By Stewart Boutcher, founding CTO at Beaconsoft Ltd
For any business that engages in digital marketing, data is an essential part to understanding how target audiences think, and can provide a complete picture of who a potential customer is, including their age, location, likes and dislikes.
Equipped with this knowledge, marketers can then decide how best to spend their budgets to reach different demographics of people with products and services that are both relevant and of interest to them.
Understanding your data and analytics, however, is not as straightforward as you might expect, and using them to drive market share can be a real challenge if you don’t know which metrics to study most closely.
Here are some of the most important metrics to know, and some ways they can be used to boost growth.
Simply put, traffic refers to the number of visitors that come to your website, and is measured in visits, which are sometimes called ‘sessions’.
Though traffic was widely seen as the most important means of determining a website’s popularity when e-commerce first took off, it is ultimately meaningless if users leave the site after mere seconds.
To best understand your traffic, it is important to track the various sources from which it comes.
These include organic sources – those who found your site because it showed up on a search engine results page [SERP] – direct sources – those who typed in the URL to get directly to your site – referral sources – those who came from another website via a link – social sources – those who were directed from social media – and paid sources – those who clicked on a paid ad or promoted piece of content.
While many companies focus on bringing in organic traffic by devoting large portions of their budgets to search engine optimisation [SEO], separating out your traffic by each source can help to identify other opportunities available to your business, such as whether you should spend more on building brand awareness or increasing social engagement.
By getting a clearer picture of where all your traffic is coming from, you will be able to identify which sources are delivering the most sessions, and should therefore be a key focus, and which sources are falling short of expectations and therefore may require extra marketing investment.
Conversions are the metric that all marketers desire – namely, they are the actions that you hope people will take when visiting your website.
These might include signing up to your newsletter, downloading a digital brochure, or making a telephone call using a number found online, which it is hoped will then lead to the user becoming a customer.
Through tracking different types of conversions, you can begin to recognise the actions that visitors typically take before becoming customers.
For example, an average customer might read several blog posts, download a piece of content, and receive five marketing emails before they agree to talk to a salesperson, and having this knowledge can allow you to optimise the customer’s journey to conversion.
Once you understand your visitors clearly, you can then pinpoint common themes and develop content that provides helpful suggestions, responses or answers that are more likely to generate further conversions, thereby maximising your share of the market.
Site load speed
The majority of internet users will be familiar with the frustration of having to wait for a website to load, and while the load speed of your site may seem a relatively insignificant metric to measure, it is far more important than you might think.
According to Kissmetrics, 47 per cent of users expect a page to load within two seconds or less, while 40 per cent said they abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load.
It is important, therefore, for marketers to consider the number of potential conversions they are missing out on due to slow load times, and what they stand to gain by optimising speeds.
While there are many methods that can be used to make your website load much faster, three simple ways are to reduce the file size of all your media assets – like images and videos – leverage a caching, page speed plugin, and upgrade your web hosting package.
These steps can make a marked improvement to your load speeds, thereby taking visitors to your website far quicker than would otherwise be possible, and increasing the likelihood of receiving more conversions.
Knowing which metrics from your digital marketing data and analytics are most important will help you to stay focused on what truly matters when it comes to driving business growth.
Gaining a clearer understanding of the types of people who are visiting your website, as well as how many, makes it considerably easier to identify which demographics you should be targeting with your digital marketing efforts in a bid to boost sales revenues and increase your market share.
However, it is crucial to be aware that it is likely a considerable portion of the traffic that your website receives is attributable to so-called ‘click bots’ – automated programs that are used to steal clicks and waste digital ad budgets on non-human engagements that don’t lead to conversions.
Only through the use of new analytics technologies like Beacon are companies able to highlight the presence of click bots and take steps to tackle them – allowing them to make better, more informed decisions about their marketing strategies based on accurate data that they can trust.