Marketing analytics are metrics that help you understand how well your marketing plan is performing. Much of the information you gather will center on your website metrics, as websites have become one of the most powerful tools in the marketer’s arsenal.
Data overload is the main problem with marketing analytics. For all their power to shine a light on marketing campaigns, too much of a good thing can overwhelm your best efforts to synthesize a coherent message. One of the problems is the proliferation of metrics sources, such as web analytic packages, email marketing software, blogging platforms, paid search advertising, and services that monitor social media. Rationalizing the data from all of these sources is a big challenge.
To combat data overload, you need to focus on a small set of critical metrics that can help you improve your marketing strategy right away. Once you have a working system using a selection of core metrics, you can slowly expand the scope of analytic data you use to guide your inbound marketing.
Let’s start by identifying the various marketing channels that can provide valuable analytic data:
websites paid search SEO business blogging email social media
Some metrics are common to most or all of these channels, while others are channel-specific. You need to understand the most important metrics within each channel, and then apply that understanding to help optimize your marketing plans.
Evolving Your Marketing Plan
One common question that often comes up is how to divide our time between executing a marketing strategy and measuring the effectiveness of that strategy. The answer is situational, but the nice thing about metrics is that they provide specific benefits that can help guide the evolution of your marketing plan:
- Discover which tactics are working and which aren’t
- Find ways to improve your effectiveness
- Execute more of the effective tactics and suspend activities that are ineffective or counter-productive.
These benefits can help you make informed decisions rather than hit-or-miss ones. For instance, you can decide whether to suspend, sustain, or expand a particular marketing campaign. You can also figure out which marketing channels are working well for you, and which ones need additional attention.
Your website is the heart of your marketing efforts. All your marketing activity is aimed at driving traffic to your site, gathering leads and then converting them into customers. There are numerous website metrics available to you to gauge the effectiveness of your site. The following are some of the most important metrics you can use:
Unique Visitors – the number of different individuals visiting your site within a given time period. You should see a steady increase in visitors, and upward spikes that coincide with specific marketing campaigns. Failure to increase traffic points to problems with your marketing strategy.
Repeat Visitors – the ratio of unique visitors to repeat visitors. Repeat visitations reveal an ongoing interest in your site’s content. A low rate (below ten percent) tells you that your content is not that compelling. A high rate (above 30 percent) means that your overall growth rate is insufficient. An ideal rate is considered to be 15 percent, meaning you are growing your site and attracting repeat visitors.
Sources of Traffic – the percentage of traffic from different sources. Direct traffic is derived by people typing in your URL directly, using a bookmark, or clicking through a link from a document you posted. Organic traffic arises from clicking on unpaid search engine results. Referral traffic is due to clicking on a backlink from another website. Ideally, you want half of your traffic to be organic, and about a third coming from referrals.
Link URLs – the URLs from backlinking sites that drive traffic to your site. This does not include traffic from search engines. You should see a steady growth of referring URLs over time, reflecting increased interest and confidence in your website.
Page Popularity – a comparison of the most and least popular pages on your website. Popular pages reveal what visitors like and find interesting about your site. These pages should contain your calls-to-action. Unpopular pages should be evaluated, revamped or removed.
Indexed Pages – a tally of the pages that receive organic traffic. Only indexed pages receive traffic from search engines. Ideally, all of your pages should be indexed. You can further investigate this metric to see which of your pages gets the most visits.
Conversion Rate – the percentage of traffic that performs some desired action, such as filling out a form or buying something. You can measure various conversion rates, such as visitor-to-lead, lead-to-customer and visitor-to-customer. You can use these statistics to measure how effectively you are funneling visitors into paying customers.
Bounce Rate – the percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately after landing there. A high bounce rate means your content is less than compelling. It can also mean that your backlinks are coming from irrelevant sites. Make sure you use only relevant links, having interesting content, and employ an ergonomic website design.