Four steps to get the most out of your website data

It’s never been easier to collect data about your digital marketing efforts. Between website analytics, social analytics, SEO tools, and advertising data, the average marketer has access to a constant stream of numbers on a daily basis. But even with a huge amount of data at their fingertips, 40% of communications professionals report that they have no way to show the impact of their efforts on their organization’s goals, despite feeling more pressure to show ROI

Crazy, right? Even with this much access to data, it’s still incredibly difficult to know what’s working and what isn’t.  

Why is it so hard to see how you’re doing? In part, because of that huge amount of data. For every meaningful number that could lead you to an insight about your customers or clients, there are a hundred more stats that don’t mean much of anything to you or your organization.

To avoid getting caught in the data weeds, you need a strategy that governs what’s important to your business, how you measure it and what numbers you’re trying to reach for each metric. In other words, you need a measurement plan. Read on to learn more, or download KW2’s Guide to Creating a Strategic Website Measurement Plan.

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A measurement plan is simply a translation of your organization’s objectives into concrete metrics you can measure. Having a measurement plan allows you to focus on the data that’s important, and ignore what isn’t. A measurement plan will:

  • Show you which channels perform best
  • Calculate the ROI of both your on- and off-line marketing efforts
  • Help you understand your customers or clients better, and learn what leads them to convert
  • Identify areas of opportunity on your website

In just four steps, you can develop a measurement plan to get the most out of one of your organization’s most under-used sources of data: your website analytics. 

Step 1: Determine what your organizational objectives are

The first step has nothing to do with your website, but it’s the most important. A successful measurement plan begins with determining what your organization’s business goals are and focusing on a limited number of strategic priorities. 

Some organizations undergo an entire strategic planning process to determine their objectives. If your organization already has a strategic plan in place, you may be able to skip this step. If not, meet with the leadership at your organization to understand what goals they’re hoping to achieve. These objectives should be:

  • Actionable and realistic: Can your organization reasonably meet this goal?
  • Valuable: Does the objective provide tangible value to your organization?
  • Measurable: Can your objectives be measured in some way (even if you can’t measure them using your website data)?

Step 2: Translate your organization’s objectives into website goals

How does your website help you meet your organization’s objectives? There are likely many behaviors and actions already taking place on your website that are valuable to your organization and align with its strategic goals. 

For example, if your organizational goal is to increase sales, a corresponding website goal is to sell more products on the site. If your organizational goal is less tangible, such as being seen as a thought leader in your field, a website goal is to strengthen the perception of your organization by publishing content that reinforces your thought leadership. 

Step 3: Identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and assign targets

Once you've translated your organization’s goals into website goals, review your site and identify every valuable action a user can take. Then, group those actions based on which website goal they achieve. 

Pay attention to both macro and micro conversions. A macro conversion is a conversion that directly represents the broader goals of your organization (such as purchasing a product or signing up for a service), while a micro conversion is an action indicating interest that nudges users closer to the macro conversion (such as signing up for email or sharing your content on social media).

Once you’ve identified your macro and micro conversions, it’s finally time to dig into your actual website data and identify KPIs. A KPI is a metric on your site that shows how you are doing against a specific website goal. KPIs can be a user behavior like bounce rate, time on site or page, or page depth, or they can be specific actions or conversions like button clicks, purchases and form submissions.

For each KPI, set a target you’d like to achieve. Ideally, targets are based on past performance, but you can also look online for industry benchmarks or consult your peers. 

Step 4: Determine which segments to compare

You can complete the first three steps and have a pretty good measurement plan, but you’d be missing a key part of the puzzle: understanding what types of users are more likely to convert. For each KPI, consider which segment or segments you’d like to isolate in order to compare their conversion rates to other segments. For example, you might want to compare mobile users to desktop users for a certain KPI, or view only users from a certain region or city. 

Over time, you’ll learn which types of users are better converters for specific KPIs, and you’ll be able to better tailor your marketing efforts or site content to those groups. 

Don’t forget the last step: Optimize

A measurement plan is not a “one and done” project. Over time, you’ll want to revisit it based on your current efforts, website changes or what you’ve learned from ongoing measurement and scheduled reporting. 

If you’d like more tips on creating a measurement plan and a free template, enter your information below to download KW2’s Guide to Creating a Strategic Website Measurement Plan.