What does digital marketing success look like when it is effectively measured for brand growth? You’re probably thinking: leads and sales.
But a successful marketing campaign can be determined by much more than just those types of conversions!
Do you want more organic traffic to your website?
How about a broader reach on social media?
Or, a higher email open and click-through rate?
These are all valid goals to aim for and are backed by analytics data you can gather over time. As you’ll soon learn, there are a number of important metrics to track and guide your digital marketing campaigns, both for brand awareness and sales conversion.
Depending on your particular business plan and marketing efforts, some metrics may be more important than others. Narrowing down your reporting to include the most relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) will reflect what digital marketing success looks like for you.
This in-depth article will cover:
- How to measure your digital marketing campaigns
- The website metrics that matter most for digital marketing
- Other important online marketing analytics to watch
- Loads of resources to help you improve your metrics
Let’s dive in!
Measuring Your Digital Marketing Campaign
Before you can determine if your digital marketing campaign is a success, you need to set objective, achievable goals.
Starting With A Goal
Much of your online strategy is born from your goals.
Goal setting ensures you have something to strive for. What’s more, it provides a guideline for the metrics you’ll use to measure the success of one or more campaigns.
I’ll put it another way:
You can’t measure success without goals!
That fact holds true no matter what you’re attempting to measure. From digital marketing success to weight loss success to personal financial success, without goals you are limited to two basic analyses:
“I seem to be making some progress.”
“This doesn’t look like it’s working.”
Kind of vague, huh?
Take a look at the sample below from Sprout Social. It shows five distinct goals and a detailed plan for how the company intends to achieve them.
Your digital campaign will have more than just a social media element. However, this template offers a nice overview of how you can set goals for anything—and during any point of your marketing funnel.
There are a few key details you’ll want to include above and beyond what you see in the diagram.
I’ll break down exactly how to set the goals you can use when measuring digital marketing success:
Commit to a Time Frame
Accountability is a large, if not the largest, part of reaching a goal. Whether you have 5 days or 5 months, you must include a concrete time frame.
Determining the timing for your marketing campaign goals will help create a sense of urgency as well as accomplishment.
A time frame can also set parameters for comparison when you run reports for month-over-month or year-over-year progress.
Determine Success Factors
For example, let’s say your goal is to earn 500K impressions on social media and drive 10K new visitors to the website. Those are two excellent digital marketing success factors.
The key to this step is determining a quantifiable result to achieve—real numbers that could be an educated guess, or based on a pattern of growth.
Keeping time frame in mind, be sure to determine how long you have to reach this milestone. It can be one month or 12 months, depending on the effort behind the campaign.
Provide Specific Details
Simply saying, “expose target audience to brand content” isn’t enough. Set yourself up for success by providing as much detail as possible.
Being specific with details will better prepare you to execute your campaign by serving as a roadmap. Furthermore, it helps you pinpoint what works and what doesn’t when you’re ready to measure efficacy.
Create a Measurement Template
Once you have selected the metrics for your campaign, putting together a success measurement template is easy and provides valuable insight.
This document will serve as a guideline. It is something you can use (and modify as necessary) with each campaign.
A success template might include things like:
- Your initial goal(s).
- An overview of what happened during the campaign (metrics will go here).
- Things that worked the best, and what you learned from them.
- Things that didn’t work so well, and what you learned from them.
This graphic from Perdoo explains concisely how to write SMART goals for any project or campaign:
Now you’re prepared to set goals before executing a digital marketing campaign.
Shall we take a look at the metrics you will use to measure the success of those goals?
19 Ways to Measure Digital Marketing Success
When it comes to measuring digital marketing success, there are seemingly endless metrics. Below is a compilation of the most important metrics you’ll need to consider.
Not all of these may be relevant to your particular business goals, but it’s a starting point on the road to finding ROI!
Website Metrics That Matter for Growth
These first 10 items outline the website metrics that matter most for success with digital marketing. Do you have Google Analytics installed on your website? You’ll need it, or something similar in order to track this type of data.
1. Overall Website Traffic
Since your website serves as your home base, all of your marketing efforts will likely focus on driving traffic there. Individual campaigns may focus on list building or increasing social media reach, but the ultimate goal of that activity is to send more traffic to the website over time.
Source: Digital Inspiration
Because of this, regular monitoring of your website’s traffic provides you with a number of insights such as which campaigns are working and when.
If at any point you see a steady decline in traffic while still conducting consistent marketing efforts, consider troubleshooting your website. You may find broken links, a Google Algorithm penalty, or other technical issues deterring visitors.
