Top 7 tips to elevate your professional brand value

Note:  This article was originally published on Tacitkey. Read the original article here: professional branding

A professional brand matters so much for your career because it helps you distinguish and position yourself distinctly from the sea of professionals in your industry. It is not just about building a powerful resume, portfolio, or a LinkedIn profile though those steps can kick-start your brand’s journey. Though it is necessary to garner a good reputation and stay out bad press, you cannot guarantee yourself a professional brand by performing those steps alone.

You need to put in efforts at multiple levels to create a professional brand and nurture it. You start with a proper vision for yourself, a purpose for your career, and finally, identify your ambitions, strengths, weaknesses, passions and interests. Once you get a clear understanding of those elements, you build yourself a unique value proposition (UVP) which will be foundation of your brand.

Thus, your brand will represent your image and reputation, genuinely reflect who you are as a professional, strengthen your identity, and represent the passion you have towards your career. One thing to note is that your professional brand is not tied to your current job or company rather; it is tied to your career. Hence, it is critical to build a strong professional brand (online and offline) that speaks of your job goals within and outside your workplace.

Just as organizations brand themselves to nurture their image and influence buyer behavior, they hire employees who have a brand of their own as well. Hiring managers look for resourceful employees who can be good advocates of an organization’s brand as well. That is why it is important for every individual to have a professional brand in order to be hired, or sell his or her business. Whether you are employed or in between jobs, now is the time to look back, analyze, consolidate your experiences and skills to build yourself a professional brand.

Here are some of the tips to help boost and nurture your professional brand and its value:

Tip 1: Work on your brand statement

You can define yourself instead of letting others assume things about you. You can influence your audience’s perceptions by gauging their opinions and then define your brand to change misconceptions. Since your brand is tied to your reputation, it has to depict you and your identity accurately to your professional circles.

To identify and define your brand, you can do the simple exercise of creating a brand statement. You just have to list out all your unique qualities, talents, skills, values, principles, strengths, weaknesses, interests and passions. The list should also include descriptors of your personality, areas of expertise, your ultimate professional goals and how you are going to attain them, how you want to be known in the future, how you execute your work, and how you put all your personal attributes to practice professionally in order to make an impact in your industry.

While making this list think about what people expect from you and if your brand statement answers their expectations. What guidance do peers and subordinates seek from you? Do your superiors consult you on projects or for professional decisions? If yes, how should they do it? Write down such specific information as well. The brand statement should also reflect information on how you want to be viewed in the future and for what you want to be famous. Write down adjectives with which you want people to describe you once you establish thought leadership in your professional circles. This will make your audience understand your caliber and your potential for growth. Once you create the list, take the essential points and create your unique brand statement.

Before you put your brand statement out to the public, consult with your close associates at work. Get their honest reviews and first impressions about your branding exercise and ask them for suggestions and guidance. Based on their feedback, improve your brand statement. This way, you get various perspectives of yourself and you can tweak your professional brand statement to influence their brand perception after gaining proper clarity.

The process of accepting assessments, suggestions, criticism, and advice in itself is a healthy step, as it adds value to the branding process and improves your professional brand value. It is also crucial for you to continuously review and improve your brand statement based on the additional skills and experiences you have gained, or your brand may become stagnant.

Tip 2: Bring your personal strengths to the forefront

There is a thin difference between a personal brand and professional brand; they are well integrated. No matter how hard you try to separate your personal and professional brands, it is difficult to maintain both exclusively. It becomes easier if you combine your personal and professional brands to make them more authentic. However, in cases where your personal thoughts, opinions, principles, and ideologies may come in the way of professional work, you should err on the side of caution.

On the bright side, you can also leverage your personal strengths and talents to make your professional brand stronger. Your personality, soft skills, and other talents are unique and equally important as the aptitude and experience you carry for your line of work. Organizations are looking for candidates who can represent their work culture and brand accurately. Moreover, they prefer genuine and authentic employees to be their brand advocates.

It is equally important to participate in extracurricular activities and corporate social responsibility programs and display your talents. This not only improves your professional brand but also gives you a chance to informally network with superiors and peers outside of company’s hierarchy.

