Data, data, data, data, data. Say it enough and it starts to sound like nonsense, or like something from a Bob Loblaw commercial.
For as long as people have been able to count, numbers (and things that use them) have gotten a bad rap. Math class? Lame. Trigonometry? Tough. Taxes? Deadly.
Marketers have always had a love/hate relationship with metrics. On the one hand, we tend to position ourselves as creative types, capable of brainstorming out-of-the-box ideas and designing beautiful things that can’t be encapsulated by mere metrics.
On the other hand, though, we’re aware that any work we do must be backed up by measurable results. Check out the homepage of any marketing agency, and there’s an 80% chance that their slogan will feature something about being driven by “results”.
Here’s the thing, though: contrary to popular belief, creativity and metrics aren’t incompatible. In fact, they can (and should) complement each other. When it comes to digital marketing and website development, especially, analytics can play a crucial role in shaping design and strategy decisions. That’s because online, everything is measurable – from how many people view your site, to where they click, to how long they stay.
We’ll admit to being a bit nerdy about numbers, but with tools like Hubspot and Google Analytics, even an average person can access and understand the numbers that will help them create a great digital marketing strategy.
With that in mind, here’s why analytics aren’t just for nerds anymore.
Analytics Tell the Story
We’re often tempted to go with our gut in making decisions. Often, this makes a lot of sense, especially in situations that aren’t really quantifiable (there are no numbers that will tell you if you should go to a Mexican restaurant or grab a burger instead).
However, our tendency to rely on assumptions isn’t always the best choice. That’s because, more often than we’d probably care to know, the qualitative data we use to make our decisions is biased, incomplete, or just plain wrong.
For example, consider a restaurant website that’s attempting to promote a loyalty program online. After including information about the loyalty program on the site for a month and registering only three signups, the restaurant owner might conclude that the program doesn’t provide enough of an incentive to get customers to sign up. Consequently, the restaurant owner decides to change or suspend the program.
In reality, though, the restaurant’s website may only have received 100 views – and the page featuring the loyalty program may have only been viewed five times. If the restaurant owner had considered this data, they would have realized that 60% of people were converting – and that the issue was not, in fact, the program, but the number of visitors to the website and the loyalty program’s page.
The moral of the story is this: quantitative data often reveals elements of the story that we otherwise wouldn’t consider when making decisions. And to make the best decision, it’s best to know the whole story.
Identify and Understand the Important Numbers (KPIs) That Relate to Your Business Goals
Okay, great – so analytics are helpful in making decisions. Admittedly, though, our restaurant story featured simple data. In real life (and especially in your Google Analytics Dashboard), looking at your analytics can feel like trying to drink from a fire hose. You’re getting information, sure – but there’s so much that it can feel like you’re drowning in it.
To help ease the pressure, narrow things down by focusing on the numbers that actually matter, or the Key Performance Indicators.
Your KPIs are the metrics that will give you the clearest insight into how you’re accomplishing your business objectives. Remember, that’s the point of all data analysis: to help you accomplish your business objectives. Focusing in on the numbers that matter will help you to do that.
As you’re thinking through what your KPIs will be, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- KPIs should be crucial to achieving your business goal.
- KPIs should align with your company’s overarching goals.
- They should give you insight that is actionable – that is, they should impact your strategy.
Choosing which metrics are most important varies across businesses and goals, but here are a few suggestions for common goals.
- Goal: To increase awareness
- KPIs: Visitors, Sessions, Visitors by Traffic Source, Page Views
- Goal: To increase conversions
- KPIs: Page Views, Conversion Rate, Form Submissions
- Goal: To improve user experience.
- KPIs: Time spent on page, Bounce Rate
Use Your KPIs to Make Decisions
Once you’ve identified the metrics that truly matter, you’ll be able to develop a view of your progress towards objectives that is both accurate and actionable. You’ll be able to understand what is happening without becoming overwhelmed by data. The end result of this is that you’ll be able to make sound decisions that will actually help you to achieve your digital marketing goals.
Don’t settle for assumptions. Make sure that your assumptions are backed by analytics, and you’ll be on your way to making better decisions. And that’s something that you can appreciate it, whether you’re a nerd or not.
Want help in understanding whether or not your online marketing is working? Maybe you just want help in understanding how to understand whether or not your online marketing is working. Either way, get in touch with us at New North.
As a digital marketing company based in Frederick, Maryland, we’ve worked with clients around the country to create measurable online marketing strategies. We love helping companies create digital campaigns that work, whether they’re looking for SEO, web design, or email. We’re analytics nerds so that you don’t have to be.
Jon is an inbound strategist with a passion for helping clients take the mystery out of their marketing. His goal is to write about digital marketing using as little jargon as possible. He’s watched a few too many Pittsburgh sporting events.