Almost every business is investing in their success with some form of promotion. And if these marketing tactics were retirement investments, you would expect a monthly statement reporting on the growth trends.
But for many business owners, measuring the success of a marketing investment can be overwhelming. That’s because unfiltered reports from tools like Google Analytics present an enormous amount of information. There is so much data it can be hard to separate meaningful insights from empty statistics.
In this article we’ll summarize how to select the single most important item to monitor in each of three core areas of marketing. With just a few metrics you can keep tabs on the payback from your marketing investment and sleep well knowing you have a finger the pulse of your business.
Start with some sort of Analytics tools
Monitoring the success of campaigns and marketing outreach requires each business to have a tracking system. Often called Analytics, these tools collect data about activity on a website and summarize it into reports. Out of the box, many of the reports are helpful, but to get the most insight reports, they must be configured to track your specific goals. Here are three important categories from which to choose a Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
Pick one a “Customer Acquisition” metric
Customer Acquisition metrics tell you whether or not you did a good job of attracting visitors to your site. It’s the report card on all the efforts invested before the visitor shows up. While every business is different, some of the most common metrics used include trends in Organic or Social Visits, Visitor Geography, Number or Percent New Visitors; Cost per Acquisition (CPA); Cost per Click (CPC). One or two of these KPI’s will tell you how successful your current plan is at acquiring new customers.
Pick a “Visitor Behavior” metric
Behavior Metrics are simply a measure of what people did and saw when they visited your website. Did they get engaged and read lots of content, or did they leave your site immediately i.e. “bounce” right off? Did they view your video, download your helpful guides, check out your blog posts, or did they spend 2, 5, 10 minutes on site?
Other metrics in the Behavior category like Page Depth, Video Plays, or Frequency of Visits are more precise measurements that track specific behaviors and paint a more nuanced picture of the kind of traffic your site is receiving.
Choosing the right metric in this category really boils down to what outcomes you’re hoping for when people visit your site. More often than not, it takes a blend of these measures to get the kind of picture you’re looking for, so take your time and experiment a bit.
Finally, pick one metric that tracks desired “Outcomes”
Whether it’s counting the number of visitors submitting a contact form to download your new e-book, or tracking the percentage of visitors buying something from your website, we all define a successful website visit in our own way. This really boils down to what matters to you the most and what core function you want your website to serve. The important thing is to watch the percentage of visitors competing these goals.
Be cautious in using these metrics. What you'll see in Google Analytics reports is usually crediting the "source" of a sale or download as the last thing the customer did (source = organic search; source = direct to your domain). You have to did deeper to discover the ways they actually found or researched you originally before that last interaction.
Some steps in the buyers journey might not be tracked, and many are not obvious because they occurred before the final transaction. Imagine watching a basketball or hockey game where all you see is the basket or goal scored and have no idea who else on the team passed the ball or puck assisting that score. It might lead you to believe the player shown scoring did it all by themselves. That’s a crude reference, but in a general sense it's the kind of challenge you’ll face using basic Analytics to determine what led up to your conversion events. The ultimate reporting suites show a few steps before the conversion so you can see if patterns exist.
B2B companies might look at something like a Visits to Leads ratio to hint about future sales. They might focus on ‘micro conversions’ where they’re more worried about actions that could lead to future sales (e.g. downloading a credit application). For a non-profit website you might be zeroed in on Number of Donations and precursors like New Donor List Growth trends month to month. Consumer brands will always have a mind for the bottom line and will be looking at things like Purchases and Coupon Redemption ratios to see how they’re doing
The Bottom Line:
Every business owner or agency team should be focused on the visitor getting what they need along their path to purchase, and measuring the portion of visitors achieving those outcomes. Track a few key indicators over enough time until you see the patterns. That should help make clear what's working and what's not in leading a visitor down the path to conversion on your website.
Learn how the Lab helps with Configuring Google Analytics