Tip 3: Use storytelling techniques to propagate your brand

Once you have a winning brand statement highlighting your UVP, complement it with a well-written story. Tell people stories of your career and professional experiences. These stories should reflect your brand influence brand perception. Case studies, white papers, documentaries,  portfolios, etc., are effective stories that can demonstrate your professional worth to potential employers, clients, and peers. They will also help you establish thought leadership among your professional circles.

The brand statement and the story have to be consistent across online and offline channels whenever you communicate them to the public. Be it your resume, social media, professional platforms, conferences, website, etc., the brand’s spoken and written communication has to be consistent. Some standard brand elements taglines, headshots, UVPs, career summaries, etc., that help you design your unique professional brand.

Tip 4: Demonstrate Your Value

A key to becoming a great thought leader and boosting your professional brand is being confident about who you are and your brand. Now that you have your brand statement and story, be confident in sharing those with others. You should fully believe and be comfortable with your professional brand. This becomes important when you are presenting to an audience, or selling your company’s products and services to a potential client, negotiating a deal, resolving organizational conflicts, or managing a critical project.

If you lack confidence, your audience is not going to be convinced about you. If you want your clients, peers, subordinates, and employers to rely on you then get comfortable with your brand.

Rework on your brand statement frequently so you align your professional and personal attributes to your brand.

If you have the tendency to frequently apologetic, do not be unless you have made mistakes. Do not destroy your brand’s image at the cost of being polite. When you attend conferences and seminars, be sure to ask questions, voice out your opinions and contribute to discussions proactively. Document your accomplishments at work and find avenues to display them to your superiors and peers to get recognition. Make sure that your organization knows that you drive home profits and results and are a key valuable player as well. This should be done not just during annual reviews or performance appraisals but also when you seek a raise or an out-of-turn promotion.

Tip 5: Work on your online reputation

While you are demonstrating your value to your company, you can showcase it outside your organization as well. The best way to do that is to share your professional insights, expertise, and knowledge publicly. Digital, especially, social media platforms help showcase your professional skills. Numerous employees undergo social media scrutiny these days before they are hired because companies do not want disruptive employees. They want resourceful, knowledgeable and enterprising ones. They gauge your ability to mentor, advise, guide others on your area of expertise. A professional with a robust LinkedIn profile and blog, a list of courses to add to his kitty, and has a set of instruction videos on particular skill or concept is more likely to get hired than a person who has not demonstrated any kind of thought leadership or expertise in his domain.

Keep a consistent profile across various platforms. Use socially approved and inclusive language that does not have profanity or racial slurs. You have to use the best possible version of your content (graphics, videos, text)  that accurately reflects your brand and use it for taglines, headlines, short introductions, resume, portfolio, job applications, and other professional communications.

Revamp your online presence periodically by finding out how your name and brand rank on various search engines. Set up Google Alerts for your name and brand to keep track of your brand continually. Work on your brand image if there are any unfavorable reviews, negative feedback, or criticisms about you and your work. Acquire the necessary skills and take up more projects to fix your reputation. If you put out credible content frequently, your name is likely to appear on the first few results of the search engines.

Tip 6: Learn Constantly and Get Mentorship

To boost your professional brand value successfully and progress in your career, you have to invest in yourself. Continually update yourself about industry trends, tools, methods, and futuristic concepts. Enroll for training, certifications, personality development, and professional development classes. Keep looking out for fresh ideas and innovative approaches to do your existing work.

Participate in networking events, meetups, webinars, and become a member of professional associations and clubs. If you upgrade yourself consistently, new opportunities will come your way to give you a competitive edge in the market. Create learning goals for you and fulfill them relentlessly. This would prove that you are a valuable player in your company who constantly updates his/her skill sets.

Establishing and sustaining a professional brand can be quite difficult in the corporate world. The process becomes smoother when you have someone to guide you through it. It is best to get mentorship and guidance within your industry. A mentor can help you through obstacles, train you in various professional skills, and help you tackle corporate politics. With the help of your mentor, you can learn to use discretion while talking to superiors, clients, and important people. Your mentor can give you critical feedback from time to time, on where you need improvement to achieve your goals. He or she can help you with the right professional connections to fast-track your career.

