While most people have accepted Google as an everyday part of life, a relatively fewer number of people recognise the power of Google in analysing customer behaviour and its ability to directly increase sales, reduce costs and boost a business’s bottom line.

According to online marketing expert Philip Shaw, people are often scared of the complexity and IT terminology behind the business solutions offered by Google, such as Analytics. However, he says that small-business owners who want their websites to bring in sales should not ignore this valuable tool.

Shaw is director of CleverClicks, a consultancy that works with businesses to plan and execute their online strategy in order to increase their sales. “Google Analytics can tell you a lot of information about how your website is performing,” he says. “It can tell you how many visitors you are getting, where they are coming from, how long they are staying on your site and what page they are leaving on. You can also track how many of those people convert into actual sales.”

Shaw says businesses can use Google Analytics – a free tool – to determine where customers are disengaging from the buying process on a website. He gives the analogy of a “leaky bucket” and says: “Instead of putting in more water, you need to plug some of the holes because the cost of getting more traffic to your site is going up all the time. So you need to make sure you focus on how well your website is converting traffic today.

“That’s where smart businesses are moving towards because they understand there is a massive opportunity there. If you can increase your conversion rate from 4 per cent to 5 per cent, that’s a 25 per cent increase in sales.”

He encourages business owners to consider making the most of the conversion tracking tool within Google Analytics.

“It’s important to understand which key words result in conversions,” Shaw says. “If you are spending $1000 a month across 300 keywords, but only 50 of them are generating inquiries, then you can cut a lot of your costs. It’s a mistake to set and forget. You need to focus on it on a day-to-day basis. That way you can optimise your campaign for each individual keyword to get the most out of it.”

The chief executive of Kinder Caring Home Nursing, Adam Blake, has worked with Shaw for the past 18 months to track his sales conversions through Google Analytics. This has resulted in a significant decrease in marketing costs, increase in sales and increase in traffic. Blake says from September 2007 to March 2009, total traffic has increased by 12.5 times.

“We’re getting results,” he says. “We used to spend well over $100,000 a year on advertising in the Yellow Pages and in other print materials. This year, I reduced that marketing spend by 60 per cent. We don’t do any print or Yellow Pages any more, except for Yellow Pages Online.”

Blake is referring to an online strategy that includes search engine optimisation, Adwords – where he pays for advertising on Google based on cost-per-click – and Analytics.

“Google Analytics is great for me,” says Blake. “I’ve actually downloaded a desktop application so I can play with the statistics that come through Google. I can see if there are any trends on where people are coming from and what pages they are looking at. Our next initiative is to use Google Website Optimizer.”

Google Website Optimizer, another free tool, allows you to create different headlines, pictures and designs on your website. It displays different combinations of these and then tracks which is most successful, thus giving you valuable information on the best “mix” to achieve your goals.

For business owners who are only starting to explore what Google’s business solutions offer, Shaw suggests the online Google Adwords learning centre is a good place to start. “If you want to do it yourself, start there,” he says. “In a couple of days you’d understand the fundamentals and be able to get your own campaign up and running.”

By Valerie Khoo


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