Category Archives: KPI

Three Not-Trues

As marketers, it’s essential that we sometimes step back and challenge our own assumptions. In many cases, we take things for granted that are simply not true. Here are three.

  1. “Email marketing doesn’t really work.”

    Mailchimp
    Mailchimp

Not true. E-mail marketing absolutely works. In fact, over the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, it continues to be the strongest channel for generating online sales. In fact, it accounted for 25.1 percent of transactions, according to Custora, which tracks e-commerce and benchmarks retailers. The key? Sending impressive and relevant offers to customers who have expressly opted in. Companies that do this well are seeing big returns.

  1. “Social media drives e-commerce sales.”

Not true. Over the same five-day shopping period, Custora also found that social media drove only 1.7 percent of online sales. So if you’re dubious about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter driving any serious sales (retail or otherwise), you’re probably right. Simply, while social media plays a role in influencing purchase decisions and search results, it doesn’t drive e-commerce sales yet. Yes, there are a few exceptions. But considering we’re past the peak of the Facebook era, social media in its current form may never establish itself as a main sales driver.

  1. “When shopping online, consumers go to Amazon first.”

google shoppingNot true. While many consumers may indeed end up making a purchase on Amazon, Google Shopping is establishing itself as the 800-pound gorilla of online deal hunting and where they start first. In other words, instead of consumers wading through lots of different deal sites (like slickdeals.net or woot.com, for example), Google Shopping provides a consolidated look, right there in the regular search results.

Since Google transitioned to Shopping campaigns last year and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) continued to explode in popularity, retailers now have access to more tools, more advanced reporting and more competitor data than ever before. The e-commerce consulting firm Channel Advisor notes that Google Shopping is even cannibalizing its own search results.

As always, we encourage our clients to challenge their assumptions, look beyond the status quo and make data-driven decisions. Not surprisingly, given the dynamic nature of online shopping and e-commerce, hard-and-fast rules usually don’t last too long.

If you’d like some help evaluating your assumptions and discovering what’s actually true for your business, drop us a line.

Now what? 5 Great Tips for Continued Online Success

now-whatLet’s say you’ve done a fantastic job of incorporating keywords into your site and you’re perfectly tweaked for efficient SEO. You’ve got a good inbound linking strategy. You’ve built a nice user experience and maybe even incorporated some video. Your reporting and analytics functions are tuned to your liking.

So is that it? Are you done?

Nope.

Certainly, SEO efforts and keyword optimization are an ongoing function of your business. But it’s also critical to make sure you’re welcoming Google with open arms. It’s as simple as this: When Google doesn’t crawl your site frequently, your ranking will likely drop.

Here are five tips to make sure Google stops by for frequent visits, courtesy of Pratik Dholakiya over at Search Engine Watch:

  1. Make sure your web server is fast. Slow load times and unreliable servers can incur SEO penalties and discourage frequent visits from Google. So whether you host your site yourself or contract for hosting services, it’s critical to optimize for better performance.
  2. Update your site. A lot. Need a good reason to have a blog? This is it, because Google likes new content. Another benefit: Google applies the SEO benefits of your blog to your entire site, so frequent updates can pay big dividends. Just make sure your blog falls inside (not outside) of your site’s core domain. In other words, it should be yoursite.com/blog, not blog.yoursite.com.
  3. Get more inbound links. Quality counts more than quantity, but links pointing to your site continue to tell Google “Hey, this is good stuff.” If you need more quality inbound links (and who doesn’t, right?) just be sure to ASK for them – don’t buy them. Ever.
  4. Ask Google to crawl your site. Using the “Fetch as Google” tool, you can tell Google to crawl any page of your site. This is especially useful for time-sensitive updates to your content.
  5. Keep your sitemap updated and error-free. An XML sitemap, when properly maintained and implemented is like a plate of warm cookies when Google shows up at the door.

Most of these things you can do yourself, but some are definitely more complex. Some require intentional effort and planning. Just know that we’re always here to help, with a combination of strategic marketing and extensive technical know-how.

The ABC’s of KPI’s

For centuries, businesses have been operating with two Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s. You probably know them well: A profit-and-loss statement and a balance sheet. Indeed, these two KPIs can provide meaningful information about your business.

Ah, but there’s so much more. With today’s free-flowing data, analytics capabilities, remarkable computing power and graphical user interfaces, KPI’s based solely on basic accounting just seem so last-century.

So just what is a KPI? Surprisingly, there are a lot of definitions.KPI

Here’s a hybrid compiled from Avinash Kaishik, KAIZEN Analytics and Bernard Marr:

KPI’s are an actionable scorecard that keeps your business strategy on track. They enable you to manage, control and achieve desired business results. They translate complex measures into a simple indicator that allows you to assess the current situation and act quickly. They provide immediate performance information to help you understand whether the organization is on track or not.

Building effective KPI’s isn’t as easy as it sounds. For example, it’s easy to say that you’d like sales to increase, but how will you do it? Will you shorten the sales cycle? Generate more leads? Get loyal customers to buy more? Create a new market for your product?

When you have these answers, you can build a KPI that reflects your goal. That might mean measuring keyword searches, unique visitors, traffic sources, bounce rates, or even integrating financial data to determine cost per sale, cost per lead, quote-to-close ratios and more.