Tip 7: Publish Your Knowledge and Expertise Online

When you exhibit your knowledge online for the public, you slowly start establishing thought leadership in your particular area of expertise. This improves your professional brand multifold. You have to do this strategically; one way is to syndicate your content with online publications and top companies in the industry. With content syndications, the public recognizes you as an expert in your field. It also becomes easy for journalists and established writers to quote your content or brand in their articles.

TacitKey is one such platform that enables professionals to publish and monetize their knowledge. Publish your insights and research on industry trends and best practices, guide, and mentor other professionals, solve your industry’s problems, highlight your areas of expertise etc., and gain recognition as well as increase your earnings through brand endorsements.

When people increasingly share your content and talk about your brand, you get more social credibility and authority. This boosts your professional brand value and career exponentially.

Conclusion:

Creating a professional brand cannot happen in a day; it takes time. The earlier you start with your UVPs, the better your professional brand gets. Use the above-mentioned tips to influence brand perception and improve your reputation. Your professional brand will slowly undergo an overhaul and increase in its value.

Can Health care professionals depend on their intuition during diagnosis?

Note: This article was originally published in TacitKey. Please view it here: Clinical Intuition

Clinical Intuition is one of the decision-making approaches healthcare professionals use, to process available information and diagnose patients. It is largely seen as automatic and associated with involuntary reflexes that these clinicians posses. Commonly referred as “gut feeling” or “inner voice”, researchers claim that intuition is an unconscious or subconscious process that warns the physician about what is currently happening or going to happen with the patient. These are the subtle signs that the doctor is able to recognize or “see through” the patient even if there are no overt manifestations or symptoms of a disease.

Some researchers say that though it may seem like a mysterious ability, physicians heavily rely on pattern recognition to diagnose the patient. With research evidence, they claim that the way physicians respond reflexively to what is presented before them is because of their previously acquired knowledge through medical studies and several years of clinical practice. Their unique expertise helps them discern patterns and subtle signs that may not be perceptible to the common eye. This approach has proven itself useful in time-sensitive instances like emergencies, crises and critical care.

In Psychotherapy, it is defined as “the capacity to pick up and respond to complex and subtle interpersonal patterns as guided by the right brain’s holistic, emotion- and arousal-regulating tendencies” (Marks-Tarlow, 2012).

Is Clinical Intuition The Best Approach To Diagnosis?

Other than the intuitive approach, there is the analytical approach to diagnosis that is deliberate, conscious, and calculated. This approach relies heavily on empirical evidence, so it is viewed as more reliable than the intuitive approach.

In this approach, when clinicians diagnose a patient, they collect the symptoms and create a list of probable disorders that could be affecting the patient at a given point of time. For instance, a fever could be dengue, viral, typhoid, or malaria. Then, they execute differential diagnoses where they utilize resources like tests, scans and data from secondary consultations to narrow their existing list down to find out the illness that is actually affecting the patient.

This approach proves to be taxing and impractical at times because a patient cannot be tested for malaria, dengue, viral fever or typhoid every time he or she runs a temperature. Some diseases do not even manifest with the complete range of symptoms for weeks together, so a particular disease may not show up on the medical reports early as well.

Though these two approaches are pitched against each other, in the hospital setting, they complement each other. Increasingly, healthcare professionals are using these approaches simultaneously for diagnosis and clinical decision-making. In order to provide high-quality care, these clinicians have to strike a balance between using the two approaches. While it is impractical to order an MRI scan for every patient with a headache, intuitively deciding that every one of him or her has a migraine is a wrong diagnosis. Healthcare practitioners must learn to alternate between the two approaches when necessary. That can happen only if they are aware of how their cognitive biases can cause errors in clinical evaluation.

Does research favor Clinical Intuition?

There is limited research on the role of intuition in healthcare because doctors are reluctant to discuss about it. Though they discuss with their colleagues about clinical intuition in a private and safe setting, they do not openly share their assessment processes keeping the society in mind. The patients, hospital management boards, medical authorization bodies and public—with their attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices—do not consider intuition to be a legitimate part of clinical decision-making procedures. However, the nursing field has proven to be an exception where there is considerable research available regarding the topic in question.

