It’s 2023; how are we defining digital marketing success? We’ve been in the age of analytics since before 2005, yet businesses still have insufficient tracking paradigms to measure marketing performance. It’s important to use the right metrics in digital marketing to accurately measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions.
We all know the terminology; key performance indicators or KPIs, engagement, visibility, brand awareness, etc., and critical metrics provide this meaningful data, but businesses might look at the information incorrectly.
If there are “right” metrics, then there are “wrong” ones. Are businesses focused on the correct information, or are they making choices based on incorrect data?
The goal is to avoid focusing on vanity metrics. These data points may look impressive on the surface, but they don’t provide much insight into the effectiveness of a campaign. Although the information is still helpful to track, the results don’t always correlate with desirable outcomes.
So, which metrics should be tracked to find digital marketing success? Let’s find out.
What is Digital Marketing Success?
Digital marketing success can be defined as achieving desired objectives using various digital channels and strategies. These objectives could include increasing brand awareness, generating leads and sales, improving customer engagement, or creating a robust online presence.
The success of digital marketing can be measured using various metrics, including website traffic, conversion rates, and social media engagement. It is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, optimization, and adaptation to the changing market trends and consumer behaviors.
When the focus is on being customer-centric while remaining data-driven and flexible, digital marketing can consistently evolve to meet the needs of a target audience.
Digital Marketing Common Misconceptions
Several myths and misconceptions can lead businesses and marketers down the wrong path or prevent them from achieving their marketing goals.
The most common issue involves the perception that digital marketing is easy to implement. Although there is the potential for fast results, this approach requires significant research, planning, and execution to produce the results effectively.
Some think digital marketing is only for big brands, but it is an investment that helps a company of any size. It is incredibly customizable to meet specific goals or requirements.
There is a misconception that having more website or social media traffic equates to higher sales volume or revenue. Although having more people visit your website is important, the goal should be to review engagement metrics and focus on quality over quantity. The best prospects are those already interested in what a business offers.
You’re already failing if your digital marketing strategy focuses on achieving more traffic.
The final misconception is that digital marketing is a one-time investment. There must be an ongoing effort to find success. Successful businesses continuously test and optimize their campaigns to ensure they meet goals or evolve to marketplace changes.
Overarching Digital Marketing Metrics
When businesses approach the digital marketing world, they might have a general idea of what they hope to accomplish. Most companies want to develop prospects, increase conversions, and grow sales.
Although hundreds of potential digital marketing metrics exist, every campaign is summarized with three intrinsic values.
- Awareness. Businesses use this metric to measure the extent to which a target audience is familiar with a brand or its products and services. It is the first stage in the marketing funnel, where potential customers become aware of the existence of the brand and its offerings.
- Engagement. These metrics refer to an audience’s level of interaction and involvement with a brand, its content, or its campaigns. It measures the extent to which the audience participates and connects with the brand’s message, including activities such as liking, sharing, commenting, clicking, or watching. It’s calculated on-site by time spent with the content or the number of pages they engage with.
- Conversion. This metric shows the percentage of website or landing page visitors who take a defined and desired action. It could include finalizing a transaction, filling out a form, or subscribing to a newsletter. Conversion is typically the holy grail, yet it is the metric many companies fail to measure effectively.
Using these overarching metrics to guide the information in each channel makes it easier for digital marketers to understand what is working and the items needing updates.
What defines success is still variable, based on the requirements of each business. It is tempting to take a cookie-cutter approach to this data because of the analyzing investments needed to glean insights, but authentic success cannot come from shortcuts in this field.
The best outcomes become available when time and thought are put into the top channels for each business. Yet most measurement solutions offer the cookie-cutter approach, even though it doesn’t provide the deeper insights needed.
Align Context with Business Goals
Metrics should be directly tied to business goals. If a company is tracking information that doesn’t align with its goals, it might not be progressing toward its objectives.
It is also crucial to consider the context when pursuing digital marketing success. Metrics can only provide so much insight without a complete perspective. And the perspective must revolve around the entire digital marketing strategy and not just a piece or section.
If website traffic is decreasing, it’s essential to understand why that outcome is happening. Could it be due to a change in the market or industry? Is the company’s website experiencing technical issues? What channel is experiencing the drop? Are all channels impacted? These are just a small selection of questions that must be asked.
A successful digital marketing strategy comes when all factors are included in the equation. That starts with the overarching information, then proceeds to the necessary metrics in each of your digital marketing channels.
Top Digital Marketing Metrics By Channel
The top digital marketing metrics by channel may vary depending on the business goals and the specific media used. Although every business pursues an approach that makes sense for its brand, vision, and values, common ground can be found.
