I remember the first time I heard of “analytics.”
It was 6 years ago. I was having lunch with a friend. He couldn’t stop talking about analytics, and how much joy he derives monitoring his website’s performance.
You’re probably thinking, “well, maybe he’s getting a lot of traffic to his website.”
Sure, he was.
My friend told me that with more traffic coming to his website, he’s guaranteed to make more money. With more money, he could easily quit his 9 – 5 job.
And he did 2 years later.
But here’s the point.
Marketing analytics go beyond monitoring website traffic, page views, and all those metrics that make you feel good.
Set vanity metrics ablaze. You also have to measure actionable metrics that truly matters to your business.
When it comes to analytics, there are people who would act as if it doesn’t matter. But it does. That’s why smart marketers are capitalizing on marketing analytics to help improve their campaigns.
According to a VentureBeat Report, “about 73% of businesses plan to increase their marketing analytics spending in the next 3 years.”
Stop making assumptions. Avoid excuses. And start measuring every marketing activity, because it’ll help you make better decisions.
Data from HBR shows that 36.6% of companies are using marketing analytics to drive customer acquisition processes.
And contrary to what most people think, measuring your marketing campaigns – even though you’re not getting a lot of traffic is critical. Whether your daily website traffic is 20 or 2,000+, be excited about it.
Because, what you’re really concerned about is the “insights” that you can gain.
What can you learn from 20 targeted visitors to your landing page, and how can you maximize these tiny traffic to grow your sales and revenue?
This should be your ultimate focus.
Given the relevance of analytics in our present competitive world, let’s begin by understanding the right marketing metrics to measure.
What are marketing metrics?
If you spend more time measuring the right metrics in your business, you’ll discover that every aspect of your business will fall into place.
While most people are obsessed with metrics that doesn’t count, you’re busy optimizing your content and ads – with the aim of increasing conversion rate.
But, what exactly are marketing metrics?
Here’s one of the best definitions from Wisegeek:
“Marketing metrics are statistical measurements by which businesses judge how effective their specific marketing efforts are, in relation to the size and type of marketing campaign initiated – and the goals of the business for the specific campaign.”
From this definition, we can deduce that, now, more than ever, digital marketers need to start measuring metrics that will increase leads generation, customer acquisition, and help them achieve business goals for their specific campaigns.
Can I be honest with you?
Maybe I’m taking it too extreme, but 87% of the metrics that most businesses measure really do not count at the end of the day. Because, they neither support nor aid the achievement of business goals.
For example, “page views” is one of those metrics that most people hold dear to their hearts. But here’s the ultimate question:
“Does the amount of pageviews that my website have lead to my ideal customers subscribing to my email list, buying my product, or sharing my content?”
The harsh truth is that if it doesn’t increase your revenue or bring you closer to achieving your ‘core’ goal, then, you’ve got to stop endorsing it, and focus on more actionable metrics – such as “returning visitors”, “average time on site”, etc.
The most vital component of your digital marketing business
Though, it’s important to measure every aspect of your business – but where do you begin?
When you run a digital business, you’re exposed to a lot of social media networks, automation tools, and marketing strategies.
You’ll will agree with me that the most powerful marketing channel is “email.”
Because, for every $1 invested, email generates up to $40 returns. A case study which was published at VentureBeat shows that email marketing gives 246% return for mid-sized businesses.
It’s only true email communication that you can effectively deliver the right content to suit every ideal customer, regardless of the stage they are in the marketing funnel – from awareness to purchase.
One of the mistakes that most marketers made (including me) when they started their first blog, was neglecting to build email list from day one.
Power users like Derek Halpern, John Chow, Pat Flynn, Neil Patel, Chris Ducker, all made the same mistake.
In Pat Flynn’s words, “an email list is important because it’s the most direct way to communicate and engage with your fans and subscribers. If you’re planning to sell a product/service, the list is often the primary money maker.”
You need the right skills before you can effectively measure the impact of your emails.
If you’re already doing email marketing, are you measuring the right metrics?