Some researchers claim that clinical intuition is important in healthcare settings:

BMJ.com (formerly British Medical Journal) published a research in 2012 suggesting that doctors should act upon their gut feelings instead of ignoring them, when treating children in primary care.

A study by Amanda Woolley and Olga Kostopoulou conducted in 2013, “Clinical Intuition in Family Medicine: More Than First Impressions”, claims that clinical literature does not recommend the use of intuition. That is because such intuitive thought is associated with early impressions that doctors get when they diagnose a patient (the first thing that comes to a physician’s mind during diagnosis). However, the results of the study disprove such a claim showing that such automatic intuitive thoughts are not merely just first impressions. These intuitive thoughts include:

    • gut feelings where a warning throws caution that there is something wrong with the patient and that further investigation is needed
    • recognition where physicians arrive at diagnosis quickly through heuristic decision-making that involves pattern recognition
    • Insights physicians execute differential diagnoses but are unable to infer anything from such extensive data. However, they suddenly get clarity and inexplicably arrive at a solution after some singular and distinct information surfaces to their conscious awareness.

The study suggests that research should be conducted to explore the factors that would deem a clinical intuition to be accurate or otherwise.

Nydia van den Brink and Anne Schuurman conducted a literature study titled, “The role of intuitive knowledge in diagnostic reasoning of hospital specialists: process and result”. According to the study, clinical settings use intuitive reasoning widely and acknowledge it as a significant part of decision-making processes. The study suggests that research on intuition will help reduce medical errors. Additionally, medical schools should teach students to handle intuitive reasoning better through proper training.

Some other researchers claim that Intuitive decision-making is prone to biases:

A study titled “The Perception of Intuition in Clinical Practice by Iranian Critical Care Nurses: a Phenomenological Study” in 2016, aimed to explore how well Iranian critical care nurses understood intuition in clinical practice. The conclusion was that the nurses understood intuition as “feeling”, “thought”, “sign” or “alarm”. They understood it as an automatic response derived subconsciously and could not articulate it well. These nurses acted upon it based on cues from their senses, and physical and psychological signs. The research suggests that clinicians have to be taught to understand intuition in the first place so that they act on it effectively without biases.

A study conducted by Carl Thompson and Huiqin Yang in 2009 titled, “Nurses’ Decisions, Irreducible Uncertainty and Maximizing Nurses’ Contribution to Patient Safety” suggests that nurses play an integral part in contributing to patients’ safety especially when they intervene on clinical uncertainties. These nurses are taught to handle uncertainties intuitively and that poses as a problem because intuitive decision-making is prone to biases. The nurses do not do well especially if the circumstances are critical with time constraints. The study concludes that more research should be done on nurses’ intuitive decision-making processes to spot the flaws in the approach. It also suggests that hospitals and other stakeholders should train nurses in clinical decision-making in order to maximize patients’ safety.

Can One Rely on Clinical Intuition?

Healthcare professionals use their clinical intuition everyday but are not inclined towards acknowledging that openly to the public. The limited medical literature available on clinical intuition refers to it as an involuntary, reflexive approach arising from the deeper levels of our conscious. Clinicians claim that they use intuitive and analytical approaches that complement each other in diagnosis, treatment, and care.

Though the intuitive approach is partially unreliable, clinicians do not want to do away with it. In fact, literature suggests that medical schools should train health care providers on critical thinking and intuitive decision-making etc., in order for them to understand the nature of clinical intuition and be aware of their cognitive biases while taking medical decisions.

Why Should a Doctor Become a Thought Leader?

Note: This article was originally published on TacitKey. Please view it here: Doctors as thought leaders

 

Today, doctors who work in public health care institutions have just as many patients as private practitioners. Nevertheless, they still have to market themselves to new patients. Today’s patients are well educated and able to make informed health care decisions.

Any person looking for a physician in an area would first go through web reviews on platforms like Practo, Yelp, and Doctor on Demand etc., before booking an appointment with one. These days, patients seek health care professionals who are experts in a particular area or, simply put, thought leaders. Therefore, doctors who establish thought leadership and have a good reputation are likely to thrive.

