You have to set up the right internal infrastructure first. One of the most important steps of digital analytics is determining what your ultimate business objectives or outcomes are and how you expect to measure those outcomes. For ecommerce sites, an obvious objective is selling products or services. For lead generation sites, the goal is to collect user information for sales teams to connect with potential leads. For content publishers, the goal is to encourage engagement and frequent visitation. For branding, the main objective is to drive awareness, engagement and loyalty.
Is content really important? Geoff Kenyon of Distilled (an online marketing agency) shared a case study about how adding 200 words of content to various category pages of an ecommerce website increased search traffic by 620 percent. This is actually quite typical of e-commerce category pages that often simply link out to various subcategories without much of an introduction. Personally, I find it incredibly interesting how drastic the results were from a simple content improvement, without any additional backlinks. It’s great to produce a lot of content, but don’t ever sacrifice quality for quantity. If you can only produce one quality post a week, don’t be tempted to write two poor ones instead. Great content is what people talk about, share, and link to. Recent research found that the majority of blog posts in the top 10 search results are longer than 2,000 words.
There are analytic tools for everything these days. For example, when you write a post, check Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords to target and find out how competitive it is to rank on these keywords.
It’s extremely important to have a content strategy in place before you write anything. Producing content is time intensive, so you need answers to the following questions: What are you going to write about? Who's your target audience? Which channels are you going to distribute the content to? How will you measure the impact of your content?
You don't need fancy, expensive software to begin gathering data. Google Analytics, a free traffic-monitoring tool, provides all types of data about website visitors. With Google Analytics, you can extract long-term data to reveal trends and other valuable information, so you can make wise, data-driven decisions.
The trouble is many small businesses struggle to get Google Analytics set up, let alone use it to pull out meaningful data. Hopefully this session will take you through the set-up process and help you understand how your website's performing.
Setting up Google Analytics is really quite simple. To create an account, just head to the Google Analytics website and click “Access Google Analytics”. Then follow the instructions to setup your account. Once you’ve got your tracking info sorted and you’ve copied the code snippet, you can simply insert the snippet into your website.
Allow other users to see reports and give them permission to make configuration changes. Link your Google Analytics account to your AdWords account
Goals are the backbone of startup analytics. Once you enable Goals, you get metrics like the number of conversions and the conversion rate. Goals are the way that we map the data in Google Analytics to the key performance indicators that you defined in your measurement plan.
To get started, click the “Admin” button. Under the “View” column, select “Goals”. Google Analytics deals with four types of goals: revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement. Focus on the 1-2 categories that make the most sense for your startup right now.
The easiest goals set up is URL destination – when a visitor lands on a particular page on your website. For an account signup, this might be the “thank you for signing up” page. For a purchase this might be the receipt page. An Event Goal is triggered when a user does something specific like downloading a PDF or starting a video. A Pages per Visit Goal is triggered when a user sees more or fewer pages than a threshold that you specify. A Duration Goal is triggered when a user’s visit exceeds or falls below a threshold that you set.
Filters help you transform the data so it’s better aligned with your business needs. For example, you can use a filter to exclude traffic from your internal employees. The easiest way to do this is to create a filter that excludes all of the data from the IP address for your business.
Affinity Categories identifies users in terms of lifestyle; for example, Technophiles, Sports Fans, and Cooking Enthusiasts. These categories are defined to be similar to TV audiences. In-Market Segments identifies users in terms of their product-purchase interests. Other Categories provides the most specific, focused view of your users. For example, while Affinity Categories includes the category Foodies, Other Categories includes the category Recipes/Cuisines/East Asian.
Understanding your audience composition in terms of gender, age, and interests lets you also understand the kinds of creative content you need to develop, the kinds of media buys you should make, and the kinds of audiences you need to develop for marketing and remarketing campaigns. You can start from any of these reports to build a picture of your high-value customers.
Cost Reduction - Eliminate ad spend on low-value users - You can use the same kinds of analysis to find low-value audiences that you used to find your high-value audiences: rather than look for high revenue and conversion rates, you simply look for the opposite. Once you’ve identified those low-value customers, you can then exclude them from seeing your ads.
High pages/visit, high average time on your site, and a low bounce rate give you an idea of how useful visitors are finding your site once they arrive.
Where your traffic is coming from tells you a lot about the strength of your SEO, your incoming links, and your AdWords and other advertising campaigns. It also shows you where your weaknesses are. Ideally, you want traffic coming from a variety of sources. For example, if 80% of your traffic comes from organic Google results, and suddenly Google changes their algorithm and your site ends up on page 10 instead of the top of page 1, you’ll see a huge drop in traffic.
One of the most important reports in your traffic sources is the keyword reports. These are vital to figuring out how your search traffic is finding your site. You want to make sure that the ads are generating enough revenue or conversions to make them worthwhile. You may have some ads that only drive a small percentage of traffic, but a large number of those visitors convert (or vice versa). Without knowing the goal completions or revenue, you might disregard those ads and throw away important revenue sources.
If you’re running a social media or advertising campaign for a page on your website, you can append the URLs you’re sharing with a UTM parameter, a bit of text that goes at the end of your link. Google’s free URL Builder is perhaps the simplest way to set these up.
We could change this link: smemark.com/blog to smemark.com/blog?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=blogsocial
When setting up the new URL, just make note of “Campaign Name,” as this is how you’ll find the results in your Google Analytics reports. The value here is that you’ll then be able to track how many visits this campaign sent back to your website as well as what happened to these visitors once they landed. How long did they stay? Did they convert? Etc.
The Venn diagram you’ll get on this report page shows the various paths that people take to convert through your website or blog. For example, on the Buffer blog, a good majority of people convert after coming to the site from organic search. The overlap in the Venn diagrams represent visitors who might, for instance, click a link in a tweet first, then come back to the site directly later on to go through the conversion flow.
