metricsDigital marketers need more than just data; we need data we can use to drive business decisions.    Merely analyzing collected data isn’t enough.  Digital marketers need to first understand organizational goals, then use the data collected to move the organization closer to those goals.

Study actions, not just keywords.

Digital marketers should determine what happens on their website when visitors land on the website from a search engine:  what are the results of various keyword searches?  For example:

Goal for Company ABC Shoes:   Rank higher in search engines for the keyword term “new shoes” and increase sales on new shoes.

Result:   Optimizing the website for the keyword term “new shoes” actually increased traffic on long tail keywords like “new women’s dress shoes” and “men’s leather work boots.”

Lesson Learned:  Company should focus less on high volume terms and more on long tail keywords that actually drive sales.

Determine what visitors are trying to accomplish on your website.

You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken.   Monitoring visitor behavior will help marketers determine if there are problems with their website’s functionality or design.   For example:

You noticed the keyword phrase “women’s running shoes” generated 10,000 visits last month from Google to your running shoes product page.  Approximately 80% (8,000) of those visitors bounced and only 10% (1,000) clicked on the “women’s athletic shoes” link in your side bar.   Of those 1,000 clicks, only 10 of those clicks resulted in sales.   The remaining 10% of your visitors started an entirely new search on your website using your website’s search option then left without making a purchase. What can you learn from monitoring this behavior?

Is the link to your women’s running shoes page hard to find?  Remember, of the 10,000 people who came to your website from Google after searching for “women’s running shoes,” 8,000 of them left the page and only 1,000 of those visitors clicked on the “women’s athletic shoes” link in the side bar. 

Can you expand on your product offering?  Remember, of the 1,000 visitors who clicked on your “women’s athletic shoes” link in the side bar, only 10 of them actually made a purchase.

Is there something wrong with the search function on your website?  Remember, 1,000 visitors performed a search then left without making a purchase.

Tracking website behavior will tell marketers what’s happening and help them determine what they need to do to fix any problems.

Know the who, what, when, why and how of your website visitors.

Web analytics help organizations determine the who, what, why, when and how of web visitors:

Who is visiting my website?

What are people looking for on my website?

Why do people visit my website?

When do people visit my website?

How do people end up on my website?

Being able to answer these questions allows digital marketers to turn their collected data into actionable analytics:  analytics that can be used to help drive business decisions and accomplish organizational goals.  Various analytics software can provide valuable insights on your website’s visitor behavior and your current marketing campaigns.

Know which metrics are the most important to track.

Depending on an organization’s goals, one digital marketer’s most important metrics may be different than her counterpart’s.  Here’s a list of important metrics to get you started:

Visits:  Know how much traffic your website is receiving and where that traffic is coming from.

Conversions:  Know how goals (sales, email list signups, leads) then determine if you have accomplished your goal.

Revenue:  Know which traffic sources are helping your organization generate revenue.

Page views: Know how many pages, on average, a visitor views. 

Average time on your web pages:  Know which pages have the longest and shortest visitor time.

Bounce rate:  Know which pages on your website have the highest and lowest bounce rate.

Unique social actions:  Know what tweets, Facebook updates and LinkedIn updates are driving traffic to your website.

Popular content:  Know what content drives the most traffic to your website.

If you’re trying to track your sales metrics, ExactTarget has a great blog post that details 10 key sales metrics you should track.