Doctors can be great thought leaders or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL)

It takes many years of study and residency to become a licensed physician, so doctors are already experts and leaders in the making. Most successful hospitals and health care centers have influential thought leaders belonging to different fields of medicine. These physicians have several years of successful medical practice to their credit. They serve as role models to upcoming medical practitioners and guide their subordinates every step of the way.

Furthermore, they involve themselves in research and experiments with cutting-edge technology to improve treatment facilities for patients or find new cures. Such thought leaders become advisors of medical boards and international authorizing bodies. The press often interviews and quotes them. They are invited as guest speakers to conferences and seminars. These medical thought leaders are respected by their peers and sought after by health care companies. Resultantly, they achieve growth, success, and a splendid public image.

Here are a few neat justifications for doctors to consider thought leadership:

You Build Your Credibility and Reputation

According to Doctor.com’s survey in 2018, “‘Customer Experience Trends in Health care, about 81 percent of patients will read reviews about a provider even after they have been referred.”

As a doctor, if you have a website for yourself, your clinic, or your hospital, you also need your patients to locate your website easily. It is advisable to create a habit of writing articles, white papers, case studies, blogs, videos, and research papers to submit online. Search engines can then link all your work back to your website.

The more work you post online, the more likely is for your name to show up on top of Google’s search pages. Most patients find health care providers listed on the first page of Google’s search results as popular and credible. Thus, thought leadership can optimize search results and build a healthy name for you and your website.

The more information you publish online, the more your web presence increases. People get an idea of your skill set and experience; this builds credibility for your practice. When you have positive reviews online, potential patients find you credible, and they trust you with their health.

With a strong web presence and a handful of positive reviews, not only can you earn a good reputation locally but also expand your national and international standing eventually. With a strong, positive image, you will start attracting new patients to your clinic or hospital.

You Have a Competitive Marketing Strategy

If your competitors in the industry are establishing thought leadership online, it gives them an advantage over you. At this point, it becomes necessary for you to differentiate yourself and have a distinct identity by establishing yourself as a thought leader. Patients feel secure with a doctor they know—online or otherwise.

Web and social media presence help doctors to get that publicity. New patients do their research online and seek references from friends, acquaintances, and neighbors who know about well-known doctors in the area. That is where marketing ‘you’ as an expert helps.

Some patients also look for doctors who specialize in a particular field of medicine such as cardiology, gastroenterology, or oncology. In such cases, you can gain credibility as a specialist if you have published online resources that display your expertise in a particular field of medicine.

On account of thought leadership, the patient comes to you with certain expectations. If your treatment is as good as it claims to be, you will have patients who decide to come back for any future consultation. Moreover, they are likely to refer you to their relatives and friends as well. Therefore, we could say that establishing thought leadership is important for reputation management, marketing, and business development.

You become an Influencer

Before the world became digital, thought leaders used to publish their articles on newspapers, medical journals, and scientific magazines. They used to present their papers and hold workshops at conferences, seminars, and other events. Doctors predominantly affiliated themselves to one institution or another.

Their seniority in the field decided whether they were good enough to present papers at professional meetings. Those who were constantly experimenting in the lab and inventing breakthrough treatment solutions were always recognized and awarded for their contributions to medicine. However, that is no longer the sole determinant of a physician’s reputation.

Over the years, things have changed. Apart from the traditional methods, most thought leaders have a digital footprint. Going digital is also quicker compared to the traditional approaches of becoming a thought leader. Doctors around the world are gathering online for webinars, networking, and focus group discussions. As the digital landscape is constantly in flux, new marketing strategies determine your professional status.

Once you establish yourself as a thought leader in a particular niche, you acquire an influencer status where the public tells you that your opinions and thoughts are valuable. You become a Key Opinion Leader (KOL) in that niche, so you can talk about innovations, medicines, technology, and treatment methods that would have a significant impact on the world.

You may even become a spokesperson for national and global health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or Doctors without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres).

Hereafter, we can expect regular doctors to become influencers not only due to their networks and connections but also because of their opinions, thoughts, novel ideas, research, and experiments.

You Develop Your Business

It is common for you, as a doctor, to establish a local reputation and have you compared with other doctors in the area, or the ones who are in similar ranks. However, extending your public persona to a macro level through thought leadership helps you get national and international recognition apart from business leads. Your patient base also surpasses national boundaries.

