Being a data-driven marketer means different things to different people, but above all, it means using data to make your marketing decisions. From tracking your website’s performance to using third party data for targeted media buying, data can make a huge impact on your bottom line, no matter the size of your audience.
Now you may not be buying data (yet!) for your marketing or advertising efforts, but whether you’re a small blogger just trying to get some eyes on your content, or a large e-commerce engine driving conversions, here are our four tenets for that data-driven marketing lifestyle.
1. Set Your Goals
No need to wax poetic about the meaning of life. Understanding the purpose of your website is as easy as asking, “What exactly am I trying to do here?” This can even be broken down on a page-by-page basis. For example, the purpose of your blog could differ from your homepage.
Many content-based publisher sites (think Huffington Post or Buzzfeed) are geared towards growing pageviews and impressions to either boost ad revenue or attract product sponsors, whereas e-commerce sites are trying to get visitors to make a purchase.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to do something, and what you’re trying to do will inform what data you want to keep an eye on and platforms you want to use to make this possible.
2. Conduct a Website Audit
After you’ve established what your site is intended to do, performing a site-wide audit will help you understand what you have to work with and how it’s currently performing.
This is where the idea of website hygiene comes into play. You can do amazing things with your data, but if your pages aren’t optimized and maintained over time, chances are you’re leaving pageviews and conversions on the table. Fortunately, tools exist to help you perform these kinds of audits, like the free Seoptimer. Simply type in your domain and check out your results.
These website audit tools usually look at things such as:
- SEO (HTML, keywords, links, sitemaps)
- Performance (page size, page speed)
- Mobile (responsiveness, mobile UI)
- Security (SSL certificate)
Many audit tools provide recommendations on how to improve your overall score, like identifying missing title tags, page errors, or broken links, which is especially helpful for large sites that have made numerous changes over time. Check out this great list of website audit tools to get started.
In addition to how your website is performing based on the factors listed above, you can also run content audits, which are recommended for publisher-based, content-heavy websites.
3. Put the Right Tools in Place
Now that you know what you’re trying to do and what pages you have at your disposal (and their health), it’s time to choose the tools to help you get the job done.
Earlier we mentioned that depending on the goal of your website, you may pay attention to different stats. So, below we’ve broken out site types into two general categories: those where the goal is conversion (a purchase, registration, etc.) and those geared towards getting pageviews (like lifestyle blogs, publications, or ad-revenue dependent sites).
- Bounce Rate
- Exit Pages
- Conversion Rate
- Cost Per Conversion
Working on a site with conversion as the target means you’re focusing on getting people into your funnel and reducing the number of people leaving before conversion. Google Analytics is a great example of a tool that allows for this kind of conversion-based tracking, as well as Kissmetrics.
- Traffic Source
- Pages Per Session
- Bounce Rate
If you’re dealing with a site that is less about conversion and more about impressions or views, then Google Analytics is another great choice for where to get started. Additionally, analytics like those found on our own AddThis Dashboard are right up your alley for tracking shares, top performing content, referring domains, social sources, and more.
4. Establish Your Baseline
This last step is about understanding how your audience interacts with your online properties. It involves watching traffic as it flows through your site, listening to the conversations happening on social, and getting a feel for the regular rhythm.
That way you’ll not only be able to tell when you’re making a positive or negative impact upon traffic, but also how the changes you make impact the quality of your engagements. While there are lots of different metrics that are important to track regarding your website’s performance, below are a few suggestions for where you can get started with establishing a baseline.
Quantitative Measurements to Track
- Average traffic by time of day, day of week, and seasonal changes (like holiday shopping)
- Average bounce rates
- ROI on ad spend (comparing the amount spent against how many visitors make it to your goal)
Qualitative Measurements to Note
- Positive or negative sentiment in online discussions
- Anecdotal discussions or comments from users
Tip: Check out a rundown by HootSuite on the best sentiment trackers for social media marketers.
These are four basic principles that create the foundation for using data to make marketing decisions. By firming up your base (knowing that everything is running nice and smoothly on your site), you can not only run campaigns and trust that you’re able to track the impact correctly, but you can also utilize your site’s full potential to help you better achieve your marketing goals.