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10 Digital Metrics To Monitor If You’re Short On Time

Digital marketing is wonderful, just about everything can be quantified so unlike traditional marketing you can generally establish a return on your investment.

I find however that when talking to small businesses they fall into several camps;

  • The ideal business knows what their email open rates are, what their web traffic is and how engaged their social media fans are and have dedicated resources (human and budgetary) to ensure that they’re working on sales for the future and making plans to improve customer experiences.
  • A second type of business learned about their analytics when their website was set up, get reports on the activity but are just so busy trying to grow their Facebook fans and twitter followers that they don’t really give much thought to those figures that the public can’t see.
  • Frequently businesses fall into a third category where they have an idea of the numbers but don’t really look in detail at what’s happening until sales slump and they react to activity, or lack of it as opposed to giving themselves the opportunity to spot a trend and plan.

So, rather than blind you with figures we’re looking at ten metrics that’ll help you keep track of the heath of your activity on your website, through email and in social media without engaging in hours of reporting if time is at a premium in your organisation.

# 1.  Website Visits 

Split into your total number of visitors and unique visitors, the total counts all visits to your site while the unique are those individual visitors who may visit your site on more than one occasion during a given timeframe – which is why unique and total aren’t the same thing.  Over a period of time you’ll learn how many you can expect to arrive on your site on an average day/week/month and ideally this will remain positive, if you increase marketing activities you should expect to see an increase in traffic also.  If the number of visitors drops you need to be proactive and establish what’s happened before it falls further.

# 2. Website Bounce Rate 

This figure is the percentage of people who visit your site and leave without clicking a single thing.  Sometimes it may be that what they’ve searched for in Google has suggested your site and on arrival they realise it’s not a match.  Ideally it’s between 40-50% and if it suddenly starts to increase you need to investigate why and work on ensuring that you get the right traffic.  A blog site can attract a higher bounce rate particularly when it’s frequently shared and this can frequently increase the figure as visitors may simply read the one article they came for and leave the site immediately.  And there’s always the problem with people who have no interest in your blog other than sending a link back to their own who don’t stick around if it’s not suitable.

# 3.  Average Time on Site 

If you have interesting information, are reliant on people reading information e.g. a travel site, and have gone to the trouble of maintaining a blog you want to ensure that people are interested in what you have to say.  While it may not be the most important metric to measure, if for example the average time was to drop from five to two minutes within a short space of time, chances are your readers either need new content or something is wrong which is causing them to leave the site, error pages for example or broken links.  Reviewing the exit pages may shed some light on the issue for you also.

# 4.  Exit Pages

This area while not strictly one definite figure makes the list as you should always keep track of the numbers of people leaving your site at a particular point.  Sometimes people leave as they can’t find the information they need on your site.  Other times on an ecommerce site for example they are forced to go through to the checkout in order to establish a full price (something you should try to avoid, but that’s another days post!).  If you’re aware of how many people leave at checkout and this figure suddenly increased while sales dropped, it could in theory point to a problem with your process or credit card payments.  Establishing why people don’t buy or don’t stick around on your site matters so keep an eye on it as you continue to get new customers also.

Related: Using Your Website To Target Your Ideal Customer

# 5. Database Registrants 

Do you know how many are actually legitimately signed up for your email marketing database?  If you’re a small or new business you may know exactly but if your list has grown to tens of thousands you should still know approximately how many you have, even if it’s just to the nearest thousand.

# 6. Email Open Rates 

This is the total number of people who received your email and actually opened it – although in some systems a preview panel may enable them see what they need without opening.  Depending on the platform you use there may also be a click rate listed and this refers to the number of people who actually clicked through on a section of the email that got their attention.  It’s always worth reviewing what content interested your subscribers also as what’s worked in the past isn’t a guarantee of success in the future.

# 7.  Email Unsubscribes 

While businesses frequently look at attracting new people to their database or social community, it’s important to be aware of people opting out also.  It’s usual to have people unsubscribe from a newsletter and the reasons can be anything from no longer needing your service to simply reaching them on the day they’re diligently clearing the inbox.  If the number suddenly increases or you get a large number opting out after a particular email you may need to review your content or frequency.

Related: 10 Reasons Your Business Should Use Email Marketing

# 8. Facebook “talking about”

This is the total number of people who have interacted with your page over a rolling seven day period.  These are people who have liked, commented on or shared your page.  It’s a number that’s caused a lot of confusion but it’s a handy metric to evaluate when you’re comparing your business to another in a similar field albeit with a larger number of fans on their page.  If for example you’re a local retailer selling shoes and your talking about figure is 5% whereas the larger chain also selling shoes with a dedicated marketing/social department has a talking about rate of 2%, you’re customers are more engaged with your page and in theory at least more engaged with your brand which should hopefully translate into sales.

