To go back to a time before the internet was a significant force in business you don’t have to go back very far. The mid 80’s, in fact. Madonna was already a pop diva, hair was big, and Marty was heading back to the 50’s to make sure his Mom and Dad got together.
To go back before the days of Google is an even shorter journey… Madonna was still a pop diva but at least hair, whilst not quite normal, was back to more natural proportions. And businesses had started to embrace email and web pages and all that “new fangled stuff” that the kids were so keen on.
Let’s go back to those days.
Let’s see if we can remember how hard we tried to develop ways to monitor the effects of our advertising campaigns. We used coupons. We had special offers each with their own code that a customer had to quote to benefit. We ran focus groups and we did surveys in the street. We pored over audience figures and circulation audits.
We were so focused. We wanted to make sure that we tracked every penny we spent on advertising to make sure that we were getting value for money – that the return on our investment was positive.
Imagine if someone – Marty perhaps, had arrived from the future and told us that we could monitor every customer. He had a machine. The machine would tell us where the customer found us – how they had gone about looking for our service, which advertisements they had seen, and which one made them finally pick up the phone and call us. It could track the customer through the sales process and let us know where our processes were failing and how we could improve so as to convert more of our visitors into paying customers. It could tell us where our advertising budget was being wasted. Why – it could even tell us which ads worked best, and which products to put in the store window to increase sales revenue.
How much would you have paid Marty for his machine? How much of a difference could it have made to your business? $1,000? Think about it – a machine that helps you know – with accuracy – where you should be spending your ad budget…. $10,000? A way to get into the heads of your customers to see how they really interact with your business… $100,000?
Google Analytics does all of this and more. And it’s free. There are other Analytics tools, some of which go even deeper into the data.
So why do so few businesses take advantage of the data they are generating every single day?
In part it is because they simply don’t understand how to harness the power of the data. It takes time and, yes, it takes investment as there is a continual process of testing and experimentation that leads to sustained improvement.
But, in the main it is because there is an underlying belief that anything that is free has no value.