If you don’t measure what you’re doing in search and social media, how do you know if what you’re doing is working? How do you know if you’re helping or hurting your business—or having no effect whatsoever?
How do you know that all those hours and/or wages aren’t being wasted?
How do you know you’re getting positive results?
At the end of the day, how do you know what you’re doing is worth it?
Answer: you don’t!
Measuring your SEO/social media successes and failures are the only way to improve — and to confirm that your strategies are helping your business move forward.
And here’s where so many of you will answer: “But we are measuring! We do have goals! We’re getting more retweets with every tweet and our site hits are increasing every day. We’re improving!”
That’s great. Really. But at the end of the day, does it really matter if those 10,000 followers or site visitors aren’t doing anything of actual value for their business? Are they helping you increase revenue? Lower costs? Increase customer satisfaction?
If you answered yes… how do you know?
Again: you don’t. Unless you’ve got real data and a comprehensive plan — complete with concrete evidence as to how your strategies are helping you grow.
Getting more followers, fans, search engine traffic, retweets, and subscribers can be an important part of your strategy; but, to see the big picture — how all those things are supporting your business — you’ve got to widen your scope.
Everything You Do Should Reflect Your Company’s Overall Mission
As Angie Schottmuller points out in her excellent guide to defining a strategic social media strategy, you should start developing your goals based on your company’s overall vision and work down from there.
Everything you do in social media — and SEO, too — should fit under the umbrella of your business mission. Some examples of potential goals might be:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase brand trust
- Increase brand loyalty
- Shorten the sales funnel
- Generate more leads/create a new lead generation channel
- Facilitate (or ease) customer support: either by reducing support-related emails or calls or to provide another outlet for support
- Increase customer satisfaction and/or interaction
- Understand user behavior
- Sell services/products
For more on developing overall goals, I highly recommend the aforementioned Social Media ROI: How to Define a Strategic Plan, as well as Lisa Barone’s A Call for Smarter Social Media Marketing.
Search/Social KPIs To Track
Now that you’ve developed your goals, it’s time to pick tactics that will help you achieve those Objective and Key Results (OKRs) — as well as finding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help you measure your successes.
Note: A lot of these KPIs are from Social Media Analytics by Marshall Sponder. When applicable, I’ve provided equations for finding more complicated percentages.
1. Monitoring Search Engine Traffic
- Percentage of visits from search engines
- Percentage of conversions from search engine visitors
2. Monitoring Visitor Engagement with Website
- Percentage of visitors that leave a comment
- Percentage of visitors that share/vote on social media
- Conversation rate:
(Number of comments)
(Number of pieces of content)
- Percentage of visitors that click to take action or click on CTA (Call to Action) link
- Average time on site per visit
- Average page depth ( the average amount of pages a visitor sees during a session on your site) per visit
- Number of engaged visits:
(Total number of engagements)
(Total number of visits)
3. Monitoring User Experience on Website
- Percentage of visits that bounce (single-page visits)
- Percentage of internal site searches that produce zero results
- Percentage of users waiting longer than 3 seconds for a page to load
- Bounce rate of a certain page (page X, in the following equation):
[Number of single page visits with zero actions (page X)]
[Number of entry page visits (page X)]
4. Monitoring the Number of Visitors Donating/Purchasing
- Percentage of visitors donating/purchasing
- Percentage of visitors that visit a donation/purchase cart page
5. Monitoring Brand Engagement
- Percentage of brand engagement:
(Number of visits with branded search times + Number of direct visits)
(Number of visits from search engines + Number of direct visits)
6. Monitoring Social Engagement
- Number of social actions per page:
(Total number of social actions)
(Number of pages on site with buttons)
- Ratio of social actions to community size (Example: Number of page tweets per 1,000 followers; Number of shares per 1,000 Facebook fans, etc.)
7. Monitoring Users’ Site Search Experience
- Percentage of visits that use site search
- Average number of search results viewed per search
- Percentage of people exiting the site after viewing search results
- Percentage of people conducting multiple searches during their visit (excluding multiple searches for the same keyword)
- Average time on site for a visit following a search
- Average number of pages visitors view after performing a search
8. Monitoring On-Site Videos
- Number of visitors who watched
- When visitors stop video (Find the code here: http://www.bluefountainmedia.com/blog/track-youtube-player-events-google-analytics/ )
- Percentage of page visitors that played video
- Percentage of page visitors that completed video play
9. Other Partial KPIs to Track
- Number of site visits with over X page views
- Number of site visits over X minutes/seconds
- Number of visitors that reached donation/purchase/lead page
Other Analytics Tools
Google Analytics is still the greatest tool in your arsenal, but a few other sites and tools are worth looking into:
- Social Media Metrics plugin for Greasemonkey: shows you a comprehensive list of all your social shares in Google Analytics
- RetweetRank: shows how often you get retweeted
- YouTube Insight: in-site analytics that tracks your videos’ popularity, views, and more
- ShareThis: provides visitors with an easy way to share your content; also integrates with Google Analytics to show you which social channels are the most successful/popular with sharers on your site
- Reachli (formerly Pinerly) and Pinpuff: shows analytics reports for your Pinterest account. Pinerly also lets you create “campaigns” with selected pins and then compare different campaigns over time
At the end of the day, you should not be on social media because, quote, “every business needs to have a social media presence.” You should not be focusing all your efforts on getting to #1 in the SERPs if none of your site visitors ever buy anything.
Put the pieces together. Look at the big picture; look at how each of your strategies benefit your business as a whole. Start measuring, and you’ll start connecting the dots.
At the very least, you’ll have something real to say when someone asks you why you do SEO/social media marketing–something besides “well, everyone else was doing it.”
Image from Shutterstock.com, used under license.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.