The 2009 business world is competitive, and consumer expectations are high. As costs rise and marketing budgets shrink, small businesses are looking for ways to improve their ROI with every dollar spent.
While many businesses have realized search engine marketing is a smart way to grow a business, some launch a website, start-up a PPC campaign, or invest in professional SEO, and neglect to spend time optimizing their efforts, leading to low conversion rates to less than stellar search engine rankings.
The good news? A variety of tools are available to help you boost your online marketing results. Here is a breakdown of five of the best to help you get started. All tools reviewed in this article are either free to use or available as a free trial.
The microblogging service has taken the online world by storm, but there are many small and large businesses out there that aren’t quite sure how to use it. Figuring out just what it means to “˜tweet’ may seem daunting at first, but taking the time to understand the Twitter phenomenon can reap huge rewards for your business. From growing your customer base to establishing your brand and building rewarding partnerships, Twitter has a myriad of uses and all it takes to get going is patience and an open mind. The best thing about Twitter? It can help you achieve calculable sales and marketing goals in a fraction of the time it would take to do achieve the same goals using only traditional means. For a list of small businesses and small business resources on Twitter, check out The Ultimate Small Business Twitter List.
2. Google Analytics
A robust tool with enterprise-level features, Google Analytics helps you gather data about your advertising and website and make improvements to improve your bottom line. Use the tool to determine the sources of your website traffic, the value of content on individual pages on your site, which keywords produce the most conversions, and how different elements of your marketing mix compare in terms of ROI. It can take more time to get comfortable with Google Analytics than it takes to get going with other tools on this list, but once you paste the Google Analytics code onto each page of your site, you can begin to classify sources of traffic, create unique links to track online and offline advertising campaigns, and import AdWords data to analyze PPC performance. For more information and help getting started, watch the Google Analytics product tour.
It happens all the time. People hire a graphic designer, build a stunning website, pay a programmer to make things run seamlessly, and then forget to address one important thing: site loading speed. While Site-Perf isn’t nearly as sexy as the other tools on this list, it is invaluable for determining how users experience your website. Failing to address user experience can lead to disappointing marketing results, and low conversions, but with Site-Perf you can spot and correct problems, test the effect of design changes on loading speed, and balance elements like CSS, images and links to achieve the ideal visitor experience. Other useful features include the ability to test the speed of your admin area by creating a Site-Perf login, gauge the experience of users who visit your site from anywhere in the world, and test the effect of moving your domain to a new server before you make the switch.
Easy to set-up and understand, ClickTale lets you start learning more about how your visitors interact with your site in just minutes. With ClickTale, you can record “˜movies’ of your visitor’s browsing sessions, view heatmaps that detail visitor scrolling behavior, and analyze how visitors interact with buttons, links, and fields to identify where users hesitate, click, and abandon pages and forms. Use the data you collect to improve site usability, increase form conversions, reduce abandons, and establish empirical best practices regarding what works for your site.
Similar to ClickTale but with fewer features, CrazyEgg is another tool focused on site usability. Although it doesn’t record movies like ClickTale, CrazyEgg is great for those who want a quick overview of how users interact with their site and don’t need a detailed analysis on abandons, hover time, and scrolling behavior. Particularly useful for testing content and layout performance when optimizing landing pages, CrazyEgg makes it easy to determine which content on your site is getting the most attention, which call-to-action is generating more clicks, and how design changes affect conversions. CrazyEgg can be used in connection with Google Analytics to analyze clicks at-a-glance and optimize landing pages based on a streamlined set of data.
About The Guest Author: Amanda Moshier is the staff writer and editor at Wpromote, Inc., the #1 search marketing firm in the US as ranked by Inc. 500.