Visits, pageviews, time on site, time on page, unique visitors, conversions, impressions, click-throughs, view-throughs... the list of metrics used to measure the performance of our digital marketing activities is as confusing as it is endless.
Often it's up to online marketers to communicate what all of that jargon means to those who are still worried about how many "hits" their site got last year. It's challenging, to say the least.
But here are five ways you can make your job easier while helping those senior-level execs understand just how well your digital activities are doing.
1. Don't be afraid of their questions
This is where many Web professionals falter. They try to avoid the provocation of questions from senior leadership. That's because the questions are often coming from people who probably don't fully understand what they're asking.
But that's where the opportunity lies. Your execs' asking questions likely means they'll develop the understanding you so desperately want them to have.
So encourage questions... but emphasize the value in business questions. Train them to ask not how many unique visitors you had last month, for example, but how your website is doing at attracting new customers to your brand.
2. Use analogies
This one's a simple thought, but often difficult to implement in a Web analytics presentation. Using analogies is one of your best weapons against misunderstanding.
You can compare your website traffic to the population of a major city, state, or country, for example. Or relate your online marketing measurement strategy to how airline pilots operate: They've got a ton of data points (just like you); they focus on the important things to keep the plane in the air; they use the more detailed data points to help diagnose issues and opportunities (just like your Web analytics strategy).
A little creativity can go a long way toward making your analogies stick.
3. Make the data visible
You're already publishing reports that show your key performance metrics, but are they visible? Nine out of ten senior leaders tell me they don't read the reports their marketing teams diligently send them each month.
Part of making your data visible is giving your audience something they can quickly get value from.
Include a one-page executive summary each month with your reports, develop a KPI dashboard that includes just a few business critical "wow" metrics (conversions better be one of those metrics), and schedule a monthly 30-minute Web performance review to talk through the data with key leadership personnel.
If you want to get really fancy, have three or four 42-inch LCD screens installed around the office and set up a real-time dashboard like ChartBeat to be shown 24 hours a day on those screens. Now that's visibility!
4. Relate the data to what they care about: sales, volume, market share
If you're running an e-commerce site, this is relatively simple to do and you're probably already doing it. But if you're running a branding or content site and you don't necessarily have a direct tie to dollars, this is a little more difficult.
Evaluate correlations between your website KPIs and online marketing metrics to sales, volume, and market share. Overlay the trend lines to see whether one seems to be affecting the other.
If you can show to a senior leader a chart that correlates a rise in traffic to a rise in sales or market share, and you don't run an e-commerce site, you've just achieved rockstar status...
5. Tell the whole story
With so many moving pieces to any online strategy, it's difficult to tie everything together, but it's imperative for your audience's understanding of the data.
Simply presenting your website metrics won't do. Make sure you're bringing in your advertising performance, paid and organic search, social media KPIs, email, etc. Your offline marketing efforts shouldn't be left out either: How did that direct mail affect your website traffic, Facebook "likes," and branded organic search keywords?
Bringing everything together is going to help your audience understand and retain what you're presenting, and help them to determine the decisions to be made and the actions to be taken.
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Consider these five tips the next time you're preparing to communicate your Web analytics data. It'll produce more value for your audience and help solidify you as an expert in your field.