Data is becoming an increasingly important part of marketing. When you consider the shift to a mostly digital marketing world, it just makes sense. Keeping track of what's working for you, what isn't and how to make profitable decisions for your business future is the key to marketing success.

The term, Marketing Stack is a catch-all phrase that refers to how best to capture, interpret and use all the data surrounding your marketing.

A Marketing Stack can be thought of as a strategically-chosen set of software tools to gauge the metrics of your marketing efforts. The set of tools differs for each business and depends on your own unique marketing initiatives and challenges. However large or small, you need a to know if you're throwing good money at marketing that isn't performing so you don't waste any of your small business marketing budget.

Though it's a new term, marketing and data of all kinds have long been symbiotic. During my corporate marketing career I spent time in direct response marketing /continuity marketing. This required close interaction with the MIS departments of those companies. For example, to test the viability of a new pet product I had MIS pull a list of our existing customers that met certain criteria indicating the likelihood of having a pet; I used data to cut off invoicing for renewals earlier because the expense didn't produce enough additional revenue; source code tracking told me which lists/offers were profitable and even more important, which ones weren't.

Today small businesses are lucky to have many tools at their disposal. You no longer need an MIS department to give you the important marketing management metrics of your business. Most can now be had for free online. There are dozens of companies offering many types of tracking technology, but here's a short list I've compiled that most small businesses will find useful:

Google Analytics - this powerful free tool is for measuring everything about your website from traffic to specific campaign results, ad words/PPC, SEO and more.

Email toolkits - every large email service provider offers a dashboard for campaign analytics that range from the basics of who opened your email, who clicked on links, shows computer opens vs. mobile opens, unsubscribes, etc.

SEO - keeping an eye on the search terms used for your industry shouldn't stop once you've launched your site. This data is fluid and changes based on factors that affect consumer behavior. For example, when a big story hits the news it can trigger searches; or as seasons change so do search terms for everything from clothing to vacations to restaurant searches.

CRM - Customer Relationship Management tracks things like purchases, contact information, project notes and the like. A great excel spreadsheet tracking all the right things can suffice for a small business - up to a point. Then, a more structured system will likely be needed.

Hubspot - offers software to meet the needs of most small businesses and some are free or as little as $10 per month. If you're beyond the excel spreadsheet stage, this could be a great solution for you.

Bitly.com - allows users to promote custom shortened links and their dashboard shows where your information is being shared, opened and used. For example, you can plug in a link for a press release you've done then use that shortened link on your social media to see how many people clicked on it. I use this free tool all the time.

AddThis.com - another genius tool used to track sharing of social media. Once you set up your free account it's easy to drop the code onto your site to measure visitors to your social media accounts; and how those visitors shared your site on their own social media.

Hotjar - an easy-to-use website tracking tool that measures heatmapping (mouse over link readings), form analytics, enter/exit tracking and more. They offer a free basic service too.

Whois.sc - drop in your URL and see how Domain Tools grades your site. From your SEO score to updates and more. Do this for your competitors' sites too so you can gauge how well your site measures up. Yours will look like this below:

 

whois exp

Great info fuels great decisions down the road, so give some of these a whirl to see if they're a good fit for your business.

Randye Spina  Small Business Marketing | Professor | Author | Workshop Leader | Training Facilitator