Three Digital Marketing KPI Myths and How to Redefine Them

By ​Hillary Wilmoth

August 14, 2014

MythbustersA few months ago, our VP of Product Management Bruce Ernst wrote a blog post on thinking outside of the digital marketing KPI box, focusing on the idea that we can no longer afford to focus on conversion rates and average lifetime value metrics.

Instead we need to get creative in how we use our analytics to drive customer interaction. Bruce offered an example that, for years, whenever a hurricane was about to hit Florida, Wal-Mart would stock up on generators. But when someone actually looked at the numbers they realized, “we really don’t sell a lot of generators before a hurricane, but we sure sell a ton of Pop-Tarts.” By not limiting their view to traditional storm prep items like generators and plywood, Wal-Mart facilitated additional purchases and sent the clear message that they knew what their customers wanted.

Today, we're continuing that conversation.

Inspired by the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters (and I mostly worked in this reference to the show so we can use this awesome photo), I'm going to break down three digital marketing KPI myths and show you where there's room for improvement.

1. Page views = engagement

We’re quick to make the leap from the act of opening a page to the activity of reading it, and that’s not an assumption we should be making. Especially when what we really want to know is not only that a customer downloaded a pdf, but they spent the most time on page 5 and skipped quickly over heavy imagery.

Get creative about tracking deeper engagement on your site by defining your own page events for tracking. Examples include interaction with elements below the fold, clickzones, or even clicks on lead-gen forms that didn’t make it to submission. You could use other disruptive tactics, like serving lightboxes to prompt action if a customer's activity decreases.

2. Social media shortens the sales cycle

Social media is a part of any integrated marketing plan, but many of us peter out on analytics beyond likes or re-tweets. Liking, retweeting, or in some cases sharing can be passive. It doesn’t mean that person clicked your link, read your piece, or bought from your brand.

Tracking social followers through to conversion is a long (sometimes really long) funnel, and requires some backtracking to identify the best indicators of a high value customer. Referrer statistics from social properties are a start, but they need to connect to other social data to determine drivers. You might find video embeds are correlated to demo-requests, or comments are a strong indicator of mailing list subscribers. If social is important to your brand, this backtracking will show where to focus your efforts for maximum payoff.

3. Low mobile traffic means I don’t need to focus there

You already know that mobile is growing quickly, and market trends show it gearing up for a takeover. People are moving away from desktop in favor of smartphone, tablets and phablets (think Samsung Galaxy Note or something larger than a standard phone).

There are fundamental differences in how mobile users search, navigate, and interact with your site. Optimizing this space could help not only drive traffic but conversions. In addition to a responsive layout, or app - tighter navigation with bigger buttons or streamlined product views all help expedite the process. Checkout is another big challenge, and something as simple as promoting your PayPal button (which eliminates typing and condenses checkout) can create big returns.

A lot of tools limit the available metrics, or require upgraded packages and custom work to track the events I just talked about. But how many events would you track if there were no limits, and you could define them for yourself? It’s a good business exercise to review what you’re currently tracking, versus what you would want to track if given the opportunity. Once you identify the KPIs that matter to you, you can impact the customer experience.

PS. If you haven’t heard of our EventBuilder tool, check it out. It’s a standard part of the Monetate software, and can help you up your KPI game.

Hillary Wilmoth is a former product marketing manager at Monetate. Having worked in merchandising, consumer products, financial services, publishing, and technology over the past 8 years, you might think she has ADD; but each marketing role was customer-focused and research-driven. Hillary is a native of Baltimore, and, no, it’s not exactly like The Wire.

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