Suppose you own a store. Customers are coming in, browsing the merchandise, and buying things, only you can’t see any of it because you are wearing a blindfold. You don’t take note of who the customers are or what they’re looking at before making their purchases. Pretty foolish, right?
That’s what it’s like to operate a website without using Google Analytics to gather data on who’s browsing it, says business management consultant Reina Valenzuela of Starfish Global.
Valenzuela will host a free Princeton SCORE workshop on using Google Analytics to grow your business online. The event will take place Tuesday, March 31, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the South Brunswick Public Library at 110 Kingston Lane in Monmouth Junction. For more information, visit www.princetonscore.org.
Starfish Global, which Valenzuela founded, helps train small business owners on how to use technology. She specializes in Latino-owned businesses and sometimes gives talks in Spanish, but next Tuesday’s presentation will be in English. She is not just lecturing about Google as a power user, however. Valenzuela actually worked with the company on a number of projects, including launching the Latino-focused .soy domain, which, when it debuted in 2014, became Google’s first new top-level domain in the U.S.
“We have done a lot of work with Google tools,” she says. “This is one more of those tools we like to share with small business owners and emerging companies that need to figure out what they can see to make sure they are getting results for their efforts online.”
Google Analytics allows users to see when people visit a website, what pages they have viewed, and how they reach the site. The data, presented in the form of easy-to-read reports, also shows what Web browsers people are using and what devices they are using it on. “It gives you a set of information that is very valuable,” Valenzuela says. “The second part is, now that you have so much data, how do you improve your site’s user experience so they can become your clients?”
Google Analytics offers business owners a free way to collect data on their customers as opposed to costly surveys. But how to use all this information?
“It depends on the type of website,” Valenzuela says. “It may just be encouraging engagement. This could be a branding tool. You have to set up the right goals for your business.”
For example, Starfish Global recently worked with an organization of doctors who were working in Latin America. The doctors had a basic website that offered information but was static and had no way for users to engage with it, Valenzuela says. Her company changed the website so that users could apply for membership in the group and fill out a form to receive a newsletter. They also started tracking where its users were located to see where the organization was catching on.
They got 200 people to register for the newsletter and were able to see that the traffic was mainly coming from Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.
“These are the kinds of things that can be done if you take off the blindfold and know who’s coming into your store and what they’re interested in,” Valenzuela says.
Valenzuela is very familiar with businesses, and especially stores. Her mother was a fruit seller in El Salvador who moved to the United States without her family in 1965 to work as a nanny, leaving her daughter to be raised by her grandmother. By the time Valenzuela was old enough for high school, her mother had saved enough to bring her to the U.S. as well. “My mom was like, you are going to go to school to learn English, and you are going to go to a university. And so I did,” Valenzuela says.
After college Valenzuela became a serial entrepreneur herself. Her first venture was a translation business. Her second was a legal services company. In the midst of her business career, she went to Kean University to earn an MBA in global business management. In 2009 she founded Starfish Global. The company today is based in Lyndhurst and employs two other consultants in addition to Valenzuela.
With her history Valenzuela finds it easy to relate to the Hispanic small business owners who are her main clients. “They sometimes lag behind in getting their business up to speed because they don’t have the technical skills that are sometimes required,” she says. “Emerging businesses often have the same problems because technology can be your best friend and your worst enemy.”