Whenever I get into a conversation with friends over the topic of online marketing, their immediate response is related to social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google dominate this topic. Almost everyone has caught on to this trend and made social media a must for any company. But, most companies taking advantage of this trend, do very little to analyze and measure their results from their online strategy. While companies are continually adopting social media for online marketing campaigns, the question of ROI (Return on Investment) arises, along with doubts about what metrics to measure. Michael Senger of StoneMass LLC spoke about the 4 rules of online metrics and ROI and they are summarized as follows:
1) Everything done online is tied to ROI
2) Use freeware to measure online metrics (Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc.)
3) Simplify your data
4) Measure, tweak, measure
From Michael’s presentation we know marketers have access to an abundance of data. The problem is deciding what to do with it. Aside from some of the insights Michael has provided, I’ve found 2 social media/web analytics gurus who are true believers of metrics and analytics.
Avinash Kaushik is a web analytics expert and has written some original articles regarding the subject in his books and his personal blog. Avinash believes everything online can be measured. Even though the sheer amount of data that online analytics provide can be overwhelming. He believes traditional marketers should not be afraid to take these data, simplify it, and use it to their advantage. Just like Michael’s second rule, Kaushik believes that there are world-class analytics tools available for free which will get you more data than “God ever intended you to have.” He praises Google and Yahoo Analytics as wonderful free tools which website owners can utilize, but unfortunately a vast majority of decisions are based on faith rather than data. Avinash recommends the following 5 steps to successfully integrating web analytics:
1) Identify Business Objectives
- Important priorities for the website
- Objectives are DUMB (doable, understandable, manageable, beneficial)
2) Specify Goals
- Identify specific strategies (Do X. Improve Y. Reduce Z)
3) Distinguish KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
- Unique set of metrics that helps you understand how you are doing against your business goals
4) Set and Sweat Targets
- Establish a feasible target to your web KPIs
5) Decide the Valuable Segments
- Define the segment by their source, behavior, or outcome.
- This definition will help you focus on your data analysis
Jim Sterne is the author of several marketing books. He has been specializing in online marketing for 17 years and is the co-founder of the Web Analytics Association. Sterne and Kaushik are both considered pioneers in the web analytics world. Sterne believes there is a distinction between social media metrics and web analytics. Web analytics is all about measuring the “behavior” of people visiting the website. Social media metrics looks at measuring the activities out in the “sociosphere”.
One of the most interesting points made by Sterne is how traditional websites are moving to social media sites, apps, etc. Traditional collection of data will shift to social networks. Companies will become reliant on those networks for that data. Large organizations will insist that Facebook, Twitter and others provide the desired data. Perhaps, this could mean companies may have to pay for their analytics?