In the vast world that is digital marketing, there’s practically (and arguably) nothing you can’t measure. While this may appear as a great thing, it does have its downsides – the fact that you can measure everything doesn’t mean that you should, and this is where the confusion sparks.
You should only focus on a fraction of what you can measure, and know how to get to the rest should you need to measure it in the future.
Ideally, your analytics approach should be along the following 3 steps:
- Capture data
- Analyse data
- Interpret data (and repeat).
However, what data should you analyse? How should you measure it? And what tools should you use? I’m going to answer these and more questions here, by looking at these three main focus points:
- What to measure?
- How to measure?
- What to do with what you’ve measured?
What to measure?
Ultimately, this depends on what your business is about. Look at your business goals – whatever you do online should be aligned in some way with your business (and team) goals. So, if your main business goal is to increase revenue, your use of social media should help you increase revenue. This doesn’t mean that you should only sell, sell, sell. However, it means that while you’re looking at metrics like engagement, fan growth and reach, you should also consider how that can translate into revenue.
The pitfall that a lot of businesses fall into is that they don’t choose KPIs that are in line with their business goals, making it difficult for them to measure success or to identify any tangible opportunities for improvement.
To be honest, I wouldn’t blame you if you were confused about what metrics to focus on: as the digital space evolves and more social analytics tools pop up, it’s easy to drown in the sea of metrics that blogs, articles and seminars recommend. The truth is – everyone will recommend metrics, but you need to identify what truly matters to you and your business. Fans and followers are great, but how does that translate into your business? Reach is great to look at, but do you know how that has any impact on your business?
Interestingly, while some marketers might find it hard to define what metrics to pick, (almost) all of them will be able to tell you what their business goals are: increase revenue, raise awareness, readership – you name it. Thankfully, if you know what your business goals are, you’re not far from determining your social KPIs.
So, first thing first, identify what metrics matter to you the most to achieve your business goal.
Now, look at the platforms you’re currently on: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, perhaps YouTube, Instagram and Vine too. Not all social networks have the same metrics available from within the platform. For instance, while Facebook Insights can give you a plethora of data with the Page Level AND Post Level exports, the same can’t be said about Twitter Analytics, which may come across as a bit limited in comparison. Other social networks like Instagram and Vine don’t offer any analytics at all, besides the standard in-app notifications that show you how many mentions and comments you’ve received.
Regardless of what you can or cannot find readily available from within the platforms, list all the metrics you need to achieve your business goals (as well as your social strategy goals), and then note how to get those metrics for each network. For example, if you’re interested in volume of engagement, you may want to look at the sum of likes, comments, shares and clicks too, while for Twitter you’ll have mentions, retweets, favourites and clickthroughs.
Now that you have your list of metrics for each social network, look at them closely and choose which ones are your business drivers. Some of them may be secondary, like volume of engagement, while others are primary metrics, like clickthroughs to your site from social. These primary metrics are your actual KPI in the literal sense of the word – Key Performance Indicator. Unfortunately this acronym – KPI – is being misused nowadays, so much that people refer to any metric as a KPI (which also brings the bizarre “Key KPIs” expression I’ve heard a few times). A real KPI is a metric that shows you how you’re performing against your objectives.
So, what about the secondary and remaining metrics? While it’s good to focus on what matters to you, you need to be aware of the remaining metrics and where/how to get them should you need to revisit them at a later stage.
A quick note: While you need to focus on the goals of the wider business, make sure you measure for the benefit of your own team/departmental goals as well. So, if you’re in the Customer Care team, your metrics will be more service focused than your colleagues in Marketing or PR. Make sure you make a distinction of where your chosen metrics sit.
How to measure?
Because the world of analytics is immense, there are multiple types of analytics covering different aspects of digital marketing. However, while all data can be measured, not all data comes for free.
Oftentimes the stumbling block to a good analytics tool is budget, which brings us to the following questions: what are you willing to compromise on? While I’m not going to tell you which tool to go for, I would urge you NOT to compromise for a social analytics tool that cannot measure your social KPIs – even if it’s just one KPI.
Budget aside, there are so many tools that do pretty much the same thing, so how can you find the best one for your business? Here are a few recommendations:
Social media measuring tools:
These measure the performance of your social activities. Some also offer competitive measurement, so that you can use your competitors as a benchmark – while you can use that to keep an eye on your business competitors, you can use this feature to track the best performers in your industry, to see what works for them (and what doesn’t):
- Simply Measured: a full-featured social analytics tool that offers in-depth measurement across owned and earned social media. Simply Measured currently supports Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Vine, while Pinterest analytics are still in the works. Simply Measured can also integrate with Google Analytics, giving you a complete overview of how your digital efforts perform on both social media as well as your web outlets.
- Socialbakers Analytics: Socialbakers Analytics offers social analytics with a focus on comparative analytics of your competitors and industry, among other metrics. Socialbakers supports Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and VK (the second largest social network service in Europe after Facebook, with 239 million accounts as of January 2014).
- Falcon Social: Falcon Social is an all-in-one social suite that offers publishing, social management, social listening on top of social media measurement. Falcon Social currently supports Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Tumblr.
- Adobe Social: Adobe Social is a comprehensive solution that offers social media measurement, listening as well as publishing. While Adobe Social easily integrates with the whole Adobe Marketing Cloud (e.g. Adobe Omniture, Site Catalyst etc.), it works perfectly as a standalone tool.
- Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social powerhouse that provides a strong management solution and a solid analytics solution, especially after their recent acquisition of UberVu. Thanks to this integration, you can now have a platform that shows you how you’re performing in real-time on social media.
