How to evaluate a digital marketing strategy
Strategy is one of those terms that everyone seems to be throwing around these days.
As for digital strategy? If we have one, we’re often worried we’re not getting the results desired. And if we don’t have one it’s another stress-inducing pressure on the never-ending to-do list of the modern marketer or business owner.
Side note: if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in place (yet) read our blog on how to create a digital marketing strategy.
Whether you’ve got one in place, or you’re just starting to map one out, it’s crucial that you have a measurement framework in place so you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
Because if it’s not working, it’s crucial to identify why and pivot. And if it is working? You need to identify why and do more of that. Sweet baby cheeses do more, and more, and more.
So how do you evaluate a digital marketing strategy?
A good digital marketing strategy will always be heavily influenced by business goals.
It all starts with goals
You can’t measure effectiveness if you don’t know what you’re measuring, right? So, when it comes to evaluating your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to review what the goals were in the first place. A good digital marketing strategy will always be heavily influenced by business goals—which are almost always financial (or ladder up to financial growth).
The great thing about using business goals to inform marketing objectives? You can simply work backwards. Are quarterly revenue and profit margin goals in place? And how many sales transactions are required to achieve those goals? And based on your average conversion rate, how much traffic is needed to achieve the required volume of sales.
Not so complicated now, right? Your business goals and marketing objectives will form the basis of your analysis of the digital marketing strategy.
And then it’s on to measurement
Been putting off evaluating your digital marketing strategy because it means you’re going to have to spend some time with (everybody’s favourite thing to avoid) Google Analytics? Look, if you’re going to evaluate the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy you’re going to need to look at numbers #soznotsoz. Hard truth time? Numbers are just part of being in business. So you gotta make friends with them (hope my accountant is reading this—brownie points for me).
In every Google Analytics training session, and every monthly reporting session with a client, the same thing always comes up: people don’t know where to start with Google Analytics. The volume of information is overwhelming (and causing smart people to snap their laptop lids shut and never open that stinkin’ program again).
And look, there is so much (#sahhhhhmuch) data in there, it can be hard to know where to start. Lucky we’re about to take you through where to look and what metrics matter (the ones that relate to your goals and objectives, mmmmkay?).
So, what are the key things to measure? Basically, your business goals and the marketing objectives that lead to achieving them… which are likely:
- Revenue (sales revenue)
- Profit margin (the really important stuff)
- Number of transactions (sales volume)
- Sales conversion rate (% of traffic that transacted)
- Goal conversion rate (% of traffic that completed specific actions)
- Users (people)
- Sessions (traffic)
When we’re creating and publishing our own content, we tend to favour the marketing channels we enjoy on a personal level.
How to measure marketing effectiveness
If you don’t know where to look (or what to look for) Google Analytics sucks. Let’s walk through the steps (with screen grabs) for measuring the effectiveness of your digital marketing in Google Analytics.
Start with the vital signs
Wondering what the flip vital signs are? Put simply, they’re the key metrics—like traffic, bounce rate, average session duration, conversion rate, number of conversions, and revenue—that give us an indication of website (and marketing) performance at a glance.
Also, apologies, I couldn’t resist a little jargon—oops!
Marketing acquisition metrics
Next up on our smorgasbord of data? Let’s look at where traffic is coming from.
When we’re creating and publishing our own content, we tend to favour the marketing channels we enjoy on a personal level (love you Instagram). Sometimes, this can subconsciously skew our view on what channels are working best. And, as is the case of social media, we can get sucked into platform specific metrics that don’t mean all that much.
How many likes that Insta post of your cute dog got? Yeah, how’s that translating to traffic, leads and sales? So, let’s jump into Google Analytics and determine which channels are driving the most traffic to your site.
Things to look at:
- What channels are driving the most traffic to the site?
- What channels have the highest bounce rate?
- What channels have the lowest bounce rate?
- What channels have the highest average session duration?
- What channels have the highest average pages per session?
Marketing performance metrics
Now we know which channels are driving the most traffic, the next step is to work out if the traffic was any good. We do this by looking at the volume of traffic and the conversion rate for traffic from each marketing channel.
Things to look at:
- What channel has the highest volume of conversions?
- What channel has the highest conversion rate?
- What channels aren’t converting?
- What’s the month-on-month trend?
Campaign performance metrics
Ever wanted to know how a specific campaign, post, email, or ad is performing? You can find that all out in Google Analytics. All you need to do is make sure you add UTM tracking code to the end of each URL.
Don’t be put off by the concept of adding “tracking code”. You don’t need to be a developer for this kind of code. It’s just a little information added to the end of each URL. This information? It helps Google Analytics to tag and classify the incoming hits and attribute them to various campaigns, sources, mediums, content, and keywords.
You can add tracking to your URLs using Google’s campaign URL builder.
Pro tip: Without a consistently applied tracking convention all this classified data in Google Analytics can quickly become a mess. Because when it comes to data analysis? Garbage in = garbage out.
Audience performance metrics
While you’re evaluating your digital marketing strategy, you might also want to dig into the audience analysis tab within Google Analytics and revisit your target audiences—and find out who’s actually converting.
Things to look at:
- What audience demographic has the highest volume of conversions?
- What audience demographic has the highest conversion rate?
- What audience demographic aren’t converting?
Putting it all together
Digging into all these different areas of Google Analytics is awesome (well, it is when you’re a super nerd like me—ha!). But, if can be a little time consuming. One way to speed things up—and get all those key data points at your fingertips—is to build a custom dashboard within Google Analytics.
While each business will have a different dashboard, there are a few common metrics that are relevant to almost every business:
- Sessions (traffic)
- Users (people)
- Conversion rate
- Sessions by channel
- Conversion rate by channel