4 Important Steps for Creating Your Digital Measurement Plan
Do you know if your website traffic is increasing? Are those visitors engaged and purchasing your product or service? Is that leading to more profit for your business?
These are the questions that you need to be asking yourself every month.
Measurement of your website and online presence is one of the most important tools in any marketing arsenal, but unfortunately it can be daunting and even overwhelming. A lot goes on when it comes to measurement and marketing analytics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. When creating your digital measurement plan, there are 4 important steps that you should structure your plan around.
Follow these 4 steps, and you can quickly and easily setup a measurement plan without pulling your hair out.
Determine Your Digital Goals and Align Them with Business Goals
The first and one of the most important steps is to determine your digital goals and align them with your business. The purpose here is to make sure the time and money you are investing in online marketing is having a positive effect on your bottom line.
Remember, your website and online presence are only tools to help your business succeed. Because of that, you want to ensure that when your website is successful, your business is as well.
First, ask yourself: What are my overall business goals? As with most, it’s highly likely that your overall goal is to increase revenue, so let’s use that as an example.
If we start with an end goal of revenue, we can work backwards to see where we need to start.
What brings in revenue? Leads (however you may define them).
Taking one more step backwards, what brings in leads? Traffic.
Finally, what brings in traffic? That should be the work you or your agency does each month, including content creation, search engine optimization, and anything else that falls under the umbrella of online marketing.
If we use traffic, leads, and revenue, we get left with something that looks like this:
Traffic Leads Revenue
Each of those should be a goal in itself and play off the preceding goal. If we increase traffic by X%, we would expect leads to increase X% as well.
Getting the actual numbers for each goal may require some input from Step #2 below, “Establish Baseline Metrics.” This will help you get an accurate idea of what is an achievable goal based on your historic data.
The first step in creating an effective measurement process should be to align your digital goals with your business goals. Every goal you create should, in some way, lead to revenue or your overall business objective. If it doesn’t, then that goal is probably not in your best interest.Every digital goal you create should, in some way, lead to your overall business purpose Click To Tweet
Establish Baseline Metrics
Once you have your goals set up, you want to know where you’re at right now.
The second step to creating your digital measurement plan is to establish baseline metrics. The reason for this step is to have a starting point to measure against.
If you’ve been creating content and implementing SEO best practices for 6 months, can you give an accurate update on the effect of that work? Did the positive effects and increase in leads or revenue outweigh the cost?
Most analytics tools will allow you to view historic data, so you shouldn’t feel the need to download every piece of data available to you right now, but instead take note of some overall metrics that will reflect larger trends. Here are some of those metrics for when you start:
- Average monthly organic traffic
- Average monthly non-organic traffic (filter by channel)
- Average number of monthly leads (filter by channel)
- Total number of keywords ranking in the top 100 positions
After 6 months of creating content and implementing SEO best practices, you can compare your current numbers to those initial metrics and see what improved and what didn’t. If you noticed that your traffic substantially increased, but leads did not, you may realize that your site isn’t as good as converting users as you had previously thought. That may be reason to slow down content production and focus on conversion rate optimization to take full advantage of your additional traffic.It's hard to know how much your site has improved when you don't know where you started Click To Tweet
Without establishing baseline metrics, it’s hard to know how much you’ve improved and where you need to focus on next. Keep that in mind when going through this process.
Create an Automated Dashboard
The third step is to create an automated dashboard and keep tabs on the status of your website performance and the work you’ve been doing. The purpose here is to always be aware of how your website is performing, take notes of when good (and bad) things happen, and solve any problems as they arise.
If something goes wrong with your site or there’s a sudden drop in traffic, how long will it take you to realize what’s happened? Where do you keep notes of any changes in your marketing efforts? What about offline marketing that may have caused a recent spike in traffic?
Digital marketing dashboards should provide a quick and easy way to view the performance of your site in addition to the work being completed. Monthly reports are great and we’ll get into those in the next section, but having a dashboard that you can pull up in 2 clicks and get that overview of traffic, leads, and engagement is priceless.
Not to mention that executives, decision makers, and clients are busy and may not have the time to read through and look at each metric in a weekly or even monthly report. They want the 2-3 pieces of information that matter most to the business. Create this dashboard for them.
Here are some of the most common dashboard tools:
And that only scratches the surface! The tool that is right for you may not be any of the ones above, and that’s okay because there are hundreds options out there. It’s important to make a list of the features you need combined with the integrated services you use, and then choose the tool that makes the most sense for your business. That may even mean something completely custom built from the ground up!
While dashboards give a performance overview of your site, they can also give you a command center on the work you’ve completed, so someone doesn’t have to go digging through past deliverables trying to piece together what was done.
Online marketing encompasses many different scopes of work, such as content, SEO, link building, paid advertising and more, so it’s important to keep track of all that work and provide a simple overview of what you’re doing and the results of your work. That is why dashboards are key to any successful measurement implementation.
That’s not all we want though. The overview is necessary, but you also need an in-depth analysis of what happened and why. That is where the monthly insight reports come into play.
Create Monthly Insight Reports
The last step in creating a measurement strategy is to have monthly insight reports created.
Dashboards are great for the overview and command center of information, but you need something deeper that really provides insightful analysis on what is happening with your site. The purpose here is to provide the answer of why something happened and how you can take that insight and make use of it.
If the automated dashboard provides the “what happened,” then you want your monthly report to provide the “why that happened” with context and in-depth analysis.
Channel your inner Ryan Reynolds when thinking about what happened and ask…
For example, in your dashboard you might see that organic traffic increased, but that’s all. You won’t see what keywords or landing pages contributed to the increase and that’s not very useful. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you ranking better, or are the keywords seasonal?
- Were the keywords that drove more traffic branded or non-branded?
- What type of pages contributed to the increase? Blog posts? Specific blog categories?
By answering those questions, you can use the data to improve your website as a whole. Maybe through some digging, you find out that pages with a number in the title (i.e. “4 Important Steps…”) have a better click-through rate in Google. Now that’s something useful that you can implement with future posts on your site to drive a higher CTR and ultimately more traffic.
Think of these monthly reports as an analysis of why something happened. You certainly want to know what happened, but that isn’t enough. Knowing why it happened is much more useful for driving improvement, and that is ultimately why measurement is such a useful tool in online marketing.
The purpose of measurement is to evaluate the performance of your online marketing efforts and make improvements where necessary. If you aren’t measuring the effect of your work, can you accurately say whether it is benefiting your business? How are you going to improve on your current content strategy?
The 4 steps outlined above should give you a solid starting point for your measurement strategy. No company is the same and every plan will look different, but these 4 steps will give you what you need to create a process that will allow you to measure and improve your online marketing efforts.
Let’s look at them one last time:
- Determine Goals and Align Them with Business Goals: Make sure the time and money you are investing in online marketing is having a positive effect on your business.
- Establish Baseline Metrics: Have a starting point to measure the effect of your work.
- Create an Automated Dashboard: Be aware of how your website is performing, take note of when good and bad things happen, and solve any problems as they arise.
- Create Monthly Insight Reports: Provide the answer of why something happened and how you can take that insight and make use of it in the future.
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About Stephen Roda
Stephen is a Marketing Analytics Associate with a love for all things related to technology and online marketing. If you ask him what he’s doing on the weekends it ranges from discovering new technologies and programming in Python to playing the drums. He claims to have seen the entire Internet once, maybe twice.