Today’s most successful digital marketing strategies often focus on four critical data-driven areas: paid advertising, SEO, social media marketing, and email marketing.
These metrics can help businesses assess the effectiveness of common digital marketing tactics and identify areas for improvement. Focusing on metrics that align with the specific business goals is crucial.
Your digital marketing efforts and entire digital strategy rely on alignment between measurement and outcomes. Let’s see how each marketing channel should be measured towards accomplishing the larger goals and objectives.
Businesses can reach a wider audience immediately when investing in a paid marketing strategy. Unlike organic efforts, a company can place advertisements in front of relevant audiences and demographics to drive targeted traffic, leads, and transactions.
With paid advertising, businesses have more control over achieving success with their marketing campaigns. Paid ads can increase brand awareness, deliver across multiple platforms, mobile devices and sites, and target the messaging. Paid is an essential component of a strong digital marketing strategy.
The following metrics provide the information businesses need to chart a course toward digital marketing success.
- Cost-Per-Click. This metric clearly shows how much a business spends to get clicks on advertisements. It shows the efficiency of each campaign to determine if a good return on investment (ROI) is happening.CPC is an essential measuring stick for determining ethical spending, achieving budget control, and charting a course for other digital marketing tactics.
- Cost-Per-Acquisition. The information from this metric measures the cost of acquiring a customer. It lets a company determine if the cost to obtain a customer is profitable. It helps you calculate lifetime value, a ‘hero metric’ for most organizations.
- Click-Through Rate. With the data included in this metric, businesses can focus on the quality score of their advertising. Some platforms use this data as a key factor in determining ad ranking and cost-per-click rates. Better scores result in lower costs and improved placement on many advertising platforms.
Paid advertising requires investment, but it is a highly effective way to push toward more successful digital marketing outcomes. It increases reach, provides immediate results, and provides downstream value and insights to achieve other digital marketing goals.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO helps increase a company’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs), creating opportunities for more website traffic and paid media exposure. Good practices within this marketing strategy can improve a website’s user experience, making it more inviting and easier to navigate.
Search engine optimization s a long-term investment that can provide ongoing benefits over time. While it may take some time to see results, the impact of a well-executed SEO strategy can last for years.
The best way to ensure digital marketing success with SEO is to focus on the following metrics first.
- Keyword Volume: This metric tracks the monthly searches that use a certain term or set of terms conducted on a search engine. This is valuable as it allows a business to understand what terminology is being used to find solutions related to their products, services, brand, competition, and for information.
- Organic Search Traffic: This metric tracks visitors that “hit” a website. The volume of organic traffic a website receives can then be measured across multiple variables to determine the traffic type’s value. Once the value is understood, changes to campaigns, content, and messaging can be undertaken to provide better results and improve value.
- Keyword Rankings: Businesses can use this metric to track the position of a website or webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs) for a specific keyword or a set of them. Your ranking is directly tied to your content’s ability to earn value related to a searcher’s query. The better you perform, the more value you earn.
- Backlinks: This metric is essential in SEO because it signals authority and relevance to search engines. If a business’s website has more quality backlinks to a piece of content than competitors, the chances are high that if all else is equal, the content will outrank the competition.
By investing in SEO as an essential element of a digital marketing plan, businesses can gain a competitive advantage in their industry, market, or niche. SEO is often misunderstood, poorly executed, or manipulated, but when it functions correctly, it will power a successful digital marketing strategy better than any other online marketing channel.
Social Media Marketing
The best social media channels have the power to build a brand and tear it down. It’s a double-edged sword. It can be leveraged for success, but if one thing goes wrong, it can humble and humiliate a brand.
With social media, you are never in complete control. Your digital content is in front of strangers, who can say anything, do anything, reward you, or hate you, and without reprisal.
Compared to traditional advertising, social media marketing is relatively inexpensive. Paid and organic reach are worth considering, especially with the various metrics available to track successful interactions.
- Followers and Fans. Tracking this metric delivers insights into your audience’s demographics, interests, and behaviors. That information can be used to create more targeted and relevant content, which can ultimately help to increase engagement and drive sales.
- Total Engagement. This metric tracks shares, comments, and likes to give businesses an overview of how people interact with the information. It includes profiles or accounts that aren’t necessarily followers but have still seen the content.
- Clicks and Conversions. Businesses can use this metric to measure the effectiveness of individual campaigns. It is part of the ROI calculation, ensuring informed decisions can lead to growth and optimization. This data is also helpful in identifying high-performing channels and understanding user behavior.
Social media is also a potent tool for creating virality and word-of-mouth marketing opportunities, which can lead to even more successful engagements. Social media can provide one of the most effective outlets for digital marketing campaigns. Use it wisely, and it’s one of the best online channels to drive all key metrics.
