Today’s overload of available data creates confusion about where to look for good information. It is understandable to presume that growing numbers of visitors to your website is a sign of real gains. However, if consumers do not engage with you online, then these numbers will not translate to any actual business transactions. Understanding which metrics matter is the difference between creating an effective online strategy for your business versus making presumptuous decisions based on misinterpreted data.
So which metrics are useful and which should you tune out? Here is a down and dirty list of which metrics you may safely ignore in favor of focusing on the metrics that matter.
Total Visitor Traffic
Driving a ton of hits to your website may seem like a worthy pursuit at first glance, but simply drawing in the masses at random who will never buy your product or service renders the effort useless. The goal of digital marketing efforts isn’t to just attract large numbers of visitors and hope for the best, but rather to attract the right kind of visitor who is ready to engage with your product or service. Session metrics reflect how people found your website and how they respond to it, offering you a reliable stream of potential clients who are motivated to buy. Distinguishing the sources of your traffic and the ways in which your visitors interact with your site is more valuable information to have than total website traffic.
While it is good to have links pointing toward your website, it is best to have targeted links from reputable sources such as governmental sites, business rating companies and institutional pages linking to your website. Webpages regarded as authoritative and credible will increase the quality, accuracy and number of your business listings to improve your search visibility. Backlinks from respected media outlets rate highly with search engines, with the added bonus of generating relevant, purchase-ready site traffic.
Keywords have their place in digital marketing, but they became less important over the years because the way people search online from a desktop and the way that people actually speak are two very different formats. Search engine algorithms have evolved in step with these changes in search trends, rendering conversational key phrases increasingly important. As users change the way they search and locate information online, businesses that are focused on a local geographic area will want the top 1-5 rankings in local searches to maximize your online visibility. Ranking highly for specific informal speech search phrases will help generate more local business. With more searches now taking place on mobile devices than desktops and nothing to indicate that the trend is slowing, your rankings will improve with increased emphasis on highly specific, natural everyday speech search phrasings.
Total Inbound Phone Calls
Rather than simply trying to attract more incoming phone calls, learn instead where your callers found your phone number. Use call tracking software or create different phone numbers to track your print, email and digital marketing efforts. One month into a new campaign, do an appraisal of your inbound inquiries to assess which marketing strategy is most effective. If you find that one advertising channel is generating the lion’s share of the business calls you have received, then you have a solid indication of the marketing avenue that best suits your particular business.
Flattering reviews are encouraging and validating but consider how having just a single bad review will impact your business as well. Having only one bad review, whether accurate or not, can be devastating for your business. Negative reviews are problematic because they tend to stand out in people’s minds and they are difficult to erase. Search engines strive to be objective, so they deliver positive and negative information alike. So once you’ve gotten that first one-star writeup, it’s nearly impossible to hide it within any search engine algorithm. Basically, you’re stuck with it. Inevitably, businesses encounter unhappy customers from time to time. So ask your valued patrons for the opportunity to fix any concerns before judging your performance. The idea is to take the initiative in addressing problems as they arise to preserve your online reputation, rather than trying in vain to reconcile these negative experiences retroactively.
Tying it All Together
This surplus of data makes it hard to know what to do, what to pay attention to and whom to trust. This challenge begs the question — what metrics are actually important for my business? Firstly, guiding quality traffic to your website that’s further down the purchasing process is critical. Quality beats quantity every time. Also, the quality of the links directing people to your website must be from legitimate and respected sources. Conversational search experiences matter as well, especially as people use voice search on their smartphones with more frequency every day. Next, it is crucial to know where your new business is coming from so you can further pursue the marketing channel that’s working for you and quit investing in the ones that aren’t economically feasible. Finally, you want to avoid negative reviews while promoting positive ones.
Whatever your particular needs, jumping into the unknown can feel scary even for the most successful of business owners. Your reputation online is much like your reputation in real life because you create it not by demanding it, but rather by earning it. You may spend 10 years building it, but you can destroy it in 10 seconds. Focusing on the metrics that actually matter for your business will help you stay ahead of your online reputation and make your digital marketing investment worthwhile and rewarding.