Daniel Burstein

Web Analytics: Tips from your peers about metrics

July 11th, 2012

It’s so easy to latch on to numbers. 50% increase. 20% decrease. However, without meaning — not just labels like “bounce rate” or “page views,” I’m talking about real understanding of their impact on your bottom line — those numbers are pretty worthless.

So how can you use metrics and Web analytics to improve your marketing performance?

Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director and CEO, MECLABS, will share insights from our online marketing lab on today’s free Web clinic, at 4 p.m. EDT, “Metrics Simplified: How to translate your Web analytics into ROI.”

But first, we asked your peers how they use metrics. Here are a few of the most helpful responses:

 

Take a step back and think about ROI

My metric tip:

1. Go outside to a café. Leave your notebook/tablet behind. Take a piece of paper and a pencil.

2. Order a decent coffee and remember to tip.

3. Ask yourself (and be honest) – what is really important to me and my business? There can be 1,000 metrics out there that you can calculate.

4. Narrow down to your top three metrics, and then go discuss this with your team.

All metrics are good, but not all metrics are relevant to ROI. Find out what is relevant to ROI, what will give you the intelligence to do a better job, and then track them.

NOTE: Have a way to record them for later.

Oh, also – you can always experiment with different metrics as you go along. The main thing is to have less than four; you don’t really need more than that.

– Vijay Vasu, Founder, GunShot Digital

 

Don’t chase metrics, chase results

Marketers sometimes totally forget this. For example, I was transitioning a well-known vacation destination client from their agency to mine a few years ago, and their key success metric was visits to their Trip Planner page. All they were concerned about was how many users made it to the Trip Planner and how many completed a plan.

What happened was that, over the years, a proxy metric such as Trip Planner page that had been set up originally to just be another indicator of successful visits had become the front-and-center metric that all of the marketing was revolving around.

When I did a deep dive in their Web analytics system, I was shocked to find out that engagement to their site (time spent, pages viewed, return visitors, etc.) had absolutely plummeted. The media buyers and planners had been so focused on driving visits to that page that they didn’t care what kind of traffic it was – just as long as that single metric kept climbing.

A great recent example of this was the Facebook “Like” Arms Race that we saw 2010-2011. No one knew what a “Like” was worth, but gosh darn it, it was important to have the most and certainly absolutely imperative to have more than your competitors.

So … don’t chase the metrics. Are metrics like the Trip Planner page visits good indicators of marketing success? Maybe. But, ultimately, the revenue generated from tourism was the real success goal. Sometimes that gets lost when metrics chasing occurs.

–        Josh Dreller, Senior Director, Client and Industry Solutions, Visual IQ, Inc.

 

Segment, segment, segment

Reporting on aggregate data (average time on site, total visits, etc.) is just data dumping leaving you with little to no insight. Whether you are B2B or B2C, measuring goal or revenue performance is critical. But, without digging deeper into the type of traffic/acquisition sources that are delivering on those values, you might as well be exporting the Google Analytics dashboard into a PDF and calling it a day.

Tag all marketing efforts in order to properly attribute their resulting traffic. Compare diversified acquisition sources to your overall goal(s). Make informed decisions about marketing dollars based on insights.

Also, let go of the notion that certain metrics are “bad,” such as bounce rate. We recently increased a client’s bounce rate by 55% while increasing qualified conversions. This was done through segmentation insights (realizing half of their traffic was job seekers, not target audience) and developing a strategy to quickly get them offsite, leaving us with better quality traffic to analyze.

– Erin Payer, Online Marketing Supervisor, Pipitone Group

 

Related Resources:

Metrics Simplified: How to translate your Web analytics into ROI – Wednesday, July 11, 4 p.m. EDT

Marketing Metrics: Why all numbers aren’t created equal

Test Plan: Build better marketing tests with the Metrics Pyramid

Essential Metrics for Online Marketers

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS Institute Daniel oversees all editorial content coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – working with our team of reporters to dig for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a frequent speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has more than 15 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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  1. July 17th, 2012 at 10:49 | #1

    Great guidelines here Dan. As an extension of identifying the relevant metrics for increasing your goals I find that it is very helpful to contextually write about the implications of these metrics.

    This is typically done through visualizations (line graphs, bar charts etc.) However, actually writing about your observations from these metrics can make it far easier to understand their implications on your goal completions.

    Doing this enables the web master to clearly identify and discuss causation and effect and makes it far easier to determine how certain changes might impact the completion of those goals.

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