Why Web Analytics are Important
…and 4 Steps to Measuring Your Success.
My day to day work often consists of spreadsheets, databases, and analytics tools. I love these things. They are concrete, right and wrong, working or not working. That’s the awesome thing about data, it’s informational and direct.
My day-to-day work is ‘hard’. I’m not talking about difficult, although quite often it is. I’m talking about structure. There is a beginning and an end, it’s a process.
As I stated, my job is mostly ‘hard’ work. But like any other well designed process, there needs to be the planning of that process. That’s the ‘soft’ part of my job. In order for there to be a well-oiled machine in place to provide a cadence and a structure around reporting and analytics, there needs be a somewhat creative, case-by-case, planning period.
1. WHAT IS A DIGITAL MARKETING MEASUREMENT MODEL?
A measurement model, is simply the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) your business considers in order to make decisions about your business. These models can range from the outrageously simple; checking Google Analytics once a month and see what’s happening with the bounce rate; to the very sophisticated; monitoring several metrics that show changes in behavior surrounding business events, both online and offline. Whether sophisticated or simple, the model should aid in making business decisions. So ask yourself, “Does my business’ digital presence exist for a reason?” and “Do we use data to make decisions to support the reasons we exist?” If you answered yes to both of those questions, congratulations! You have a measurement model. If you answered no to one or both of those questions, it’s time to start considering data in your strategic direction.
The way I like to think about measurement models, is an input to the data collection and reporting process. If I can determine which metrics are the most important to your business, I can create a collection strategy surrounding those metrics to fuel the reports that business decisions are based on. There have been many times I have been in planning sessions with clients, and visions of data segmentation and automated reporting are dancing through my head. This is how the well-oiled machine gets built.
2. WHEN SHOULD YOU HAVE A MEASUREMENT MODEL?
For us in the agency world, we often are looking through the prism of a new client. We need to understand what metrics equal success. While this is extremely valuable for us to gain insights into our client’s business, it is an arbitrary time for our client to be coming up with a measurement model. Our client’s typically have websites in place, some for years, some for months before onboarding. Many aren’t ‘in the market’ for a new a site and have no intentions of creating something new. There is no reason a new agency should be the reason a measurement model is created. Tweaked? Sure. But not created from nothing. The best time to create a measurement model is before you launch your website.
If you are in the market for a new website, you are going to want to know how your new site is performing once it launches. If you don’t have a measurement model, or have an unsophisticated one, determine what the key metrics are as soon as you can. Ideally you will be able to determine what metrics are important, how to collect them, and begin tracking them before you launch your site. This will allow you to gain an understanding of a baseline for those metrics. Depending on the amount of traffic on your site, this could be weeks or months. This will really allow you to understand how your new site performs when compared to the old site.
3. HOW DO I CREATE A MODEL?
Ultimately the first thing to ask yourself is, ‘Why do I even have a website?’. The obvious answer is always ‘make more money.’ Well yeah, duh. Let’s go half of a step deeper than that.
- Are you trying to drive purchases?
- Are you looking to increase lead volume?
- Are you looking to increase brand awareness?
- Is it a higher percentage of quality leads you’re after?
Once you have your high-level objectives, you need to be able to evaluate those objectives.
4. What metrics determine if those objectives are being met?
These are the actions and behaviors your users are taking. If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, maybe something like Attention Time while users are viewing your blog is an important metric. That way we can understand what blog content users are truly the most engaged with, which can fuel the blog content decision making. If you’re after more quality leads we would potentially consider inquiry-to-appointment rate. If this metric is underperforming it could fuel changes to the form on the site, or spur a deeper dive into what those quality leads have in common, then work to drive more of those users to your site.
If your business has a long lead time before the actual “money-making” goal is completed it is extremely critical to have short term money-making indicators. Inquiry-to-appointment rate is an example of this. Say you are a home remodeler. Likely, a significant amount of time passes between when your potential customer fills out the ‘contact form’ on your website, and you actually make money. If we only focused on dollars it would take months to determine what kind of lift we see from optimization efforts. Take a metric like inquiry-to-appointment rate and all of a sudden there is a measureable, short-term, metric we can optimize for. Yes, there is a chance that the change made to your website could get more potential customers appointments but still not net more sales, but I would bet on my sales-person as long as they get in the door. If your sales-person isn’t there, someone else’s is.
At Three Deep we spend a lot of time discussing the key objectives that our clients have for their site and business. We then take what we learn in those discussions and give recommendations of the metrics that ladder up to those key objectives. As the experts, we have the knowledge of the data we are able to collect and understand how to do it. Once we agree with our clients as to what those metrics should be, that’s our measurement model!
Investing in and understanding a measurement model is one of the most direction giving, and ultimately decision driving uses of resources that you can do.
For one, there is the cost of not having an important tool in your decision making process. Every day that goes by that you aren’t basing decisions off of strategically collected data represents missed opportunity…aka…missed dollars.
For two, having a model in place gives everyone a direction, a drum to march to. This isn’t to say that once you have a model, that those are the only metrics that matter. It’s quite the opposite. We are able to quickly gather the metrics that matter and create a concise reporting cadence, and over time, a mostly automated process. As the process becomes more and more automated that allows for more efficient, one-off, deeper dive exploration. This can lead us down a rabbit-hole, in which case we understand the importance of failing fast. Other times it can lead to a complex analysis that gives us awesome insights into user behavior, then ultimately a recommendation on how to influence it.
If you’re struggling with your measurement model, we’re happy to help!