What’s the biggest difference between online and offline marketing? There are a lot of potential answers to that question, but one of the biggest has to be analytics.

Offline, you have very little data to go off of. You might know how many people watched a television program or have a sense for how many people drive along a certain road, but you really don’t have a sense for how many people see and respond to your marketing.

Online, however, you have the ability to track everything.

Want to know how many people saw your ad? There’s a metric for that. Want to know how much it cost to get someone to visit your website? There’s a metric for that, too. Want to know how profitable your marketing campaign was? There’s a metric for this and almost anything else you’d like to know.

Unfortunately, while the internet makes it possible to track everything from ad impressions to how far down your page people scroll, most businesses don’t take full advantage of all the data available to them. As a result, they miss out on big opportunities and don’t get the results they need out of their online marketing.

If you don’t take the time to set up your analytics correctly or don’t know how to use the data you’ve got, you aren’t making the most out of online marketing. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to talk about four different reasons why you need to take your analytics game to the next level.

1. You Need to Make Data-Based Decisions

Let’s face it. Online marketing can be very deceptive. I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who thought their campaigns were going great…only to discover the opposite once I started digging into their data.

For example, an ad that gets a ton of clicks at a low cost-per-click might look like a real winner. However, if those clicks aren’t sticking around and submitting your lead form or making a purchase, you might be wasting a ton of money without realizing it.

To avoid these kinds of problems, you need to look at the right data. Surface-level metrics likes impressions or clicks are interesting, but most businesses aren’t trying to drive traffic—they’re trying to drive sales. If your data doesn’t show you how your campaign is leading to your ultimate goal (like sales), then you’re looking at the wrong data.

Now, none of that is to say that looking at higher-level metrics is bad. You just need to understand how your data fits into the bigger business picture.

So, if you’re publishing blog posts to help drive SEO traffic and build brand awareness to produce downstream sales, you should absolutely look at metrics like clicks and time-on-page. But, if you’re publishing those posts because you want to drive new leads, you need to look at whether or not your posts are actually driving conversions.

The bottom line is, if you want to succeed at online marketing, you need to make data-based decisions. However, for those decisions to actually be useful, you have to be looking at the right data.


2. You Need Detailed Data

There are a lot of free and easy ways to get at basic analytics data for your website. However, as with anything in life, you get what you pay for. If all you’ve done is install Google Analytics on your site, you’re probably missing out on a lot of information.

Google Analytics is great, don’t get me wrong, but to get the most out of any analytics tool, you’re going to have to do more than simply get it up and running. To make effective data-based decisions, you need detailed data.

For example, if you want to improve your campaigns, it’s not enough to simply see how many people visited your website. You want to know where they came from, how long they stayed on your site, which pages they visited, how many pages they visited and whether or not they converted.

A view of the data from Google analytics.

Pouring through all of this data on a regular basis can be tricky, so you’ll want to set up custom reports that allow you to easily keep an eye on things. In addition, if you’re using Google Analytics, you’ll want to set up “Goals” so that you can track how different parts of your site affect your customer experience.

This sort of customization isn’t limited to Google Analytics, either. The more time you put into setting up your account on ad platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads, the better your data will be…and the easier it will be to optimize your campaigns.

Sample ad columns in Google analytics.

Once you know what sort of data you’re after, make sure you put in the necessary effort to get it. Dig in, create custom reports and set up the necessary tracking. That way, you can get all the details you need to succeed.


3. You Need to Reverse-Engineer Your Customer Journey

Unfortunately, no matter how good you are at marketing, there’s one fundamental marketing truth you can’t ignore: you are not your customer. To figure out what works for your customers, you need data.

The path your customers take from initial discovery to making a purchase can be long and complicated. If you don’t have a good feel for that path, it can be hard to create marketing campaigns that nurture people at each step in their journey.

If you’ve taken the time to figure out what your goals are and what detailed information you’ll need to understand how people move towards converting, you’ll be well-positioned to reverse-engineer your customer journey. For example, in Google Analytics, you can use their “Behavior Flow” chart to see how people move through your website.

Behavior flow analytics.

Similarly, you can use data from your marketing platforms to get a feel for how people respond to your campaigns.

Do you get a great initial response but then very few clicks on your remarketing ads? Your audience may need more convincing, so you may want to try encouraging them to download a whitepaper or guide. From there, you can put them into an email drip campaign that walks them through everything they need to know to feel confident in converting.

The specifics of your customer journey will depend on your business, but the key to reverse-engineering that journey lies in your analytics. If you don’t use your data, you’ll just be guessing at what your customers need.


4. You Need to Flag Issues Early

Finally, as you’re using all of your data to figure out your online marketing, you’ll find a lot of opportunities to improve things. However, taking advantage of these opportunities won’t be a simple matter of making a few tweaks. You’ll need to test and try a variety of ideas.

Marketing is really an exercise in trial and error. You try something, learn from your results and then try something else. Even if your latest idea is a dud, it still teaches you something you can use to improve your campaigns in the future.

However, you can only learn from your campaigns if you are keeping a close eye on your data. Sometimes campaigns just don’t work out. Other times, you make mistakes that prevent you from getting the results you need. Either way, you can waste a ton of money if you aren’t watching your analytics.

For example, if you just launched a new Google Ads campaign and you’re getting a lot of impressions but no clicks, you might have a problem with your ad copy. On the other hand, if Google Ads shows that you’re getting a lot of clicks, but you aren’t seeing much traffic to your site, there may be a problem with your destination URL. Both of these issues can be a real problem, and you won’t discover either of them if you aren’t watching your campaigns closely.

In general, any time you launch a new PPC campaign, I recommend that you check in on your ad platform at least once a day. That way, if things start to go south, you can catch it early. For organic marketing efforts like SEO or social media, you often have to wait longer before you can see what’s going on, but you still want to take a look at things on a regular basis. It’s the only effective way to learn and improve your campaigns.


Final Thoughts

Analytics might not be the most exciting part of online marketing, but it is one of the most important parts. If you haven’t taken the time to set up and use your analytics properly, I can guarantee that you’re wasting money.

After all, without good analytics data, online marketing is basically guesswork. You might get lucky, but you might get lucky with a billboard, too. The only way to ensure that you will get the results your business needs is to take advantage of your data and use it to make the most of your campaigns.