What Metrics Really Matter?
Mar 29, 2017
When it comes to determining success in marketing, it really comes down to what you can measure – those stats are the only way to prove that your marketing efforts (whatever they may be) actually worked.
But which metrics should you be paying attention to? Which ones will provide you with the info you need, and which will make you pull your hair out because of what they’re showing you?
Let’s see if we can’t figure it out.
So What Should You Be Measuring?
I mean that kinda depends – what are you doing? What, you didn’t think this would be simple, did you? Let’s be honest – I could rattle off a list of a dozen metrics and, depending on what you’re doing and care about, maybe half of them would be of any use to you.
That being said, let’s take a quick look at some metrics for a few different tactics to at least point you in the right direction.
It’s the (literal) least I can do.
There are a lot of tactics that can – and should – look to engagement as a metric. SEO/SEM and social media are just two of the more common ones that should focus whether (and how) users are engaging versus just visiting.
Understanding engagement allows you to know when users are taking an action on your site/social media page versus just passing through. Window shopping has its values in some tactics, but less so here.
I know, I just said that measuring engagement was more important than visitors, but keep in mind that sometimes views are a form of engagement – you gotta get them eyeballs.
If you’re engaged in video marketing or anything that’s more image/graphic heavy, knowing how many people saw your content versus how many took an action is critical to understanding how effective it was.
Opens and Downloads
Email is an often underrated channel for reaching users. In a day when nearly all emails require a double opt in confirmation along with quick and easy unsubscribe options, if somebody is on your email list it’s likely because they have an interest in what you have to say. Because of that, knowing how often your emails are opened is important for knowing what types of content resonates with your readers.
Related to email opens is downloads of assets like white papers and ebooks. Typically placed behind gates that require an email address to open, seeing which white papers and ebooks are being downloaded lets you make better decisions around content creation, ensuring that you aren’t wasting the time of the reader (or your time).
Now for a lot of tactics I wave off visitors as an indicator of success – driving visitors via SEO or SEM is simple, provided you don’t care about qualified visitors. If, however, you’re interested in seeing the effectiveness of your offline efforts, visits to a digital property become worth measuring (along with engagement).
Through the use of unique or vanity URLs (ie: MyCenterline.com instead of Centerline.net.com) you can better understand how well your offline efforts are performing. You can even use separate domains for different offline tactics (ie: TV, radio, print) and measure their performance against each other.
I know that it’s 2017 and we increasingly dislike using our phones to talk with people (just text me already!), but there are still industries where users pick up the phone and call. Don’t believe me? Think real estate, home services your plumber, for example), and automotive still see a lot of phone calls even as they go digital.
By using a service like Marchex, phone call tracking can be looped back into several tactics, allowing you to know whether a person found you organically, through paid search, as a referral, or from a print ad through dynamic number insertion.
Knowing what channels are more likely to bring you users that reach out lets you know where you should be spending your time and dollars for marketing and advertising.
See, It’s All Relative
There are certainly other metrics I could list here, but I think this is starting to get my point across – what you measure is based on what you’re doing and what you want to accomplish; once you nail that down, picking the metrics to measure is easy.
If you’re still unsure of what you should be tracking, I always love to hear from people – I’m @DasJorge.
Following graduating from George Mason University with a degree in English/Creative Writing, I joined the world of SEO in 2007. First as a copywriter in the wild west days of press releases and article repositories (EzineArticles...am I right?), then as a strategist, developing long-term solutions for local clients that helped them address the needs of their audience in meaningful ways. After jumping around the SEO agency world of Richmond, VA for several years I decided to go out on my own, forming my own agency in 2014 that blended aspects of SEO, content strategy, data analytics, and content marketing. Following my wife to North Carolina I’ve worked as a bartender, in-house SEO for the largest hammock manufacturer in the country, and finally ended up as a content strategist at Centerline Digital, using my decade of experience to build strategies for companies like IBM.