagined.
Now let’s look at how Meghan could have used Google marketing tools to inform her decision-making.
3 steps to using Google marketing tools for informed business decisions
Follow these steps to make more informed business decisions using Google marketing tools:
Step 1: Outline goals
Before becoming an analytical mastermind, Meghan must first set SMART goals. SMART stands for:
- Specific — is the goal specific and detailed?
- Measurable — does the goal have a quantitative value attached to it?
- Attainable — is the goal realistically attainable?
- Relevant — will the goal help your business grow?
- Time-sensitive — when will the goal be completed (to keep you on-track)?
Meghan’s SMART goal is to increase her online orders by 30 percent this month. Would you agree that this is a SMART goal? Look closely because it does meet all five criteria:
- Specific — increase online ordering.
- Measurable — by 30 percent.
- Attainable — a 30-percent bump in sales is realistic.
- Relevant — growing online sales will help Meghan grow her business.
- Time-sensitive — within this month.
Now, Meghan must consider what questions she needs to ask to meet her goal.
Step 2: Ask questions
In order to grow her online sales by 30 percent this month, Meghan needs to consider questions related to her sales funnel. She may ask several questions related to each stage of the sales funnel:
Reach (How consumers find Meghan)
- Is her website address easy to remember and type?
- What is Meghan’s buyer persona?
- What traffic source brings the most website visitors?
Engage (How consumers interact with Meghan)
- Does Meghan’s website load fast enough on a smartphone?
- Can people easily find her menu online?
- Do customers use her online coupons? Which ones?
Convert (How consumers turn into Meghan’s online ordering customers)
- Is it easy to order from the online menu?
- Which marketing channels drive the most conversion?
- What calls-to-action drive the highest conversion?
Sustain (How Meghan keeps her customers coming back)
- Does Meghan offer a rewards program?
- Does Meghan respond to online reviews?
- Who are Meghan’s loyal customers, and how can she reward them?
Once Meghan lists out her questions, she now needs to identify which Google marketing tools she can use to gain the insights necessary to answer those questions and, ultimately, to achieve her SMART goal.
Step 3: Choose tools
Many of the tools that Meghan can leverage to find the answers to her questions live within the Google Marketing Platform, a unified advertising and analytics platform that helps business owners like Meghan make more informed business decisions. Google Marketing Platform offers an amazing suite of tools including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
- Google Optimize
- Google Surveys
- Google Tag Manager
… and more.
The beauty of having all of these tools under one roof is that they connect together, so Meghan can quickly get Google insights that she needs to roll out a targeted strategy aimed at her online ordering customers.
For instance, if Meghan wanted to see what traffic sources bring the most website visitors, she could take a look at Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that, when added to Meghan’s website, offers digital analytic tools to analyze data from touchpoints to better understand customer experience.
Google Analytics also helps Meghan to understand what her data tells her about the site and what actionable steps she can take.
Looking at Google Analytics, Meghan realizes that many of her website visitors are clicking from her Google My Business listing, especially when she highlights her sandwich of the week in a Google My Business post. For that reason, Meghan may want to post more often on Google My Business to drive clicks and eventual online orders.
If Meghan wanted to dig deeper and see which marketing channels drove the most online orders, she could use the Acquisition reports within Google Analytics to see how she acquired new website visitors, analyze their behavior on the website, and pinpoint their conversion patterns.
To learn more about Google Analytics and the other Google marketing tools mentioned above, take a look at Google Analytics Academy.
Putting it all together
Data is powerful, but it can be so overwhelming if you don’t know how to process it into insights for your business. You need to avoid that analysis paralysis, so you can focus on building your business. Ultimately, where everything is going so much faster in today’s world, you need to be able to make informed business decisions in an instant to satisfy your customers’ needs.
Start by creating some SMART goals for your business, then figure out the questions you need to answer to accomplish those goals. Finally, consider tools like Google Marketing Platform to help you uncover those answers.