Understanding behaviours behind the numbers: What you can and should be tracking online

Accurate, targeted measurement of any communications activity, whether it’s advertising, PR or marketing campaigns (or a mix) delivered through digital or offline platforms, should be an essential part of your communications strategy as it can only lead to improved sales, leads and ultimately, revenue for your business. However, which metrics do you, or should you, review to ensure everything is on track and that whatever budget you invest always returns positive ROI? As part of our new ‘measurement series’ we will look to provide some insight and clarity on what organisations should be measuring and tracking throughout a campaign’s lifecycle.

At Station Rd, we ensure that our clients track every aspect of their communications activity and where possible, we relate this back to the number of sales or leads being driven into their business. This means we can prioritise more of what is working and justify spend accordingly and we would certainly recommend this more commercial approach to marketing communications to anyone who wants to make a real impact on their business.

One of the fundamental pieces of work we undertake and suggest to anyone looking to track their comms activity more effectively is to fully review their website, lead capture forms, general contact forms, telephone answering process as well as CRM systems, and to look at exactly how a sale or lead is or can be recorded or monitored.

We believe by going back to basics with even simple areas of communications, which are often overlooked, can give a business some valuable insight into where sales or leads are coming from. When you start to dig deeper into your analytics, it will help you to understand which channels are contributing to your overall business success. By being armed with more information and insights you’ll be able to shape your strategy more effectively and focus on activity that gets the right results.

So where do we start?

Given that Google Analytics is a free tool, we will always try to install this into a client’s site in the first instance, regardless of how basic it may be. We have seen countless examples of companies not tracking any type of web analytics, despite the fact that they want to dive into paying for various marketing channels such as PPC. Depending on the type of business we are working alongside, we then look to set up goals or events in Analytics, so that we can at least track the user journey down to a contact form being submitted. If we are able to tie this into the client’s CRM system or process, this gives us a very basic level of reporting and understanding of user behaviour.

By setting up goals / events within Analytics, you are then able to show which channels are driving these goals, and in turn tie this back into comms spend to create a strategic plan of action.

In terms of metrics, at a very basic level, and depending upon the level of activity, web analytics should cover:

Glossary: Impressions / Clicks / CTR / Bounce Rate / Cost / Goals

Impression – An impression is when an ad or website is fetched from its source and is countable. Whether the ad or website is clicked is not taken into account. Each time an ad or website is fetched, it is counted as one impression.

Clicks – This is the number of times an ad or website is physically clicked by the user.

CTR – Click through rate is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or ad. It’s commonly used to measure the success of an online ad campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of email campaigns.

Bounce Rate – This is the number of sessions for a given page of a site where there is no interaction with the page or site.

Cost – This is the amount paid for the ads being served.

Goals – This is specific to each individual account, but a goal could be set to individual URLs. So, when a visitor lands on a specific URL, then it would be recorded as a goal. Or it could also be where a visitor spends a certain amount of time on a given website for example.

This gives you a high-level overview of the types of activity happening within your website. Taking this slightly further, we would suggest then moving across to:

Page Views / AVG Time of Page / Pages per Visit / Top Content (All Pages)

Page Views – This is the total number of pages viewed but remember repeated views of a single page are also counted.

AVG Time on Page – This is the average time a user has spent viewing a specified page or set of pages and can give you an idea of the level at which they’re interacting with your site.

Pages per Visit – This is recorded as the average number of pages visited per session, it shows a good indication of page depth.

Top Content (All Pages) – This gives an indication of where visitors are moving around the site, it shows the ‘Top Content’ pages ranked by the number of ‘Page Views’. Plus, it will also give an indication of what pages are perhaps being missed within a website, helping you to note areas for improvement.

As you can see, this measurement then starts to paint a picture of both how your website is performing, and the influence your overall marketing communications activity is having on the website. From here, you can then gauge whether your spend is justified or not.

If you are then able to track activity against sales or leads into the business, then the next step would be working backwards to calculate your cost per sale and or cost per lead, allowing you to identify which are the most cost effective for your business. Tying this into landing page conversion will allow you to distinguish what types of content are resonating with your audiences. By tweaking or amending various elements of the page, this will allow you to slowly increase the conversion rates.

Measuring your metrics should be an integral part of any communications strategy and resulting activity run within or on behalf of your business. Drilling down into the specifics and understanding behaviours behind the numbers will deliver insight that’ll help formulate a more in-depth, strategic plan which will further enhance your bottom line with ongoing results.