In both bearish and bullish economic conditions, working with a digital marketing agency can position your business to better achieve its objectives. A digital marketing firm will utilize a wide range of tools—including SEO, SEM, social media marketing, guest posting, and many others—to help your business increase its digital presence.
Ideally, a digital marketing campaign will draw new clients to your business which, over time, will result in increased sales and higher revenues. Firms that work with digital marketing agencies will almost always run campaigns for multiple years in a row, which suggests that a qualified firm really can add value to your business.
Once you have chosen a digital marketing partner you want to work with, you will then be able to develop a customized plan that is tailored to your business’ needs, restraints, and long-term goals. With an omnichannel approach to marketing, your digital footprint will be enhanced in myriad different ways, which will eventually be reflected in your business’ bottom line.
However, while knowing the end goal—increased income—of hiring a digital marketing company is easy, understanding how your business is performing along the journey to get there can be considerably more difficult. Fortunately, paying attention to multiple key performance indicators (KPI) will make it easier for both your and your marketing partner to gauge your performance over time and make adjustments as needed.
As you might expect, there are potentially thousands of KPIs that a digital marketing agency might choose to use. In this article, we’ve selected a few of the indicators we rely on the most. By monitoring each of these 20 indicators over the course of this turbulent year, you will be able to effectively determine if your business is moving in the right direction.
1. Total Organic Traffic
In the digital marketing industry, the term “organic” is generally synonymous with “unpaid.” By extension, organic traffic is a term used to describe all of the visitors that came to your site via a search engine or other platform in which you didn’t pay for placement. While all types of traffic, both organic and paid, are generally considered desirable, increasing organic traffic is usually a sign that your site is moving in a productive, more sustainable direction.
If you no longer need to pay for placement to get people to your site, this shows that your digital footprint has been expanding and your long-term marketing efforts are finally paying off. As organic traffic increases, the money you used to pay for the traffic can then be directed to bolster another component of your campaign.
2. Average Time Spent on Page
Everyone likes to claim they don’t judge a book by its cover, but we also know for a fact this is far from the truth. In fact, when visiting any given webpage, most people will decide whether the page is worth further exploring within less than five seconds of their original click.
As people begin spending a longer time on a given page, this suggests that you are able to captivate an audience and can provide information to them that is actually relevant. While other variables, such as the total amount of content on the page, will need to be accounted for, pages that have longer average visits are usually considered more valuable.
3. Bounce Rate
A website’s “bounce rate” describes the number of people who leave the entire site after only visiting one page. Again, this is another metric that requires proper context to fully understand, but generally, a higher bounce rate suggests your website is underperforming or, at the very least, missing some possible opportunities.
In the best-case scenario, a visitor will “bounce” from your page because you were able to immediately answer their question. But what other questions might this answer inspire? For example, once you know the cost of the widget, you will likely want to know where such a widget can be purchased. By creating many interlinks that will keep visitors on your site, you can keep your readers engaged and minimize the bouncing.
4. Pages Driving Organic Traffic
Once you have identified your site’s current rate of organic traffic, the next thing you will want to do is break this information down further and see which pages the organic traffic is generally being directed to. Generally, having more content on your site will improve its search engine performance, but is this will only be the case if the new content you are creating is actually useful. If only 5 out of 500 pages are driving organic traffic, you might want to revisit some of the other 495 and either enrich them or delete them altogether. Quality and quantity both are important, both in the eyes of Google and your potential readers.
5. Traffic Value
Traffic value is a good way of estimating how much it would cost a comparable firm to create your current digital marketing campaign from scratch. After breaking down your keywords (which will explain more about later in this list), you can compare your current keyword performance to how much generating an equal amount of traffic would require when engaging in a cash-only marketing campaign. This, more often than not, is one of the metrics where businesses can begin to recognize just how much of a difference an effective content strategy can make.
6. Visitor (Geographic) Location
Breaking down your webpage visitors by geographical location is one of the easiest ways for your business to identify possible opportunities for growth. Most basic search engine marketing programs will at least allow you to recognize which countries your visitors are coming from and many of these programs will also let you break things down by state, county, and zip code.
Suppose that you, a company based in Denver, Colorado, were to discover that 40 percent of your traffic was actually coming from Australia. This can tell you one of two things: there is a major opportunity for selling to Australians that you are currently overlooking or--if you are a company that operates with a physical storefront--it might tell you that your current numbers might not be as valuable as you initially assumed. Regardless, having this crucial information will still be very beneficial.
7. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Even once your business has landed itself on the front page of a Google search—a very impressive accomplishment of its own—your work is still not done. You will still likely be competing against about nine other links and will need to separate yourself from the competition.
Click-through rate measures the rate of people clicking on your site over the others. On average, each of the sites on the front page will have a CTR of 10 percent. If your CTR is below average, you may want to consider changing your meta-descriptions or finding other methods for improving your first impressions.
8. Total Backlinks
A “backlink” indicates that another website is linking back to your site, which is one of the most natural ways for measuring your site’s current digital footprint. While the quality of the sites you are linked to will also need to be considered, increasing your total backlinks is one of the most effective methods for driving more traffic to your key pages and also improving your overall Google rankings.
