Despite the expansive growth of other marketing platforms, website metrics remain an integral indicator of how respective campaigns are performing.
As such, it is important for marketers to have a clear grasp of the data collected and an understanding of how that translates to existing campaigns.
This article is designed to provide a starting point for marketers to glean what different metrics mean, how it applies to their campaigns, and how to identify which ones truly matter.
Understanding The Analytics Process
As pointed out by Eckerson, there is a difference between “getting the message” (e.g. these metrics indicate that sales will go up), and “understanding the data” (sales will go up because customer feedback shows that the target audience is expanding).
Making the right decisions based on analytics insights is the easy part. Understanding the underlying processes, however, is necessary if a company wants to identify potentially incorrect (or irrelevant) data, to understand other possible consequences, or foresee an issue before it manifests.
More importantly, in the grand scheme of analytics, it’s being able to understand the processes that enable long-term acceptance and trust within an organization.
Here are five factors that would allow you to read and interpret analytics data:
This is basically setting a glossary of terms for the organization to come up with a common language that defines the KPIs and is aligned with business terms from different departments. As noted by Eckerson, the KPI explanation should also include:
- Meaning – What the KPIs represent
- Composition – What data is used to come up with the KPI
- Usage – What types of decisions will the KPIs be used for
This refers to tracking data across its lifecycle or over a specific timeframe. This is important because certain data sets could be analyzed with variables that may no longer be applicable after a certain period.
Traceability allows an organization to track a dataset back to its origins, and glean insights into how it evolved over time, and its effects on the overall process.
In line with traceability, credibility in analytics is essentially an acceptance that values derived from datasets may not always be 100 percent accurate (as opposed to clinging to a single point of truth).
Again, because there are different aggregation rules, batch periods, and other factors beyond an organization’s control, this type of credibility is not only more realistic. It’s – in a way – more efficient than leaning on an “absolute truth”.
This refers to the practice of linking data to people whenever possible. Called data stewards, these people are able to explain exactly how particular data sets, sources, and processes work. This brings a level of accountability to an often complex system that no one person can fully understand.
Because analytics processes have become even more complicated with the continued evolution of machine learning, there are inevitable instances when some use cases just can’t be explained.
In cases like this, where inputs and methods work on an abstract level, the simple solution is, to be honest about it. While this won’t allow users to fact-check an output, it renders them with a slight feeling of control.
Dissecting Key Analytics Metrics That Matter
With any marketing campaign, reach is almost always one of the more important metrics to measure. But it’s vital to note the many layers when it comes to reach. These include:
- Overall traffic – taking note of large spikes or dips in specific page views
- No. of visits – a good indicator of a specific campaign’s (or platform’s) reach
- No. of new visitors – this allows you to calculate the percentage of new visitors brought about by a specific campaign
- Visitor geographic data – lets you know if your targeting works
- Email open rates – This allows you to determine the quality of your email, as well as other factors like subject line effectivity
- Impressions served – this allows you to calculate reach and overall success of marketing campaigns
#2. Social Data
While constantly changing feed algorithms have affected businesses’ social media metrics (particularly on Facebook), this channel remains a crucial part of marketing campaigns. But while platforms provide analytical insights for you, there are some things you should look at to get a deeper understanding of how you’re actually performing.
- Reach – Beyond shares and likes, an important metric to track when it comes to this is audience growth rate. This gives you deeper insight into your social media momentum (new followers, expressed in percentage over time). This will, in turn, enable you to evaluate marketing campaigns without being blinded by vanity metrics like the total number of followers. You can also gauge the effectiveness of the campaigns you’re using, compared to when you first started growth-hacking efforts.
- Average engagement rate – Tracking this lets you know not only whether you’re speaking to the right people, but also if those people are listening. As noted by The Next Web, this compares your posts’ engagement with your total number of followers and identifies your “tribe” from silent followers.
- Acquisition – This is basically the number of referrals you get from social media. And while it may never match what you get from organic Google searches, this gives you a concrete idea of how valuable (or effective) social media is to your marketing efforts. But the metric you should pay close attention to is visitor frequency rate. Divided into new and return visitors, the latter is a good indicator of the depth of engagement, as well as the strength of your social media presence. Meanwhile, new visitors can be used to confirm growth rate beyond reach and audience metrics.
- Conversion – While the definition of conversion may vary depending on the goals set by a campaign, looking at assisted social conversions allows you to directly connect social media data with business profits. As pointed out by The Next Web, defining conversion goals on Google Analytics and similar tools, allows you to follow visitors referred through social channels and track their conversions over a set period of time.
#3. Share of Voice
Essentially your share of engagement, Share of Voice (SOV) is the percentage of the market a brand has compared to its competitors over a certain period of time.
As noted by PowerPost, measuring SOV is dependent on the channel(s) analyzed and the available competitor data.
What SOV does is guide you into allocating resources more effectively. By showing, for example, that you’re doing well on social but not ranking on search, you can find that more spending needs to be directed to SEO.
There are several tools you can use to measure SOV – among them are Content Intelligence and AdWords impression share.
#4. Grade Score
This is basically a measure of the strengths and weaknesses of your overall marketing efforts as it relates to your website. HubSpot published a guide on how to grade your site, along with tips on how to further strengthen it.
#5. Bounce Rates
This metric reflects the percentage of visitors that either view just a single page or leave immediately.
A high bounce rate could be due to a number of things, which include poor website design, usability, or load times. But it could also mean that users are able to find what they were looking for quickly – in which case, bounce rate doesn’t always have to be viewed in a negative light.
It’s important to note, though, that consistently high bounce rates bring a negative effect on your site’s evaluation on search engines, so it’s best that you dive deeper into the analysis of your site’s performance.
#6. Customer Acquisition Efficiency
In its most basic sense, this is a metric that shows how your site is performing in terms of converting users based on your goals. So for e-commerce sites, efficiency means that your website doesn’t get in the way of customers buying your products (easy to navigate, quick load times, great UX, etc.).
In terms of data sets, it’s also a reflection of how different marketing channels (paid search, social, referral, email) have high bounce rates and low conversion rates – allowing you to make necessary adjustments to your campaigns.
#7. Traffic Sources
Tracking your channel-specific traffic lets you know exactly where your traffic is coming from and enables you to make necessary adjustments to channels that are underperforming. The basic sources are:
- Direct – those who type your URL manually
- Referrals – links from other sites
- Organic – those who come to your site after performing a search
- Social – those that come from your social media channels
This depends on the goals set for the campaign. It could be to get people to sign-up for your newsletter, sell a particular item, download or play a video—or any of the litany of things you want people to do on your website. Tools like Matomo allow you to monitor specific set goals, replete with detailed reports.
The vast amounts of data, and the plethora of tools available to analyze them have made data collection and analysis both easier and more complicated at the same time.
This is why having an understanding of the underlying processes is crucial for marketers. It allows them to compartmentalize insights provided by the analytics process, while also having a long view of its overall goals and desired effects.
How deep have you dived into your site analytics? What steps are you planning to take to improve on it in the coming months? Do let us know.