Social media listening tools:
Tools that let you monitor online conversations, based on keywords and trends. While this is largely known as “social listening“, most tools listen to non-social sources as well, e.g. news sites. One of the main features to look for in a listening tool is sentiment analysis – read more here:
- Brandwatch: Brandwatch allows you to monitor, analyse and utilise online conversations about your brand, competitors and topics of interest from across the world, in 27 languages. Brandwatch is highly flexible, with a long list of features such as automated and manual categorisation, alerts, flexible charting, topic and sentiment analysis. Brandwatch is one of the few social listening tools that support free-text Boolean language, letting you set your queries as precisely as possible.
- Crimson Hexagon: one of Crimson Hexagon’s strongest points is definitely its sentiment analysis that uses a patent-pending technology invented at Harvard University. This technology sets this tool apart from a lot of its competitors, due to the high precision and reliability in sentiment detection.
- Synthesio: Synthesio lets you listen, analyse and engage in real-time within one platform, in 50 languages and across 200 countries. Synthesio uses its own ranking metric, SyhnthesioRank, a business-oriented influence ranking tool that can help you identify sites, content and influencers that matter to you. See more about Synthesio here.
- Socialbakers Listening: one of Socialbakers’ many features is the social listening platform that can adapt to your needs. With real-time monitoring and alerts, Socialbakers won’t leave you in the dark about what’s being said about your brand. Read more about Socialbakers here.
- Digimind Social: Digimind has a clever intelligence engine that calculates an influence score for every piece of content, based on criteria like number of followers, mentions, visitors, and reach. This can help you identify and take action on what will impact your business most. That aside, Digimind also offers various modules that you can plug into the tool, to engage, calculate ROI, set up “smart reporting”, and much more.
Web analytics tools:
If you have a website as part of your business, you need to measure its performance, going beyond visitors, visits and pageviews:
- Google Analytics: when it comes to free web analytics, this is one of the most comprehensive tools you’ll find in the market. While Google provides a Premium package for enterprises, you may find that the free version is perfect for you.
- Adobe Marketing Cloud: the all-integrated Marketing Cloud gives you a 360 degree view of your website’s performance. In this package you’ll also find predictive analytics, real-time web analytics, features to segment your data in multiple ways, and much more.
- GoSquared: GoSquared gives you insight into your site performance in real-time, helping you make decisions quicker and get a detailed understanding of campaign attribution. The latest addition to GoSquared is eCommerce reporting, which can help you answer questions around ROI, correlation between social content and revenue, and much more.
- Moz: Moz combines search analytics, social analytics, social listening and analytics around links all in one platform. Moz gives you inbound marketing data, great data visualisations over time, custom reporting, competitive insights, and recommendations to improve your performance.
- Webtrends: Webtrends specialises in web and mobile analytics, with social analytics as an integration. The strongest features that this platform offers are multi-channel measurement, website heat maps, online testing, test-and-target and traffic segmentation.
SEO analytics tools:
While often regarded as an impossible area to measure, there are quite a few great tools out there that can help you understand web search performance for your own site:
- Google Analytics: when you link your Google Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account, you’ll have access to various SEO reports that can show you where you rank, how many impressions your listings are getting and your clickthrough rates.
- Moz: Moz is a great asset to have if you’re looking for SEO analytics, as it can show you how your social presence impacts on your SEO over time instead of only showing you ‘static’ information around your SEO.
- Hubspot: HubSpot’s SEO tool is woven into all of your content tools, so you can easily optimise your entire site. With HubSpot’s SEO tools, you can spot SEO errors on your pages immediately, along with clear instructions on how to fix them.
- RavenTools: RavenTools can crawl any website to deliver an interactive list of areas of improvement, shown as to-dos. You can use Raven’s Keyword Ranking tool to view and report authorised, average ranking data that comes directly from Google and Bing webmaster tools.
What to do with what you’ve measured?
Now that you’ve set up processes to measure and now that you have your data, what should you do with the result?
First thing: if this is your first time measuring, the figures you have now probably won’t make much sense. Those are static figures, telling you how you performed in a specific period. As you measure more and more, you’ll start trending these figures, noticing changes, spikes and dips over time. This will indicate whether you’re improving or doing worse.
Secondly (and equally as important as the first point): your results need to trigger action, and sometimes that action is a change (minor or major) in your strategy. Perhaps you’re on the right course and it’s just the case of doing some test-and-target in a few lacking areas; or perhaps your profiles are doing well. Either way, the changes you make to your strategy should be prompted by data found in your reporting.
Third point: don’t get too excited. While there’s no limit to what you can do with your results, that is not a good enough reason to go overboard with your reporting and track more than you can manage. If that’s the case for you, please see point 1 from this article (“What to measure?“).
Last, but certainly not least, here are 3 tips to make sure your reporting isn’t in vain:
- Set up a reporting workflow: it’s very easy to fall in the trap of endless reporting that doesn’t trigger any change. Your reporting shouldn’t be just another task on your to-do list, but it should be the basis for data-driven recommendations for your team and the wider business. Setting up a clear reporting workflow can help you with that.
- Raise visibility: make sure people see your reporting. This may include regular meetings, calls or webinars with the wider teams and departments, so they too are aware of what goes on in the brand’s digital estates. Another option is setting up “social hubs” or monitors so people can see what’s going on around your social/web estates. You’ll soon find that these social hubs will become the new water cooler, where people congregate to discuss what’s happening online (in relation to your brand/business).
- Connect the dots: there’s no reason why social and web analytics should be kept entirely separate. If you do so, you won’t notice how your content influences traffic and vice versa. When you connect the dots between your various digital points (from social to SEO, from web to social listening etc.), you’ll get a much better understanding of your online activities and their ripple effect on everything around you and your brand.
Well done, you’re now ready to kickstart your digital analytics.