Top 5 Conversion Metrics: How and what to track

Obviously conversion metrics can vary from company to company, but, overall there are metrics that are always important to track. Understanding where traffic is coming from and whether it’s converting will help you make better decisions about where to invest resources and dollars. At the end of the day knowing those metrics help you build and grow your business.

Knowing this, we’ve built a list of give metrics that we are always tracking, in no particular order:

1. Conversions (including conversion/tracking pixels)

I’ve walked into many situations where conversion/tracking pixels are incorrectly installed, tracking incorrectly, and in some cases counting multiple conversions per conversion. (i.e. pixel is firing >1 time for every time someone completes a transaction). These issues can lead to a complete misunderstanding of your traffic and how it’s actually doing.

Fixing conversion pixels gives you a really solid foundation. Our team usually won’t start spending money on online advertising until this foundation is solid. This usually gets some of our client partners upset because, as startups, they want to move as fast as possible, but, we’re pretty adamant about this.

Most ad channels will have documentation on how to install pixels. For example, Google has an entire guide to setting up tracking for adwords and Facebook has document on setting up their new “Facebook pixel” for tracking and conversions. (this is different from previously used conversion pixels which will be switched out in mid 2016).

Once you have this set up correctly, you can effectively understand metrics on a per ad channel basis. Furthermore, having funnels tracked across the board will give you info on all of your traffic sources.

2. Traffic Sources

While you’re building traffic to the top of funnel, you need to understand that traffic. You’re going to want to drive traffic from a variety of sources at first to see what works and what doesn’t. I tend to mix into give major channels:

– Direct & Brand: This is a mix of direct visitors and people searching for terms around your brand. For example, if someone was searching google for “visible factors” we would bucket this into direct & brand.

– Organic Search: Organic search traffic, or SEO, can be extremely important to almost every business. Understanding people that come to your site based on content, services, or products offered will help you understand your user/customer better.

– Paid Search: I keep paid and organic search separate because of the intent. Usually people clicking on the ads having a higher intent of conversion. Also, if you get a lot of blog traffic, organic search traffic might not convert as high as paid search.

– Online Advertising: I tend to bucket social ads, retargeting and direct display advertising in a different bucket than paid search as well. Again, the intent and targeting is different. In many cases, because of the targeting, our reporting will differentiate display and social because of our goals.

An example of this could be us using Facebook ads to target individuals who are interested in fashion brands so we can get them to like or convert on a client’s brand. On the flip side, we might use display advertising to increase visibility and qualitative metrics around the brand to get people to discover them. Increasing brand metrics won’t convert as high as a paid search or even paid social visitor, but, what it will do is provide an impression or someone that will pick up a retargeting pixel and convert that way.

3. Bounce Rate (per source)

Understanding Bounce Rate by traffic source is something that can help you understand your traffic better. By understanding your traffic sources and the intent of each, it better helps you understand how to speak to them. Also, differentiating different sources like organic search and organic search from a blog will help you diagnose concerns about your traffic. Blog traffic will not convert at as high a rate as direct commerce traffic and will have a higher bounce rate. A simple example of this is something I’ve seen before, a high bounce rate on a site from a single traffic source because of a mandatory email gate. Removing the mandatory email gate reduced the bounce rate, we were still able to collect email addresses and conversion rate went up. Win, win, win.

4. Return Visitors & Retention

Retention and re-engagement are important because it can dramatically drive down your customer acquisition costs. You can track this by looking at cohorts of users over periods of time. If you have some questions about this, check out Andrew Chen’s post on Cohorts and Revisit Rates.

5. Customer Acquisition Cost

Ultimately, this is the metric that is most important because, whether your selling a product, offering a service, or a content/social product, you need to understand the cost of acquiring customers and users. I usually like to have a CPA view that looks at traffic sources separately, per ad channel, and/or a blended CPA. Once you have this type of view you can understand how effective your marketing efforts are.

