The appeal of online marketing is that a site owner can track almost everything related to site and visitor behaviour. This leaves us with a problem of plenty and often data overload, not knowing which are the important areas that can give us information leading to actionable changes. I am reminded of a quote by Einstein “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” To put it simply, my recommendation is to build a dashboard covering 6 business critical areas only and share and review these with your leadership team every week. Each department head viz Marketing, IT Head etc can then go away and use deeper analytics reports with their supplier agencies to investigate issues arising out of this dashboard.
1. Sources of Traffic
Know where your sites visitors are coming from on a weekly basis. Broad sources are Search Engines (SEO and SEM), Direct/Bookmarked (when a user types your url in the browser or uses a prior bookmark), Other Sites/Campaigns (traffic from sites you have partnered with or have paid to put your ads on).
Benefit: Track the changes in trend of each and see the correlation effect of your marketing activities eg Direct traffic going up when you have a TV campaign running.
2. Campaign Performance
Track and compare the CPA and Conversion rate for each paid campaign eg Adwords, Affiliates, Email. Observe the impact one channel has on another.
Benefit: Understand which online channel gives you the best ROI. Also note how different channels perform at different times of the month and adjust your schedule accordingly.
3. Conversion Funnel
Chart the consumer journey from the time they land on your site and then go through the various steps in your purchase path. If you are A/B testing two different landing pages, compare conversion funnels for both for greater insights.
Benefits: See where drop-outs occur and apply changes to plug the leakage.
4. Keyword Ranks
Identify the top 10 most important keywords for your business category that you should ideally rank high for in the search engines. Record your sites ranking for these keywords in both Paid and Organic Rankings once a week, preferably on the most important business day/time and when your PPC budgets are unlikely to maxed out. You can get an analyst to do this manually or use a paid monitoring tool like AWR to automate the task across multiple search engines.
Benefits: Benchmark your search ranking against competitors and also monitor changes in PPC rank strategy by others.
5. Website Usage
Top line numbers on how visitors are interacting with your website. Trends in metrics such as ‘time spent’ and ‘bounce rate’ can indicate the engagement levels and navigational ease of your site. If your ‘bounce rate’ increases consistently, you probably have a page or site section that users frequently exit from. This may be because they are confused or haven’t found what they were looking for.
Benefits: Understand how visitors use your site and identify problem areas around content and landing pages.
6. Webmaster Stats
Measure back end stats such as site average page load times and server down times as these can severely impact metrics like bounce rates, time spent and conversion rates.
Benefits: Understand how your infrastructure and hardware capabilities impact the users experience. Keep Marketing and Analytics team informed when a server side issue occurs so this reasoning can be used to explain fluctuations in other metrics.
One area I have omitted here is Competitor Tracking which is important as no online business operates in a vacuum and one should never be blindsided by a key competitor. However this kind of tracking is usually through 3rd party suppliers and comes at a premium and as such can be deferred until a business can get numbers 1-6 right first. I will cover this area in detail in a future post.