Your online presence is critical to your business, but are your efforts effective? And, how do you know? It’s time to dust off the classic quote: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Yep, online performance metrics will give you the answers, and we’ll show you how.
Let’s get started.
Measuring means numbers, and the web is MADE of numbers (and cats).
So what can you measure online?
Well, you can collect almost any statistic you can think of about your web visitors.
To optimize your efforts, you’ll want to measure website and online campaign performance metrics, as well as the usual sales, service, and CRM metrics you already collect (right?).
That way, you can determine what’s working and what’s not, helping you invest in the online activities that generate business.
(Of course, remember to include the cost of web development, contractors, services, and your time when calculating the investment part of your campaign ROI.)
In this article, we’ll look at the outbound marketing campaigns you may use to attract visitors to your site, like paid ads and social media.
Paid online advertising
Your ad service will offer basic metrics, like impressions counts and click-through rates of your ads.
But, of course, that’s only part of the story.
By placing a tracking code on the order confirmation page of your site, you can directly measure the ROI of your ads.
You can literally see how much you paid for each ad that resulted in a specific sale.
Click-through rate (CTR)
If people aren’t clicking on your ads, you may need to redesign your ad. Your message may need to be more compelling, or it may need to more closely match the keywords you’re buying. Google has a blog featuring best practices for online ads.
If people are clicking ads and getting to your site, but not converting into customers, the page your users land on after the ad may not be performing.
Creating an effective landing page for a given ad isn’t exactly a trivial task. In fact, there’s a whole industry devoted to helping you optimize the process of converting ad-clickers into leads and customers.
Social media efforts
Often, social media goals are about customer acquisition, PR, and brand building, rather than sales and ROI.
But by adding campaign information to the links you post in social media, you can track that traffic to your site.
Social media management tools like Sprout Social, HootSuite, Radian6, and others can automatically tag those links for you.
If you’re not using those sorts of tools, no problem. You can use something like Google’s URL Builder to create trackable links. (And, you should.)
Now, Twitter will automatically shorten those long links of yours, but you can use Google URL Shortner, bit.ly, or tiny.cc to shorten them for other services, too.
One nice feature of bit.ly and tiny.cc is that you can monitor the use of those links even if they go to another site.
That’s right: More stuff to measure!
Your social media management tool is probably providing you with some pretty decent metrics.
If you’re not using such a tool, you can still get at some of those social media numbers:
- Facebook offers Insights on your company’s Page activity.
- Twitter has Twitter Analytics for advertisers.
- Tumblr metrics are provided by third parties like Union Metrics.
Other social monitoring tools to consider
ThinkUp isn’t just about the numbers; it shows trends and offers insights into how you use social media and how you interact with your audience.
SumAll allows you to connect many accounts and discover the relationships between them. Does a MailChimp mailing increase your number of Tumblr followers? SumAll can put those on a graph for you to see.
The most popular email tools like Constant Contact and Mailchimp let you easily monitor:
If you offer a newsletter or information sign-up, monitoring how many people register for your service (or remove themselves from your list) is a good place to start.
If you see a lot of unsubscribes related to a single e-newsletter, it might signal you to focus on other relevant, value-added content for your list.
This metric tells you how many people are opening your mail in the first place. If this rate is low, you may be sending too many emails or your topics may not be interesting enough for your audience.
If your email contains any links, this metric measures how often they are clicked. (To make sure these get tracked, leave click tracking enabled in your campaigns.)
Woeful numbers? Promise more useful content next time—and then deliver.
Tying the success of offline campaigns to online goals can be tricky, but it’s not impossible.
Use a custom URL for your next event or ad. Then, you can track those leads (provided your visitors remember to use that special URL or QR code).
You can also try to correlate web activity with your offline efforts within systems like Google Analytics. How? They allow you to annotate your data, recording events, like conferences or press releases, on your Analytics timeline, revealing relationships between offline activities and web traffic.
You might begin to see interesting correlations, like, “Every time we run a radio spot, we get 90 new visitors that day.”
Links from partner sites can be tracked with regular analytics via the page “REFERER.” (The misspelling is one of those techie things.) This tells you where a link originated from.
You will be able to find these numbers in “referring sites,” “referral sources” or a similar term depending on your analytic software.
If you’re not happy with the conversion rate of visitors from partner sites, try creating custom landing pages that express your message in terms familiar to your partner’s audience.
The bottom line
Armed with this information, you can stop spending money on things that aren’t working, and focus on the activities that bring qualified visitors to your site.
Of course, converting those visitors into customers is a whole other set of metrics. (We’ll take a look at that later.)