This isn’t the comprehensive list, these are just 5 things I think are important to consider. For paid marketing specifically, I like looking at ROAS and ROI to understand profitability of campaigns. Ultimately, we want to turn our client ad dollars into a profit. And, for social/content channels and growth, we like to look at cohort usage deeper.

Overall, as I mentioned initially, every company is different and it’s important to recognize what  metrics are the most important for you to track. Defining this really drives how you look at the items I mentioned and how you track them specifically.

Let us know what metrics are your top conversion metrics below in the comments. And, check out how we can help with Online Advertising Consulting.

Measuring success in SEO and Social Media by determining ROI, Analytics, Metrics up front

When you are working at an organization that doesn’t have the right analytics, its painful. This also goes for working with clients that don’t have the money to buy an analytics package like Omniture or WebTrends. I’ve been through this on both sides of the organizational and the client side as well. (A couple times it was even my fault! Ooops, my bad! ? ). It is important to understand that not providing metrics and/or reporting or being able to measure certain aspects of your job and/or client work is going to have a negative effect on your overall performance.

Before starting any project you’re going to be working, whether it’s on the In-House or Client side of things, you need to know goals. The most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your “client” is going to be figuring out the goals of any project you are working on. Is it ranking for a certain number of keywords? working on Brand or Reputation Management type things, or increasing traffic by a certain percentage?

Once you have determined those goals, start by figuring out what types of analytics and metrics you will need to measure to be successful in your campaigns. Here is a list of the items necessary.

Analytics:
There is absolutely no excuse now at days for not having any sort of analytics packages to use. There are free solutions like Google Analytics that has everything all the way through Advanced Segmentation, etc. to Omniture with tons of click funnel reporting and more.

Important Metrics:
Now that you have analytics setup, you need to define the common metrics that you will be reporting on. If you’re goal is to drive traffic to a specific part of the site, then you should have a saved query or report that you can click on and get to quickly to perform that task.

Also, define other important metrics or metrics that you find valuable to the current role/climit
– Time spent on site (per LP)
– Click thru Rate
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword by Landing PAge
– etc.

Dashboards:
If possible, you should setup dashboards that give you an overview of the quick and dirty statistics that you need for the week/month/year. If these are also a click away or triggered by email, then you are golden. This is really not a “crucial” element, but a nice to have.

Subscriptions:
RSS and Email subscription can be important numbers that you are looking at, especially if one of your many goals is to increase engagement. Feedburner does a good job of tracking RSS subscriptions and you can use other web services or email providers to track email subscription.

Social, Brand, and Reputation Monitoring:
If you are doing any Social Media or Brand Marketing and/or Reputation Management type work, you are going to want to setup the right type of alerts to monitor the brand and or key terms around your brand. Three tools that I use consistently are Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Trackur.

Trending Metrics:
When doing any news related work you are going to want to monitor and measure the trends in the industry. You can do this by monitoring and reporting on Google Insights data for high trafficked terms around a particular event, date, etc. Also, if you are doing something that is going to “create buzz” or a “trending topic” then you are going to want to monitor that carefuly and report on this by showing the ability to create something that went “hot.”

Reporting:
You and your client or group have definied success metrics as I mentioned above at this point. Also, you should have great metrics and dashboards that measure that data. Now that you have all of that, use it to your advantage by creating reports using charts and graphs that show off the progress and/or lack of progress.

Create a reporting template and provide analysis:
You should start by creating a template for tracking this data and provide some sort of analysis. Sometimes having the data/charts in Excel and only rolling the charts into a powerpoint are a great way to provide analysis and value to just a chart, graph, or list of numbers in a table.

I’ve learned had tons of experience of looking like an idiot or losing income by not having the appropriate metrics and reporting in place for clients and internally at a company. But, I can tell you that there are also organizations out there that flat out don’t have this in place or won’t be able to put this into place, and, well, you’ll just have to deal with it. But, when that situation arises, make sure that you are upfront and straight forward about that and the situation it will cause. If you have done that, it will usually ready the client for the type of things that you will use to measure success.