Three weeks ago I presented on a panel at a BCTIA event (”Getting More Leads, More Revenue from your Website”) and I talked about “Understanding Your Online Lead Generation Efforts & Spend with Key Performance Indicators”.
I shared with the group to ignore stand alone metrics and to invest more time in defining and understanding your companies key performance indicators with graphs. By doing so, it will give you more confidence to benchmark and allocate funds and resources in the right places. You will also be able to optimize your efforts and online advertising spend later on by doing deeper dives to get the most out of your return on investment.
Analytics is a topic I am very passionate about. I talk to a fair amount of marketing folks within mid-sized business and believe that many organizations have not yet taken analytics seriously (including technology start-ups, traditional businesses and some pureplay businesses that rely on the internet alone). Is it because the organization doesn’t know where to start? Not enough time in the day? Afraid of what analytics can tell you? No one internally who understands analytics in detail? I am not sure. Maybe it is a lack of understanding that web analytics is a ongoing process, and that it requires a human being behind it. I can go on and on with reasons why companies haven’t taken analytics seriously. Seriously.
Having Google Analytics code snippet inserted in your website code is only the start. And many companies just have that and think that is all needed (at least that is my point of view when I am pulled in to do audits).
There are still a ton of companies who:
- have not invested in a web analyst what-so-ever. Be it outsourced or in-house person wearing this hat (or as a dual role).
- do not have proper micro and macro tracking in place on their website and may not know the difference between the two.
- do not have goals and funnels set up in Google Analytics.
- do not have tracking in place (or a process defined for marketing folks) for paid banner ad campaigns (outside of Google adwords) with UTMs
- do not have tracking in place for social media.
- do not know the importance on segmenting inbound traffic reports with spend and efforts.
- do not have tracking in place for email marketing (beyond opens and clicks)
- do not have a process of simplifying key performance indicators with data outside of Google Analytics.
- do not have a process to aggregate outside data with Google Analytics data.
- do not have a process of analyzing the data with actionable insights every cycle (be it monthly or bi-weekly).
- do not have a human behind this role and think having automated reports emailed to stake holders is “Web Analytics”.
- do not action on analysis nor track success and learn from it.
These same companies above dump money and resources on Google Pay-per-click, email marketing and social media and may rely on some “metrics” but not true key performance indicators. If they do have some tracking in place, it may be because their pay-per-click firm has done so, and that is it.
On many occasions, I have been asked what are the most important metrics and what are the benchmarks. I always respond: “It depends on your objectives, where you are spending your efforts (and money) on and what tracking mechanisms you have in place”.
Below are four samples of Metrics vs. Key Performance Indicator Graphs. Understanding the differences between the two is key for any business web analysis process.
- Metric is a number. A count (a total) or a Ratio (a division of one number by another).
- Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are combination of metric formulas. That help you understand how you are doing against your objectives.
Metric: Unique Visitors
I give this metric below a thumbs down. It doesn’t tell me how we are doing in our efforts or how we can try to improve our efforts.
Key Performance Indicator Graph: Organic Traffic + Organic Keywords + Organic Conversions
Now this graph below can tell me a lot of where we stand for our SEO efforts. I like to segment out traffic coming in from organic search traffic (red line) with how many keywords (blue line) and how many conversions (green line) are attributed to traffic from organic search. And then we can gauge our efforts in SEO and where it helps us with our business objectives (goals and conversions).
Metric: Number of blog posts
I give this metric below a thumbs down. It doesn’t tell me how we are doing in our blogging efforts nor how we can try to improve our efforts.
Key Performance Indicator Graph: Blog Posts + Blog Visits + Blog Conversions
I give this KPI graph below a thumbs up. Now this is better. Just having many blog posts doesn’t mean they are quality posts that are attributing to conversions on the corporate site. When you overlay number of posts (light blue columns) with traffic (red line) as well as conversions that are attributed to blog posts (green line) it tells you how your efforts are helping company objectives. Then you can learn from what are the good quality posts and how to improve on increasing your conversions with similar content.
Metric: Direct Traffic
I give this metric a thumbs down. It doesn’t tell me how we are doing in our efforts or how we can try to improve our efforts. Some PR marketing folks still seem to think this is a true reflection of branding because people are bookmarking your site. This data is dirty and doesn’t tell me how efforts are helping the bottom line nor where it needs improvement.
Key Performance Indicator Graph: Branded Traffic + Branded Conversions
I give this KPI graph a thumbs up. Now this is a great way to gauge your branding efforts by segmenting traffic by your company and product branded keywords visits (blue bar) with conversions that are attributed to those efforts (red bar). You can gauge if efforts are helping or where it may need more actionable love.
Metric: Pay-per-click Conversions
I give this metrics thumbs down. It doesn’t tell me how we are doing in our efforts or how we can try to improve our efforts. Some Pay-per-click firms “sell” this as a stand alone metric (promise to get you x amount of leads), but it doesn’t tell me where or how we are fairing out by spend or efforts.
Key Performance Indicator Graph: PPC Goals + PPC Cost Per Visitor + PPC Cost Per Conversion
I give the KPI graph below thumbs up. I love this one. By overlaying PPC conversions (light blue column) with PPC per visitor costs (red line) as well as PPC per conversion cost (blue line). We can aim to decrease our costs while trying to increase our conversions. Also we can set an obtainable benchmark for ourselves and if we deviate we have an alert to spend more time optimizing our pay-per-click campaigns back to where we want it to be.
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