Online marketing is all about the statistics and metrics you use to monitor site performance and keep an eye on how everything is doing. These statistics are your lifeline, your connection to your viewers and your insight into what they’re doing on your site. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s working and what isn’t in your marketing campaign. Detailed analytics reports can show you on the per-person and per-page levels what elements work and what don’t for your site.
Of course, with such a wealth of information, it can be hard to recognize what is important and what is chaff. Which metrics are the most important to your campaign, and which are misleading statistics? Here are three of the most important figures to look for.
Online Marketing Metric 1: Conversion Rate
Your online conversion rate is incredibly important. It’s the numerical indicator of how well your campaign is converting views into customers. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, if you’re even selling anything. Set your goals. Do you want to get people to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want them to register for your forum? Do you want them to add your business on social network profiles? Do you want them to purchase something from your store? Whatever your goal, your conversion rate tells you how many of the people that view your site are doing what you want them to.
The reason conversion rate is so important is because it’s a direct indicator of how successful your marketing campaign is. When you make a change to your campaign, whether it’s a minor tweak to the placement of a “buy” button or a whole new set of web advertisements, watch how it affects your conversion rate. If that rate stays the same or goes up, your campaign is at least as successful as it has always been. If it goes down, it tells you that something about your campaign isn’t working. If your conversion rate drops too low or all the way to zero, you might need to check if someone on your site is actually broken. A slight error in your site code could easily cause a 404 you don’t know about and keep visitors from doing anything.
Online Marketing Metric 2: Backlinks
In this case, backlinks don’t mean building your backlinks up as best you can. While obviously this helps a great deal in your SEO and marketing campaigns, it can also backfire. What you need to do is pay attention to your backlink profile. It’s not enough simply to get as many sites as possible to link to yours. The sites linking to you have to be quality sites themselves. Low quality sites won’t offer much in the way of benefits, while known networks of link farm sites can actively hurt your SEO campaign.
The first thing you should check is whether any of your links come from the so-called bad neighborhoods online. This includes link farms and computer generated spam sites, porn sites, gambling and illegal sites. If one of these is linking to you, you may face a search rankings problem.
The second thing to look at is the anchor text of your backlinks. While you can’t control the content of the sites that link to you, you can encourage change for the better. Google especially prefers natural-sounding links. If the link anchor text is too keyword-rich, it can be downgraded simply because it sounds spammy compared to a natural sounding anchor.
The third backlink-related thing to check is if any of your links come from sites designed specifically for SEO farming. This partly overlaps the bad neighborhood profile check, but is a more specific focus. You want to avoid sites that spin stolen content, look entirely computer-generated and exist for no reason other than to farm out links to increase pagerank artificially. Google and other search engines have reached a level of sophistication where they can identify these sites and penalize the ones using them. You don’t want your sight caught in the crossfire, so work through search engines and webmasters to get your links pulled from these sites.
Online Marketing Metric 3: Engagement
Visitor engagement is all about tracking what your visitors do on your site. How much time do they spend on your site? No matter what the value is, you should encourage them to spend more time. What is your bounce rate? A bounce is when a user views your page for a short time and then closes the window or hits back. They saw your site, decided they didn’t want to be there, and bounced away. Sometimes a bounce is good, for instance if you answer a question they asked and they went away satisfied. Most of the time it means they didn’t find what they were looking for. You want to keep your bounce rate below 50 percent. If it’s too high, you might want to adjust your targeted keywords, improve the pages visitors bounce off and check to see if a page is actually broken.
How many pages does the average visitor view when they look at your site? Do they stick around on your home page and a contact page, but nowhere else? You want to engage your visitors to see as much of your site as possible. That means interesting and eye-catching links to other pages, robust but functional navigation and lots of useful content. How often is your site shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Reddit? You want as many shares as you can get, because it shows people that you have good content worth seeing and that you’re not wasting people’s time.
Visitor engagement is a broad metric, but as one of the three most important figures to watch, it’s indispensable. In order to make your site as useful as it can be, you need to know what your visitors are doing and what makes them leave. None of your stats will be perfect, but improving them all is the goal of your online marketing campaigns.