# 9. Facebook Reach 

With a lot of small businesses running a facebook page it’s important to know who you is actually engaging with your company.  As part of your page you have access to facebook insights where you can view information on what’s actually happening on your page via charts that you can view on screen or export to a file.  You’ll find the demographics – age profiles, locations, gender, etc here and you should be watching to ensure it’s a match for your target.  If you’re a local business trading only offline in a small town your business needs to be local.  You can’t control who likes your page but if you were running a promotion which resulted in a whole lot of likes from another country who are never going to buy from you was that such good value at all?

# 10. Social Media Fans & Followers 

I frequently tell people who obsess about getting more likes or followers that it’s “quality over quantity except in sales” as far too many people get caught up in growing the numbers without ever considering why they’re so desperate to get as high a number as possible regardless of whether these likes or followers will ever be in a position to do business with them.  And, while I would never advocate keeping a check on the numbers of followers you’ve got on twitter or facebook as rigidly as you would a sales target, it’s important to be aware of approximately how many are interested in you.  If for example you’re growing a steady twitter following and notice that the numbers start to drop maybe you’ll find an offending tweet or a change in direction on the content you share?

And on the subject of social media numbers, please remember that the only way to go is to earn your social media following as no matter how tempting it is to boast thousands where once there were hundreds it’s easily spotted when they don’t engage and your number is then little more than a vanity number which works against you!

Related: 20 Easy Ways To Grow Your Company Facebook Page And Fans

There are many ways to measure effectiveness of your marketing, paid and unpaid, online and offline and I could probably list a hundred numbers and still miss something so this list is for the time-starved SME to ensure they’ve got an idea of whether their time and money is actually delivering.

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Image: “a tablet on the white backgrounds/Shutterstock

Debbie McDonnell is the owner of who work with SMEs across a range of sectors in Social Media, Digital Marketing & Traditional Marketing. She has worked with major brands on and offline, is a Graduate of both The Marketing Institute of Ireland and The Digital Marketing Institute and has over 20 years professional experience.

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  • Hi Debbie, great post and super suggestions as to which online metrics to measure. I also strongly suggest that companies measure traditional metrics; sales, customers etc that result from their online efforts, as it is only when you start measuring these, do you know if you are delivering ROI or not.  

  • Thanks Niall, agree as the end result is what ultimately matters.  I find many businesses might say that they’re not getting the sales they want via their website or email yet once you look at their figures you can spot a potential issue fairly quickly. Not everybody wants to know all about their analytics but if you keep an eye on a few headline figures it’s surprising what you can learn about what you could improve on.

  • 10 Digital Metrics To Monitor If You’re Short On Time is a good post with full of information. Really i got some special points from this site. Thanks for this allocation. 😆

  • Debi Harper

    Brillian post Debbie,easy to read and very informative.

  • Debbie – as one of those time-starved SME’s I found your suggestions very helpful.  I switched my CMS over to HubSpot this past year and find their reporting quite helpful in targeting campaigns, landing pages, calls to action, as well as pages visited and from where.  Open rates for Constant Contact are helpful in understanding who’s reading and not.  Glad you shed light on the FB stuff. That was a mystery of meaning to me.

  • Sometimes it’s difficult to separate life from home life especially when you work from home. For me stay organized in everything what you do is really important when working from home but no matter how you decide to organize things, make sure you are consistent with it. Thanks for sharing:)

  • Good tips – I find I work furiously when the kids are in school and get nothing done from 3-6ish. if they have activities, I might not get anything done again till after they are in bed. It can be hard to get friends or extended family to recognise that you are working even though you are at home. I tend to ignore personal phone calls and then ring them back when multi-tasking e.g. when emptying dishwasher or peeling potatoes. I’ll never get it perfect though!

  • All great points! I am struggling with #2 being a recent father (day 67). It has been very hard to get work done as I only have small windows of opportunity (when she’s sleeping). I am trying to do my work at night, but that is not easy either.

    I MUST go to the gym everyday or I would go crazy. I find 40 minutes on the treadmill every night is my escape. I love taking walks, too.

  • Jean Dion

    I agree with you. Traditional means of vetting credit seem much less discriminatory.

  • Kimber Johnson

    Thank you Sian. I appreciate the opportunity.

  • Whilst I don’t understand web design it’s great to learn what the different designs are. Thanks for sharing with our readers Diwiyne.

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