Digital marketing can be a minefield. If you don’t have tools to help you, it can also be incredibly time-consuming. If you don’t know how to use metrics to determine how successful your efforts are, you’re in a whole mountain full of trouble.
Don’t believe me? Let me explain.
Today’s post explains what metrics are and why you need them. It’s the first in a series of posts about digital marketing tools and metrics for beginners. Each post explains a different metric or tool. Each post also includes examples – I’ve chosen two completely different business types (authors and landscape gardening businesses) to illustrate how all businesses, no matter the focus, can benefit from these tools and metrics. If you want to read the other posts in this series, just click this link or search my blog for ‘digital marketing tools and metrics for beginners’. If you want to know as soon as another post comes out, you can subscribe to receive updates on this series here.
What are metrics?
Metrics are measures. Importantly, they are quantifiable measures. In the case of marketing, metrics are quantifiable measures that can be used to track and assess your progress towards your goals. They help you measure your performance. They tell you whether you’re doing the right things.
Without metrics, you’re swinging a lantern in the dark.
What can metrics do for me?
Let’s say you’ve been tweeting 6 times a day, day in day out, for 2 months. You’ve posted a mix of content, some of it your own, some of it curated, and no more than 10% of it has been outright sales content. You’ve tweeted at all times of the day and night. You’ve retweeted and liked and commented your little heart out. In short, you’ve done everything that’s been recommended to you.
But has all this work increased the number of twitter followers you have? Has it driven more visitors to your website? Has it generated any sales? Metrics can tell you these things.
Without metrics, you really don’t have any idea whether your hard work has made an impact. Worse, your tactics might have had a negative impact on any of the above goals but you won’t know that unless you use metrics.
Let’s break it down a little further by looking at the example goals I’ve listed here.
Increase in followers
This is a pretty simple one. If you want to know whether your actions have resulted in an increase in followers, you need to know how many followers you started off with and how many followers you ended up with after the 2 months. The metric here is ‘number of followers’.
More website visitors
This one is a little more complicated. ‘Number of website visitors’ is a metric. But then there’s also the ‘number of unique visitors’. And just to make it a little more complicated, these values only tell you how many people visited your website. If you want to know whether your twitter practices drove more people to your website, you need to know the ‘number of visitors referred from Twitter’.
If you wanted to drill down even further, you could look at your posting times on each day and monitor the change in website visitors referred by Twitter to see which days and times were most successful. And this is just the tip of the iceberg really. For instance, it doesn’t even look at the types of posts you created or the type of content you shared. You could do analyses to figure out which ones of these variables resulted in more website visitors as well.
This is the big one of course. Everyone wants to know whether their efforts have resulted in them selling more of their products and services. The main metric here is ‘number of sales’ but you need to track how your Twitter activities have contributed to those sales. This is fairly easy to do if you sell products and services from your own website you can use tools to directly track where customers came from. If you sell your products and services elsewhere, it can be a little trickier but you can still get a sense of whether your Twitter work has been successful or not through some indirect metrics.
As I noted in the introduction, each time I do a post in this ‘digital marketing tools and metrics for beginners’ series, I will use ‘authors’ and ‘landscape gardening businesses’ as examples to illustrate how a wide variety of businesses can benefit from the topic of the post. This post is no exception.
Being an author is hard. There’s a lot of competition. It takes a long time to publish a book, whether it’s a short picture book, a detailed instruction manual, or an epic novel. Yet readers expect to be able to buy books for a pittance. Many authors also really dislike marketing and often don’t understand it.
Knowing just a bit about metrics and how they can help measure the success of marketing activities means authors can save time and money by focussing on what works for their brand. More efficient marketing practices mean authors have more time to devote to what they love best – writing!
Authors are experts at creating engaging text. This gives them an advantage in the world of digital marketing as they are more likely to be able to create website and social media content that people really enjoy and are happy to share. But authors cannot know whether their content is engaging the right people (people who will buy their books) unless they use metrics. Really savvy authors can also use metrics to improve their books. For example, using metrics an author might identify that content on a certain theme is more popular with their followers. The author could then chose to focus more heavily on that theme when writing future books and this might lead to increased sales.
Many authors don’t sell their books on their own websites. As such, this is a perfect example of the kind of business that will benefit from ‘indirect metrics’. Given how difficult it is to make money selling books, it is also an example of one kind of business that needs to make use of any edge it can get and thus will particularly benefit from using metrics.
If you’re an author, illustrator, writer, or indeed any kind of creative professional, this might give you an idea about how powerful metrics could be for you.
Landscape gardening businesses
While authors are typically sole traders, landscape gardening businesses are at the other end of the small business spectrum and usually have a number of employees that fulfil different roles. Some such businesses also sub-contract certain services to specialist providers.
Whereas authors have an edge when it comes to engaging text, landscape gardening businesses have access to a huge array of enticing imagery that they can use in digital marketing activities. But once again, businesses that provide landscaping and gardening-related services cannot know which content is attracting the right kinds of people unless they use metrics. All too often, the digital marketing activities of these businesses end up providing value to DIY gardeners without attracting significant numbers of paying customers. When landscape gardening businesses successfully employ metrics to analyse the value of the content they are posting to their websites and social media profiles, they can quickly determine which kinds of posts encourage people to seek out their services and ultimately make a purchase, and which kinds of content entertain people without contributing to the business’ bottom line.
Most landscape gardening businesses don’t sell their services directly through their website but because prospects have to make contact directly with the business, it is easier to use more direct metrics to assess the success of marketing activities.
If your business provides landscaping and/or gardening services, in fact, if your business provides almost any kind of service, this should give you just an inkling about the benefits of metrics to your business.
Hopefully, now you have a general understanding about the value of metrics to your business. If you’d like to get some detailed instruction on how to use a variety of basic metrics and tools to improve your digital marketing activities, make sure you check out the other posts in this series – either by clicking here or by subscribing.