As expected, the seasoned marketing experts at AdWeek had predicted that marketing will undergo radical changes in the next 5 years. In order to thrive and not be tossed to and fro by the wind, you need a strong analytics skills.
Let’s consider a few of the right metrics (a.k.a. Actionable metrics) that you should measure.
Although, your email autoresponder solution can help you automate all of these – but, you need to know the exact metrics to spend more time on.
i). Click-Through Rate: Considering that the inbox is the most conducive portal to communicate and engage with your target audience, you need to know how many of them are clicking on your emails.
In an Email Marketing Trends Survey conducted by Ascend2, 73% of the 300 respondents who participated agree that click-through rate is the most useful metric for measuring email marketing performance.
Ordinarily, you couldn’t believe that CTR would override conversion rate, but numbers don’t lie.
Overall, your objective isn’t to smile at the huge CTR (feel free to laugh if you want), but to learn from it.
Side note: A low click-through rate could mean that your email campaigns are not useful or relevant to recipients (your subscribers).
On the flip side, majority of your subscribers may decide to open your email, scan your email, and do nothing else. If that’s the case, your click through rate will still be low.
As you already know, click-through rate (CTR) gives you direct insight of how many subscribers are engaging and enjoying your content.
It also helps you understand what these subscribers are interested in, and wants to learn more about.
ii). Conversion Rate: Norman Nielsen Group defines Conversion Rate as, “The conversion rate is the percentage of users who take a desired action against the number of people who saw the opportunity.”
The average conversion rate is pegged at 2 – 3%.
*But, I call that bullshit.*
You should aim for an average of 20 – 50% conversion rate. That way, you can maximize your spends.
How do you achieve that?
All right, use personalization in your subject lines to boost CTR. New Study by Experian found that personalized emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates, but 70% of brands fail to use them.
Here’s how to calculate conversion rate:
Conversion Rate = Total Number of action / Number of Leads x 100
Example: Let’s assume you sent an email to a list of 2,389 people. You made 25 sales.
Conversion Rate = Number of action (25 sales) / Number of Leads (2,389) x 100
Your sales to lead conversion rate would be 1.04%.
You also want to measure what happens after a subscriber clicks on and opens your email. What exactly do you want subscribers to do after opening your email?
You may have a goal similar to any of these:
- Get them to click a link and read a new post, watch video, etc.
- Get them to fill out a form
- Get them to respond and send questions or make suggestions
- Get them to opt-in to a custom email list
- Get them to share your new content
- Get them to download a free offer
- Get them to buy your product
… And so on.
For two consecutive years (2012/2013), The Monetate team found that email delivered the highest conversion rate among different traffic sources.
If email marketing is to be effective, every email you send should have a specific goal. If you send an email where you’re offering a 34% discount on a product, you should track it — to know what the conversion rate will be.
That is, how many subscribers are happy with your new offer, and have actually claimed the discounted offer and placed an order.
iii). Subscriber Growth Rate: Is your list growing? Is the growth steady, or does it fluctuate (i.e., you got 24 subscribers last week, but this week, you got only 5).
Take the bold step to increase your subscriber base. And make sure you’re engaging with them. If you’re not measuring your list growth, start today.
Several marketers are already measuring it. A 2011 Email Marketing Benchmark Report by MarketingSherpa found that 73% of email marketers are seeing list growth.
When you start tracking your list growth, you’ll gain fresh insights that will enable you develop actionable content – delivered to you. Really.
Well, from your huge subscriber base.
You can ask them questions, and seek their opinions.
All things being equal, the more qualified leads you’ve on your list, the more people you’re able to reach, which in turn makes it easier to measure the right metrics – because now, you’ve a pool of user data for your analytics.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established marketing expert, you’ll always have to resort to email metrics, as well as overall website metrics for insights.
Without a doubt, you’ll need all of these broad metrics that cuts across social, website, email, and paid ads to make smarter decisions.
Let’s consider a few more website metric that you should measure:
a). Total Visits: This is basically the total amount of website visits to your website every day, from different channels. It might not be a critical metric, but if you track it, it’d help you when split testing your page elements.
You need to know how effective your marketing campaigns are. And that’s exactly what “total visits” metric can help you achieve.
