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This week we’re going to focus on one of those topics that is not necessarily shiny or sexy but is absolutely essential to your success (or not) and that’s testing and tracking.

After all, how on earth are you going to know whether your site content, social media posts, even your buy buttons are as effective as you can possibly make them unless you know the numbers?

With that in mind, let’s start with how to test and track one of the most essential areas of your marketing campaigns – social media – using Google Analytics.

You can learn all about that here:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/google-analytics-and-social-media-what-marketers-need-to-know-annie-cushing/

And learn how to use Google Analytics for your main websites here:

http://www.smartinsights.com/google-analytics/google-analytics-campaign-tracking/campaign-tracking-aa09/

Or get the ultimate training from the Google Analytics Academy here:

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/

Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest offer their own analytics but what if you want more such as an instant glimpse of what has worked best for you?

There are some excellent suggestions here for Instagram:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/5-free-instagram-analytics-tools-for-marketers/

When it comes to Pinterest, Viralwoot is up there as one of the best and you can get started without spending a dime:

https://viralwoot.com/

While Hootsuite is great across the major social media platforms if you have up to three accounts to monitor – after that you have to look at one of the paid plans:

https://hootsuite.com/plans/free

User testing is the best way to find out if your website is working for the only people who really matter – your visitors and prospects.

UserTesting provides a freebie service called Peek which offers you three free five-minute evaluations of your website or app every month.

You simply sign up, enter your site URL and they send three random testers to your site, giving you invaluable insights into how it works for real users for absolutely nada.

Check it out here:

http://peek.usertesting.com/

As mentioned earlier, you can use Google Analytics for all kinds of useful purposes but there are some tools out there that offer features it doesn’t such as heat maps so you can track where visitors click on your site.

Luckily for you, there are other options out there which do offer these features such as Open Web Analytics which you can get here:

http://www.openwebanalytics.com/

Of course, you can’t get the full picture of how well you’re doing until you measure yourself against your competitors and my go-to solution for that is Similar Web.

With this nifty tool you can plug in your site or app and receive insights about traffic and rankings while also comparing the data against competing sites:

https://www.similarweb.com/

But what if you have multiple sites and platforms to analyse all at once, including payment platforms such as PayPal?

Then you need Cyfe, a dashboard which you can customize so you can see all the data you want right there in front of you:

http://www.cyfe.com/

As for your TED talk this week, it’s on the beauty of data visualization – what else?