There are many ways to increase your total backlinks and, in fact, this is one of the most important services a digital marketing company can provide. Guest posts, paid articles, social media, supplementary websites, press releases, and directories are just a few of the ways you can increase the number of paths leading to your site.
9. Backlink Quality
The importance of having many backlinks connected to your site is undeniable, but again, quality is also very important. One high-quality backlink can easily produce more traffic than ten or even one hundred low-quality links. When evaluating backlink qualities, domain authority, number of visitors, and contextual relevance will all be very important. For example, while your medical business could link to a blog about kittens, having a crucial placement in a relevant journal will be immeasurably more valuable.
10. Total Pages per Session
This metric can be a little bit trickier to interpret because it needs to be viewed in the wider context of your website. Having low total pages per session can indicate that each page is very enriching and that you are able to answer visitor’s questions right away. It can also mean that people quickly abandon your site, which is why factors such as the bounce rate should also be included.
High total pages per session can suggest your site is very interesting, which is why in this context total session time should also be considered. Regardless, you will also want to be sure that the pages people are spending lots of time on help make it easy for them to take additional actions.
11. Exit Pages
An “exit page”, as you might guess, is a page where people ultimately decide to leave your website. In some cases, you’ll expect a page to be an exit page, such as whatever page people can go to place an order with your business. In other cases, exit pages can reveal pages that are actively driving traffic away from your site. This can be caused by ineffective linking strategies, broken links, broken pages, and various other issues.
12. Broken Links
One of the things that many people do not realize about digital marketing is just how active the processes involved truly are. Even once you have created a high-quality webpage, that doesn’t necessarily mean that page will remain that way forever.
When someone clicks on a link that leads them to a dead-end, they will be very likely to abandon your site and begin looking for information elsewhere. Checking for broken links and broken pages on a regular basis—which can be done automatically with various software—will help you significantly improve your site’s overall quality.
13. Inner Links
Inner links, generally speaking, make it much easier for people to navigate your site. If you have a page that mentions (or lists) the services your company provides, you should usually include links within the content that makes it easy to jump from one page to another. This will ultimately help keep people on your website and also make it much easier for them to follow through with various actions.
14. Average Page Speed
As a rule of thumb, you should assume that most people browsing the web are just as impatient as you are. Pages that take even three seconds to load will lose a significant portion of their traffic. If your pages require five seconds, or even longer to load, your bounce rate will begin approaching 100.
Fortunately, there are quite a few things you can do to in order improve your average page speed. Optimizing images, and especially videos, can help make the site load more quickly. Additionally, minimizing pop-ups and other data-intensive features will help even further.
15. Content Length
As has been theme throughout this article, both quality and quantity clearly matter in digital marketing—but when you have the option, you should undoubtedly pursue both.
Google uses an E-A-T algorithm which emphasizes expertise, authority, and trust. One of the ways you can begin building the credibility Google is looking for is to create longer articles (1,000 or even 2,000 words) that are full of information. Articles such as this one will significantly outperform simple lists that lack support.
16. Returning Visitors (Percentage and Total)
There are few things more flattering than someone not only deciding to visit your site but return to that site in the future. Your returning visitors are the ones who believe your website has valuable information and, naturally, they are also the people who are most likely to take some tangible action in the future. Increasing both the percent and the total number of returning visitors on your website will suggest your campaign is moving in a productive direction.
17. Link Velocity
Link velocity is a back-linking metric that measures how many backlinks your website is generating on a monthly basis. This can be caused by backlinks incorporated into your broader digital marketing campaign, but it can also include backlinks generated organically by other people who liked your content. Regardless of the source, increased link velocity will broaden your digital footprint and help improve your expected search engine performance.
18. Shares, Likes, and Comments
Ideally, your website will make it easy for visitors to interact with the content you’ve created and also spread this content around the web. Shares, likes, and comments all need to be taken with a grain of salt, but having people engage with your social media content will help create lasting connections that may lead to future actions. Depending on the industry you are operating in, you may want to increase engagement even further and begin directly interacting in your comment sections.
19. Dominant Keywords
Keywords help drive results, which is why identifying dominant keywords will be crucial for any sustained digital marketing campaign. What kind of keywords are currently driving people to your site? What kind of keywords do you hope will drive people to your site? Which keywords are currently being underutilized? Answering these questions can sometimes be quite difficult, especially if you have limited experience in the digital marketing space, but these answers will often point your campaign in a much more productive direction.
20. Competitor Rankings
Without any context, interpreting the metrics measured above can make it difficult to evaluate your business’ overall performance. This is especially true during a very volatile year, when everyone might be experiencing increased or decreased traffic in waves.
In order to be better conceptualize how your business is performing, you can use various tools (such as SEM Rush) to compare your website to the businesses you are competing with. Did your traffic skyrocket while theirs plummeted? Vice versa? If so, the next thing you’ll need to determine is why, exactly, these trends are playing out this way.
Conclusion - 2020 Guide For Measuring Your Business’ Online Performance
The most successful digital marketing strategies will require many different data points and many different outlooks. Monitoring this data and generating in-depth reports will help orient your business and help you better understand what changes are needed. Making it to the front page of Google is a steady climb that can take a considerable amount of time. Because you are already on the mountain and hope to make it to the top, you will want to be sure that you have the directions and knowledge needed to get you there.