In fact, it’ll help you know the right elements to put on your landing page, in order to deliver a better user experience – and thus, build a loyal audience.
You may think that a high rate of new visits to your website is good. After all, it means that new prospects are discovering your awesome brand.
But there are two sides to a coin.
On one hand, new visit is good. On the other hand, new visits can also be a signal that your content isn’t sticky enough to engage visitors and encourage people to come back again and again.
c). Traffic Sources by Segment: Where is your traffic coming from?
Once you know that, it helps you determine whether or not your efforts on diverse social platforms, search, and authority blogs are generating results.
Aside from tracking the New Visits and Total Visits, you should equally keep track of traffic sources by segment:
- Direct traffic: These are the visitors who type your website URL into the search engine, or bookmark your URL to visit later.
- Organic traffic: These visitors are from free organic listings in Google. You should work really hard to increase your organic traffic.
- Referral traffic: When visitors come to your website through your link from another site, that’s a type of referral traffic.
A quick sail into marketing analytics
Marketing analytics needs a wheel to function effectively.
You already know that content marketing provides the best avenue for lead acquisition and customer engagement.
Creating the right content will help you power these marketing metrics and improve it. “Your content needs to have that little bit of magic! Data doesn’t touch hearts,” says Aaron Anguis.
Advocating for more website traffic may not really be the right thing to do, if you’re not optimizing for the traffic that you already have.
This explains why conversion rate experts are respected, and earn a lot of money – because they help businesses improve website’s conversion rate, regardless of whether or not the traffic increases.
It’s true that marketing analytics deals primarily with measurement. But, it also takes into consideration the processing of the metrics data points to determine the ROI of your marketing efforts across different channels.
Marketing analytics also provides opportunities for improving a particular metric.
For example, if you want more people to discover your popular posts, you should optimize them with the right keyword phrases, and also make them accessible on your homepage.
Both marketing analytics and marketing metrics are vital components of your digital marketing business.
The difference, of course, is that marketing metrics are the data points or the exact data that we’re talking about.
On the flip side, Analytics deals with taking the data points and integrating them into the context of your brand and market – to drive more revenue.
Advantages of Marketing Analytics
What do you stand to gain by measuring key metrics?
Let’s explore a handful of the merits:
i). Maximize ad spends: As you monitor campaigns across social, search, email, and so on, and their respective outcomes, you increase the chance of maximizing your investment – especially if you’re running paid ads.
ii). Leverage competitor’s data: If you’re good at tracking your competitor’s metrics, using some of the tools out there, you can leverage these data points to make smarter marketing decisions.
Decisions that will help you avoid costly mistakes when creating new campaign, irrespective of the channel. You can develop a long-term business strategy – just by studying your competitors closely.
iii). Gather user behavior data: Users behave in the same way, right?
Not every website user is created equal.
Come on, what makes a user unique is her behavior. As a site owner, and someone who takes marketing analytics to heart, you really need to study users and gather their data.
Who should you listen to: Users or data?
First, ask yourself, “which one comes first.”
It’s obvious. Users make the data available. So, listen to your users, and collect data about them.
Once you’re armed with these delicate user behavior data, you can integrate them into your content marketing – in particular, blogging.
And to be successful at blogging, you need to understand which types of content your target audience wants.
According to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, “55% of marketers say they want a better understanding of the most effective content right now – and what is not.”
In turn, these user behavior data that you collect will drive the user metrics, such as, average time on site, click-through rate, etc.
To get you started on the right track, one of the most powerful marketing performance metric, especially for search engine optimization and paid search is “keywords.”
Keywords are not just strings of words that search users type into Google, you also get to know what motivates and demotivates users whom you’re targeting.
Specifically, keywords show you exactly what your current potential customers are thinking.
A core benefit of knowing what’s on your prospect’s mind is that it helps you develop a stellar strategy and produce content that engages – whether it’s paid or organic search marketing.
You can also optimize every of your efforts, as you hack into Google Analytics to know exactly how many visitors a particular keyword is generating for your business.
In the process, you can get access to profitable keywords, and ignore other keywords that aren’t going to make any mark in your campaigns.