Read Next: 7 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost SEO
Email is a widely used communication tool. Most people have at least one address they check consistently throughout the day. Many people have more. Statista reports that 37% have at least two accounts, and 28% have four or more email accounts. How many do you have? That means a business can often reach a large audience with a single campaign.
When email marketing is included in your digital marketing tools, you can target specific audience segments based on demographics, behavior, and preferences. This process allows for a more personalized and relevant message.
Several vital metrics can be tracked with this effort. We’ve segmented the following as delivering critical information about the success of a marketing campaign.
- Delivery Rate: This metric refers to the percentage of emails successfully delivered to recipients’ inboxes compared to the total number of emails sent. The higher the delivery rate, the cleaner an email list is, and the more effective a campaign could be.
- Open Rate: Businesses can track this information to see the percentage of delivered emails opened by recipients. Opens is a make-or-break metric. Your email clutters an inbox right next to tens or hundreds of others. You have one second to make an impression. Your subject has to encourage the open. Sound dramatic? That’s because it is difficult to gain more than a second of attention with your marketing strategy.
- Click-Through Rate: With this information, a company can measure the percentage of recipients who clicked on at least one link in an email. If you’re executing your campaign measurement correctly, you tag each clickable link separately to learn which part or parts of the email gained the most attention and had the most value.
Email marketing is one of the more successful digital strategies to test, measure, and improve upon. You have much control, more so than with other digital marketing strategies, so use this to your advantage. Yes, email marketing has many moving parts, but it’s essential to get it right.
We wouldn’t be Better SEO Results if we didn’t mention a few paid and free tools you can leverage to ensure your measurement and reporting stay reliable as you traverse building out your digital marketing strategy. Here are some of the better tools to rely on.
Google Analytics – Free
Google Analytics is switching to GA4, and if you can get past the significant changes to the structure and interface, it can truly benefit your website and marketing campaigns. The tracking ditches third-party cookies and uses event-based tracking. Third-party cookies are going away, so getting set up on GA4 will ensure you are actively measuring your marketing strategies.
Google Search Console – Free
Google Search Console allows you to monitor your website from an organic search or SEO perspective. You can gain insights into your site’s performance in Google, the keywords that earn you traffic from each page, the device types sending you traffic, the countries, and more. It will also report website errors that you can fix and validate. It is a must-have for sites that rely on an SEO strategy.
Google Ads – Free
Once you sign up for a Google Ads account, you gain access to some excellent tools like the keyword planner. The keyword planner tool lets you evaluate keywords and find out how many times they are searched for on Google, how much advertisers are spending to bid on them, and more critical information to help you in your keyword research strategy.
Whatagraph – Premium
Paid plans start at $223 per month w/ a 7-day free trial available
Whatagraph isn’t an analytics replacement but can streamline and improve your reporting efforts. Whatagraph connects all your data together and allows you to build cross-channel reports measuring all aspects of marketing performance. With over 40 integrations, it can provide the business intelligence your organization needs to improve its marketing efforts.
When we first used Whatagraph about two years ago, it was a bit clunky and had only a handful of integrations. It was also much less expensive. The software certainly has come a long way to improving all aspects, but it comes at a much steeper starting price point of $223/month. For those who value reporting, this is a great alternative to higher-priced BI tools like Looker, which start in the $2,500/month and up range.
DashThis – Premium
Paid plans start at $39 per month w/ a 15-day free trial
DashThis is a data visualization and reporting platform that allows businesses to track, analyze, and share key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics across multiple marketing and analytics channels.
With DashThis, you can create customizable dashboards that aggregate data from various sources, including Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more. The platform includes pre-built templates and widgets designed specifically for marketers, making it easy to get started with tracking and reporting.
Databox – Premium
Paid plans start at $91 per month, and a free forever plan
Databox is a powerful tool that allows businesses and marketers to measure and visualize their digital marketing data in real-time. With Databox, you can easily see the success of your campaigns and make educated decisions about future marketing strategies.
The Databox platform supports a variety of data sources, including Google Analytics, HubSpot, Facebook Ads, and more. It provides customizable dashboards that can be tailored to the needs of individual users or departments.
Metrics are crucial for reviewing the effectiveness of a digital marketing strategy. Ample digital technologies have been implemented to help provide quantitative and qualitative data at scale.
A business operating in 2023 has no limitations to gaining valuable insights into its digital marketing campaign performance. Therefore, there should be no barrier to identifying areas for improvement and making data-driven choices to optimize current and future efforts.
Real success can be achieved by leveraging the insights provided in ways that correspond with a company’s values and vision. It isn’t always immediate, but the results are there to strive for daily.