By Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Chief Executive Optimist, Digital Book World
We must also discontinue our collective ignorance of analytics, numbers, sales analysis, digital P&Ls, and ROI. It’s time for the marketing team to integrate numbers into our creative campaigns. We have to watch these things like hawks and take advantage of the nimble nature of online campaigning to make the user-experience as simple and streamlined as possible at all times.
Few would argue that publishers (and authors) need to add social media tools into their marketing mix and engage directly with readers, but beyond the generic advice most social media gurus offer — “Get on Twitter!” “Get on Facebook!” — there’s very little discussion about how to effectively use them, or how to measure the return on investment (ROI).
Ask anyone who is actively engaged in social media if it’s worth the effort, personally and/or professionally, and you will likely find yourself in a healthy debate over whether it’s a time-suck or an investment. The honest answer is that it’s both, but without a focus on analytics to measure its impact and make necessary adjustments, it can quickly become a worthless investment of your time.
Whether your goals are more followers/fans, more brand awareness, or more sales, there are some basic analytics tools every digital marketer should be using to measure their efforts. Here are the three that should be part of everyone’s toolbox:
1) Google Analytics: While it’s important to engage wherever your community is, you also need to maintain your own web site, and Google Analytics is one of the best free analytics tools available. They offer numerous resources to enable you to get the most out of it, and setting up “advanced segments” to filter traffic from Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, etc., is a critical first step to effectively measuring the effect of your social media initiatives.
2) Twitter Search + Google Reader: Don’t believe the hype; real-time search won’t be replacing Google or the New York Times (though it’s a legitimate competitor to the Huffington Post), but it’s an invaluable component to the most important aspect of social media: the ability to listen. Even if you’re not ready to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, you can set up a listening post by subscribing to the RSS feeds of specific search terms on Twitter, and tracking them in Google Reader. At a minimum, you should create feeds for your brand/author name(s), Twitter handle, book(s) and relevant topics based on keywords and phrases according to your SEO/SEM strategy. And, of course, these same search terms should be tracked via Google Alerts which can also be fed into Google Reader.
3) Bit.ly: Twitter offers a great opportunity to engage directly with readers, but there’s more to it than just amassing followers. Real engagement means interacting with them and sharing information of interest, whether it’s your own content or someone else’s, but you want to be able to measure that engagement, too. Using Bit.ly as your URL shortener not only allows to you measure the popularity of the links you tweet, it also shows you the total number of clicks via the aggregated bit.ly link, which combines all bit.ly links for a single URL into one report. The info page also aggregates tweets so you can see who else was passing your link around.
Depending on your goals, strategy and tactics, there are a variety of other tools you can use to measure and tweak your social media initiatives, but these three are the basic must-haves for any serious effort to get off the ground.
What other tools are you using?
Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is the Chief Executive Optimist for Digital Book World.