On the marketing side, you might set up KPI’s to measure how your audience moves through a campaign from one step to the next. Or maybe you want to prove its effectiveness with an incremental sales KPI. Maybe you simply need to determine which keywords are performing the best. Or monitor ongoing open rates for email campaigns.

Some KPI’s (like traffic source, bounce rate and email open rate) are pretty standard and well-known. Others are highly custom and borderline exotic. The important thing is to narrow in on just a few (think about five or six, not 50 or 60), make them easily accessible through a dashboard and monitor them over time.

Remember, the whole point of KPI’s is action. That’s why they exist.

If you’d like more KPI ideas and inspiration, check out sites like kpilibrary.com and this post from Bernard Marr on LinkedIn. Then reach out to us for help in brainstorming, building and implementing the KPIs that can help your business thrive.

Reflections on 2013

Welcome to 2014.

I haven’t written in a while…we decided to drive to Florida over the holidays with the dogs along. Suffice to say I didn’t get much work done. Except for Wisconsin losing the Capital One Bowl, and coming back to the Polar Vortex, it was a nice holiday!

It would be wonderful to talk about huge revelations from 2013…the truth is, back to basics remains the theme:

  1. SEO is not dead…it’s just hiding behind the mother ship: marketing 101. A good marketer knows their product or business and talks about it in a way that their customers understand. Putting the technology aside for the moment (which can still be a real showstopper,) a good website needs good content. In 2013, I worked with a couple of excellent content writers for the web and the one thing they have in common is their ability to TALK TO (not at) THE CUSTOMER in phrases and language the customer understands. In SEO terms, that means doing keyword research, ensuring keywords are prioritized based on what the customer is searching for, and writing compelling content. As someone in authority once said to me…”marketing is just common sense, right?” Well, yes, it is just common sense, but the skills to get there are real, and budgets can be improved or lost without a good understanding of the nuances of digital marketing..
  2. Content remains King…see #1
  3. Don’t try to fool the system…you’ll always get caught. When I worked for an airline and was fortunate to have wonderful benefits including flight privileges, there were always one or two people who tried to beat the system and break the rules. Inevitably, they would be walked out of the building with a box in their hands. YOU’LL ALWAYS GET CAUGHT. Do things the right way…form relationships with complementary sites and partners and get links naturally, don’t spam on your site by keyword stuffing, and if someone is telling you something that sounds too good to be true when it comes to SEO, it is. SEO and content marketing are hard work, but the rewards are great and long-lasting.
  4. Make decisions with facts, not opinion, or guesswork. In 2013, I came across several business opportunities where analytics were not used to measure success. In the world of FREE (Google Analytics,) I find it difficult to understand how a business can stay afloat without knowing where their customers are coming from, or what they’re looking at, or how many have responded to that promotion they did…I could go on and on. If there is one thing you can do for yourself in 2014, find someone that can help you understand the key metrics of doing business online. PLEASE!
  5. Embrace Mobile. According to Google, 90% of people use multiple devices to perform their online research. Google recommends that webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design. If your website is not built with mobile devices in mind, then you need a mobile app so your customers can reach you from their phone or tablet without needing a magnifying glass.
  6. Finally, if your website is not driving legitimate leads, sales, and revenue, please read 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 again and give me a jingle. I’d love to help. If this stuff is old hat to you, are you doing it?

Have a wonderful and prosperous 2014!

(Oh, and I guess I’ll have to settle for Seattle winning the Super Bowl considering their star quarterback Russell Wilson was also a star at Wisconsin!)

Key Performance Indicators, Goals & Actionable Next Steps

arrowsAt InMarketSuccess we specialize in analyzing the data that really matters to your business. To help evaluate success we define KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Since each business has their own objectives or goals KPIs are often unique. The broad spectrum of data we can get from Google Analytics has it’s purpose but to really leave with an actionable next step unique KPIs are a MUST for every business.

It”s important to define specific KPIs for your own business. Looking at a website and deciding how to help increase orders, or improve conversion rates can be an overwhelming task. We have a more outlined approach starting with a KPI.

To keep it broad lets look at Conversion Rate as a KPI.  We often get asked: “What is an average conversion rate?”… there isn’t a great answer because it can vary so much from business to business and product to product. The better question is what is MY average conversion rate for the last month, last quarter, last year and what is it now. Compare Apples to Apples with the goal of improving your conversion rate over time. An even better question is “what am I doing to affect my conversion rate?”

When we talk about conversion rate it doesn’t need to apply only to an E-Commerce site. Most analytics programs can track form submissions, request for more info, webinar signup, banner clicks etc. So the objective here is to understand what level conversions rates are at and how they can be improved. We have a KPI or goal then we can create smaller objectives to help reach that goal. So here is how we’d outline it at InMarketSuccess–>

  • KPI: Conversion Rate (Look at last 12 months, monitor monthly)
    • Smaller Objectives to Affect the KPI:
        Setup a goal in the checkout process to identify where users drop off

      • A/B Test the product page
      • Offer different payment options
      • Test Sales Copy
      • Segment traffic in analytics to identify conversion potential for segments of customers (organic, paid, social mobile, new, returning etc)
      • Segment keywords by conversion potential

These are some general ideas. It is a basic concept but very helpful to get the most out of your analytics. The approach above could apply to any KPI for any business. Start with a KPI, measure it and then define smaller steps to help affect that KPI. This is our approach at InMarketSuccess to help us define actionable next steps.