Critically Analyze Your Web Metrics

One of the biggest advantages to improving online marketing is the fact that data is instantly available to inform decisions.  However, sometimes data gets oversimplified and provides false “insight”.

Recently a client expressed concern that the referring links from their social media platforms was too low.  It was true that only a small fraction (about 2%) of their traffic was generated from their social profiles according to the website analytics.  The requested action was to get more posts on the social profiles to generate more clicks.

On the surface that seems like a reasonable response.  More activity will result in more traffic.  However, it was actually a misassignment of data and a lack of critically analyzing the data.  Most of their social posts either had no links or were linking to a blog not hosted on their website.  Increasing posts would likely have no effect on links back to the website because the posts were not set up to link to the website.

So instead of arbitrarily making posts, we focused on linking content back to the website by ensuring that at least half of the social posts included a link to the website.  At the end of the month, we had a more realistic figure on social engagement with about 15% of traffic coming from social platforms.

Misaligning web analytics is where “best practices” become a liability.  For example, a common best practice is that bounces are bad and they should be as low as possible.  That typically is true. But what if a page is promoting a social media contest with a link to your LinkedIn page?  If the page is effective, most of that pages traffic will show as a bounce.  So rather than looking at the page and saying, “it’s performing poorly”, some tracking from the site to the LinkedIn post need applied to find how many people moved on to the offer and how many left.

Avoid oversimplifying your web analytics.  A lot of “best practices” regularly get applied across the board with no critical thinking.  This typically results in wasted effort or negative impacts to marketing campaigns, or both.

An Online Marketing Strategy that Works for YOUR Business

There is no shortage of email, social, and online marketing to sample from.  It’s a common occurrence for us to get a forward saying, “Can we do something like this?”  While there is nothing wrong with getting inspiration from other marketing campaigns; trainers, consultants, and professional coaches need to assess whether the marketing strategy works for their business.

Recently I had a client forward one of Seth Godin’s emails to me and say, “Let’s make our emails just like Seth’s emails.” The email sample was very simple with a short bit of content and a handful of social options.

No disrespect to Mr. Godin, he offers great content and I’m sure he has a clearly defined plan for his emails being the way they are, but this client wasn’t Seth Godin.  Seth Godin’s campaign was built around short content driven by name recognition and a library of well-established books and concepts.  This client was fairly new to his market and offering in depth consulting relationships.  The focus of the email campaign and audience size was much different.

So we said, “We can do something along the lines of what Seth Godin did but there is not any direct lead generating mechanisms on the email.  Are you comfortable if leads go away for an extended period until you’ve built up a following in the way Seth Godin has?”  The consultant adamantly replied, “Well no, I need leads to keep coming in.”

What we ended up with was short tactics and insights like Seth Godin’s email but coupled with a single call to action that would change based on the content.  It’s great to be inspired by other marketing strategies but pay attention to the details.  What works for one business won’t work for all businesses.