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Off the top of your head, what’s your website’s current visit-to-lead conversion rate? If you don’t know, you’re not alone—that’s a question we always ask our prospects who inquire about our services, and almost none of them can answer it correctly. Many of them can, however, tell you their website’s bounce rate or how many followers they have on Facebook.
Bounce rate and Facebook followers are just two of the many “useless” marketing metrics you’re paying too much attention to as a business owner looking to grow your company. It’s not your fault—over the past ten years, more consumer data has become available than most business owners know what to do with. The importance of marketing metrics has become diluted because of the sheer volume of data. A common perception is the more data you track, the better your marketing campaigns will perform.
That’s the wrong way to think about it, and Google’s head of insights and analytics Janneke van Geuns backs me up on that:
“The biggest misconception is the perceived need to capture and measure everything and anything. A common belief is that if you capture every type of metric, it will tell you magically what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, that is not how we get to insights, and would be comparable to having to find a needle in a haystack.”
What really matters are the types of marketing metrics that can be considered key performance indicators (KPIs)—marketing metrics that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives necessary for growth. For example, the number of new sales in a month is a metric that can accurately predict the health of the company. Facebook likes cannot.
You need to monitor digital marketing metrics because these metrics give context to your KPIs. However, you should NOT make marketing decisions solely based on them. Below are five marketing metrics business owners frequently mistake for KPIs, and what you should track instead. Have any questions? Let us do an analytics analysis of your website help you find the metrics that matter most to your business.
1. Bounce Rate
Infinite scroll blogs (where the user is automatically taken to the next article once he/she reaches the bottom of the page they are on) are pretty trendy across the web these days. Time.com implemented the infinite scroll in March and reports that the site’s bounce rate has dropped 15 percent since then. This article does a good job of explaining why that doesn’t really demonstrate greater user retention and engagement, and I’ll add on to it here.
For business owners to understand why their website’s bounce rate is not a good indicator of how well their website is performing, they first have to understand how bounce rate is calculated.
According to Google, “bounce rate is the percentage of visits that go only one page before exiting a site.” If everyone who visits a particular page on your site leaves without visiting another page, that page has a 100 percent bounce rate.
However, Google doesn’t differentiate between what we at Blue Corona would call a “good bounce” and a “bad bounce.”
With a bad bounce, the user probably landed on your page, decided it wasn’t for them, and clicked the back button.
With a good bounce, a user probably landed on your page, decided to stay awhile and read your content, found the answer to the question they had, and left. It’s possible they even picked up the phone and called you afterward. If your business gets a significant amount of leads via phone (as opposed to via web form submissions), your bounce rate is not telling you the whole picture.
What Metric You Should Pay Attention to Instead: Visit-to-Lead Conversion Rate
Depending on your goals, there are a lot of other metrics that you should pay attention to other than bounce rate (dwell time, exit rate, bounce rate by landing page, etc. are all better metrics.). But for most small business owners, I would argue that visit-to-lead conversion rate is the most valuable website metric for you to monitor, track, and make marketing plans based on.
2. Website Traffic
Overall traffic increases to your site are good, but again, an overall traffic increase could mislead you into thinking your website is performing well when it actually isn’t. For example, we had one client come to us from another SEO agency. Their website traffic was through the roof, but since signing on with that agency they’d seen a decline in actual leads and sales.
Turns out, while there WAS a huge traffic increase from SEO, most of the website visits were coming from out-of-state—and this kitchen remodeler only offered services within his metro area.
What Metric You Should Pay Attention to Instead: Traffic in Your Service Area or traffic by source
If you’re a local business paying to promote your website online (through SEO, pay per click, etc.), you want to increase traffic in your service area. This traffic is more likely to be qualified and therefore more likely to convert into leads, sales, and revenue for your business.
Not a local business? Pay attention to where your website traffic is coming from as it can indicate which of your marketing campaigns and channels are working to actually increase your bottom line.
3. Phone Calls, Clicks, and Click Through Rate
SEO and PPC both have clicks, conversions, and leads. However, a common misconception is that clicks are the same thing as leads. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t consider someone who briefly came into your business and then ran away yelling about how horrible it was a lead. Similarly, you wouldn’t consider someone who came to your site for a brief period of time a lead.
The same goes for phone calls. Many marketing companies will tell you they can make your phone ring. But even if you use phone call tracking to figure out how many phone calls each of your marketing campaigns produces, not all of those phone calls are leads!
There are plenty of non-lead phone calls that your business likely receives each week:
- Job inquiries
- Personal calls
- Existing customers
- Wrong numbers
Metric You Should Pay Attention to Instead: Conversions and Phone Leads
Conversions occur when a user makes a choice to complete the desired action. These actions are steps that actually get you closer to the end of the sales funnel and to closing the sale—filling out a form, calling a phone number, or completing another specified action on your web page.
Ultimately, you don’t want to generate more phone calls—you want to generate more phone leads. Click here to read how to track if your phone calls are actually leads.
4. Cost Per Click
How much each click costs doesn’t really give any indication into how your company is performing on a whole. For example, one of our clients came to us with an incredibly low PPC cost per click. When his CPC rose after a few months of our PPC services, he was understandably upset. However, when we looked into it, we showed him that while his CPC had increased, he was getting more, better-qualified conversions—which ultimately increased his return on marketing spend.
Metric You Should Pay Attention to Instead: Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI)
Instead of focusing on how much each click cost, focus on how that cumulation of clicks is helping to increase your bottom line. Return on marketing spend is one of the top-level KPIs that can really dictate how you should plan and divide your budget in the next quarter or next year.
You can’t pay payroll with keyword rankings, and yet, far too many business owners get hung up on rankings as THE measure of SEO success. It’s true you need to rank to get visits to your website, but it also matters WHAT you rank for. Let me give you an example.
I once had a local chimney client who wanted to rank for broad keywords like “chimney sweep.” I explained to him that keywords like “Maryland chimney sweep” would be more likely to generate quality leads and sales for his business. After all, someone in Colorado looking for a chimney sweep is unlikely to want a chimney sweep located in Maryland!
This is just one example of how rankings constitute a poor measure of SEO success—simply because you might be targeting the wrong keywords!
What Metric You Should Pay Attention to Instead: Revenue
Ah! The best marketing metric of all—revenue. It’s absolutely possible to connect your SEO success to your bottom line, and you absolutely should. If you’re actually interested in GROWTH revenue is the ultimate measure of SEO success.
If you’re looking for more marketing metrics that apply to your business or want a marketing metric PDF, Klipfolio has a great guide.
Need Help with Your Digital Marketing Metrics and Analytics? We’ve Got Your Back.
You can’t win the game if you don’t know the score! If you’re frustrated with the results (or lack thereof) of your advertising, marketing, and website, we can help. Accurate measurement and tracking is the foundation of every high-performing website and marketing department. Today’s savvy business owners and marketing executives demand better information. They know that gut intuition plus marketing analytics data (better information) beats gut intuition alone—every single time.
Give us a call or fill out a form today.
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod