Online Marketing Metrics 6 Things to Consider

Roy McClean
Sep 11, 2012
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Online Marketing Metrics 6 Things to Consider

On the first day of each month we send our web marketing clients a digital analytics report. The report's title page includes the mantra "You Treasure What You Measure". Nothing new about this phrase but it's something we're trying to take to heart with renewed vigour in our recent work.

For a 'season' we got so caught up in web development being a data-driven company became just a little less important to Custom Fit. But no more. As a result we're adjusting our reporting and our work to take full advantage of data analysis skills wherever possible. Why? Because being a data-driven business works!

When it comes to measuring online performance we focus on six key online marketing metrics: MONEY, VISITOR VALUE, MARKETING, NAVIGATION & USABILITY, PERFORMANCE, and ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS. Let's do a review of each key metric.

1. Money Metrics

Ecommerce 100How much revenue has been generated or costs saved? Revenue should, wherever possible, be included in your key performance indicators report (a.k.a. KPIs).

Virtually all popular web analytics packages, like Google Analytics, KISS Metrics, etc, allow actual revenue values from your online booking engine to be fully integrated into your analytics data and reporting. Sometimes this involves a lot of complex coding; sometimes it's pretty easy to configure. The ease of configuring this revenue tracking has everything to do with the way your website's online booking engine or shopping cart is set up.

OPTION 1: If you can configure your online booking engine or shopping cart to 'share' revenue figures with you digital analytics tool you are off the races! For example, run a report to show that you had $52,014 worth of online business in the past week. You can analyze revenue data by segmenting products / SKU numbers, buyers geographic region, content consumed, or a plethora of other segments using virtually 'real time' revenues for each bit of data segmentation. For example, with some reporting configuration you can show that after factoring in marketing and production costs you have an ROI of 234% from Vancouver who purchased blue widgets last week compared to an ROI of 112% for Toronto who bought red widgets online. This is powerful stuff for making good business decisions!

OPTION 2: If you can't set up metrics as noted in option 1 then next best option is to include an 'average' revenue number for each online conversion that you define as important. For example, you assign $50 for each online purchase, $10 for each lead, and $3 for each email sign up. These revenue figures are entered in manually usually when 'goal conversion' page tracking is set up. Most digital analytics tools accommodate this. Option 2 obviously isn't as precise as option 1 for determining online sales figures but it's still way better than not having any money metrics at your finger tips.

From my experience most small and medium sized businesses aren't using this money metric analysis with their websites. What a shame! With proper planning this doesn't have to be too complicated and having this data can be the difference between determining whether you are really making money online... or not. And where you are making or loosing money.

Work with your ecommerce vendors or website support team to get your revenue data integrated into your reporting. If your present vendor or system doesn't allow this then it's time to consider changing vendors or changing your ecommerce system. That's how important getting revenues into your digital metrics is.

The bottom line? Get revenue tracking integrated into your online analytics reporting!

2. Visitor Value Metrics

Team 100What visitors have the greatest impact on revenues? This involves segmenting and labelling visitors. For example, define product category sales by geographic region. How about first-time visitors vs. repeat visitors? Are these visitors using social media? If yes, what channels? You can slice and dice your digital analytics in many ways. Just be sure that the analysis results are 'actionable'.

3. Marketing Metrics

Marketing Files 100Which campaigns provide the most revenue? Which campaigns provide the best ROI for your marketing dollars? It's not always about actual revenue. You can spend $1,000 in advertising to sell $5,000 of red widgets. But if you only spent $400 in advertising to sell $4,000 in blue widgets where would you be putting your money?

Define your various advertising channels by real costs to run them. This includes the amount paid for advertising. But don't forget the human side of running a campaign: person hours and amount of effort required to get and keep each campaign running. Compare paid search campaigns vs. email marketing vs. social media and/or organic search campaigns. Sometimes this is challenging but it can be done!

The ultimate goal is to guide decision-making to attract high-value visitors from your campaigns.

4. Navigation & Usability Metrics

Pay Per Click 100What is the site's usability? For example, you get way more people visiting your website looking at blue widgets but most of your revenue comes from selling red widgets. What's up with that? Maybe the landing page for your blue widgets product sucks! So people leave your landing page a lot more often than the landing page for red widgets. Time to do some online testing, measure results and get this fixed.

You can get millions of people to your website. But if they are all leave your website because they are frustrated with page 4 of the seven step purchase process you're toast! (Toast  = a technical term meaning no revenue for you!) Time to run some tests to see if you can improve your online booking engine sales funnel / process.

