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Making Analytics Metrics More Manageable

Google Analytics is a firehose of data. The same is true of just about any analytics package you might be using. Drinking from a fire hose isn’t any fun, and if that’s how you’re able to get information about your website, chances are you’re not getting the insights you need to make decisions that will improve your digital marketing performance.

One way to make all that data is more digestible is to organize the metrics you’re tracking by category. You can then focus on one area at a time, and integrate the interesting information you find in one category with the information you glean from another. That’s frequently where the most valuable insights are to be found, and you’re far more likely to find insights if you’re not feeling overwhelmed.

As you look at the categories below, please keep in mind that you may want to reorganize some of the metrics differently depending on how you use them. And, of course, you can apply the same concepts across your metrics and analytics for email marketing, social media, and any other digital marketing metrics you are gathering.

Consumption Metrics
The first category I would include is perhaps the most basic. These metrics give you data on how your content is being consumed. As with nearly all the metrics we’ll cover below, you’ll find that tracking data over time is usually more valuable than a snapshot from any single moment.

Examples:
• Pageviews
• Unique visitors
• Time per session

Engagement Metrics
Along with a picture of how your digital marketing content is being consumed, you’ll want a picture of how your audience is engaging with your content. Metrics here will tell you whether visitors are being led to additional content on your site or leaving after seeing one item. You’ll also gain a picture of interaction in the form of content downloads and media consumption.

Examples:
• Return rate
• Bounce rate
• Pages per visit
• Gated content and other form completions
• Asset downloads and views (PDFs and video)
• Comments
• Time per session

Sharing Metrics
These metrics may not apply to your website depending on the features you have built into it. If you have tools that allow visitors to share content easily, either via social media or email, you should be tracking how often those tools are used.

Business Metrics
Beyond the process metrics listed above, you want to be tracking the Data where the rubber meets the road. For most of us, page visits and PDF downloads don’t pay the rent. We need leads, conversion, and revenue.
These aren’t always easy to track accurately, particularly in more complex sales typical of B2B marketing, so you may need to recognize that these are less accurate. Still, it’s important to know whether your marketing efforts are generating additional leads, generating stronger leads, and leading to increased profitable revenue.

Content Production Metrics
This is a group of metrics that are often overlooked. In part, that’s because they aren’t captured in your analytics program. They are important to track, though, especially if you want to make a case for the return on the investment you are making into your website and content marketing.

Examples:
• Content production per staff member/FTE
• Non-labor costs per content element producer
• Distribution/promotion costs and time

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Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on Biznology.com, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

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