As a busy interactive marketing agency, we deal will a variety of clients and provide custom analytics to every one of them. With our clients, sometimes we're stepping-in to take the place of another agency and other times clients come to us with no previous agency experience. In both cases, clients rarely know which marketing metrics to monitor which is why is critical for us to provide the right information to help them make great decisions! Whether using Google Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst or any other number of Web analytics solutions, I believe that less is always more. Here's why:
Seeing the Forest through the Trees
At ANY level with most organizations, I'd venture to say that the decision-makers reading the reports don't understand ALL the data they are looking at. In fact, it's easy to unintentionally bury the obvious trends with data overkill. A simple trended line-graph is almost always more useful than the potentially thousands of lines of data which build that graph.
On occasion, clients come to us and provide us with sample reports which were given by their 'old agency'. When we ask clients to identify which information is critical to their decisions making process, they sometimes can't tell us. Honestly, they've been reading reports (for months or years) but these reports have provided very little value to them as business decision makers. BETTER information is more important than MORE information.
How to Determine What Matters and What Splatters
To determine which types of marketing analytical information is valuable, simply step back and ask one question- What one metric determines whether I continue on the current path or whether I jump-ship and try something new? For most business, it's ROI. How much money, bread, mula, green, benjamins or whatever come in the door for each marketing dollar I put out, specific to each marketing tactic/campaign. As a marketing manager, does anything else really matter (at least in the short term)?
Data that Splatters
When I say splatter, I mean data that just makes analytical reporting data that does the equivalent of dumping a bright green bucket of paint on your normal 'monthly summary report'. In other words, data that makes reports messy enough to make them hard to use.
- Keyword rankings - Does your website's ranking for any individual keyword (brand name excluded) really matter? I'd much rather know how much revenue my SEO efforts are driving. I couldn't care less if I rank #1 or #3 for a specific phrase, if month-over-month I see improvements in search revenue,
- Email open/click rates - Sure they IMPLY trends. But what if I sent an email out with terrible open and click rates, but that same email generated more revenue than anything before. Would I send a similar again in the future, ABSOLUTELY. Which stat should drive my decision?
- Pay-per-click click-through-rates - Google loves to sell us on the idea that these are important (cause they make more money if we write better ads). While they are important, they are not the most important metric. In 8 years of managing PPC campaigns and agencies, I've seen a hundred campaigns with terrible click-rates but yield a better return for the business (again, we're talking $$ here) than their counterparts.
- Website visitor geographic location- This one is huge with clients. ALMOST always useless for most businesses...
Why get buried in data when the best information is often at the surface. This is just something to think about. If you get nothing else from this post, take 5 minutes today to step-back and examine your 'normal reports' and see ask yourself whether you're seeing the forest through the trees.