What should you measure?

Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, recommends that businesses focus on four measures that will help improve their online marketing efforts:

  • Cost per acquisition

  • Bounce rate

  • Abandonment rates

  • Conversion rates

We’ll focus on each of those in turn.

Cost per acquisition

It’s a fact of life that your marketing budget is smaller than you’d like. So, you need to make it count. Focus on increasing the amount of revenue you generate for each pound you spend on marketing.

This involves calculating how much each of your marketing campaigns cost, measuring how much revenue it generates, and working out a return on investment (ROI).

First time round, it will probably take you a bit of time to calculate the figures. But, once you’re into the habit, it’s very little extra work – and the information you’ll glean as a result will be invaluable.

You won’t find all the information you need in Google Analytics (GA). You might have to set up a spreadsheet where you calculate the profitability of your different marketing campaigns. You’re likely to be paying hard cash for your advertising campaigns (banner ads, Facebook ads, and AdWords clicks). But there’s a cost associated with your email marketing and SEO, too and, in all your marketing efforts, there’s the cost of your time. So make sure you’re accounting for those.

Google Analytics will allow you to see your traffic sources and conversions. Armed with that information, and your costs, you should be able to create a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

Invest in the campaigns that have the best cost-per-acquisition.

If, over time, you find you can’t improve the high cost-per-acquisition campaigns, kill them.

[Note: this is a simple analysis for a one-product business. If you sell more than one product, you’ll need to take into account the profitability of each of your products].

Bounce rate

The Bounce rate metric in Google Analytics measures the proportion of visitors that arrive at your site and immediately click away again.

In Google Analytics, you’ll find your bounce rate report here:

Simply sort by Bounce Rate to see your worst performing pages.

Bounce Rate is not a very sophisticated measure, but it will help you identify pages that may not be delivering what your customers want. When you find content with a high bounce rate, ask yourself:

  • Are you targeting the wrong audience?

  • Are you delivering the wrong content for your audience?

  • Are you doing enough to get traffic circulating through your site?

  • Is your page badly designed? ie, is it unappealing or difficult to navigate?

Abandonment rates

Lots of people visit your site wanting something from you. They may even purchase something from you. But, for a variety of reasons, they’ll click away before making a transaction.

  • Perhaps they’re worried about you spamming their email address?

  • Maybe your shopping cart is difficult to navigate?

  • Perhaps your prices aren’t clearly stated?

Whatever the reason these visitors are leaving, they’re keen to interact with someone: and, with a few small changes to your site, that could be you.

If you’ve got an ecommerce site, optimizing your checkout pages – to increase conversions – is one of the highest-value pieces of work you can do.

If you have set up Goals (we’ll show you how in a moment) and Goal Funnels in Google Analytics, you might want to focus on those with the highest abandonment rate first.

If you don’t have Goal Funnels set up, try using http://paditrack.com to track your conversions; it’s easier to set up than Google Analytics, also free, and gives you retrospective data (which Google Analytics doesn’t).

Here are some simple actions that will help improve your checkout process:

  • Reduce the number of fields that customers need to fill out.

  • Show shipping costs up front (if you offer free shipping, make this a key marketing point)

  • Where you can, reduce the number of checkout steps

  • Ask for account creation at the end of the process rather than at the start.

You’ll discover more ways to optimize your checkout in this article.

Conversion rates

Make sure you’re aware of – and always trying to improve – your site’s conversion rates.

If your site’s generating more than a few sales a month, create an advanced segment in Google Analytics that allows you to track your best customers (those that purchase larger than average volumes). Identifying where these customers come from can help you focus your marketing towards high-value segments of your audience.

As a rule of thumb, you should invest in the traffic sources that are generating your best customers.

Setting up lead tracking and Goals

Google Analytics will provide you with lots of basic marketing data. It’s great to know how many people have visited your site, how many pages they visited, and what browser they’re using. But, it’s much more important to know whether you’re achieving your business goals: how much is your website helping your business? This is where Goals can be really helpful.

Google Analytics allows you to set up Goals that are specific to your site. Goals might be email sign-ups to your newsletter, free trialists of your product, visitors that download a PDF ebook, or whatever. Your Goals will depend on what type of business you’re in. (Ecommerce conversions are measured separately, and we’ll discuss those later).

There are four ways of tracking Goals. You can measure:

  • Visits to a specific page

  • Time spent on site

  • Pages viewed per visit

  • A specific event, which can be almost anything you like

You can learn more about how to set up and track your Goals in this 40-minute webinar recording. It features Google’s Analytics Advocate, +Justin Cutrioni. Inevitably, it focuses a little too heavily on measuring AdWords conversions, but otherwise it’s a really helpful guide, explaining what you might want to track – and why:

Justin Cutrioni on Google Analytics

This details how to set up ecommerce tracking.

If you’re an online retailer, you’re probably more interested in how much you’re selling than any non-financial Goals. It’s possible to track your site’s sales in Google Analytics, using ecommerce tracking.

Ecommerce tracking works in a similar way to Goal tracking. The main difference is that you’ll need to add a specific piece of code to your receipt page.

Again, the set-up process will vary depending on how your site was built. For most people, it can be a tad tricky, so it’s a job that’s often left to a developer (or us, perhaps?).

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