It is very important to have goals and objectives for your online marketing efforts, but what do you measure and how do you measure it?
The how you measure is pretty easy. We use HubSpot, but anyone can use Google Analytics and anyone who has a website needs to have Google Analytics connected to their site. Here are some more details on the benefits of Google Analytics and how to install it on your site.
What to measure is what I want to focus on here. My colleague recently wrote an article that focuses on some high-level website and email metrics, but I want to dive a little deeper into some of the website metrics that I believe are the most important and easiest to monitor and work toward improving.
The primary objective of any online marketing effort should be to increase value for the business. For most businesses, this means increased sales. Therefore, the most important metric to track is conversions. How many people purchased your products or services after investigating your offering online? That's the key here.
However, we need to measure more than that. For me, I believe the following, in the least, should be measured:
- Website Traffic
- Traffic by Source
- Contact Submissions
- Bounce Rate
- Length of Time on Site
Depending on how sophisticated your online marketing is, there are many other things you can measure, but this list covers the basics and you can determine a lot from this information.
There are industry benchmarks you can reference to determine the amount of traffic your peers get, and this is a good starting point to establish goals. It is just as reasonable, though, to determine a goal based on some historical information from your site and then work to improve that number every month.
Traffic by Source
Where is your traffic coming from and which sources do you want to grow as traffic generators? To me, I want organic search to be the leading source of traffic for my website and for many of my clients' sites. However, I'm also interested in traffic from social media and email marketing. If you rely on paid ads to drive traffic to your site, then it's important to track that and do your best to determine the ROI of those efforts. Paid search is a necessary evil in many online campaigns, but not if the cost per lead far outweighs the traffic or the leads you generate from organic efforts.
HubSpot does a great job outlining some average traffic sources for websites. HubSpot breaks it down by industry, and also by company size.
This may be the hardest to measure for some, but it's the most important. Again, since we use HubSpot, this is fairly easy for us to monitor ongoing. You should measure how many form submissions your website gets each month. These could be anything from demo requests, newsletter signups, white paper downloads or straight contact form submissions.
For many small businesses, it's difficult to establish a monthly goal here, but you can base your initial goal on what percentage of resources are being allocated to the effort and how many leads and monthly sales you need to produce a positive return.
High bounce rate bad, low bounce rate good. Simple, right? There are more in-depth definitions for bounce rate but, to keep it simple, I define it as: the number of people who leave your site on the page they enter your site on. The goal is to have them go deeper into your site than just one page, but it's not reasonable to have a 0% bounce rate because some users really can get all the information they need on one page in a quick visit — i.e., maybe they just need your contact details.
Here's a breakdown of some expected bounce rates by website type. We work to have all our clients have a 50% or lower bounce rate on all important pages. Note, it doesn't always have to be this low on all pages … but it does on most.
Length of Time on Site
I love this post by Databox: Benchmarking Average Session Duration: What it Means & How to Improve It. The length of time users spend on your site depends on many factors, including: how complicated is your offering, how many offerings do you have on your site, etc. If your product or service is simple to understand and easy to purchase, then time on site can be lower.
The more education your prospects need, the longer you need to keep them on the page. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways — such as more images, videos and graphics — plus through the way you display your webpage text.
The key here is not only to measure, but also to constantly tweak and update your approach and work to always improve these numbers … each and every month. You don't have to have a magic formula or guess perfectly at what your starting goals should be. You just need to set some goals, then measure, improve your activities, measure again and keep growing.