Sometimes, the hardest thing to understand about your marketing is the return on investment. As a small business, there are so many metrics for measuring ROI, it can be hard to know how to measure your marketing return effectively. That number only increases when you realize you need to determine the ROI of your digital efforts and your social media. Even with tracking the right numbers, it is possible to not know what those numbers really mean for your business. In this article, we’re going to break down the top 25 metrics for measuring ROI, as well as discuss why each metric matters.
1. Total Visits
Most people think of total visits primarily in terms of their website, however, it’s good to consider the total visits to any particular web page pertinent to a campaign (e.g., a landing page in a pay-per-click campaign). This will provide you with a big picture view of how well your site or campaign is performing. Numbers should either grow or remain steady. If numbers are decreasing, you’ll know where to find the marketing channels that may be responsible. You can find this metric in most in-house analytics systems for your website.
2. New Sessions
This metric tracks new and recurring visitors to your page or site, and helps you determine how “sticky” your design and content are. Sessions are particularly important in mobile apps. If numbers begin dropping, you may want to look into recent site changes that could have caused visitors to no longer visit more than once. This metric can be found in Google Analytics.
3. Direct Traffic
A type of channel-specific metric, direct traffic usually tells you how many people have navigated to your page. That is to say, they either used a bookmark on their browser or manually typed in the URL to your site, or even to a particular page on your site. Channel-specific metrics are important because unlike total visits, this helps you understand which channels are performing best. For example, if you’re running a social media campaign, it isn’t enough to know that you’re receiving a growing number of site hits. If most of the traffic to your site is direct traffic, those site visits may not be because your campaign is actually successful. Channel-specific metrics can be found in most in-house analytics programs for your site.
Keep in mind that direct traffic is also the catch-all designation for situations in which a browser does not provide the previous location. There’s any number of reasons this might happen, not least of which is when a user moves from an HTTPS website to an HTTP site.
4. Referral Traffic
A type of channel-specific metric, referral traffic tells you how many people navigated to a page on your site by clicking through a link on another website. This is especially good for certain kinds of content marketing such as guest blogging. It may also include ads, and in some cases, it can include social media platforms, especially new ones.
5. Organic Traffic
A type of channel-specific metric, organic traffic tells you how many people navigated to a page on your site from a search engine. It’s referred to as “organic” because it’s a “natural” way of discovering content. In some cases, this may be referred to as search engine traffic and be further broken down into organic search and paid search. Paid search includes traffic originating from pay-per-click ads.
6. Social Media Traffic
A type of channel-specific metric, social media traffic tells you how many people navigated to a page on your site from social media sources. Depending on the method of measuring this traffic, you may be able to measure results from specific platforms. It’s useful to cross-reference this metric with the in-house analytics offered by your social media platforms to determine which traffic came from your social media directly vs. content shared about you on social media.
7. Bounce Rate
This metric determines the number of visitors to a particular page that do not navigate further into your website. For example, if they follow a link from another site to a particular post on your blog, but then don’t click any links to navigate more of your site, that user “bounced” from your blog post. It’s important to bear in mind that high bounce numbers on any given page aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s important to look at what pages have high bounce numbers to determine why; in the case of your blog post, they read the post and were finished. However, in the case of organic search, finding your homepage and bouncing may mean you need to make some adjustments. Bounce rate can normally be viewed in most in-house analytics platforms.
8. Visit to Lead Conversion Rate
This metric is often very important to marketers as it is indicative of specific movement on the consumer journey. What “lead conversion” looks like for your business and through your site can vary — e.g., filling out lead forms for further information, official product inquiries, or proposals. Depending on your web host, these analytics can be measured in-house, and often you can set goals in Google Analytics as well.
9. Lead to Customer Conversion Rate
This metric is a logical follow-through of the visit to lead conversion rate, and is also valuable to marketers because it determines the efficacy of following through to sales. After all, it’s important that your leads convert to sales. Depending on your business, what customer conversion looks like can vary. It may be a purchase made online, but if it’s not, you’ll need to understand how your sales team affects this final step of the process as it may be indicative of either a failure in marketing or a failure in sales. How to measure this metric will vary by business and how the closing process is structured.
10. Customer Retention Rate
This metric refers to returning customers, and it’s especially important for brick-and-mortar stores as well as subscription services and certain kinds of e-commerce; it can be complicated if your buying cycle remains lengthy. Digitally speaking, this is an aspect of new sessions; however it also refers more specifically to customers returning to make further purchases. Low retention rates may be indicative of content or products that aren’t sticky enough, or it may be indicative of weak retargeting campaigns or poor outreach.
11. Cost Per Lead
This metric refers directly to the cost of obtaining a lead via a specific channel, and is determined mathematically as the cost spent on advertising through a specific channel divided by the number of leads that channel generated. Don’t forget to work in peripheral expenses as a part of the cost. It’s a way to determine a big-picture outlook of a particular channel.
