I’ve personally always liked the old saying “measure twice, cut once”, especially when it comes to online marketing (bear with me here).

The saying intends to tell us that the best way to avoid regrets and mistakes is to over-analyze before you act. With that in mind, let’s talk about your holiday marketing plan. If this is the first year you’ve put together a comprehensive plan that includes things like email marketing, social media efforts, and alterations to your website and/or online store, you can probably see the value in having insights from previous experience right about now.

So go ahead and set yourself up for success next year by organizing your analytics plan this year. There are two approaches you can take:

First, you can set up and later access the insights made available to you on individual platforms like your email service provider, social media profiles, and anywhere you may do search engine marketing or display advertising. The second approach is to take a more holistic approach and view the analytics of your website in order to see the effects each of these areas had on the traffic to your website.

The second approach can be time-saving, for obvious reasons. It will also allow you to put together (and often auto-export) reports that you can save for next year when you start doing your holiday marketing planning. Tools for this include Google Analytics, and — if you happen to be a Webs user — Stats. Google Analytics is an industry standard for website analytics reporting, and it’s a very powerful and robust tool. The only disadvantage to Google is that it can be a little tricky if you’re not a particularly tech-savvy person. It also provides SO much information that it’s easy to get bogged down in things that don’t really have much of an impact on your business. All that said, if you don’t have Stats, Google Analytics should be your go-to.

If you do have Stats (available with Enhanced and Pro packages), you have a lot of great tools at your fingertips for analyzing traffic — visitors, campaigns, referring sites, etc. These can be used to determine the success — or lack thereof — of your efforts in order to help you determine what works and what doesn’t for your business and your website.

Here are a few screenshots of Stats to give you an idea of the kind of metrics available and get you thinking about how you could use these insights in your planning:

Visitor Information: This view shows you insights about the people who have visited your website — what kinds of devices they visited from, where they live geographically, etc.

Traffic Sources:
Ever wondered where you should focus your efforts to get more bang for your buck? Check out your traffic sources and see what sends the most traffic your way, then allocate your time and budget there.

Page Views:
Here’s where you check to see how each page on your website is performing. Is a large portion of your traffic going to your blog? All the more motivation to spend time writing those articles!

Not only are insights and analytics good clean nerdy fun, they can also help you plan for the future in order to get the most out of your time and budget and maximize your small business’s success next holiday season.

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Webs. Loves branding, marketing, whales. Get more from Sarah on Webs’ Blog and Google+.

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