It’s a Numbers Game: Digital Marketing Metrics - moocreations Guest Blog
It can be said that any digital marketing activity is easier to monitor, track and review results compared to its offline counterparts. But it is due to free flowing abundance of data that makes it difficult to work out the best way to monitor your activity and which metrics are the most important. Well that all depends on the nature of your business and predominantly your objectives!
What are Your Objectives?
Before considering using any type of metrics to monitor online activity, you first need to decide what you are trying to achieve (remembering to make your objectives SMART, to give them a purpose). Once you have set your online objectives then you need to figure out the best way to measure them. We can categories these metrics into three different groupings:
Traffic Generation – Attracting consumers to your website
User Engagement – What is happening with your social media and on your website
Overall Outcome – The outcome of a site visit and the impact this has on your business
You may think that any traffic generated starts and ends with how many people visit your website. This is probably the most basic of metric to
monitor online activity and although it provides a good indication with regards to how ‘busy’ your site is, it doesn’t tell you anything more than this. Monitoring the wider environment will enable you to work more effectively
online to achieve your objectives while at the same time increasing the efficiency of your online, off-site activity.
Firstly, where is the traffic coming from? Look at the inbound links coming to your site and how many users are being directed from them (especially if you are paying for these links – are they cost effective? This is where a cost per click ratio will come in handy). Even if you’re not paying for links it is important to understand where the majority of your website traffic is coming from and the individual click through rate of each link, enabling you to work out which links are working and which are not, in the same way that you may monitor an email campaigns open rates and click through rates. Not only is it important to work out where your traffic is coming from but on which devices they are using and if your website is fit for purpose (is it mobile enabled or does your site only work on a larger device?) This also goes for the types of web browsers your markets are using as some sites can work better on some than others (such as Chrome, IE or Firefox)
It is not only the standard ‘links to a site’ that can generate traffic. Monitoring activity further afield also provides a rich source of information such as the reach of your social media activity and how many people are engaging with you on other platforms other than your own businesses site (your target markets may prefer this type of interaction, which is something to be considered).
The page rankings on search engines (such as Google or Bing) are another way of tracking what is working and what isn’t for both naturally occurring links from other sites and ‘keywords’ that can be paid for to heighten the position of your webpages when consumers search for a particular word (Google AdWords is a prime example of how page rankings can improve traffic and be easily monitored).
It is all well and good increasing traffic to your site and indeed tracking the unique visits you are getting to your website, as discussed at the start of this blog, is a simple way to do this. With the information that can be gathered from each visit, digging a little deeper will enable you to understand your target market(s) further than just simple ‘how many people have viewed my site?’ By reviewing the demographic of each visitor, return rates and even gathering some insight from the negative – bounce rates, unsubscribe rates and drop off points (where the user has failed to complete a transaction) can go some way to improving your website to suite that of your target market(s) and make it easier for them to use it - Think of how Tesco have used their ClubCard scheme to understand their consumers.
Digital engagement with consumers is a great way not only to interact with consumers but also gather qualitative data that can be so time consuming to collect manually offline. Discussions in isolation may not provide the consumer insight you are looking for but collating this information from social media platforms and your own websites blog or comments pages will deliver a holistic, insightful view of how consumers perceive your company going deeper than the usual ‘agree’ or disagree’ customer survey.
The average time spent on a singular website or on an individual webpage will assist you in working out what is working and what isn’t on a page-by-page basis (just like product lines that aren’t selling in a supermarket – pages on a website that aren’t viewed are not working as hard as they should be for you and need to be reviewed and updated to enhance the usability of each page making sure consumers are not deterred and lose interest while browsing). The landing pages for visitors to your site can also highlight which pages are more relevant to consumers than others. Adding a monetary value to these viewed pages or indeed to each individual overall site visit will deliver a cost per visit value that will help to calculate the cost effectiveness of your website.
So what is the overriding objective of your website? Once you know this then the following will help to monitor how successful you are online.
The subscription rates of any outgoing communication you deliver to your audience will provide you with a good indication as to how your company is perceived and its positioning within a marketplace compared to that of your competition and do consumers value your opinion over others? Reviewing the drop-off rate of subscribers is also a good indication as to the ongoing validity of your communication and potentially the success of your business (remember that interacting with customers builds a stronger relationship with them).
Generally speaking online activity is usually the most cost effective communication tool for any business but is your website the most cost effective sales toll for your business? By this I mean is the cost to acquire each customer less than what you are getting in return and is the acquisition or conversion rate you are receiving per visit high enough to sustain an online presence? This is quite a tricky question to answer with the lifetime value of each customer playing its part, but in general are your outgoings covered by the income of the transactions your website is generating?
The final metric that is worth considering is possibly the most fundamental to any business strategy and that is the actual return on investment you are receiving or when you will start to see a return from the online activity you have created.
It all adds up
In using any digital metrics as a form of analysis it is important to consider what you are looking to achieve. Once you know and understand this then the relevant analysis methods will start to become apparent - depending on the nature of your business (be it service-led, product focused or not-for-profit for example). What is important to you, your strategy and the objectives you have set will determine whether to focus on the revenue generated online or the number of subscriptions you are receiving.
Don’t forget the negative either. It is no good hiding away from any issues, that once corrected may help improve your website and in turn your business as a whole. If you have a large bounce rate, there must be a reason for it – why are consumers not engaging for long enough to be converted into customers? Is there a fundamental flaw in the checkout process? Are consumers being directed to the wrong pages on your site? It is questions like these that can be answered with a keen eye on digital marketing metrics.
Any online activity should not be monitored in isolation and it is as important to remember any offline activity that may have an impact online such as QR codes or literature that includes a unique URL should be taken into consideration.
Finally, if you are feeling like all the above it to daunting, remember that there is an abundance of different software packages that can do all the hard work for you (Google, Adobe and IBM all have these types of tools available), making sure that your digital marketing metrics really do add value to your business.
This blog was created by Pete Sumpton the very knowledgable Marketing Director for moocreations.co.uk and a Digital Marketing Communications Tutor for Professional Academy. For more of his insights in to the world of Digital Marketing Communications follow moocreations on Twitter or sign up with Professional Academy on a Digital Marketing or Marketing Communications Qualification accredited by the CIM's CAM Foundation!