If you plan to start a healthcare organization, becoming a thought leader is the first step. Of late, social media platforms are nurturing new thought leaders. Doctors are seeking exclusive industry information and conversing about it on social media and other knowledge sharing platforms.

When you become an influencer, brands want you to endorse them, and they pay you for it. However, your audience would depend on you to make purchase decisions for them, so it is important that you choose wisely.

TacitKey is one such knowledge publishing and monetization platform that nurtures professionals to become healthcare thought leaders. Physicians of every rung publish their knowledge and expertise on the platform to build their professional brand value. They also earn money and reputation in the process when businesses and organizations endorse their valuable content.

These professionals can also earn by participating in exclusive focus-group surveys or by hosting webinars, courses, and conferences. Their visibility increases enabling top-level healthcare organizations to witness their expertise and collaborate with them for future research and projects.

In Conclusion

Since digital marketing has been flourishing for a decade now, health care institutions are increasingly using their physicians for improving brand presence. For this reason, medical professionals are establishing thought leadership to market the organizations they work for.

This group may include professionals such as physicians, engineers, paraprofessionals, students, researchers, or technicians that have professional content to share. It is safe to say that doctors will be the most desired professionals as thought leaders as they can not only market the organization but also new drugs and medicines, treatment procedures, technology, and health care products. Moreover, a doctor’s verdict is highly relied upon.

Health organizations are smart enough to create conversations among health care professionals and their potential audience. These organizations are able to create the necessary buzz for brand presence, so potential patients choose their services and treatments. As a physician, you can command the respect of your peers, superiors, and subordinates by being the spokesperson of an institution.

Any physician with expertise, regardless of his or her sphere of influence or connections, can create an audience. New physicians have the advantage of various social media and web platforms to establish their thought leadership gradually.

Starting a business? Get a website without the fuss.

After founding Quill Ink, I have had a couple of entrepreneurs and small businesses approach me to get some basic problems sorted out for their business and brand. One common problem for them was shelling out money to get a website done. So, I am giving a quick guide for you to decide better while buying website development services.

Today you see a lot of responsive, interactive, mobile-friendly websites built with parallax scrolling. You would hear these names: HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Python and what not. It is fine to get your site built by a web developer, especially if you have a lot of money to throw at them. However, when you are just starting out and want a site that is neat with basic features, going for a WordPress site is better. About 60% of the world’s websites are built on Content Management Systems (CMS) where you can control and manage your site’s content all by yourself .

Myth: You have to spend Rs.60000 to one lakh to get yourself a website.

Fact: You can get yourself a website within Rs.20000.

Domain

You have to buy a domain that costs Rs.99/ Rs.199 or Rs.299. Not more.  Let’s say the domain is http://www.xyz.com, check out GoDaddy.com to buy a site. You have other websites that suggest domain names for you as well. But, I prefer GoDaddy.

SSL Certificate

Now, if you want to add an SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer), the most basic one would cost you Rs.4000. SSL certificate, simply put, states that your site is secure by displaying a green lock button on the address bar next to your site address. Your website users will not hesitate to view your site or interact with it with this assurance.

Website Builder

You then have to get yourself a website builder to build your site. There are many website builders like SquareSpace and Wix that host your site too. The rates differ for each web hosting + website building solution.

WordPress Builder and Hosting Service

I personally choose WordPress solutions.  They come cheap with tonnes of options to customize and design your site. You can even change the layout of your site with an online store, social network, online community or forum. There are plenty of plugins for chat bots, social sharing widgets, contact forms, e-mail subscription forms, e-mail marketing forms etc. The basic one would cost around Rs.3600 for a year. There are other premium packages but those are not necessary when you are just starting out.

Online Store

If you’d like to have an online store for your company, it is better to design it with WooCommerce since it is a free plugin available with WordPress. Shopify gives you nice layouts but it is an expensive deal.

It is best to buy all the above-mentioned components at the same time to avail discounts.

Website Design:

You get unlimited number of free themes and plugins to design your website using the plug-and-play option that requires zero coding. If you are a WordPress blogger, building your own WordPress site should be a piece of cake. WordPress is a CMS site as well.