This digital metric refers to the number of times an ad loads completely and therefore can be seen by a user. It does not include whether or not the user clicks on the ad. A metaphor for this ad might be putting up a billboard by a road — a busy road will have a high number of impressions (i.e., people that can see the ad) while a slow road will have a lower number of impressions. This metric is an alternative method to determine the cost of a digital ad (i.e., CPI/cost per impression vs. CPC/cost per click).
13. Likes / Follows
A social media metric, this number tells you how many individual users are regularly following and liking the posts you make from your social media account (for Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram respectively). This is the starting point for most of your social media reach.
14. Shares / Retweets
Another social media metric, this number (for Facebook and Twitter, respectively) will tell you how many times a specific post has been shared by a user with their own followers or fans. It increases your reach on that particular social media platform, especially among users who will be more interested in your content, product, or services, and also serves to boost brand awareness and engagement. This metric is normally tracked by the social media platform’s in-house analytics. Other terms you may hear are Reblog (Tumblr) and Repin (Pinterest). Other key terms for engagement include likes/favorites which indicate approval, and mentions which indicate tagging your social media handle into a post.
15. Average Time on Site
This digital consumption metric refers directly to the amount of time, in minutes, a user spends on your website. Consumption metrics are intended to be used to help understand the stickiness of particular content and to determine the level of engagement that your site or a particular page on your site has with users. However, understanding and utilizing this metric effectively can be tricky, and if not careful, it can lead to the wrong conclusions. This metric is often available in analytics packages like Google Analytics.
16. Average Page Views
This digital consumption metric refers to the number of pages visited on a particular website, and includes when pages are visited more than once. This can give you a glimpse into traffic patterns on your site, and will help determine which pages are best suited for different calls-to-action.
17. Downloads of Content
This digital consumption metric simply refers to the number of times particular pieces of content have been downloaded by users. This can include forms, white papers, eBooks, guides or other articles, PDFs, presentations, and more.
18. CTA Clicks
This digital metric refers to the number of times a call-to-action button or link has been clicked on. What your CTA is can vary based on your business, and can be used for either visit to lead conversions (e.g., downloading a free guide) or lead to customer conversions (e.g., purchase).
19. Open Rate
This mail and email marketing metric refers to the number of recipients that open a particular email or offer sent out as part of a campaign. In digital campaigns, a transparent image pixel may be used; when the browser calls for that image, it records it as being opened. More often, ESPs (email service providers) offer data on unique email openings. For physical mail, metrics focus on mail opened within 30 days, and Open NOW mail, which is looked at immediately.
20. Click-through Rate (CTR)
This digital metric is often used to determine an ad’s activity on a publishing site, and is mathematically determined as the number of clicks the ad receives divided by its number of impressions. Remember that clicks do not automatically translate into conversions.
21. Percentage of Returning Visitors
This digital metric is an aspect of new sessions. It refers to the number of visitors you have that have or have not been to your site before. This will help you differentiate the conversions of new visitors vs. returning ones, which should also indicate higher engagement.
22. Leads Generated
This metric is key to the process of attracting and converting customers along the consumer journey. While visitor to lead conversions and lead to customer conversions are key within the ecommerce journey, leads generated refers to a particular point in the consumer journey overall and not just digitally. It can help you understand how effective your marketing and sales are outside of the digital process.
23. Most Popular Pages Viewed
An outgrowth of average page views, this digital metric will help you determine where is the best place for CTA buttons and certain kinds of content. Furthermore, in conjunction with channel metrics, you can determine the effectiveness of certain campaigns.
24. Content “Assists”
Provided by Google Analytics, this metric better defines the roles particular channels play in the conversion path. “Assist interactions” are interactions that occur on the path to conversion, but are neither the first nor the last interaction to occur. This may be referred to as assisted conversions, assisted conversion value, and assisted/last click or direct conversions.
25. Hot Spots / Links
This consumption metric refers to which parts of a page, ad, or video, as well as which links on your site are engaged with most. It’s considered a key people-focused metric to drive engagement, returning visitors, and higher conversions.
Start Tracking Marketing ROI Metrics That Matter
There’s nothing about marketing or ROI that is one-size-fits-all. Determine how to measure marketing ROI that’s most suitable for your business and determine goals for each metric. What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) to determine the success of your chosen metrics for your business?
ROI will help you determine if you’re getting your money’s worth on your marketing expenditures. However, don’t forget that when you track your return over time, it will also give you the tools and the numbers to help you make decisions about future marketing choices. Do you have a plan or strategy to utilize your metrics for measuring ROI to make the right decisions?
Don’t forget that ROI also does more than just measure the money you’re making from an investment. It’s indicative of customer loyalty, not to mention measuring the customer experience. Even minor increases in experience can result in a significant amount of dollars in gains over the years. How will you use these metrics to determine what can be strengthened in your business in order to be a customer experience leader?
In this article, we discussed hard numbers, and most of the time that will be your bottom line. However, brand awareness, community involvement, and awards don’t only come directly out of these numbers. Are there any intangible rewards or benefits to your marketing? How will you use them to grow your business?