Expert commentator | Smart Insights | Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:00:00 +0000

You may be focusing on the wrong metrics and missing the most important KPIs

As a digital marketing professional, you may have once expected that your job would involve a lot of creativity – you’d spend your days creating innovative advertisements, writing engaging copy, maybe even crafting catchy memes. And of course, you do work on these tasks, but unless your company has a committed marketing analytics professional on staff, you also likely spend much of your day surrounded by numbers, working hard to assess the effectiveness of your campaigns. All those numbers, taken together, are known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Unfortunately, sometimes the numbers piling up on your desk indicate that your marketing strategy isn’t working out as well as you’d hoped. That’s when it’s time to take your ad campaigns and KPIs back to the drawing board.

Here are a few analytics strategies you can try to kick start your brand’s growth when things seemed to have stalled.

Question Your Categories

When marketing numbers are stagnant, one of the most important questions that you should be asking is, “Am I looking at the right categories?†There are dozens of different indicators you can choose from when selecting your KPIs, and you may not be looking at the right data. Looking at a limited selection of KPIs means you’re only seeing part of the story.

As the data visualization company datapine explains here, certain KPIs are given pride of place within the field of analytics. With Google Analytics, the top KPIs include audience, bounce rates, and site traffic sources. These divisions can be very helpful, but they may not be the ones you need to determine what’s working and why your conversions have hit a plateau or fallen off from earlier levels.

Consider bringing new KPIs to the table to see if you can gain any insights about what’s changed to impact your marketing in this way. Categories you may want to examine include percentage of mobile users, site heat maps or click patterns, and social sharing.

Many companies overlook these factors, but they provide useful information – if your site hasn’t kept up with mobile norms; for example, it may be hard for those looking at the site on mobile phones to engage with the content. A similar principle applies to mobile sharing; check to make sure your sharing buttons haven’t become hidden or put in a different location, inhibiting the spread of your content.

Go Bold For Bots

One factor that your KPIs should reveal is how users are arriving at your site – are they coming from social media or from search engines, for example, and if so, which ones? Google remains the dominant search engine today, so if you’re not seeing a large number of referrals from that site, you may not be drawing attention from the bots Google uses to add sites to their cache.

Unsurprisingly, there are things on the web that Google doesn’t cache, but these are typically low quality sites or some other type of web spam. Since you run a site with great content, maintain quality links, and follow standard Google search priorities, though, your problem must be something else.

The more likely case? Because Google has to sort through approximately 39 billion pages each month, the bots are skipping your site because you haven’t included an XML sitemap or cleaned up your code. Both of these factors can cause the search engine to ignore your site, so fix these issues right away. Maintaining your site so that it can be easily read by bots will improve your overall web visibility greatly.

Stay Short, Stay Simple

There’s a really strong emphasis on content on the web these days, with the message being that the more you create, the more attention you’ll receive. While in premise this is a good idea – if you can write blog posts on a variety of relevant topics up, that will indeed draw more search engine attention and social shares – but it’s necessary to apply this concept with caution. Ultimately, what your readers want to know is what you’re offering and why they’ll benefit from it.

You’ll have better luck expressing this notion of benefits by keeping your messages brief and stating your intended outcome. Don’t be afraid to ask for conversion in emails or offer a specific call to action (CTA) at the end of blog posts, because these let people know what to do. If they aren’t already sold on your offer, they won’t bite, but some simply need a direct proposition in order for them to act.

Visualize Success

Most digital marketing professionals are more than familiar with the importance of using visuals when trying to attract reader attention – users spend more time on sites that include pictures and video than on those that are all text. They also remember more about a site when there’s visual content to attach that information to.

One part of the statistics on images that many marketers overlook, however, is this fact about stock photos: people read almost entirely around stock photos and don’t include them in their assessment of the site. Stock photos, and original shots that are staged like stock photos, can actually be a distraction or detriment to your site, rather than an improvement.

Are your poor quality images losing you business?

Going out of business

If you’re going to use pictures as part of your content – and you should – make sure to avoid the standard tropes of stock photos. Take pictures that are distinctive and descriptive. These are the shots people really remember.

The Keys To Being Seen

If your website seems to have stopped short and is failing to reach readers and command conversions as it did in the past, you may have a problem – but you can set things straight! Take a close look at your site, including the code, to make sure the layout and links are as you intended, review any new Google site rules, and consider working with a new set of KPIs. Things may not be as dire as they seemed when your conversion numbers stalled; it’s simply a matter of looking at things with fresh eyes and smart analytics.