Amel will join SEMrush on March 4 for a free webinar,"How to Increase Your Website Revenue Using a Data-Driven SEO Campaign." Learn more about the webinar after the jump!
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” - H. James Harrington
The first time I heard this quote, I thought being surrounded by so much data made it impossible for us to measure anything.
Over time, however, this has grown to be my favorite web analytics quote. Simply because I realized that, after so many years working as an SEO consultant, if I don’t properly measure my clients’ digital marketing activities and their impact on their business, it will be impossible for me to determine which action yielded a positive return and how to improve on it to offer the best results to my clients.
In fact, I think every aspiring data-driven marketer — like you — would do well reading this quote, understanding it and applying it to your next marketing campaign. And that’s why you’re about to learn the best way to measure your digital marketing campaign effectively by building, in 7 easy steps, a web analytics framework that, when implemented correctly, will ensure the improvement of your marketing campaigns.
Creating a web analytics framework, before even creating the SEO strategy itself, will help you make sure you put the entire focus on reaching the company's goals that matter the most. Your framework will help you identify the reason behind your SEO strategy.
To build the SEO analytics framework, you need to answer the following fundamental questions:
Clarify and Define Your Business Objectives
What are the business objectives that your SEO marketing campaign can help with?
To answer this question, you first have to identify and state the most important priorities for your website in terms of the main accomplishment.
Keep in mind that objectives are action plans to get from where you are to where you want to be. So you should sit with the marketing team to identify the current situation where your website is and where you want it to be in terms of traffic, rankings, conversions, etc. This will ultimately help you identify the most important area to improve on in order to increase the bottom line.
To clarify this important point, here are some examples of website’s business objectives:
- Increase targeted traffic from organic sources by 25% in the next 6 months
- Improve the conversion rate of under-performing pages by 1%
- Increase green-widget products by 5% in the next 3 months
- Improve SEO marketing campaign effectiveness by 10%
Connect your Goals to your Objectives
What are the three top goals that we need our SEO Marketing campaign to achieve?
I know we started out by talking about objectives, but in reality, goals come first. Here is how a goal is defined by The Business Dictionary: ‘’an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe.’’
In the Analytics sphere, a goal reflects specific strategies that will take you, with the help of your action plans, to your desired outcome.
SIDE NOTE: Just so you know, there is big confusion when it comes to the meaning of objectives vs. goals. By now, you may be asking yourself, What’s the difference?
Well, here is a definition of goal vs. objectives that I’m sure you’ll find very helpful: ‘’a goal defines the direction and destination, but the road to get there is accomplished by a series of objectives."
In another words, you should think of a goal as being the desired outcome that you want your efforts to ultimately bring you to. Objectives, on the other hand, are about mapping out a series of specific plans of attack that will help you reach your desirable outcome.
For example, your prioritized desired outcomes — goals — could be:
- Identifying the reasons why some pages have a high bounce rate (return-to-SERP), and improve the site’s engagement
- Figuring out how to improve the speed of your site for a better user experience
- Experimenting with SEO press release campaigns to increase online visibility and traffic
From the above example, we can identify the objective as being ‘’improving SEO marketing effectiveness." Now, to reach our objective, we have to create a specific strategy for each of the goals stated above. Just to be clear here, it's strategy that handles all of the “how to” that will help you achieve your goals.
By reaching each of your defined goals, you will improve the site’s SEO performance; thus, increasing traffic, improving engagement, retention and, finally, sales.
So next time, before you start drilling down data, make sure you define at least 3 business objectives to align your goals with.
Identify Your Key Performance Indicators
KPIs are linked to your objectives. If you can’t define your business objectives you can’t identify your KPIs correctly. KPIs are very important because they give you a realistic view of how your campaign’s performance is doing against its defined objectives.
For example, you run an ecommerce website where you sell snowboards. Your business objective for the first quarter of 2015 could be to sell more units of K2 brand. Your web analytics KPIs could be: conversion rate, average order size, shopping cart abandonment rate.
There are a lot of different KPIs that you can measure. Here is a non exhaustive list that you can use:
Sales and Marketing Key Performance Indicators:
- New customer orders versus returning customer sales
- Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sales
- Traffic of Non branded keywords
- New Vs returning visitors
- Average transaction value
- Conversion rate per medium/source
- Transactions distribution per country
- Traffic distribution by country/territory
- Brand SERPs click-through rates
Specify your Projected Targets
What is the projected revenue/conversion/engagement, etc. we can expect our SEO campaign to bring?
Not specifying a projected numerical value for each of your KPI will leave you completely blind and ignorant about the performance of your strategies. Undeniably, how would you know if your campaign failed or if it was a success if you didn’t even specify an estimated target value to reach?
This is the reason why it’s so important for you to specify targets for each of your key performance indicators. Your job is to do your best to out-perform your predictions.
Segment Your Web Analytics Data for Accurate Reporting
In order to do the preliminary analysis of the data that you’ll gather once the campaign starts, you will have to outline a specific segmentation plan.
The segmentation plan should answer the question, What are all the different characteristics and activities that represent the target audience who visit our website as a result of our SEO campaign?
These attributes and activities are represented in Google Analytics as dimensions. We use them to help us organize, segment and analyze our data. A simplistic definition of them by Google is that dimensions describe your data.
For example, a geographic location could have dimensions called City Name. Values for the City Name dimension could be New York, Paris or Montreal.
Also the activities that someone perform on your website like the page they visited, the products they purchased, the searches they perform are dimensions.
Measure your Campaign Performance Through a Dashboard
One easy and visually effective way to measure the performance of your digital marketing campaigns is by using customized profit-driven dashboards.
You see, a digital dashboard is where all data and metrics related to your web marketing campaign are collected and presented as useful actionable insights, and the simple way to start with the Dashboard creation process is to create your dashboard around your KPIs.
Categorizing the Possible Results of Your Campaign
The last thing that you need to finalize before starting to analyze the performance of your campaign is to come up with some categories where your results can be placed. For example you could place your campaign’s results in one of the following categories:
- Failed campaign (negative ROI, zero revenue, lost money)
- Break-Even campaign (expenses equal revenue)
- Mediocre campaign (made a negligible ROI).
- Successful campaign (you’ve out-performed your target and made significant ROI).
I hope you understand by now that our goal is NOT to build mediocre SEO Marketing campaigns. Make sure you track and measure your campaigns correctly, and understand your web analytics framework fully if you want to build successful campaigns.
Finally, here is how your SEO web analytics framework would look like:
What’s the Next Step?
Get started on building your web analytics framework, and join us on Wednesday, March 4 at 1 p.m. (EST) to take your web analytics knowledge to the next level! Register today for "How to Increase Your Website Revenue Using A Data Driven SEO Campaign."