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Big numbers can boost organizational ego. But as I’ve recently discussed, some businesses are distracted by vanity metrics. Focus instead of the metrics that matter, those that indicate meaningful behaviors related to leads, conversions, and sales.

Marketing Metrics that Matter

Digital marketing is certainly making one thing more accessible — data. Yet all the information about leads, prospects, customers, and brand advocates doesn’t help if you don’t analyze the metrics that can drive future action.

Here, then, are some important questions to ask yourself when poring over all of the data about customer journeys, bounce rates, turning returning customers into loyalists, and all that other good stuff.

#1 Where is your traffic coming from?

Measuring traffic numbers alone is not enough. You need to be aware of your traffic sources. Really, you want to be bringing visitors to your site from a number of different sources:

•   Direct — visitors who arrive at your site after directly typing your URL

•   Search — those who find you based on your ranking in relation to their search query

•   Referral — people drawn to your site from influencers or another site.

#2 Who are you converting?

You also want to understand what is making people convert. You might compare the site interactions of different groups to determine what first-time visitors do differently from a loyal or returning customer.

In addressing new visitor conversions think about how responsive your site is and how easy it is to find needed information. Returning customers have the advantage of knowing what they are looking for, but you’ll need to analyze new visitor actions to see where they struggle or get frustrated and even leave.

#3 What are those conversions costing?

This one is truly important. Having high numbers of visitors, who spend a great deal of time on your page, and return and convert and all of that good stuff isn’t worth much if it costs you an arm and a leg to get them to do so. Your business can’t afford to go broke generating its leads.

In other words, make sure your marginal profit per customer is more than your customer acquisition costs.

Here’s an example of how Marketing Insider Group did the conversion cost math on two content guides it produced:

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#4 What are people doing on your site?

Understanding what a user did on your website, what they saw, and what they clicked helps you tell a deeper story about your visitors.

You need to recognize what is driving conversions to try to influence the other users to act in the same way. So, keep an eye on page view rates per visitor, time spent, actions taken and determine what can be done to increase the time spent on your site and how you can leverage that time into increased conversions.

#5 When are people bouncing and why?

The bounce rate is a metric you want to minimize. This is the rate at which visitors to your site leave without moving onto another page. Bounce rates vary by industry so a quick search will shed light into your industry.

Visitors may bounce for several reasons such as:

  1. Weak Site Match - they were looking for eye glasses and ended up on your site selling monogrammed wineglasses.
  2. Bad User Experience - with more and more people coming from mobile devices but desktop traffic not dwindling, you need to make sure that your website presents well on smartphones, tablets and laptops. 
  3. Poor Design - difficult to find the information they want, endless scrolling on mobile devices, too busy, plain ugly.
  4. High Load Times - too slow and they'll go somewhere more responsive.
I spoke to Keenan Davis, Senior Director of Marketing for SVS, to gain insight into how to remedy the situation. Keenan says "the best way to remedy bounce rates is to think through the click path you want visitors to take.  If someone lands on your latest blog post is there a call to action referring that reader to a 2nd blog that acts as a great follow-up piece?  Are you directing them to resources or tools on your site that could be useful for them?  Are you introducing your product or service in an organic way that isn’t too over-the-top salesy?  There may be a path to conversion that is broken, or a weak call to action on the third page into the process. Identify the possible reasons exits are happening at a high rate and this can lead you to several small fixes to better optimize your site."

Key Takeaway

Having a useful product or service is only part of the battle. Marketers must also get their brand (and its content) noticed so that sales can convert that audience into customers. Doing so depends on using the right metrics to tweak campaigns, optimize marketing efforts, and better target the audience that will want to buy and become loyal to your brand.