(As published in the Sunday Star Times, July 5th ,2015)

Last month I spoke to a group on “How to Grow Your Business Through Google without Buying them a New Plane”. It sounds like I’m being a bit dramatic with that title, but I’ve crunched the numbers: inefficient Google advertising by numerous small NZ businesses adds up to – guess what – the cost of a new Airbus A320a.

At first I was pleased with myself how well the numbers worked and what a great speech premise it made. Then I realised the waste this represented for a group who could least afford it. You can avoid the “Buy Google a Plane Fund” by using Google Analytics – Google’s free website analytics product that helps you tune your website to become a high-performing virtual salesperson.

The product is free, but using it does require an investment in your most valuable of commodities: time. But it’s worth it. Master your Google Analytics account and you will get ROI. Here are just three exciting, juicy insights that make this hard work worthwhile:

Learn what advertising works for you

How much would you spend to “buy” a new customer? The quick response is, “as little as possible”. But, really, what would the ideal amount be? For some businesses it could be under $20; for others with high value products and great sales processes the amount could be greater than $2000.

Whatever the figure for your business, it’s smart business to continue with any advertising that delivers customers for your target amount or less. It’s a no-brainer. If correctly configured, your website analytics can tell you which of your online advertising fits into this category. And if your lead conversion rate is the same across all campaign types, then it’s a simple case of increasing your spend in channels that cost you the least per lead.

Plot prospect behaviour

It’s invaluable to learn what it is that turns your browsing visitors into strong leads or customers (and what it is that turns them away). Google Analytics can help you track the behaviour of your visitors – once you spot a trend or pattern in behaviour, you can work it to your advantage. For example, one business may spend a lot of money bringing traffic to their website, without an understanding of why some of these visitors buy and some don’t. As such, the only thing they can do to increase sales is increase their visitors to the site – by spending more money. Compare this to another company who know their customers generally visit their website twice before they reach out for information. Know how your potential customers act and you can work on strategies around their behaviour to drive up their lead conversion rate.

Keep your leads hot

Not all sales are instant. For example, not many people will buy a car simply by viewing it once online. With bigger ticket or complex items, you’ll need to nurture your online leads, gently nudging them along the sales process.

Step one could be to entice them to sign up for your email newsletter list or to download something of value, such as a buyer’s guide or industry checklist. Then you’d construct a series of clever emails, each message building on the actions of the one prior, growing their knowledge of the product and your company while subtly guiding them to request a quote or more information. For instance, if they clicked on a certain link on message two, the content of message three slightly alters to reference this fact. Here your analytics tools are effectively “listening in” on those being nurtured, letting you know who is highly engaged and potentially open to direct contact.

Could any of these help your business? Why not spend some time this coming week looking at your web and email analytics tools and reviewing these three sections? Warning: there’s some learning ahead – but also some great business outcomes as a reward for your efforts.

This is my last article in this series. Thank you for all the great feedback I have received.