Tips for sending more traffic to your website:
- Optimize all pages on your site with relevant keywords
- Consistently publish in-depth content on your blog
- Promote your content on social media channels
- Create targeted ads to a landing page with an offer
More resources to help you improve this website metric:
- 40 Blogging Tips for Growing Traffic to Your Website
- How to Increase Your Website Traffic Without SEO
- 27 Ways to Increase Website Traffic in 2018
- The Best Tactics to Drive Traffic To Your Website
2. Traffic by Source
This useful metric sheds light on exactly where your website visitors are coming from.
With the myriad of marketing platforms available and limited time to capitalize on all of them, the Traffic By Source metric is one to watch.
Use it to determine which sources are winners, and which ones need a little more attention. Or, use it to narrow down where you’ll spend your valuable time creating content.
Here are the four main traffic sources tracked by Google Analytics:
- Organic Search: These users clicked a link on a search engine result that brought them to your website.
- Direct Visitors: These users typed your URL directly into the search bar, or perhaps have it bookmarked and returned to visit.
- Referrals: These users were sent to your website when they clicked a link from another website.
- Social: These users came to your website after finding your social media profile and/or posts.
3. New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors
The value of this dual metric is that it helps you determine how relevant your website content is over time. Multiple visits can indicate you are providing information that deems a second look.
As you release new content on a regular basis (think: blogs), you can review your New vs. Returning Visitors metric to see how any given content piece is performing.
If you’re looking to drive more organic traffic to your website, New Visitors may be of importance to you.
If you would like to measure how many people come back to browse and consume info, the Returning Visitors metric is important to note.
Tips for increasing new and returning visitors:
- Create and publish valuable content that can be found organically via search engines
- Use Twitter to promote blog posts and add relevant hashtags
- Send an email blast to your subscribers after a new piece of content is published
More resources to help you increase visitors to your site:
- How to Attract Visitors to Your Site
- 3 Tips to Increase Returning Visitors
- 4 Tactics to Bring More Visitors to Your Website
Sessions refer to the number of visits your websites receives. Google specifically counts this in 30-minute increments, meaning it triggers this metric only once every half hour for each individual user.
Think of Amazon, as an example.
Users may trigger a session in the morning to shop, and then visit again later in the day to add something new to their cart. Each of those are considered unique sessions.
5. Average Session Duration
Depending on your website’s function (informational, ecommerce, etc.) or the industry, the time on site metric can vary in its relevance to your campaigns.
A study by Brafton found these average session duration numbers by industry.
Average Session Duration is a general indicator of how long visitors spend on your site entirely. This helps you to understand how your site performs from a user experience (UX) standpoint.
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Are users finding what they’re looking for quickly?
- Is the content valuable and worth reviewing at length?
Average Session Duration (time on site) can help answer these questions and many more.
Tips for increasing a visitor’s time on page:
- Add a video to your content
- Use Bucket Brigades to help readers stay engaged
- Increase the readability of your copy (larger fonts, more white space)
More resources to help you improve average session duration:
- Dwell Time: The Most Important Metric You Are Not Measuring
- 11 Hacks to Increase Visitors’ Average Time Spent on Site
6. Page Views
This is the total number of pages viewed. A user who repeatedly visits the same page will trigger this metric, so it’s the broadest of all page-related measurements for digital marketing success.
It’s relevant to know how many pages are visited on your website in a given time period. This helps you to understand if your entire site is of value or if only certain pages are.
7. Most Visited Pages
To further determine which areas of your website are most valuable, look at this metric. You can find it in the “Behaviors” section of Google Analytics.
The Most Visited Pages metric uncovers all sorts of information about exactly where your site’s visitors are going and for how long. For a deeper analysis, check out the Behavior Flow.
8. Exit Rate
Here’s a metric that is very specific and reveals quite a bit about your website design and user experience.
If your campaign is meant to drive new users to your website for a more general “learn more” branding effort, the Exit Rate metric will show you exactly where they left after they reviewed your content.
Unlike Bounce Rate which triggers when someone views only one page, Exit Rate tells you where the user lost interest after spending some time exploring.
9. Bounce Rate
Different from Exit Rate, the Bounce Rate metric is the percentage of people who leave (bounce away) from your website after viewing only one page.
This metric can help reveal that visitors may be leaving because:
- the site takes too long to load
- they did not immediately find what they were looking for
- they found relevant content but were not compelled to click further
- an error page loaded
Unless your website is set up to send users to a separate URL for conversion, you should look to the Bounce Rate number to determine if your campaign is effective.
An overview of average bounce rates for certain environments is noted below, in a chart by Kissmetrics.
If you are marketing a new product but your link sends users to the website’s Home page, you’re likely to have a high bounce rate. Therefore, combat this by sending them to a page that is highly relevant to the path you want them on.
