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Digital Marketing MetricsDigital marketing is wonderful, just about everything can be quantified so in many areas you will be in a position to quantify what the actual return on your investment is.

I find however that when talking to small businesses they fall into several camps;

  • The ideal business knows what their email open rates are, what their web traffic is and how engaged their social media fans are and have dedicated resources (human and budgetary) to ensure that they’re working on sales for the future and making plans to improve customer experiences.
  • A second type of business learned about their analytics when their website was set up, get reports on the activity but are just so busy trying to grow their Facebook fans and twitter followers that they don’t really give much thought to those figures that the public can’t see.
  • Frequently businesses fall into a third category where they have an idea of the numbers but don’t really look in detail at what’s happening until sales slump and they react to activity, or lack of it as opposed to giving themselves the opportunity to spot a trend and plan.

So, rather than blind you with figures we’re looking at ten metrics that’ll help you keep track of the heath of your activity on your website, through email and in social media without engaging in hours of reporting if time is at a premium in your organisation.

# 1.  Website Visits 

Split into your total number of visitors and unique visitors, the total counts all visits to your site while the unique are those individual visitors who may visit your site on more than one occasion during a given timeframe – which is why unique and total aren’t the same thing.  Over a period of time you’ll learn how many you can expect to arrive on your site on an average day/week/month and ideally this will remain positive, if you increase marketing activities you should expect to see an increase in traffic also.  If the number of visitors drops you need to be proactive and establish what’s happened before it falls further.

# 2. Website Bounce Rate 

This figure is the percentage of people who visit your site and leave without clicking a single thing.  Sometimes it may be that what they’ve searched for in Google has suggested your site and on arrival they realise it’s not a match.  Ideally it’s no more than 40-50% but if it suddenly starts to increase you need to investigate why and work on ensuring that you get the right traffic, people that are interested in what you have to offer.  A blog site can attract a higher bounce rate particularly when it’s shared a lot and this can frequently increase the figure as visitors may simply read the one article they came for and leave the site immediately.  And there’s always the problem with people who have no interest in your blog other than sending a link back to their own who don’t stick around if it’s not suitable.

# 3.  Average Time on Site 

If you have interesting information, are reliant on people reading information e.g. a travel site, and have gone to the trouble of maintaining a blog you want to ensure that people are interested in what you have to say.  While it may not be the most important metric to measure, if for example the average time was to drop from five to two minutes within a short space of time, chances are your readers either need new content or something is wrong which is causing them to leave the site, error pages for example or broken links.  Reviewing the exit pages may shed some light on the issue for you also.

# 4.  Exit Pages

While not strictly one area, this makes our list as in many cases there’s a particular page that’s most often the last page people visit before leaving your website – you should know where it is and approximately how many you would lose at that point.  Sometimes people leave as they can’t find the information they need on your site.  Other times on an ecommerce site for example they are forced to go through to the checkout in order to establish a full price (something you should try to avoid, but that’s another days post!).  If you’re aware of how many people leave at checkout and this figure suddenly increased while sales dropped, it could in theory point to a problem with your process or credit card payments.  Establishing why people don’t buy or don’t stick around on your site matters so keep an eye on it as you continue to get new customers also.

# 5. Database Registrants 

Do you know how many are actually legitimately signed up for your email marketing database?  If you’re a small or new business you may know exactly but if your list has grown to tens of thousands you should still know approximately how many you have, even if it’s just to the nearest thousand.

# 6. Email Open Rates 

This is the total number of people who received your email and actually opened it – although in some systems a preview panel may enable them see what they need without opening.  Depending on the platform you use there may also be a click rate listed and this refers to the number of people who actually clicked through on a section of the email that got their attention.  It’s always worth reviewing what content interested your subscribers so that you can bear it in mind for future posts too.

# 7.  Email Unsubscribes 

While businesses frequently look at attracting new people to their database or social community, it’s important to be aware of people opting out also.  It’s usual to have people unsubscribe from a newsletter and the reasons can be anything from no longer needing your service to simply reaching them on the day they’re diligently clearing the inbox.  If the number suddenly increases or you get a large number opting out after a particular email you may need to review your content or frequency.

# 8. Facebook “talking about”

This is the total number of people who have interacted with your page over a rolling seven day period.  These are people who have liked, commented on or shared your page.  It’s a number that’s caused a lot of confusion but it’s a handy metric to evaluate when you’re comparing your business to another in a similar field albeit with a larger number of fans on their page.  If for example you’re a local retailer selling shoes and your talking about figure is 5% whereas the larger chain also selling shoes with a dedicated marketing/social department has a talking about rate of 2%, you’re customers are more engaged with your page and in theory at least more engaged with your brand which should hopefully translate into sales.

# 9. Facebook Reach 

With a lot of small businesses running a facebook page it’s important to know who you is actually engaging with your company.  As part of your page you have access to facebook insights where you can view information on what’s actually happening on your page via charts that you can view on screen or export to a file.  You’ll find the demographics – age profiles, locations, gender, etc here and you should be watching to ensure it’s a match for your target.  If you’re a local business trading only offline in a small town your business needs to be local.  You can’t control who likes your page but if you were running a promotion which resulted in a whole lot of likes from another country who are never going to buy from you was that such good value at all?

# 10. Social Media Fans & Followers 

I frequently tell people who obsess about getting more likes or followers that it’s “quality over quantity except in sales” as far too many people get caught up in growing the numbers without ever considering why they’re so desperate to get as high a number as possible regardless of whether these likes or followers will ever be in a position to do business with them.  And, while I would never advocate keeping a check on the numbers of followers you’ve got on twitter or facebook as rigidly as you would a sales target, it’s important to be aware of approximately how many are interested in you.  If for example you’re growing a steady twitter following and notice that the numbers start to drop maybe you’ll find an offending tweet or a change in direction on the content you share?

And on the subject of social media numbers, please remember that the only way to go is to earn your social media following as no matter how tempting it is to boast thousands where once there were hundreds it’s easily spotted when they don’t engage and your number is then little more than a vanity number which works against you!

There are many ways to measure effectiveness of your marketing, paid and unpaid, online and offline and I could probably list a hundred numbers and still miss something so this list is for the time-starved SME to ensure they’ve got an idea of whether their time and money is actually delivering.

 

This post first appeared on TweakYourBiz.com on 12th June 2012, written by Debbie McDonnell, owner of The Marketing Shop and also a contributor to the TweakYourBiz.com business blogging commnity.

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