After all, there is no need wasting time on keywords (whether head or long-tail) that will not boost your marketing performance. Or, is there?
Taking a deep-dive into paid search analytics
If you’ve read thus far, then, you already know which marketing metrics you should measure consistently. I’ve talked about email metrics, user behavior metrics, and so forth.
It’s high time we take a deep dive into the world of paid search marketing. As you can see from the PPC Hero chart below, marketers with the biggest budget are focusing on Facebook Ads and Search Ad Networks.
You can successfully start a paid advertising campaign with as little as $10.
You see, there is a transition happening – everything is gravitating towards one powerful technology:
You’ve heard or read about startups that generated millions of dollars through the power of crowdsourcing. And it all happened on the web.
In the same vein, marketing analytics is very effective on the web, through the various analytics tools.
If brick-and-mortar businesses ever wish to understand what’s happening in their market, they need to get online first.
Billions of people are already using the web. That’s a huge pool of user data and big data. A 2015 statistics show that almost 75% of the entire North American population are online.
If you can’t wait for organic data as a result of SEO, social media marketing, blogging, and through various inbound marketing strategies, one of the fastest and reliable way to reach out to a huge market is by placing ads in the Search Networks.
For example, you can advertise on Google AdWords, Yahoo! Ads, and Bing Ads.
This will instantly provide you with rich and dynamic user data, which you can use to further power your data analytics process – which begins with a business objective.
The quickest and easiest way to reach out to this huge market is through paid search marketing. For example, advertising on Google AdWords or through other search engines.
No more guesswork or assumptions in marketing. You can be 100% certain about the success of your content even before producing and distributing it.
Because you know that people are desperately looking for it.
If you’re going to execute any paid advertising campaign, knowing where to start will help you collect the most vital user data.
Here’s how to start:
a). Conduct extensive keyword research: On the web, the first step that you should take is market research. And an integral part of it is keyword research.
When you start with keyword research, it allows you to stand on the right position – such that you can easily trounce any seaming challenges on the way.
b). Set up a Paid Search Marketing Campaigns: The campaign is like the container that holds your ads. Here, you group keywords into the most appropriate group and write compelling copy that will further boost your Quality Score.
In turn, this will lower your bid and help improve ad position. That’s the fundamental focus of any paid search, whether you run it on Google AdWords or Facebook Ads platform.
c). Process your results: When you’re running paid ads, it’s always important to track performance along the way. Don’t wait until everything is right before you begin to collect data.
More so, make sure that your ad copy is relevant, catchy, and persuasive. Write ad copy that nudges the searcher; letting them know that your ad is just right for them.
d). Optimize for organic search: Inasmuch as starting with paid advertising is critical, you should not neglect organic search. Why?
In the Study of Search Queries, Nielsen took a look at consumer behavior across 1.4 billion search queries. In this study, only 6% of search engine users clicked through on a paid search listing while 94% of them clicked through on an organic result.
If you notice that some of your paid keywords are performing well, let nothing stop you from using the same keywords (especially the longer variations) to drive organic search.
Go beyond analysis: connect the actions to maximize ROI
Ultimately, you don’t want to become a data freak. There are marketers who obsess over data.
There may not be anything wrong with that. But, you also have to ensure that you’re connecting the data points in order to maximize marketing ROI across all channels – because, not all channels are created equal.
Marketing analytics have come a long way. It’s no longer for people who are looking for shortcuts, or quick avenue to make impact.
The rules haven’t changed, yet.
Before you can influence your target audience, you need to understand the enormous data they’re leaving behind to use it to communicate with them.
From the marketing ROI chart above, you’ll notice that email produces the best ROI for every $1 invested. Now, look at banner ads, did you see that for every $1 invested, the return is $2?
Getting a profit of $1 isn’t that bad. But, why not improve it?
Okay, there are several factors that can help you improve your banner ads visibility, click-through rate, and overall conversion rate.
By measuring the impact of your banner ad, say on one authority site, you can then multiply how many clicks that you’d possibly get if you place banner ads on more authority sites – that receives thousands of targeted traffic.
