Digital marketing is all about metrics. Once you engage in digital marketing, the most important thing you can do is measure. You will measure what you’re doing to see the results if it worked, what didn’t work, and what you should do next. The amazing thing about digital marketing, when contrasted against print marketing, is that marketers can conduct dozens of small, low-risk experiments in a very short amount of time to see what will work, and then make far more intelligent decisions based on actual data, rather than just guessing.
But in order to conduct those experiments, you must be able to measure everything about your digital marketing campaigns. Here are the first three things you must do in order to measure, dissect, and analyze any digital campaign.
1. Set up your analytics tools.
Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, LinkedIn Analytics, Instagram Analytics are all free. You must connect your website to Google Analytics. If you’re not going to take that initial step (or choose another website analytics tool), then you should probably stop right there and ask yourself why you’re in this game to begin with. The “new marketing” is about making decisions based on actual data, and that data comes from your analytics software. The analytics tools for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are built-in and ready to use, other than getting those first 100 likes on Facebook (to unlock Insights). Instagram doesn’t (yet) have its own native analytics tool, but there are a plethora of free tools available to do the job. Pick one, and connect it to your Instagram account.
Now, as your final step here, bookmark each of these analytics pages in your browser, and dive into learning them. Google Analytics, in particular, is a beast, but it has the support of a fantastic YouTube channel so you can learn by watching short, insightful how-to videos.
2. Set your goals.
Set 3-5 KPIs that really actually matter for your business right now. This step is actually more important than setting up analytics, strategically speaking, but I’ve listed it second because you cannot possibly determine whether or not you achieved your goals unless you have tools to measure the results. So, in this exercise, goals come second.
How do you choose your goals? First, keep this in mind: your goals will change as you progress. Your first goal might be just attracting some social followers or email subscribers. Once you’ve established some amount of traction in the “target audience” area, then your goals might include growing that traction and getting a certain click-through rate or engagement rate in social channels.
Ultimately, if you’re actually running a business, your goals must include revenue, and, therefore, must include some form of conversion rate after you attract someone to land on your website. All that is to say that you must choose what’s important today as your goals knowing that, in a month or a quarter, those priorities will need to be adjusted. Measure and revisit your goals once a month.
3. Setup your intelligence.
It’s great to know how many clicks came to your website from Twitter or Facebook or an email campaign. That’s what I call “knowledge,” and it’s useful. However, knowledge is not enough. You’re going to be conducting many different campaigns across your digital channels. How will you know which campaigns are working, and how much traffic and engagement can be attributed to each campaign, rather than just each source of traffic?
For a better understanding of what that means, try this exercise. Go to Google and search for your own website so that you see your page listed at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). It should look something like this:
If you look closely, you can find your website’s URL in there. Everything else is what we call “UTM Parameters”, which is a big fancy technical term for “all the other data you need to track this campaign.” And you have the power to track every click from every campaign just like Google does.
Here’s how. It’s a simple, free tool from Google called Google URL Builder. Using this tool, you can enter, and then track every aspect of each and every campaign you run. Just complete these fields with terms that you understand, and hit “Generate URL” at the bottom.
- Website URL (this is your landing page)
- Campaign Source (this is where the campaign is run, e.g., Google, email, etc.)
- Campaign Medium (this is what type of campaign it is, e.g., adwords, banners, etc.)
- Campaign Term (This is for the keywords in Adwords or a hashtag in Twitter)
- Campaign Content (This differentiates which content you used for this campaign)
- Campaign Name (This is your name for this campaign, like “summer-email-offer”)
When you have that new URL with UTM parameters, copy and paste it into your analytics spreadsheet, and you’re ready to track everything that came through that URL. Yes, you caught the manual part of that exercise, which is storing these URLs in a spreadsheet. That’s the manual way to do it, but if you have Google Analytics set up properly, you can export all your results to a spreadsheet after the fact, and then sort by URL.
These three steps – analytics, KPIs, and URLs – will make sure you are able to fully measure and track all your successes in all your digital marketing campaigns.