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Here’s the deal: anything and everything you’re doing on the Internet is measurable. As a business owner, it’s an absolute necessity that you use big data to measure and analyze the ways in which your audience engages with you online. Yes, it’s great to produce something you’re proud of, say “here’s my website” or “check out this brand new ebook!” But, if you’re not measuring the traction earned by the effort you put into these projects, there’s absolutely no way to know if they’re even a little bit successful.
Let’s start with this basic definition of “big data” as discovered by a quick Google search. Big data includes:
extremely large data sets that may be analyzed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behavior and interactions.
Well, hey. That sounds a heck of a lot like what we want to know about what our target audience is doing online, right? Right. So right.
We’ve already talked about finding your target audience and how to use the data to guide your targeting strategy. But how do we use big data to measure our success in these campaigns? The options are virtually limitless and the metrics you choose will depend highly on your goals. That being said, there are a few tried and true standards you can turn to that will help you get started quickly.
Any time your target audience interacts with your brand online, it’s measured as engagement. Keeping your users engaged can help to maintain top-of-mind awareness, position your brand as a thought leader and even drive revenue when monetized.
Click through rate
Click through rate (CTR) is exactly what it sounds like — the rate at which your users click a link or button in your campaign. When clicked, users are typically taken to the next step in a site flow or sales funnel, helping you to narrow them in the proper categories to boost sales, subscriptions and more. CTR is a common measurement used to track the success of email marketing campaigns, but can leveraged anywhere you wish you place a link for the purpose of conversion or directing users through your site flow.
It’s easy to talk about engagement outside of your website in the context of social media, but the act of “going viral” can really occur anywhere in which you achieve high engagement online. Anytime you post to your social networks, the likes, comments and shares generated from your post are yet another form of engagement.
If a user clicks a link into your site, this can easily guide them into your site flow and conversion funnel. However, if they simply share and engage on the third-party network, this engagement is still highly valuable. Likes, comments, shares and more all contribute to the virality of the content you share. The more engaging a post is, the more new traffic you can drive to your site. The more traffic you can drive to your site, the more likely you are to find new leads. The more new leads, the more likely you are to have conversions. And so on and so on, until users become clients. To measure the success of this engagement, you need to find the viral coefficient.
Many platforms include the viral coefficient as part of their data set or may offer their own measurement of virality that takes into account your reach vs. number of users engaged or converted. You can also look at spikes in engagement over time to determine trends in the viral nature of your content and capitalize on opportunities to grow your reach.
Ultimately, we want to take your most promising users and guide them through your site’s sales funnel. Leveraging what we know about your ideal target audience, we can use big data to do just that while also measuring, analyzing and optimizing our best returns over time.
How you choose to collect leads and convert to opportunities will have a pretty big impact on your best options for measurement. One option is to use an online form. Compare the number of impressions (pageviews) with the number of form completions (conversions). This should give you a percentage to use in analyzing the form’s success.
If your form completion rate seems low, consider A/B testing multiple options including fewer form fields, different page content and varying calls to action. You may be shocked to learn which details have the greatest impact on your lead conversion.
Your conversions from lead to opportunity are equally as important when it comes to measuring performance success. While we want to see as many leads as possible coming in from your site, we also want them to be valuable opportunities for growing your business. When compared with referral stats, opportunity conversions will help you optimize for promoting your business in areas of the web that are most likely to bring you new clients with added value. If a site is giving you tons of leads, but none of them every turn to opportunities, it’s time to move along and invest in different strategies that offer better conversions.
All of this effort is aimed at one thing: seeing your business grow. If we don’t track what’s happening with our brand in the digital space, growth is going to be hard to show. So, a few options. Start measuring:
Traffic and pageviews
The Internet has some really great options for measuring your website traffic, user demographics, engagement habits and more. Do a little digging to chose the option that’s right for you. At a basic level, you really can’t go wrong by having free Google Analytics installed on your site. Setup is pretty straightforward and, if you do run into issues, there are plenty of how-tos across the web.
We’re going to have to have another post soon about all the awesomeness that comes from web analytics — there’s a delicate balance of numbers to maintain as you grow and increase reach. But, to get you rolling, simply know that you have to be tracking this stuff. Look at the numbers, explore trends and see where you can capitalize on opportunities to drive awesome inbound traffic. Note that buying cheap, untargeted, crappy traffic is not the route to go here. The algorithms that run the Internet will love you a whole lot more if you strive for good, engaged visitors with clear traffic growth over time whether it’s organic, paid or otherwise.
Social reach and influence
Another way to quickly assess your growth is to peek at your social reach and influence. Part of creating that virality that I mentioned before relies on strength in numbers among your social networks. Reach alone will not guarantee success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Using white hat tactics for growing your social network friends and followers will help to ensure that your following is intrigued and engaged with the types of content that you share. This will significantly increase your influence among them and the likelihood that your posts see high engagement.
As you’ve probably picked up by now, using big data to measure your online success is not completely black and white. There are right and wrong ways to go about it, but that’s going to depend 100% on the goals of your business and how you define success.
The one thing we can absolutely promise is that there is a ton of data out there for the tracking, and you should absolutely collect any bit of it that you can. Knowing the numbers and having a pulse on how your audience behaves online is going to improve your marketing strategies 10-fold.
Even if you don’t have the bandwidth to analyze it now or have a marketer on board to fully leverage the power of this information, that’s ok. Track anyway! Having a historical reference for your audience’s trends will be unbelievably helpful when the time is right to cut loose on your marketing strategy.