A guest post by Jim Sterne of the Web Analytics Association.
In 2002, I ran the first eMetrics Summit: The Web Analytics Conference. In 2007, I changed the name to the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. Why? Because web analytics is a just one piece of the puzzle.
What started as the tabulation of visits and pageviews has become the means of all marketing validation. It turns out that the Internet has become such an integral part of everyday life that online behavior is an excellent indicator of marketing prowess.
If you run a killer radio spot, it drives traffic to your website, Facebook page and/or your mobile app. If you run a killer branding campaign in the newspaper, it drives branded search, which drives traffic to your website, Facebook page and/or your mobile app. If you run a witty TV spot, it'll show up on YouTube, get tweeted and Google+'ed, which will drive ... You get the picture. Bottom line: You can use interactive data to measure the success of all your marketing.
So, what should you measure?
Have you ever heard of Coca-Cola? Of course. Ever hear of Squamscot's Golden Ginger Beer? Faygo's Jazzin' Blues Berry? How about Dry's Lavender Soda? Didn't think so.
Your first challenge as a marketer is to get your product known. After scraping up some hard-borrowed cash to make a splash, you want to know whether spending it on radio, email newsletters, or a Twitter crusade will yield the best results. The only way to find out is to test and measure. But measure what?
Survey results is the best place to start. The typical approach is aided and unaided. "Name as many soft drinks as you can" is the standard unaided, and "Have you ever heard of Sioux City Sarsaparilla?" is the way to ask in an aided way. True awareness is not fulfilled by "Yeah, I think I've heard of Tizer before." To score a hit here, they would have to respond with something as informative as "Stewart's Orange-N-Cream? Yeah, it tastes like a 50-50 Bar!" or maybe "Virgil’s Root Beer? Oh yeah, 'It's so rich and creamy you’ll swear it was made in heaven.'"
How well do people know your product name and some of its brand attributes? Do a survey, run a campaign, do another survey, and see if you have moved the needle.
Just having heard of your product is OK, but do they care? Have you piqued their interest? Are they enticed enough to seek more information? Do they take it to the next step? Did they bother to search, click, browse, and consume the marketing materials you have waiting along the purchase path? This is easily measured and critical to success.
So, they looked at your website/mobile app/Facebook page. Is that all there is? It's time to measure whether they were involved. Did they just read or did they download the PDF, play the interactive game, "Like" what saw, tweet about it to their followers, etc.? Did they come back for more?
Did they buy anything? As fun as marketing is and as exciting as online is and as hip as social media are, we really do need to sell stuff in order to carry on. If you're a publisher, you need to engender more pageviews to sell more ad space. If you're a non-profit you have to sell ideas to generate more donations. Did the work you are doing on awareness and interest and engagement result in a benefit to the organization? Did we reach our goals more often with this sort of promotion or that one?
Most people think the buck stops at sales. Not so. Because not all sales are created equal. If you had to spend $10 to raise awareness and get people interested and engaged enough to buy your $5 product, you have a problem. Anybody can sell dollar bills for 50 cents.
Profitability comes from getting the best results at the lowest cost. Profitability is about adding up all the costs and balancing it against the income. Once you know which campaigns produce profitable sales, you can properly determine which campaigns to try again.
Your customers may Like you on Facebook, but that might just be to get the coupon. Do they like you well enough to tell their friends? How about 10,000 of their friends? Advocacy is another way of measuring customer satisfaction. If people like your offering, they will act as your brand ambassador and bring more sales your way. The more people who recommend you, the more likely it is that you are marketing well, have a good product, are selling it at a good price, and are backing it up with good service if and when necessary.
This is not to say that you can skip the rest and fall back on the Net Promoter Score as your only metrics. Instead, you must continue to measure all the bits in between, including customer satisfaction. That's the only way you're going to find out where to make specific improvements and continue to dominate the market.
The Bottom Line
The magic here is tying together all of the above. If you can track the results from a branding/awareness campaign all the way down to the profitability of a sale and they advocacy of your customers, you can create a winning marketing budget for the foreseeable future.
That's why the eMetrics Summit became the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and we include such diverse tracks---so you put all of the puzzle pieces together and get the big picture.
Jim Sterne is a founding director and present co-chairman of the Web Analytics Association.