The digital marketing landscape is notoriously fast paced, flooded with new platforms promising the next best thing, evolving platform features and trends, user engagement and expectations changing – making it difficult to know what is hot and not when it comes to your activity. Why should you be spending time to track, evaluate and apply insights into your digital marketing plans, when this is an ever-changing area of your marketing?
The case for using evaluation to gather data and insights to analyse and shape your future digital marketing is a must. Do you know what content is most preferred by your email subscribers? This data is readily available when using an email marketing platform and if you are not using this data to plan your forthcoming email newsletters then you are basically serving a vegetarian steak and chips, which is just rude (trust me, it happened to me and it’s very customer unfriendly not to be heard.)
The case for using evaluation to gather data and insights to analyse and shape your future digital marketing is a must.
Nine reasons why you need to turn your data into actionable insights:
1. Be truly data driven
The days when marketing decisions were guided by: “we’ve always done it this way” and “gut feelings” are gone. Marketing decisions need to be determined by what your data and insights tell you.
2. Be more efficient
Tuning into what your digital marketing data is telling you will help you be more focused on where to put your time, budget and resource.
3. Be more effective
Use channel specific performance data to look at your organisational goals and channel objectives to decide what to prioritise and focus on.
4. Develop better performing campaigns
Keeping a track on how a digital marketing campaign is performing or not, allows you to adjust activity to deliver better performance. For example, knowing what channel is giving you the best return on investment (ROI) may mean you can then decide to allocate more budget or resource here.
5. Make more content that you know engages your audiences
By knowing what the most popular type of content for your Twitter feed or email newsletters is, means you can make evidence-based decisions on content streams.
6. Let your website work harder for you
Through knowing and using website metrics you can optimise relevant content and pages from across your website based on their browsing history or decide whether your entire site is of value or if only certain pages are.
7. Segment your approach to audiences
Consider whether taking a segmented and/or personalised approach would be right for you. Segmentation distilled means applying a set of characteristics to your audience data, and then tailor your messages to each segment and often results in higher conversion rates.
8. Develop ‘user personas’
A lot of organisations really find this a meaningful exercise to have undergone as it articulates your different audiences as a character type, with name, face and personality based on data and statistics.
9. Make better pricing decisions
Use data discovery tools to identify price points for your work, trends and variables. For example, shifts in consumer behaviours and preferences, changes in economic conditions.
Where do you start with your evaluation practices to make a shift to your approach to digital marketing being insight led? Start with ‘goals’.
Much of your digital marketing planning is born from your organisation’s mission, goals, and objectives. Before you can determine if your digital marketing activity or campaign is a success, you need to set objectives and goals.
Let’s look at this in practice:
Goal setting ensures your organisation shares and agrees ambitions and has something to strive for. What’s more, it provides a guideline for the digital marketing metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your campaigns and plans.
Before we look at what metrics to include in your evaluation it’s helpful to consider the following in your approach:
- Only track and measure what is meaningful and relevant to your organisation it’s goals and objectives. Any other insight can be accessed as and when needed via the individual channel analytics and insights.
- Create a simple tracking system that is manageable. Overly complicated and laborious systems are time intensive and usually where most organisations fall down – so keep it easy to manage to stay on track.
- Commit to a timeframe on how often metrics will be collected and who will manage this. Usually this is monthly but be led what is right for your organisation, workflow, and resource. Don’t leave it too long as you lose that ongoing opportunity to tune in and refine.
- Agree the best way to distribute and action insights from your digital marketing evaluation across your organisation.
Given the infinite amount of data available across the digital channels and Google Analytics it can make navigating and knowing what to track tricky if you are not clear where to start.
Keeping in mind the building blocks principles above, let’s dive into what exact marketing metrics you could use to measure the success of your goals across the digital marketing funnels of website, social media, and email.
Audiences behave differently on channels so it’s important to have goals, objectives and measure metrics that are channel specific. Let’s dive in…
Without doubt Google Analytics (GA) is the best, most comprehensive and free insights tool for websites. If you don’t already have an account, it is relatively straight forward to set up, you just need to register and sign up with a Google Account and if applicable get your web developer to add some code and you’re all ready to go.