If you don’t know how to build on, get a person who knows how to build one. I charge about Rs.5000 to build you a WordPress website within a week or less (if you are more decided about the design).

Website Maintenance:

While many web development companies charge a minimum of Rs.25000 for maintaining your website month on month, I charge about Rs. 200 per month. This will only be necessary if you have to constantly add content to your website or change a few pages periodically. Why do I charge less? Since, maintenance wouldn’t be necessary with WordPress sites. They are mostly bug-free and such content can be added by you as well. Only if you are strapped for time, you would need to be dependent on me.

Let’s see the total costs:

Domain: Rs.0  (the first time, for the subsequent years it may be between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000. But you will get discounts).

Website Hosting + Builder : 3000 (per year)

Website Development charges: 5000  (one-time cost)

Website Maintenance: 1000 (per year)

SSL Certificate (optional): 4700

Total: Rs. 13000 -Rs. 15000.

Why do you need web analytics?

When you run a business online, your revenue can come from numerous sources. You may have a website and other digital assets to help with your marketing but do you know if you are getting proper return on investments?

For a Facebook page for your business, the number of likes for your post or online reviews can talk about how your business is functioning. If you have a blog, the number of blog views can tell something about how it is performing. If you have a website, you can understand how it is performing through the number of inquiries you get on your contact page.

However, these are not enough. Everyone knows that there are many underlying factors and parameters within which an online business can bring you revenue.

Factors like your website’s user experience and design on different digital devices; the content, keywords, sales and landing pages; your brand’s web reputation,; the marketing posts you put up on social media; the sources and ad campaigns that get traction to your website; the payment gateway of your site; your products and their prices; and the languages used for all your content etc., affect your business and its performance. To truly understand how your website and other digital assets are performing, you need web analytics.

What is web analytics?

Web analytics is capturing, analysing and improvising the data for your business to have a better web presence. Using web analytics you establish goals and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) , track and analyse the data and then remedy the errors. 

Web analytics has two parts to it:

  • on-site analytics where you measure the sentiments and behaviour of your target audience on your website
  • off-site analytics where you do the same measurement all over the internet. This includes what they talk about you (comments and reviews);  how they feel about you (likes, dislikes, ratings); your brand’s reach and visibility and how many people are interested in your business or buying your products.

Now for web analytics, you can choose multiple tools such as Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, Google Tag Manager, Google Optimize, Adobe Analytics, IBM Cognos Analytics, Spring Metrics, Kissmetrics or Bing Webmaster Tools. However, you cannot be tool-dependent to do analytics. Rather, you use various analytics methods and models to find solution to the problems. Some tools come in handy to execute a particular model or a method.

For instance, using predictive analysis, data science, data mining, machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistical modeling etc., you can predict your audiences’ behaviour in the future by capturing and analysing the current data you have on them. For this, you do not have to limit yourself to just the above mentioned tools. You could go further and have extensive research done, by using tools like R Programming, Tableau Public, Python, SAS, SEMrush, GTMetrix, Hotjar, Crazy Egg, Apache Spark, Mouse Flow, Mint, User Testing, Woorank, Alexa, Woopra, Chartbeat, Clicky, Ahref, Webtrends, SimilarWeb, Mixpanel, Microsoft Excel, RapidMiner, SQL, KNIME etc. Thus, the key here is to understand what data to capture and how to capture it and then go ahead and use various tools to capture the data.

If you are dependent on just one tool, you will only capture the data the tool is designed to capture. You will analyse and report the data in ways that the tool is designed to do. You put constraints on your data and you never get the whole picture.

To start with web analytics:

  1. You first set up objectives for your business.
  2. Then, set up SMART goals for your website; each of your social media pages; and third party websites etc.  
  3. Establish your KPIs to measure your progress.
  4. Employ various methods and models to do the analysis.
  5. Then setup the right tools, setup and report the analysis.
  6. Based on the reports, you can craft strategies to improve your existing marketing and sales ideas.

What can Web Analytics do for you?

Ultimately, you are going to increase your business revenue and profits by understanding two kinds of people: your customers and competitors. Web analytics will solely help you get an in-depth understanding of your customers and competitors.

