Making sense of the numbers is one of the most important elements of digital marketing.

The advent of the internet has turned the marketing world upside down. Where more traditional mediums such as print, television, and radio relied largely on reported audience numbers to gauge a marketing campaign’s reach, digital mediums allow for an incredible level of visibility when it comes to measuring reach and effectiveness. This, in turn, allows for campaigns to be optimised in real time. But with so many numbers and measurements available in digital marketing, how can we make sense of them to generate real results? While how you interpret metrics will differ from business to business, there is a process you can use that will help you to define what information you need and develop actionable insights.

What are you trying to achieve?

Every digital marketing activity should have an objective. It could be something broad, like brand profile raising and visibility, or something more specific, like getting more signups for your mailing list. This is something that is applicable to all kind of communications, whether it’s an advertisement, press release, or a social media campaign. These objectives are not only useful in helping to guide your communications; you’ll refer back to them in order to make sense of your metrics.

Cut down the numbers (Less is more)

Once you’ve defined what your objectives are, then you can start to whittle down the available metrics to those that are most applicable to your goals. If by knowing a certain number, it doesn’t help you with taking better action as a next step, then you are probably better off not tracking those numbers in your day to day. . So for example, if your intention is to simply increase brand visibility by getting your audience to view your page, then numbers like “impressions” (number of people that have seen your digital ads) are going to be useful, whereas Click-through-Rate (CTR) (the % of people clicking your digital ads) may be less of your concern. Once you’ve decided on a set of metrics (a list of some of the most important can be seen here), then it’s time to set up the tools you’ll use to measure them with.

For a highly analytical, statistical area of marketing, metrics actually require a great deal of creativity to harness properly.

Gather your tools

Now that you’ve established what measurements are going to provide you with some meaningful insights that are relevant to your objectives, you need to work out what tools are going to allow you to find and track these metrics. Of course, there’s the well-known Google Analytics, which provides some of the most commonly used metrics, and Facebook Page Insights, which provides… insights into your Facebook page (well duh). However, there is a range of tools outside of these that can provide you with different kinds of visibility and customisation, such as Moz and Hubspot. Ultimately, finding out which tool/s are best for you will require you to do some testing yourself, as there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here.

Now it’s time to hypothesise!

You’ve got your measurement tools ready, you’ve set up a dashboard to track the metrics you need – now comes the fun part. You need to start using your metrics to draw some hypotheses about how users are interacting with your site. So for example, if you’re trying to get your users to take a more concrete call-to-action, like make purchases in an online store, then again, you can simply look at how many purchases have been made, but there may be other pieces to the story that you’re missing. If lots of purchases are being made in your shop, but users are spending a long time on the page, then it’s worthwhile considering why that may be. Is it because you have a lot of products to pick from, or is it because your user interface could be simplified to make it more intuitive? From here, you can perhaps set up a brief post-purchase survey to check whether this is the case – if so, then you can make iterative changes to your user interface, and see how this affects the time spent on certain parts of the site.

For a highly analytical, statistical area of marketing, metrics actually require a great deal of creativity to harness properly. While there will always be some methods of analysis that are standard, every business and digital marketing activity will require different approaches to their use of metrics; it just requires you to think laterally about how the numbers relate to what you’re trying to achieve.

Want to dive deeper into metrics?

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