The great thing about digital marketing is that you can track and analyze everything, even with a small budget. You can watch your impressions and clicks grow- you can even watch customers navigate your website in real time. As digital marketing tools, ad networks and web technologies develop, we’re seeing more effective and reliable metrics pop up. Cost per engagement (CPE), for example, only charges you when a web user interacts with your ad content. That’s actual interaction, where the user hovers or clicks to expand a rich media ad, say. CPE can be more cost-effective than cost per thousand impressions (CPM), because you know your customer is noticing and responding to your ad. Cost per click (CPC), also known as (PPC), is a highly popular action for charging the advertiser and is easy to track and analyze. There’s cost per action (CPA) and cost per lead (CPL) as well, but let’s stick to what’s popular for our discussions.
Before analyzing anything, you’re going to need to make sure to set up analytics so you’ll be able to track your campaigns and KPIs against your original digital goals. The most well known (and it’s free) analytics platform out there is Google Analytics, but there are other providers that offer deeper insights for ecommerce, cooler dashboards, and more info about your customers. Most of the major social networks have analytics built into their self-serve ad platforms, so this is a good place to start.
A mistake many marketers make is they get distracted by data and metrics that don’t apply to their true goals. It’s easy to spend a couple hundred (or thousand) of dollars a month increasing your fans with Facebook and Twitter ads, and that’s exciting, but is it satisfying your KPIs (key performance indicators)? Was increasing your fan base an initial goal, or are you just content to see your popularity rise? Also, it’s not always best to increase your spending. Instead, analyze and re-allocate to achieve your goals with the greatest impact, without wasting money on the ads and campaigns that aren’t performing well. We’ll talk more about this in Step 4: Optimizing.
Let’s create a scenario...Your primary goal is brand engagement on social networks, and secondly, converting more ecommerce sales on your website, you need to analyze data in terms of those goals.
Goal #1: Increase brand engagement on social networks
Let’s assume the channel you chose is Facebook, based on your customer demographics. You may be focusing on metrics such as “overall views” or “shares,” but that only tells you so much. Facebook also breaks out analytics by “organic,” “viral,” and “paid,” so you know what the source of the engagement is. If you are concentrating on maximum organic growth, you’ll want to focus on "organic" and "viral" views only. Facebook will allow you to pay for thousands of views when you promote a post, but are those paid views achieving the type of engagement you set out to accomplish with your original plan? This is for you to decide. I’m just laying out the many options you have. The point is, you need to pinpoint one or a few specific KPIs. If you are too general with your goals and metrics, you’ll never be able to measure precisely or optimize substantially. This separates the digital dabblers and the real pros. Let’s look at two promoted posts on Facebook.
Which one would you prefer? The second promoted post had 25,341 paid “views.” Looks pretty good right? But wait a minute. Your goal is brand engagement, and more specifically, organic and viral views. The paid views are not as valuable to you, and the second post was a much more expensive promotion to run. The first post was more cost effective, and was aligned with your digital goals. Even though the first post had a much lower overall reach, the organic and viral views (which we assume are more valuable because they are from trusted people closer to your network) were a much higher percentage of total reach. Viral views for the first post were actually much higher than the second ad. This means people saw your post through your friends- and that’s a trusted source.
Ok, maybe this is too much detail for a single case, but it’s important to realize the extensive data you have at your fingertips. It’s even more integral to sift through all of this data to decide what matters to you. Volume is wasteful if you’re not getting any true engagement out of that volume.
Goal #2: Converting more ecommerce sales on your website
Are you focused on increasing gross online sales, achieving more overall transactions or increasing the dollar amount per checkout? Is it more important to convert unique visitors into customers, or return visitors into return customers? Let’s decide on a specific digital goal, and the KPI that makes sense for measuring success.
For the purpose of this discussion, let’s say you are struggling to turn visitors into paid customers. Customers are reaching your site, clicking around and leaving without buying anything. We need to fix this. You want your KPI to be total sales volume per page view.
So now we know the problem we want to fix: visitors are coming to the site, browsing, but not shopping.
We know the overarching digital goal: converting more ecommerce sales on your website.
And we know our KPI: total sales volume per page view.
Now we need to analyze your methods for reaching this goal. In the campaign execution phase, let’s say you decided to run targeted, Google Listing Ads to reach customers searching for a specific product. You are paying Google for every click from your product ad to your ecommerce store. What we are hoping is that directing your customer to a detailed product page (based on their specific search) will result in a higher conversion rate per page view. This should guide the customer to the product they want in a direct fashion, while improving the overall shopping experience.
Now, your giraffe lamp is promoted on the first page of Google results when a potential customer searches for “giraffe lamps” in Google. He or she might shop around, but let’s say this person needs this lamp pronto for a niece's upcoming birthday, and if they like what they see, they’re not interested in shopping around.
Now you’ve acquired a customer after viewing only one product page. You are on your way to achieving your goal based on a specific KPI, total sales volume per page view.
But how do you know this campaign is working in the real world?
Analytics. We need to look at total sales volume per page view, broken out by channel (or referral site). Using the proper analytics platform, you are able to see reporting related to your KPI. Based on a month of advertising individual products on Google, you can see that your dollar sold per page viewed is now just under $2. Looking back at this metric before your campaign, you were sitting at $1.25. You’ve increased your sales volume 62.5% per page view. Good work.
You should realize now that your digital strategy is integrated and evolving.
It’s hard to talk about analytics without mentioning goals, KPIs and optimization. Although I’ve broken digital strategy into 4 steps, all 4 steps need to work together, sometimes concurrently. There is no beginning and end to your digital strategy, and you should always be striving to improve your campaigns and effectiveness. This takes structured analytics and a focus on the right metrics. Beyond all else, it only works with discipline and constant attention. This means optimization. Analytics are only valuable if you use the data to improve your ads and content on an ongoing basis.