How Do I Measure Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

One of the things that daunts many online marketers, most marketers new to the job and every single senior executive in business today is the merciless multiplicity of metrics available to dazzle, amaze and confuse. In a world of lies, damned lies and statistics, every stat-quoting, graph-toting, trend-spotting front-line manager with a laptop can run circles around professionals armed only with 30 years of doing it by gut feel.

Here then, is the short course in the wide variety of things that can be measured to help you sort out the interesting from the useful and the useful from the useless. And always bear Einstein's caution in mind that not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.

 It all boils down to what they did (behavior), how they felt about it (attitude) and the results (outcomes).

 Oh, Behave!

We love to measure clicks. What do people do? How do they actually behave? Every click, every entry in a form and every purchase they make is quantifiable. So let's start with an easy one: Where did they come from?

The source of a Web site visit can shine a bright light on where you should spend your advertising and promotion dollars. People who came from this search engine, searching on that keyword at this time of day ended up being more profitable than the rest. Most valuable.

 Getting a lot of traffic may always seem good. But beware -- they can be like the empty calories in a potato chip. Servers can overload their capacity and crash, the call center can overload and leave people on hold -- and, worst of all, marketing managers reviewing the numbers can be convinced to spend more money on ads that yield more traffic rather than yielding more profitable visits.

 Once they show up, there are a myriad of metrics to review. How long did they stay? How deep did they click? Did they engage with any of your online interactivities? Did they fill out the form? Did they buy? Did they come back?

There is an enormous amount of data one can glean from a site visit and an infinite number of ways that data can be sliced and diced. Best to be intimately aware of your business goals before wandering down this path. The slicing and dicing can get dicey without clear objectives.

Show Me the Love

It's great to know what they did, but it's critical to know why -- and whether the result left them happier with your brand than when they started. For this, you have to go right to the horse's mouth.

            Why did you come to our site?

            Were you successful?

            Did you like what you saw?

Simple satisfaction scores are a start, but getting people to rate a specific task is brilliantly illuminating. "I love your website, but trying to get a Return Authorization Code is - trying!" The customer satisfaction scores should not be ignored, but anecdotal complaints are just little lead bricks, waiting to be turned into gold. If one is willing to tell you, there are 100 who are suffering from the same malady and all will be grateful to you for feeling their pain and fixing the problem pronto.

Find out what they like and don't like, certainly! But don't forget to eavesdrop on their conversations with others. There's a whole blogosphere out there with your name written on it in a variety of places. You know somebody will air dirty laundry about you. After all, even that paragon of customer service virtue, Nordstom has its detractors:

For the very first time, I had a bad experience at Nordstrom. It was so disappointing, it makes me apprehensive to shop at Nordstrom again in the future, and I'm a VERY regular customer.

So ask their opinion, listen to what they tell others and find out what it takes to turn them into Net Promoter-scoring advocates. Then you will know how they act and how they perceive your brand. All that's felt is to determine if any of it is worthwhile.

Show Me the Money

Tons of traffic, piles of pageviews, and a large load of love don't mean a thing if they ain't got Ka-Ching.  No, every site visit does not have to end in a shopping cart. If you know your organization's goals then you know what online actions mean the most to you; click on Contact Us, complete the survey, donate to the cause, or maybe, yes, buy something. Track that all the way back to the keyword searched, the banner ad clicked or the email opened and you have the keys to optimize all of your marketing.

 It all boils down to what they did (behavior), how they felt about it (attitude), the results (outcomes) and your ability to influence those numbers. Just don't be overloaded by interesting but useless charts and graphs.  


            Internet Statics:

                        Smoke 35%

                        Mirrors: 55%

                        Useful Information: 10%


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