Target Market:

You can understand who your target market is, what market’s interests are,  segment the market, analyse its trends (track when the demand is high or low) and also get a complete insight about their behaviour on the website and on other digital platforms.

You can track the number of visitors to your website and the number of returning or recurring customers to your site as well. That way, you can analyse and segment your audience based on:

  • when they visit your website and how often they visit it
  • geographical location
  • the sources they use to access your website
  • the type of devices they use
  • the keywords and phrases they use to locate your business or website etc.
  • whether your visitors read reviews before coming to your website
  • or whether they need information on your website before making a purchase

On social media you can understand their demographics (age, gender, occupation, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status etc.) and psychographics (interests, aspirations, hobbies, lifestyle, habits, behaviours, skills etc).

Monitor Behaviour

You can monitor your visitors’ behaviour once they get to your website.

  • Are they exiting your website early?
  • Check for bounce rates: the percentage of visitors to your site who abandon the site after viewing just one page.
  • Check for exit pages and rates: when visitors browse multiple pages and exit the site. Usually pages with contact information or “transaction successful” pages get more exit rates. If other important landing pages, product or service pages get more exit rates, then you have to improve the visitor’s experience on those pages.
  • What pages are they visiting the most?
  • What information do they search for, on your website? 

If you have an eCommerce portal, do they just browse or buy as well?

  • What keywords are they using to search for your products or services?
  • How long do they stay on your website?
  • Do they quit before making an actual purchase?

What do your audience talk about you on social media and third-party websites? You can analyse your audiences’ sentiments about your brand and business through analytics. 

  • Are favourable or unfavourable towards your brand?
  • Are they recommending your business to others?
  • Have they lodged complaints against your business.
  • Have they given positive feedback? 

Monitor Conversions

  • Are marketing and sales conversions happening?
  • Are your visitors watching your video tutorials?
  • Are they downloading your case studies and ebooks?
  • Are they subscribing to your blog or magazine?
  • Are they joining your webinars?
  • Are they leaving inquiries on your website?
  • On social media, are they clicking on the call-to-action buttons like ‘view directions’ or ‘contact now’?
  • Are they sending out reviews on third-party websites?

These actions are conversions that you would ideally want your customers to take to make your business profitable.

To improve a visitor’s journey on the site, you have to improve the pages and the content based on the data you get and make sure the visitors check all the pages of your website and end up making the actual purchase. The pages that do not send the visitor further in the purchase journey or in the conversion funnel should be taken down.

Campaign Effectiveness

Businesses execute marketing campaigns to earn more profits, get new leads or improve sales, gain more brand visibility. This is done offline through conferences, meetups, distributing marketing materials like brochures or visiting cards, workshops, exhibitions, radio or print ads, PR activities etc. Marketing online is done through paid ads on social media and search engines, marketing campaigns on social media, collaboration with influencers, affiliate programs etc. Through web analytics you can assess how effective these campaigns are and if they are driving the right kind of traffic to your website and social media.

You can track the source that led your customers to your site. It could have been an email marketing campaign, a paid ad, a webinar, an influencer’s blog etc.  When the users land on your site, you can simply put up a survey asking them how they arrived at your site. That way you can understand which marketing activity caused a boost in leads or sales. Accordingly, you can also allocate your resources for a marketing activity to get more return on investment (ROI).  

Not just that, you can also be suggestive about what you want the customers to search for online, so eventually they indirectly learn about your business and products. You can even track and see if customers have used those keywords to know better about your business.

Through this exercise you can make decisions on what changes to make to your marketing and sales strategy; how much to invest in marketing; what changes to make to your content and how to change your website design to get more sales. Based on that, you can employ or scrape the strategies based on what works for you.

To Conclude

When you are running an online business, investing in marketing and sales is no joke. Such investments directly impact your profits and revenue. How do you gauge if the money you have invested is bring you returns? Web analytics helps you there! Web analytics helps you track on-site data and off-site data (search engines, social media, third-party websites). However, it is not merely a one-time job and it should not be dependant on any one tool. Web analytics can help you have an in-depth understanding about: your customers (demographics and psychographics) and their behaviour on-site and offsite; sales and marketing conversions and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

 

Sources: