Digital Marketing Step 4: Measure Results

August 3, 2016
Peter McEllhenney

The last indispensable step to digital marketing success is to measure your results, so you can keep doing what makes you money and stop doing what doesn’t.

1. Use Website Analytics, Conversion Tracking, and Call Tracking

The best way to measure the results of your web marketing is to track conversions using your website analytics, the conversion measurement tools of advertising programs like Google AdWords, and services that allow you to track the source of phone calls your website generated.

A conversion is a measurable action you want visitors to your website to take. It could be buying a product, downloading a white paper, making an appointment, completing a web form, calling a toll-free phone number, or another valuable activity.

Setting up some tracking is reasonably simple. You want your analytics program to record each time a visitor sees the “thank you” or action-confirmation page of your site. (For advertising platforms like AdWords, you’ll need to place a few lines of code on the page.) Call tracking can be more complicated, but there are good companies that can help you do it.

Once tracking is in place, you can see how many website visitors took that valuable action.

Even better, you can see how these new customers came to your site and what they did on the site before they converted.

For example, if your business has a Facebook page linked to your website, you can see how many people came from Facebook to your website, and how many of those became customers.

This will help tell you how well your investment in social media is paying in terms of direct sales. It will also help you measure how much “awareness” of your business you are creating, which may be as important to you as generating revenue.

The same tracking can tell you which keywords are making money and which ones aren’t, which will allow you to better target your organic SEO and pay-per-click advertising campaigns. And it will tell you what content on your site is driving business and what content isn’t.

2. Ask “How did you hear about us?” and Measure Trends

Not every business is going to find conversation tracking sufficient to measure the effectiveness of their web marketing.

For example, many brick-and-mortar businesses get customers walking through the door because of their web marketing, but they won’t be able to tell that just from their website data.

Offering discount coupons or special offer codes tied to your website or web advertising campaigns is one good way to capture this information.

Another way is to ask customers – after you’ve taken their money and thanked them – “How did you hear about us?” and write down the answers.

This isn’t the most precise way to measure results because you aren’t likely to get an answer more specific than “on the internet” and you won’t get an answer from every customer.

But it is a decent way to measure trends and averages, which you can then correlate against web marketing activities.

For example, if a year after you launch your website, you test a pay-per-click advertising campaign, you could reasonably attribute any increase you see in the number of customers saying “on the internet” to that campaign (assuming that the number of free visits to your site held steady).

A limitation to this approach is that you can only track one web marketing technique at a time. If you launch a new paid advertising campaign, a new Facebook page, and a new blog all at once, you might not be able to tell which one is increasing your business.

On the other hand, the “How did you hear about us?” approach allows you to the big picture of your marketing.

Unless your business is purely internet-based, some combination of word-of-mouth, referrals, networking, e-mail marketing, direct mail, print and other traditional media advertising, events, speaking engagements, volunteer work, free samples, contests, public relations – and much more! – probably drive your business. If that is the case, you’ll want to track the impact of all those activities as well.