Jovan Will, founder of Advisor Internet Marketing made a few tweaks to his banner ad, by investing $10 to get a professional 3D Ecover. This mere $10 increased conversions by 80.3% in 19 days.
Here’s another success story: Evelien Geerens, a web merchandiser at Sony Europe used A/B split testing to increase banner CTR by 6%, which led to a 21.3% increase in visitors that reached the shopping cart. A personalized call-to-action won the experiment.
Through effective tracking, you can take $1, and optimize your banner ads such that it’ll yield $5 or more, for every single click.
Another pointer that I want you to pay attention to is mobile ROI. The striking thing is that mobile actually generated better returns for every $1 invested than catalogs and banner ads.
But guess what?
You have all it takes to take your mobile advertising profit from $10.51 to over $30. And here are recent case studies to guide you.
Let’s summarize the actionable steps that you can take:
- Build high converting mobile landing pages to target smartphone users.
- Use a simple, and instructive call-to-action (e.g., click here, download now, get free access).
- Make your pages mobile friendly and responsive.
- Take advantage of click-to-call feature (make sure that mobile users can easily call you to make inquiries from your page)
- Leverage retargeting to re-engage prospects who didn’t respond to your offers the first time they visited your mobile pages.
…And so forth.
When you’re leveraging a particular channel to promote your business, you should be mindful of what the long-term effect will be on your business.
Don’t be totally consumed by the immediate gains.
Your brand is equally important.
Sure, you may not successfully measure the impact of a brand, but we can gauge people’s reactions when our personal brand is mentioned.
For example, when you hear the word “Moz,” what comes to mind?
What about “Brian Clark” , “Microsoft” , “Marie Forleo” , and other digital marketing influencers?
If these names and companies strike a note within you, then, you can’t deny their impact in your life and business.
Let’s take an excerpt from paid search. According to Econsultancy Research, it’s generally well known that “a paid search campaign will add prestige and credibility to an organization.”
A lot of lessons, data, and insights can be gleaned from studying a paid search campaign. Hence, you’re advised to begin with either Google AdWords, or Facebook Ads, if you’re new to internet marketing.
If you decide to embrace content marketing (i.e., creating content that people desperately wants), you can only see great success if your content is truly engaging and persuasive.
A lot of people may deceive (maybe unintentionally) and serve you some baloney, but I’m all for the truth. And to be honest with you, beginners to digital marketing may not find it easy creating this type of content.
Through search marketing (a combination of organic and paid), you can mine the true value of marketing analytics.
When you study the paid search metrics, you can quickly integrate them into product development, brand awareness, and customer service.
Obviously, this is true, considering that when people search for you (or your business) using both head and long-tail keywords, it’s an indication that the target audience are talking about you, and are looking out for you.
Interestingly, when people talk about your products (or specifically search for it using different search terms), you know that you’re beginning to dominate your target market with helpful products.
When running a paid advertising campaign and notice that your bounce rate is rate, what do you do?
First, ask yourself this question: “What is wrong with my landing page, funnel, or product?”
If you can honestly study your landing page/product, you’ll pinpoint why it’s not resonating with people. Or, you would get a clue on what to split test.
When you’re armed with so much helpful information like this, what’s left is for you to take the data and implement them into your content strategy process – across search, social, mobile channels, mobile apps, email, etc.
As stated earlier, both your marketing metrics and marketing analytics are not two separate entities.
You should think of them as related and dependent upon each other. Both are valuable, and puts you on the right pedestal to generate more revenue from your marketing efforts.
When you put the action (the data points) and the metric (e.g., click-through rate) together, the sum becomes greater than its parts. In other words:
Analytics + data = optimal returns.
I’m sure you’re excited about putting all of these insights to good use. But before then, you need to also know that paid search campaigns isn’t a set-and-forget-it process.
A thousand times, no.
You need to monitor it, maintain it, and optimize it so that you can get the best results possible.
There are various tools that can provide you with a single dashboard to manage both paid and search campaigns. You may want to try SEMrush.
