If you own a small business with an online presence – be it an eCommerce store or a local iPhone repair shop – you probably cannot afford to run a large marketing, sales and analytics department. However, with the proliferation of technical know-hows, you now have an unprecedented access to data that should make your business decisions smarter and data-driven. One of the biggest challenges you face comes with that open access to numbers and figures that you need to make sense of. And here’s when you should consider external forces to come to your aid. Look for data visualisation to build and adjust your online business strategy.
Why Data Visualisation?
It’s not about charts, bar graphs and maps. Well-visualised data gives you the ability to choose data points that matter, align them with timelines and trends that will show you insights or push you in the right direction.
Of course, if you are an experienced business developer, you already have your own practices in place. But most of the small and medium business owners aren’t there yet. Here’s a brief guide on metrics that you should monitor regularly to help with your online business endeavours. Those metrics are split by essential areas of online business marketing. And keep in mind that having those metrics visualised makes it a lot easier to navigate through data.
Let’s dive in!
Key metrics to monitor regularly
If you have any online presence, Google Analytics (or GA) is your first stop. GA suite has so much data to offer, you may feel like drowning in the ocean of numbers. If you have about 12 hours to spare, you can take a GA Academy course and learn the basics. But there’s no need for that when you can clearly define your website goals and just follow the steps to achieve them.
Here are a couple of areas you should keep an eye on:
If you own an eCommerce website, you have to know where your audience comes from, which languages they speak, what’s their average age and gender. This information can have an impact on your website design – there’s an entire colour theory for Web-design, based on gender, age or cultural background. It can also help you decide whether there’s a need to translate your pages into different languages, and much more.
If you’re a local business with some online presence, pay attention to Devices used to access your website (mobile-friendliness can be life-changing). Interests is also a category to check from time to time to adjust your content, where possible, to what your visitors are likely to read. Interests can influence your business development, too. For instance, if you own a local iPhone repair shop, but you see that your website visitors are avid Galaxy users, also consider repairing Samsung phones.
Key metrics: Age, Gender, Countires, Devices.
Page & Content Analysis
You have to know for sure which pages serve as the landing spots for your visitors. The first page new users land on can either help you acquire new customers or make them never want to visit your website again. So you should optimize the pages with the highest traffic and their content: make sure you provide as much attractive information as possible and add clear CTAs (call-to-action).
Key metrics: Landing Pages, Exit and Bounce Rate.
When it comes to website performance, first, look at your page load speed. Still not convinced it is important? A lot can happen in one second: a one-second delay in your website loading time can actually decrease your conversions, page views and customer satisfaction.
The metric that you really need to look at daily is traffic, as in how many visitors your website acquires daily, weekly and so on. Look at your new and returning visitors and make sure people do in fact come back to your site. If the count is too low, consider some ways of traffic acquisition: Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Email newsletters. Keep reading and we’ll talk about these. Make sure you know your highest-performing traffic sources to put an emphasis on these channels.
Key metrics: Site Speed, Overall Traffic, Traffic Sources.
Eventually what you want to look at is whether your website fulfils its objectives. Your goals can vary from online purchases to signing up to a form or an event. Looking at goal value will indicate how much a particular goal completion has cost you. If you customer acquisition exceeds the average purchase amount, consider adjusting your strategy.
Key metrics: Goal Value, Goal Conversion, eCommerce Revenue, eCommerce Transactions.
You already saw above that Social Media is among the key sources of traffic. Check your top-performing posts, also known as the ones with the highest engagement, and build your Social Media strategy around your best practices. If you aren’t seeing many conversions (clicks) from Social Networks to your website, it is still a great place for monitoring your brand or customer feedback. Pay attention to Engagement signals – replies, comments – and react timely to enhance customer satisfaction and prevent or resolve negative sentiments.
Key metrics: Engagement (likes, shares, retweets, reposts, mentions), Performance, Reach/Impressions
If you’re determined to turn Social Media into a visitor acquisition machine, try paid advertising. Facebook Ads can provide a substantial boost in your traffic for a relatively low cost. AdWords, or Google’s paid search, on average have higher prices. But you should understand the primary difference between the two: Facebook ads boosts your reach by potential interest from the network users. AdWords are search-specific, as in the person you are targeting is already looking for a product/service you provide.
Make sure that you do a couple of trial paid ads on both platforms, and look at the strategies with the highest ROI.
Key metrics: Clicks, Reach, Impressions, CPC (cost per click), CTR (click-through-rate), RPC (revenue per click).
All of the above had more to do with acquiring new visitors and being appealing to them. But what about your existing customer base? In marketing, the next step after lead (potential customer/user) generation is nurturing. Fetch up a newsletter to make sure you stay in touch with your potential customers. Make sure you are not irritating or spammy. You can avoid that by providing valuable and useful information: special offers, deals, tips and tricks on your products/services, and so on. Once again, experimentation is the key to a successful email newsletter: try different titles, content, writing styles. Check each email campaign’s performance and define your own success factors.
Key metrics: Subscribers, Unsubscribers, Opens, Bounces, and Clicks.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Digital Marketing are more subtle ways of increasing your revenue by increasing your visibility, enhancing customer service and ensuring a larger customer acquisition. But if you’re actually accepting online purchases or recurring payments, these approaches become not so subtle anymore. Tracking your online revenue (total or recurring), pricing policy (churn, upgrades or downgrades) and customer growth are essential. And combining this data with numbers from Digital Marketing will provide you with a helicopter view on your entire online efficiency.
You should also watch out for any recurring issues with failed transactions or refunds – spot certain trends and try to prevent these actions by fixing the problem with transactions or looking at the reasons behind customers asking for a refund. Thus, by looking at data you can spare yourself from losing revenue and extra costs coming from the issues above.
Key metrics: Revenue, Revenue by Product/Plan, Total Customers, ARPU (average revenue per customer), Failed Transactions, and Refunds.
The last advice for treating your data smartly is to ignore KPIs (key performance indicators) for a minute.
Instead of randomly picking and pulling metrics to serve as performance indicators, define a problem your business is currently facing, ask yourself questions that will help you resolve the issue and define metrics that help you answer it.
To get started with practical questions and metrics, try out free templates from my company, Octoboard. Data is prepared and grouped for you to display it in your office and check it daily and start getting insights.
The following guides have been used to prepare this article: Google Analytics, Stripe, Yandex, Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Facebook, VKontakte.
Read More: Are Performance Issues the Bane of eCommerce Sites?
Final thoughts section is interesting. “Ask real questions and think of data that answers them”. Only use data that answer real questions. This should have been at the top of the article.
P.S. Thanks for the PDF references.
Amazing article, I loved the screenshots attached to the article, made it more fun to read.
Other tools you could use are those for heatmap analysis and full session recordings like userTrack, hotjar, mouseflow, etc…