Recently published in the April/ May edition of Your Business Magazine.
If you’re a small business owner, you’ve been told many times by now that social media and digital marketing are non-negotiables when it comes to your marketing efforts. It’s all very well to set up a website and social media platforms, and start using them to build your brand, but how do you know they’re working?
You will probably have figured out that digital marketing efforts are more measurable than traditional marketing like newspapers, magazines and billboards. The problem is figuring out which metrics to focus on and how to keep track of them. We have put together a list of tools and metrics to help you navigate this minefield.
Google Analytics is the most well-known and widely-used analytics tool for website statistics. It is cloud-based and as such you can log in from anywhere in the world to track the relevant metrics. It is also simple to set up, any web developer can add the code to your website once the site is up and running.
Besides the most obvious metric – how many people have visited your website in a certain time-period – the other popular metrics are categorised as follows:
1. Audience: insights into the characteristics of your website users (visitors) such as their demographics, geolocation, the device they’re using, the browser and operating system they used to access your site, whether they’ve been to your site before, and more.
2. Acquisition: how your users (visitors) came to your website, i.e. from Google search (organic), another website (referral), an email newsletter, a paid ad, social media or by directly typing your URL into their browser.
3. Behaviour: information on what pages your users are visiting, the time they spent on each page and what they clicked on.
4. Conversion: tracks when a user does something that you want them to do, i.e. buy a product, submit an enquiry, etc. This needs to be specifically set up by using a piece of code on your website.
The tool allows you to create your own custom dashboard, so you can just adjust the time period when you log in and immediately see the data that you want to measure. There are also other software applications available for you to collate this information into easily digestible and visual reports – check out Swydo and Supermetrics.
One of the biggest appeals of social media is the fact that you can track customers and customer relationships in a meaningful way. However, many business owners get bogged down with the idea of tracking vanity metrics, such as the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
While these are nice to haves and definitely necessary to gain reach on these platforms, they shouldn’t be the only things to look at to see if you are succeeding on these platforms.
Across all platforms, the metrics which matter are the reach of your content (sometimes called impressions), the engagement that it receives and the number of clicks through to your website (click through rate). While the metrics are similar for most platforms, there are some that are worth noting.
- Facebook: the interesting thing about this platform is the amount of personal information it can gather about your audience. Facebook is the number one social media tool for consumer marketing due to the fact that the targeting of content and advertising is so detailed. The metrics that are available on your page include the age, gender, location and interests of your audience.
- Twitter: the use of hashtags is the main differentiating factor of Twitter analytics. From the platform’s analytics dashboard you can find out what the most talked about topics are such as events like International Women’s Day and big sports events. You can then join the conversation by creating a campaign focusing on one of these topics.
- Instagram: the native dashboard of metrics for Instagram is fairly simple as it is done purely on your phone, however there are plenty of tools available to delve deeper into your statistics such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social. These tools allow you to track your hashtag performance, how many people engaged with the hashtags in your posts and which ones performed the best.
- LinkedIn: as one of the only business-to-business social networks available, the metrics here are a little different. The LinkedIn analytics dashboard shows the demographics of your page by industry and seniority of role allowing you to see you your customer really is and targeting your content accordingly.
Another important way to measure social media results is to test the content on different audiences. Conducting split testing or A/B testing with your content can be hugely beneficial to finding out what works and what doesn’t. Remember to test only one metric at a time and to give it time to get results.
Newsletters, when done well, are still a very effective way of reaching customers directly and are extremely measurable. Using platforms such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact or Campaign Monitor you can track your subscription rate, number of opens on a certain email campaign, number of clicks and where the user clicked on the newsletter as well as the number of users who unsubscribe after each campaign.
The important step, and one that business owners often forget, is to study the data to change behaviour and get better results in future.
A study by the SMB Group found that the biggest technological challenge facing small businesses is getting better insights using the data they already have access to.
Once you have a better understanding of the metrics and how to find this data it is important to document the information in a format which can be compared over different date periods.
Each platform should have objectives and goals in place to gauge whether the platform is bringing in a good return on investment. The goals should be realistic but should be aligned with your business goals and should push you or your agency to achieve good results to ultimately contribute to business success.