Business Productivity

Eight tools to track small business success

- July 12, 2012 3 MIN READ

Studies show that successful small business owners are tech savvy, future focused and action oriented. If you fall under that umbrella then, like me, you might find the following online performance monitoring tools useful in tracking performance and helping you make decisions about the future.

Tracks: Revenue

Revenue and profit are the number one priorities for micro business owners. Xero enables you to store revenue data online, making it easy to access reports in a browser from any device connected to the web. Xero also allows you to keep an eye on Adsense revenue from Google ads on your website and PayPal revenue, for sales that go through PayPal.

Google Alerts and Twilert
Tracks: What the market is saying

Want to know what people are saying about you, your brand and your websites? Google Alerts can provide you with an RSS feed of any mentions of your business on the web, while Twilert sends an email summarising any mentions in Twitter. This helps with understanding how effective your products, services and content are and enables you to build relationships with your market.

Rank tracking software
Tracks: How you rank in Google

You can’t track how your business is ranking in Google accurately simply by conducting a search for your website (the results are inflated because of Google’s personalisation feature). Instead, try using specialised rank-tracking software.

Google Analytics
Tracks: Traffic, referring sites, top keywords, conversions

I use Google Analytics for tracking web stats. It’s free and has become almost universally accepted as the web-stats program of choice. The main things I track in Analytics are:

  • The number of visitors to my site this month compared with last month.
  • My top ten referrers. This gives me valuable information on how effective my various marketing campaigns have been.
  • The top keywords that bring me the most traffic.
  • I have “Goals” set up on my site (a tool to measure how well your website meets individual objectives). This helps me track conversation rates (visits that convert into sales or other desired goals) and any fluctuations that occur after I change content.

Want more articles like this? Check out the measuring success section.

Tracks: Email marketing, mailing list size, opens and clicks

I use MailChimp because it’s free (for up to 2,000 subscribers), it’s got a nice, simple interface and it’s easy to use. I regularly look at:

  • The overall size of my email list and the number of opt-ins (people agreeing to stay on the mailing list) I get this month versus last month.
  • The open rate of emails. This allows me to see which emails generate the most amount of interest and helps me to tailor content for future emails.
  • The click rate, which gives me an idea of how responsive my audience are to my emails.
  • The unsubscribe rate, which helps understand how to improve content and/or the amount of emails I send.

Google Feedburner
Tracks: RSS subscribers

If you’re an active blogger and podcaster, Feedburner allows you to track how many people subscribe to your blog and to your podcast in iTunes. Another podcasting tip: BuzzSprout lets you see how many times each podcast episode is downloaded.

Tracks: Server uptime

Most website hosts won’t notify you automatically when your server goes down and many don’t provide overall uptime percentages either. That’s why I like to use a free account on Pingdom, which will do both of these things. Less uptime results in fewer opt-ins and fewer sales. If it becomes a problem, you might consider changing hosts.

Klout, Facebook Insights and Twitter
Tracks: Social media performance

Those who are active in social media will want to have some idea of their success. There are a few things I use to measure this:

  • Klout indicates how influential I am in social media with an overall number. I like to keep an eye on whether this is going up or down to gauge how responsive my audience is to what I am putting out.
  • I’m pretty active on Twitter and I like to keep an eye on my total number of followers and the amount of interactions (re-tweets, mentions and messages) I receive each month.
  • Facebook Insights are available if you have a Facebook Page for your business. It provides useful information, including the number of likes, your “reach”, who is talking about your page and more. 

What do you look at? 

My business is very much focused online, so I’d be interested in hearing from others with more bricks-and-mortar type businesses about how they track performance.

How do you measure the success of your online or other business activities? What online performance monitoring tools do you use?