As you know from last week’s post, maintaining accountability is the most crucial aspect of ensuring return on your investment in social media marketing. The actual measure of progress happens through various analytics, which provide a nearly unlimited amount of information about your customers. Why would you want to know what kind of underwear your average customer favors? A much better question is: Why wouldn’t you?!?
Social media has occasionally been viewed with some mistrust by marketing traditionalists. After all, how do you measure qualitative factors, such as a blog post’s popularity and influence?
Analytics attempts to remedy this problem by providing various metrics about how people behave when they interact with your content.
Some of the most basic things that are tracked:
- Site Visits – the total number of visitors to the page.
- New visitors – the number of visits from IP addresses that have not previously visited the page.
- Referral links – how the visitors arrive at the page (a link on another website, Facebook, an organic Google search, etc.)
- Pages visited – average number of pages on your site viewed per visitor.
- Average time – the average amount of time a visitor spends on your site.
- Bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who saw only one page before leaving.
Believe it or not, all this information (especially when presented through eye-popping graphs!) can tell you a lot about how your customers see you in the online environment.
It becomes particularly valuable over time, as patterns begin to occur.
The metrics might show that your instructional blog posts get five times the views of your posts about current events. Or, they might show that due to an influx of holiday cheer, you get two thirds of your new yearly Facebook fans in the period between October and December. Or, that your site gets most of its visits between midnight and 6am (consider infomercials, preferably with that Shamwow guy). The point is, once you have these metrics, you then know where to focus your energies.
In a way, online analytics is much more informative than the feedback that can be gotten through traditional marketing, precisely because the feedback loop is shorter. If you mail out a bunch of promotional flyers, you might be able to roughly gauge the success of the campaign through how many people ask for the promotion over the next few months.
If the promo is on your webpage instead, you can look at your metrics and make changes to the design to see what catches your customers’ attention. Large companies with internal marketing teams A/B test dozens of versions of each promo this way to learn more about what their customers desire.
If you’re working with an online marketing company, you don’t have to get involved in the nitty gritty of analytics too much (unless you want to, of course). They should be able to spot the patterns for you and provide you with an easy to understand monthly summary. But do keep the power of analytics in the back of your head. Used correctly, they can provide countless insights into your customer base and help your business reach that base more effectively.