Tips for reducing bounce rate on your website:
- Decrease your page load time
- Add internal links to your page copy
- Include images or other visuals in your content
- Use a compelling call-to-action
More resources to help you reduce bounce rate:
- 13 Tips to Reduce Bounce Rate and Improve Conversions
- Understanding Bounce Rate In Google Analytics
- 11 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Bounce Rate
10. Conversion Rate
Google Analytics can help measure the number of conversions made on your site.
However, conversions may mean different things depending on the campaign.
For example, they could be:
- an actual sale,
- a subscriber,
- a completed download,
- a lead entry,
- and more.
Oftentimes, the number crunchers only look to this marketing metric to determine if your campaign is effective. However, it’s only one piece of the puzzle and should be part of your overall digital marketing success factors.
Resources to help you improve your conversion rate:
- The 13 Most Effective Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate
- 28 ECommerce Conversion Rate Optimization Tactics
There you have the top ten website metrics that matter for marketing. Are you tracking some, or all of them?
Guess what: there are even more metrics for measuring digital marketing success!
Below, take a look at some others related to your online strategy such as:
- social media,
- and more.
Other Digital Marketing Metrics That Matter
Sometimes confused with reach, an impression is the larger overall number of views your content or advertisement receives.
Your content may be shown multiple times to the same person, and each time is counted as an individual impression. As a result, this number will always be higher than reach because the reach metric is only triggered once per user.
12. Social Reach
The posts you make on your social media platforms are meant to reach a wide number of users. The reach metric tells you exactly how many people were reached (i.e. saw your content).
The number of people reached is always much larger than the number who engage.
A benchmark goal is to see 2-5% engagement based on your overall reach.
Tips to increase your social reach:
- Fully brand all your social media profiles
- Post curated and original content consistently
- Engage with your community
More resources to help improve social reach:
13. Social Engagement
Social Engagement reflects the total number of interactions made on any given social media post.
This could mean:
- and more.
Engagement is the yardstick by which to measure all of your social media success.
You can pay for all the others, but engagement is only earned when a user chooses to interact with your content. Because of this, you can easily rank your content types based on how much engagement they receive. This helps to guide your future content creation!
14. Email Open Rate
Your Email Open Rate measures the number of people who open your email campaign as compared to the overall number of those who received it.
High open rates indicate a properly segmented list, attractive subject line and strong send time.
Low open rates tell you at least one (if not all) of those factors are lacking.
15. Click Through Rate
The Click Through Rate (CTR) metric can be applied to email marketing as well as paid advertisements. Clicks on email blasts are often some of the highest conversion-drivers across the board.
Your CTR as it relates to pay-per-click helps to determine your relevance score and affects your Cost Per Click.
16. Cost Per Click
Cost Per Click applies to both pay-per-click marketing and a number of social media platforms that offer the clicks-to-site ad type.
This digital marketing success metric reflects the amount you pay for each individual click. This is relevant as it directly relates to your overall marketing budget in this area. Your budget can only go so far; the lower your CPC, that farther it goes.
17. Cost Per Conversion
Cost Per Conversion relates completely to your individual business model, and often to your individual campaign. As I mentioned previously, not every metric matters to every campaign. This might be one to leave off if you aren’t converting sales directly online.
However, if you’re running an ecommerce website where users can add something to a cart and convert then and there, CPC is a must-track metric. Simply put, this metric tells you how much it costs to convert a site visitor into a sale.
18. Cost Per Acquisition
Your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is only relevant when you have returning customers. This doesn’t just apply to subscription-based businesses or even ecommerce sites. Consider how a private golf community calculates CPA knowing that their members pay monthly dues.
Understanding the lifetime value of a customer helps you back into the proper amount you should spend to acquire a new one.
19. Overall ROI
This metric should come as no surprise as it serves as a true baseline for success. Basically, ROI equates to how much you spent (investment) vs. how much you earned (return).
Source: Corporate Finance Institute
It’s easy to lose track of exactly what you’re spending on marketing because we often fail to count man hours. Ensuring you properly calculate your campaign’s ROI will be the key to determining if it was an overall success or not.
If you’ve made it this far, you are now well-equipped to measure your campaigns by using the right data to track digital marketing success.
Remember these key factors when you’re ready to create, execute and measure the next campaign for your online strategy:
First and foremost, set goals for your digital marketing campaigns.
Then, select metrics of value based on those goals.
Choose from these:
- Overall Website Traffic
- Traffic by Source
- New Visitors vs. Returning Visitors
- Average Session Duration
- Page Views
- Most Visited Pages
- Exit Rate
- Bounce Rate
- Conversion Rate
- Social Reach
- Social Engagement
- Email Open Rate
- Email Click-Through Rate
- Cost Per Click
- Your Cost Per Conversion
- Cost Per Acquisition
- Overall ROI
Finally, always use the analysis of your incoming data to guide next steps.
What other metrics should we include for measuring digital marketing success?
Share with us in the comments below!