Big data overload alert warning – though GA could become your new favourite tool, it is also a maze where you can easily spend a lot of time. So here are some of the my suggestions to track:
Number of people who visited your website or page
Number of visits to your website
3. Page Views
The number of times an individual page has been viewed
4. Most Visited Pages
Take a regular look at top performing pages as this can provide some interesting and surprising insights. Ensure these pages are optimised
5. Traffic by Source
Track where visits come from i.e., organic search, your email or social channels, etc.
6. Traffic by device
A breakdown of traffic by device so you understand and take on board the device needs, i.e. more succinct copy for mobile
Identify who your top referring sites are, make friends with them and send them good quality, tailored content
8. Bounce Rate
% of users who land on your site and leave after viewing just one page, the lower the bounce rate the more engaged they are
Number of conversions, can be monetary or other activity
Depending on which email marketing platform you use, you should be able to track and work out the following seven most useful metrics that will help you understand performance and support data driven decision making.
1. Open Rate (OR) %
How many people are opening your newsletters
2. Click Through Rate (CTR) %
How many people who opened the newsletter and clicked on one of the links
3. Click to Open Rate (CTOR)%
You can work this out by dividing the number of clicks by the number of opens. These forementioned metrics when tracked regularly will enable you to know average benchmarks and put in context with wider sector ones.
4. Cost per Click (CPC)
Divide the cost of email newsletter by the number of clicks, this is great on understanding return on investment (ROI)
5. Link Clicks
Track which links were clicked, work out most and least popular content from your newsletter and use this to set criteria for future content creation
6. Device use breakdown
Know what device your subscribers use to open your emails i.e. if mobile then ensure content is optimised
Monitor and benchmark to understand how frequency, content and relevance affects this.
It is important to point out that content posted organically on Facebook, i.e. with no budget on average reaches just over 5% of your followers. So, it is vital to ensure you optimise posts, allocate budget or resource in accordance with channel goals. In other words, if you are not going to use data to make decisions on Facebook don’t bother.
To access channel insights ensure you have a Creators Studio linked to your account. The four most relevant areas of insights that will help you and your organisation learn and inform future marketing are:
1. Audience demographics
Know who your audience are, where they are based and what content works best to build a data driven picture and inform content and resource decisions
2. Posting frequency
Know the best days, times, and frequency to post content
3. Engagement Rate
Track likes, comments, shares and click throughs to establish channel benchmarks and set targets for campaigns
Track new followers and unfollows to look for patterns and opportunities support growth and retention
Twitter’s analytics can be easily accessed and downloaded from your account, monitor the following:
1. Engagement Rate
Get to know how your average tweet performs – track Clicks, Likes, Retweets, Mentions, Comments, Profile Visits and set benchmarks
How many times a post showed up in someone’s timeline
3. Top Mention
This is the top tweet mention that has generated the most reach and a great one to track and know so you can build a pool of amplifiers and send them content
4. Top Tweet
The analytics dashboard lets you know your top performing tweet and this is super useful to monitor month on month to understand what posts perform well
5. Top Follower
This is one your followers who has the largest reach on their channel – again make friends with them, send and tailor content
Instagram and TikTok
For both channels use app to access analytics, you will again need a Creator Studio account and for TikTok ensure you have a Pro Account.
1. Engagement Rate
Get to know how your average post and video performance – track Likes, Views, Comments, Profile Visits and set benchmarks
New Followers, demographics,
Strongest and weakest videos, track total likes, shares and average watch time to understand what performs best
How do you convert your metrics, data and evaluation into a digestible roundup?
Once you have agreed what metrics you are going to collate, you need to implement an evaluation framework to bring this together in meaningful way to share across your organisation. It is important to remember that when creating an insight-based culture, your role alongside knowing your digital marketing activity, reach and engagement is also to develop data literacy across your organisation. So that means being data savvy and using storytelling to build that narrative arc – so how can you achieve this?
Good luck on your journey! Remember, you will hit challenges, bumps, fail but use and apply the learning. Keep challenging organisational assumptions and preferences, do not be deterred by this – you are challenging and changing your organisation to be insight led and make evidence-based decisions.
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Please attribute as: "How to evaluate the impact of your digital marketing to help improve your marketing and communications activities (2022) by Ranjit Atwal supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0