Heather is passionate about helping companies deliver marketing that is hyper-relevant to the customer and drives profit for the business. As an experienced strategist with 20 years developing integrated marketing strategies across a range of industries, she advocates a data-driven approach to marketing.

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Online Marketing: What metrics matter most?

Online Marketing’s Dirty Little Secret

Dirty-lil-secret-500x500Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat (a web analytics platform for publishers and content creators), recently published an article that threw a lot of people into a panic. The article addresses prevalent myths lingering in the industry, and discusses how the same old mistakes are still being made as we’ve shifted away from clicks and towards things like social shares and native advertising as key performance metrics.

Why do we do these things?

The unfortunate answer is because it’s easy. Doing things right requires a lot more effort, a deeper understanding of your customers and their needs, and a willingness to commit to a long term strategic plan.

Given the rise of “brands as publishers” and the overwhelming amount of content being published every day, the article caused a bit of a stir. Do we need to panic? No. Was there anything earth-shattering? No. Does the title of article itself play into the click-bait strategies it later bashes? Of course it does. It seems we’re all a little driven by vanity metrics after all…

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick and dirty:

The obvious:

  • Clicks are a poor predictor of performance and shouldn’t be used to measure success
  • The visitors that matter the most are the ones that come back
  • Most people don’t actually read things online
  • People share content that they don’t read (everyone wants to appear smart right?)

The not-so-obvious:

  • 66% of engagement takes place below the fold (this one surprised me)
  • Native advertising is not the holy grail it’s been made out to be
  • Content that users actually read isn’t often shared

So, what now?

Businesses that want real results and not just vanity metrics—”Our article got 6 shares and 20 clicks!”—need to embrace the vast amounts of data at their fingertips and invest some time to set things up properly.

1. Conduct an analytics audit. Even better, get an outside third party that actually understands your website analytics package to audit your existing set-up. You’ll learn a lot about which parts of your site provide value to visitors and you’ll be equipped to track those actions, not just the final conversion. Even if you think you have things set-up properly, you may be surprised with what is found.

2. Implement goal-based optimization. Instead of focusing on clicks, click through rate, or even just number of conversions move towards a model that directly supports your business objectives in the most efficient way possible. By understanding how different activities contribute to conversions and which activities support post-purchase engagement, marketing dollars can be allocated much more strategically.

3. User experience matters more than ever. Whatever the goal of your campaign—getting new subscribers for your eNewsletter, purchases, driving in-store visits – success is heavily dependent on how easy it is for users to accomplish their goals. An oft-overlooked but critical component of improving performance is conversion rate optimization. Eliminating barriers to conversion and improving the user experience can pay big dividends to the bottom line.

Are your performance metrics still focused on clicks? Or are you at the beginning stages of developing your social and content marketing strategy and want to make sure that it’s set up for success? Let us know what challenges you face in the comments or get in touch – we’d love to help!