Get optimal result with the right analytical approaches
You’ve read this far. It’s a extensive guide, and I’m glad you made it. But, before we wrap up, let’s briefly look at some of the analytical approaches that you can adopt.
This is important for two reasons:
i). During evaluation: To guide you during evaluation of the marketing analytics tools, so that you’ll not only choose the right one, but stay focused and not get distracted by a new and shiny tool.
Because, whether or not you like it, more analytical tools are going to be developed. Come on, marketing is a broad subject, with a lot of opportunities and loopholes to exploit.
ii). When designing your core strategy: To establish the right marketing strategy, irrespective of the channel (e.g., Facebook, Slideshare) or device (mobile, desktop)
Here are a few of the popular analytical approaches that work:
a). Advanced analytics approaches [e.g., marketing-mix modeling (MMM)]
B2B marketer have preference for the MMM.
Marketing-mix modeling is very unique, because it leverages big data when you’re spending money on difference channels.
This approach helps you determine the impact that’ll be made, and how to maximize it.
Through this approach, businesses that are serious with marketing analytics are able to connect marketing investments to both internal and external variables that drive sales.
Some of these sales drivers are:
i). Time: Different seasons affect product sales. For example, in the winter season, winter jackets sell like hot cakes. But, at summer, the sales usually decline.
ii). Competition: If the competition is strong, it can affect sales. Bear in mind that competition isn’t entirely a negative thing. In fact, fierce competition can help you determine the demand of a product.
iii). Promotion: How you promote the product or business will have both short and long-term impact on the sales.
Promotional activities are usually based on user behaviors, market segmentation, and interactions happening in the market.
b). Heuristics analytical approach
When marketing metrics are in view, we also have to consider a suitable approach, especially when it has to do with reach, cost, quality (RCQ).
In using RCQ, the focus is to lay out each touchpoint into specific groups – the number of prospects reached, what it costs to make a single unique touch, and the engagement has to be rated, too.
Of course, both structured judgment and data are useful at this point.
Decision making is an integral part of any marketing analytics process. Consequently, at the choice phase, the Heuristic approach is what sets the tone.
It’s more like a rule of thumb. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t innovate. Of course, you can. And you should.
For example, when you build landing pages, the rule of thumb is to make your headline bold and big. It’s a rule of thumb.
However, you could decide to make your headline big, but not bold. This way, you’re leaving room for analysis. The data you collect will help you agree on the rule of thumb – or ignore it totally.
When marketing-mix modelling is not feasible, the Heuristic approach is used – since it doesn’t require big data.
c). Attribution modeling approach: Recently, this is one of the actionable marketing analytics approach that is gaining ground.
Because, it capitalises on marketing trends and technology. Attribution Funnel Model is what top brands, like Zappos use to collect a lot of shopper’s data for future sales.
If you’re wondering what Attribution Modelling is, here’s how Google defines it:
“An attribution model is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. For example, the Last Interaction model in Analytics assigns 100% credit to the final touch points (i.e., clicks) that immediately precede sales or conversions.”
Here’s a typical example:
A customer clicked on one of your AdWords ads and finds your site. After one week, she returns to your site by clicking one of your shared links from social network.
That same day, she comes back to your site the third time via one of your email campaigns, and a few hours later, she returns again directly to your site and purchases your product.
Let’s follow this model carefully:
Do you see how the credits are allotted to each touchpoint?
The last touchpoint is so important. Because that’s where you achieved your goal (i.e., get the customer to purchase your product).
Even though a lot of brands still love traditional advertising, you need to understand that the future of advertising is the web – and it’s already happening.
A lot of marketers and brands have moved their advertising spends online. Through this approach, online media buying, and other forms of native advertising has been redefined.
On the web, measuring your campaigns is pretty easy. For example, Google Analytics provides you with rich and dynamic data about your website and users.
Take marketing analytics seriously.
If you’re measuring your marketing activities, especially, when you’re using inbound marketing techniques for lead generation, lead nurturing, and customer service, you’ll be way ahead of your competitors – and of course, generate more revenue.
Did I forget to mention a strategy that’ll make marketing analytics easier and much more rewarding? Let me know in the comment box.