dont stress yourself looking at analyticsIn the first post on this topic, I covered analytics around the concept of marketing visibility. In part II I’ll talk about measuring how effectively you reach visitors that are roaming around on your website.

Conversion

In the main Google Analytics menu, the whole Goals tab is dedicated to measuring conversions (advanced users will also track conversions with time metrics, etc). The first thing to know is that you need to set up goals; if you need convincing, visit Google’s Conversion University. Goals are very important. Web designer Paul Boag takes the extreme view that, until you’ve nailed conversions, there’s no point bringing new visitors to your site.

Once you start seeing visitors reaching a goal, say by completing a contact form, you’ll see that you can view the ‘Reverse Goal Path.’ This is the sequence of pages they hit before they crossed the conversion threshold. This can be a great indicator of which pages pack the most conversion punch. Be sure to make more links to that page or to use its design and calls-to-action on other pages. In time, their performance should match the conversion rates your first page had. Analytics’ ‘Navigation Summary’ also helps. Ask whether the converting visitors came to your form the way you expected or not. Are there other paths you could tweak that also drive conversions for you?

When you have quite a few Goal conversions, you can view them in aggregate to answer some broader Marketing questions. For example, if your conversion rate averages 10%, you can work backwards from stated sales goals (i.e. 12 client closes this quarter) to see that you need to reach 120 conversions each quarter to make the close numbers sales is expecting. Steven Woods from Eloqua is a great proponent of the concept of setting different goal values. He suggests that you stratify this by each conversion’s level of commitment. Say you have a whitepaper that you give in exchange for an email address, in Google Analytics you can set a value of 0.25 while the value of a full contact form is 1. Using this 4 to 1 multiplier on contact form conversions reflects the fact that you put more stock in’sales-ready’ prospects, just as your reps do but it also helps them see that gathering early-stage leads will help them over time as they near the ‘sales-ready’ stage.

Engagement

While engagement isn’t as easy to measure as conversion, it can convey how well the prospect is absorbing your communications.
The best vehicle for tracking engagement, according to Avinash Kaushik, is a blog. Reading his post about this helps ensure that any corporate blogger puts the majority of their effort into the areas that the metrics have indicated yield the highest success. Avinash is a proponent of tracking a blog’s Technorati rank, but I think it’s usefulness is limited to popular blogs. I favour tracking Feedburner subscriptions and simply seeing if your subscription base is growing.

For those who don’t have blogs, I’d point to David Z Orban, who says engagement can be approximated through time-on-site, but you must put healthy amounts of content on your site to give this metric any meaning. He says the prospects spending a lot of time on your site are trying to determine whether or not they feel comfortable doing business with you. Reason being, according to David, ‘they will want to know how likely it is that you are able to actually deliver on your product or service.’

Stay tuned for Part III, which will talk about Lead Quality. In the meantime, check out Elliot Ross’ post In Marketing: The Next Step to see at a fundamental level why analytics matters.