The “measure what matters” phrase has been around for a long time, but as marketers we can put it into practice more today than in any decade or generation in the past. I have recently had the opportunity to help a prospective client navigate their options when being aggressively pursued to renew a yellow pages agreement. It is a classic example of an outdated marketing tactic, with pressure and confusion being pushed on a small business owner. It’s important to take full advantage of the many effective tactics that can be measured for results in our current era of digital marketing.
You likely have a website and are exposed to at least the basic analytics. Beyond that, you probably have the ability to dive deeper if you want and have access to advice or interpretation of the analytics. However, data doesn’t mean anything without specific goals and analysis – it is just a collection of numbers. If you want to improve the value of your digital marketing and understand how it is impacting sales, there are four specific metrics to track.
Website traffic is critical to seeing measurable success. The problem is that many companies consider it the end goal. Traffic should be the precursor to the goal of the conversion, which depending on the type of business, conversion can mean a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a white paper download, an email signup, or other identified desired action. If you desire X number of conversions to generate revenue, then you need Y number of website visitors to get there. The conversion rate of your website dictates the number of visitors you need. However, this isn’t a crapshoot. You have control over variables that drive traffic to your site through the various traffic sources.
If you globally have a 2.5% conversation rate, then you can quickly get to the number of website visitors you need to reach your goals or you can invest time and effort into improving your conversion rate (bonus if you can do both). You can see through basic web analytics what the number of visitors is by source and work to further optimize or advertise to push more visitors from each source category.
Activity is what you’re doing to generate impressions, traffic, and conversions. This is the broadest category to track, but is important. To be able to calculate ROI, you need to measure the cost and resources invested in the activities that drive the other measureable aspects of your digital marketing. This is the time you put into SEO, PPC, social, content marketing, content creation, and other efforts that you invest in through time or through an outsourced vendor. Without measuring this cost, then you can’t fully understand what your true cost of goods sold is or what your cost per lead is.
Getting less tangible, but still important to gain traffic to drive to conversions is impressions. This can broadly be classified as the number of people who see an ad, see an organic search result featuring your listing, receive an email from you, or otherwise are exposed to your brand. Impressions aren’t guaranteed to be seen by your audience, but is a measure of reach and intended exposure. By pushing to increase your reach and impression-share, you can see what campaign tactics and channels are most likely to drive traffic an ultimately, conversions. Not all traffic channels are created equal and you can quickly see what is driving quality traffic versus just wasting your time and budget dollars.
4. Goal Conversions
This is the total number of specific conversion actions taken by users driven to your website. Like stated previously, depending on the type of business, this could be a lead submission form, a tracked phone call, a whitepaper download, an email signup, an ecommerce sale, or other identified desired action. These are tracked through several sources and can be tied to “goals” in Google Analytics that will allow for reporting by source. You can determine whether organic search, direct, referral, social, or traffic from specific campaigns drove the desired action. For ecommerce sites, you can also pass through sales revenue data so you can see in nearly real-time what you’re making from each traffic channel.
Beyond Google Analytics, you can get granular data from pay-per-click advertising campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and other paid campaign sources to know what is working and what isn’t. If you don’t know this data, know that it’s “knowable” and work with trusted partners to get it set up for your site, advertising account, analytics platform, etc.
Before launching any campaign–and even during well-established campaigns–we recommend taking a step back quarterly to review metrics in these primary categories and shore up any areas where they are not fully known or detailed. If you can’t measure it, then it can’t matter.