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“You can manage only what you measure.” There are many different versions of that mantra, and all of them hold true. Just as in fitness and weight loss, if you don’t start with a baseline, take regular measurements, and see what’s working, you can’t make data-driven decisions.
In this second post of six in the series “Digital Marketing 101,” we’re offering up highly practical tasks for you to determine how best to grow your digital presence using data backed by marketing analytics.
The center point of everything is a high-quality web analytics tool like Google Analytics. There are other tools out there like KISSMetrics, but Google Analytics is free (Google wants you to know how well you’re doing!) and easy to setup and connect to your web property.
Knowing that you can only manage what you measure, your first mindset should be to measure everything. You’re not going to report on everything, but your entire web property or mobile app should be connected to your analytics package from day one, and you should have a long list of metrics that you think you may need to keep a close eye on now or at some point in the future.
From the “everything” pile, your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be your top 3-5 metrics that you will probably look at every day, or at the very least once a week. For an ecommerce site, these metrics may, and probably should, include the following:
- Page views (how many products visitors viewed)
- Click Through Rate (CTR from various ads)
- Conversion rate (orders / visitors)
- Average order amount (are they buying one widget or several?)
For a media site, your KPIs will be different, and include things like:
- Pages per visit (how many articles did they read?)
- Time on site (how long did they browse and read on the site?)
- Conversion rate (email subscribers / visitors)
Keep in mind that, especially if you’re starting from ground zero, your KPIs will change over time. For example, your measurement of “New Visitors” will change, because in the first month, almost ALL your visitors will be new. After you ramp up (ramp up time depends on how well you market the site and the total size of your audience), you’ll set a monthly average goal for how many new visitors you want to bring to your website. Also, once you know your baseline average order amount, you’ll want to set a goal to increase that average each month because that means an increase in revenue.
How will you measure and mind all these numbers? Google Analytics. Once you’re set up, this fantastic tool will have all the data you need; however, you owe it to yourself as a digital marketer to immerse yourself in learning Google Analytics. The Google Analytics team has set up, and continues to add to and maintain, a huge and robust library of videos on the Google Analytics YouTube channel. You should bookmark this channel and commit to learning the tool inside and out as you grow your digital marketing expertise, because, as we’ve already mentioned several times, you can manage only what you measure, and if you don’t know how to measure it, you’ll never be able to change it.
Finding Insights and Taking Action
Once you’ve set your digital site in motion, you’re going to want to change it to make it better. Another adage that is at the heart of all web software is this: all software is 85% complete. Always. That means it’s never, ever “done.” You will eventually get from v1 to v40, like Google Chrome has done in just 10 short years, but your software is never done. But how do you know what to change next?
You measure everything. In Digital Marketing, we teach the “OODA” loop. OODA stands for Observe. Orient. Decide. Act. That’s how you measure your digital marketing efforts.
- Observe – this word is another word for “measure”, and you accomplish this task in Google Analytics. All your data is in your analytics tools. Make them a part of your daily life.
- Orient – what ‘orient’ means in Digital Marketing is to determine what happened. Why did you get so many visitors at 3pm last Tuesday? Why did your email subscribe rate drop? Why did you sell 3X as many widgets this week as last?
- Decide – what are you going to do next? Change the email signup process. Reduce the steps in the checkout process from six to two. Add beautiful images to your blog posts. But make these decisions based on data, not whether you like it or not.
- Act – implement what you’ve decided based on the data that you collected by creating and measuring a new experiment.
In digital marketing, it’s easier than ever to make data-driven decisions and support them with data. It’s also easier than ever to make changes to any website, and measure the effect of the changes instantly through an online analytics tool. And the OODA loop is the process by which we as digital marketers determine what works, what doesn’t, what to do next, and when to change it. We make decisions based on data because we have that data at our fingertips, because we have immersed ourselves in Google Analytics.