Measuring navigation and usability can often be the easiest way to 'pick the low lying fruit' for improving online performance.

Wrapping Up Metrics 1 to 4

As noted above, virtually all top web analytics applications like Google Analytics, KISS Metrics, and Adobe Site Catalyst provide ways to analyze clickstream data for Visitor Value, Marketing and Navigation & Usability metrics. (We used to LOVE ClickTracks -- now Lyris Analytics -- for segmentation but when the company was bought out support for the product dwindled and we stopped using it.)

5. Performance Metrics

Website Dev 100How well is your website operating? Measure factors such as website downtime, page load times, robot indexing (how often search engines are visiting and "indexing" your website), etc. Incidentally, our webmaster recently wrote an excellent blog post on why page load time is so important to your online business.

Tools like Are My Sites Up? monitor website downtime. We use this tool and I count on getting SMS messages immediately to my smart phone if one of our clients' sites goes offline even for a short period of time.

Google Analytics measures page speed. I have recently been introduced to a new product called Revealed that offers some promising ways to measure page speed.

Raw log analyzers like Sawmill or the old version of ClickTracks can crunch out metrics about how often your website is being indexed and by whom. For example, when was the last time Google or BING indexed your site. Raw logs are visitor data that most web servers record. You typically need to download these log files from your server, then use a tool to analyze them. Clickstream web analytics tools like Google Analytics that record visitor data using JavaScript can't measure robot indexing.

Google Search Console, formerly named Google Webmaster Tools, is a utility every website owner should be using, shows how often the GoogleBot is indexing your website.

While this may not be sexy stuff I highly recommend that you do not ignore performance metrics. After all you can have an awesome looking website but if your web pages load too slow and are offline too often this can really impact your online performance, especially your website's user experience. Google has clearly stated that they will penalize pages that have poor performance metrics. Consider yourself warned!

6. Environmental Review Metrics

Design 200Businesses don't live in a vacuum. Neither do their websites. Businesses websites are competing for attention, and engagement. You need to know what your online competition is up to. For example, the quantity and quality of links your competitors have pointing to their website can have a direct impact as to why they consistently rank better for important keyword search results compared to your website.

In my experience this is typically the most difficult metric to sell clients. Why use these tools? Often it's because some of these tools cost money! I think we've gotten spoiled with our access to such excellent free analytics tools like Google Analytics or Yahoo Analytics.

Free tools like Google Alerts or Twitter Search provide opportunities to monitor keywords including brand names of your competitors. But other paid tools like Compete, SEMrush, Majestic SEO and Moz's Open Site Explorer offer the type of analysis that provides invaluable competitive business intelligence. (I can hear the calls out there. 'But these tools don't have to cost money' you are saying. True, but we find the free versions of these tools don't always provide the depth of analysis and reporting required for strong ongoing competitive analysis.)

So what do these tools offer? Compete.com keeps a history of websites worldwide including traffic and engagement metrics. SEMrush is a great keyword research tool but it also provides data like what keywords your competitors are using, what keywords they are bidding on in Google AdWords (pay-per-click), etc. Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer provide data showing quantity of links to websites, who is linking to whom, etc.

Bottom line? Keeping an active eye on your competition is a vital component of maintaining an effective digital analytics strategy. And in our experience, it's worthwhile investing some time and money for these types of tools.

Last But Certainly NOT Least

Brand 100OK then... virtually all the tools and metrics noted above are great at measuring WHAT HAPPENED. What about the WHY PEOPLE DID STUFF ON YOUR WEBSITE?  Measure this too! You might just be amazed at the results!

Adding survey tools like Qualaroo or 4Q Perceptions allows you to ask targeted questions to visitors on your website. Ask stuff like "Did you find what you are looking for today? If not, what were you looking for?", "What other content should we blog about?" or "Would you recommend our website to your friends? If no, why not?"

Survey tools like SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo can be used to inquire more deeply about your website. For example, "Please rank our site vs. our competition for ease-of-use", "Rate your overall impression of our website: very good, good, no opinion, poor, very poor" and so much more.

Using such tools can instantly provide profound insight to your website and business performance. Again, that's powerful information. And information is power!

And Now... YOUR Turn Please!

Guarantee 100As noted above, this is what we at Custom Fit have been working on recently. Getting a handle on these 6 KEY metrics is central for us providing a sustainable, valuable resource to our clients.

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