How we access and engage with the online world has changed since the early days of Web Analytics with Urchin but the way most of us report on online success and campaign results has somewhat stagnated. Sure the visualisation might be prettier but many of us continue to emphasise metrics such as page views. And who can blame us? They are fast to pull and easy to understand. But there is a big downside. The ways we interact with the web: the devices; the channels; and the times and the places, continue to shift and change. This has inevitably meant metrics such as page views are less representative and fail to paint an accurate picture of how users are engaging with our online properties.
This is not to suggest more complexity is the answer. Whether you're doing the reporting or reading the reports, fast and easy to understand is critical to making data useful. While we might hope for everyone to experiment and find the attribution model that’s just right for them, the fact is time and expertise are often in short supply.
To help find some balance between seeing the whole picture and the need for fast simple reporting, we’ve compiled five fast metrics beyond page views to help get your new year in data-driven online marketing kick started.
1. Goal Completions
Okay, this one is a bit of a gimme but when it comes to fast and accurate reporting it’s absolutely the place to start. A Goal Completion can be as simple as reaching a ‘Thank You’ page (after a purchase) or be based on a series of events. It offers an opportunity to highlight what's truly important. If you’ve hesitated to use goals because your customers convert offline, Google’s newly launched Smart Goals could work for you.
2. Bounce Rate
This one is a staple in reports but it’s a metric with merit, it deserves respect. Some pages have a high Bounce Rate for good reason; a ‘Contact Us’ page, for example, might be intended to drive engagement offline to a phone call. And when it comes to the performance of a search or display campaign, the landing page Bounce Rate is the quickest way to see what’s working and what’s draining your budget.
3. Get Comparing
This one’s a hybrid but well worthwhile. It’s the best way to look ‘before and after’ to see for example if a new mobile site is getting better engagement or if changes in content are bringing in higher quality traffic? Get Comparing is a basic feature of Google Analytics and sometimes we forget it’s there because we get pulled into the more complicated reporting tools. Fact is, a 'simple pages per session' report with a comparison to the previous period or the same time last year could be all you need to illustrate the value of new design or content.
An in page Share is the result of so much going right! You cannot afford to ignore this metric. For successful content sharing, the right audience had to be targeted and brought to your website, they had to engage with your site (see Bounce Rate), the page and the content presented, and then finally value it enough to put their name next to it. If your content is getting an increasing number or percentage of Shares something is going very right.
We all learn from our mistakes and identifying our failures can be the fastest path to success. Exit pages are a great place to start for example for an A/B test to get you on track for success. While some pages are natural Exit pages (like ‘Thank You’ pages) other popular Exit pages can signal: poorly performing content; too many fields in a form; or even a malfunctioning link.
Fast and simple is good but giving a little more time and attention to fundamental metrics and reports can help to give you a fuller picture of how well your content, website or campaign is performing.
We love sharing our love of data-driven online marketing. If you’re looking to get started or for training or assistance with something more advanced come with us data and analytics nerds down the rabbit hole in 2016, get in touch. We’ve got it all, from hack and cheat sheets to training courses, after hours events and one of the biggest and best digital analytics conferences anywhere, all coming this year.