The original (Version A) was converting at 3.12%. The hypothesis for this test was simple: Removing primary navigation and modifying the form layout placement above the fold will increase (improve) form submissions. The B Version removed Primary navigation, had a dramatically different theme with the same colors, and had a single image with a larger “human”. For Data and Page analytics, we used Google Analytics. For rotating the A & B Versions of the pages we used Google Experiments. The test ran for 23 days. In 23 days it had exactly 120 experiments – Pure PPC visits.
The Results. The winner by a landslide was the Challenger – the B Version. Conversions increased from 3.12% to 13.64%. So with this hypothesis, test and results, we clearly had a winner.
Competitor analysis will help you identifying gaps that if filled, can differentiate your startup from competitors and accelerating growth. This involves doing your research to find out who your competitors are, what they're writing about, what gaps exist in areas that they don’t write about, and how popular the content they create is.
Influencer analysis will help you in building relationships with relevant people in your industry to fuel growth. Influencers online typically have a large audience and are connected to many other influencers; people take action based on what they share and talk about. Leverage their audiences to get your content in as many relevant hands as possible.
From your research, you'll come across competitors but you’ll also come across influencers you want to develop relationships with. Make a list of key influential people in your industry. The best way to build relationships with influencers is by helping them.
Brian Dean of Backlinko shared a strategy for creating epic content that generated a 348 percent increase in search traffic for one of his readers, Richard Marriot. The strategy used to achieve these results is called the Skyscraper technique.
It has three key pieces: Find content in your niche with a lot of backlinks and shares. To find this content you can use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify content that received massive social shares. Here you can see how a simple search returns the top articles based on total social shares.
In addition to shares, you want to find content that received backlinks. For that, you can use the SEMrush backlink checker. Take each article that did well with social and input it into SEMrush. If it has more than 30 dofollow links from quality sources, you’ve found a real winner.
Create your own version of that same content, but make it better than what’s already out there. There are several ways to improve your content:
Make it longer and more detailed, Add more images, Add video, Improve the design.
Share your new content with those prospects. If it’s good enough, many of them will link to it. It’s awesome because it’s not complicated. Yet it works incredibly well.
Apart from all the tools we have discussed so far, there are free tools from the social networks themselves: Facebook insights, and now Twitter analytics, too. Tools can give us tons of information on hand. The ideal next step: Knowing that we’re looking at the right numbers and drawing the right conclusions, simply and easily.
You can analyze your competitor’s Facebook page and compare that to yours. The report tells you how well you’re doing, and also suggests areas to focus on to make improvements. You can repeat the process for a competitor page and see if they have a higher score and how they are doing better than you. Pretty cool! Price: Free.
Facebook Insights is a pretty powerful tool for those wanting to track user interaction on their Facebook Fan Page. By using Facebook Insights you’ll be able to determine the best time of day to post, the best day of the week to post and what type of content is most popular.
Likes - On the graph you can see that our fan page had some unlikes. Dammit! It would be useful to go back to your page and see what posts you wrote on those days. Your previous posts may be able to give you an indication as to what went wrong that day. Weren’t you entertaining enough? Or were you just too much? Perhaps you posted too many articles and not enough images? It is crucial that you do this step otherwise the stats are pretty much just stats.
People- See the demographics as well as the locations of your fans. You’ll also be able to see their age groups. Takeaway: Having demographic information about your fans allows you to build personas of your target audience. This can be very beneficial when creating landing pages, home page copy and overall marketing messages.
Twitter analytics is open to everyone. Much of the information you’ll see on your Twitter dashboard looks great and helpful. You can certainly draw many great conclusions from it. The most helpful report in my experience is engagement rate. It tells you the relative value of the engagement numbers you see.
The key metrics you’ll measure will typically come from your email service provider (so make sure you check they can provide these metrics before you sign up and fork over the cash!). Beyond the standard tactical stuff like number of emails sent etc., here are the metrics I’d recommend to analyze your acquisition greatness:
Open rate = # of emails opened / # of emails delivered
This metric is of value, for example in helping you understand how effective the single most impactful thing in your email campaign is: the subject line (no not the offer!). And now to the reason we actually sent the emails:
Click-to-deliver rate (CTDR) = # of clicks / # of emails delivered
This is a key measure of the quality of your email list, and of the effectiveness and relevance of your message. Segmenting this metric is really powerful. You can learn whether text messages or messages with images get a higher CTDR. You can compare customers in California, Idaho, and Florida; new and existing customers; or various demographics, etc., etc., etc. This should drive aggressive experimentation of email content / offers / targeting / every facet by your team.
Finally let’s not forget a very, very important signal of our email marketing effectiveness:
Subscriber retention rate = # subscribers – bounce backs – unsubscribes / # subscribers
How much do you stink? This is perhaps as strategic an analysis as you could do for your email campaigns. Here you are measuring both the technical effectiveness of your email campaigns over time (reducing bounce backs) and the relevance of your messages and the targeting of the same (reducing unsubscribes).
3 simple metrics that help you understand how effective you are in email marketing.
When you’re looking at these top-performing posts, check for these elements specifically.
The type of post--Was it an image, a link, a video, or a status update?
The timing of the post--When was the post published? (Even more helpful when looking over a long period of time)
The content of the post--What words were commonly used in these updates? Length?
The formatting of the post--How does the post look? Check for punctuation, where and how a link was places, hashtag usage, etc.
Make the common factors that you found from your popular posts, and integrate as many as possible into future tests with your content. For instance, if you discovered that link posts tend to do really well on Facebook, then you can edit some of your upcoming day’s content to be link posts instead of photos. Make the changes, set your experiments, and you’re done!