Ok, let's wrap this series up with a playful jaunt into metrics and measurement.
Getting this tricky strategic quandary right requires two things:
- Creative Thinking
First, on context. What you want to know is how similar projects have performed in the past. Preferably how a bunch of them performed so that you can create a bell curve of expectation and identify specific tactics that will help you out perform the pack.
There are easy ways and hard ways to get this information. Unfortunately, the newer you are (and less investment money you have), the harder even the easy ways are.
As soon as you can afford it, invest in great competitive measurement tools. Comscore and Nielson have industry leading ones. Essentially they give you a short cut into the reports all your client's competitors are looking at ... from the amount of traffic, to the kind of engagement, to the time of day, to where people went before and after visiting that site. It's a glorious geek out.
Until then. Boot strap. First up - Quantcast offers a great free search tool for metrics of major sites. And, a number of the big providers (like Compete) have blogs that offer a lot of proprietary data you can snag, search and archive.
Still don't have what you want? The next tier of research is case studies. On Marketing Sherpa. On agency sites. In Business Week. Get crafty. And think big. If your direct competitors aren't on the list, find companies that are either in similar categories or that tried similar tactics with an audience like yours.
Now onto creative thinking.
The easiest metric in the world is hits. Easiest because virtually any tool can track it and easiest because advertising people can quickly understand and compare it (it's the closest Web equivalent to the print gold standard: impressions). But, is it the right standard?
Imagine you're selling your house. Do you want to know how many people saw the for sale sign? Or how many people were interested in what's inside?
Your job at the agency is to recommend a metric that is directly linked to the sites goals and offers a unique insight into the audience or the tools you created for them.
A few sexier metrics:
- Bounce rate. That's the percent of initial visitors who leave the site after seeing only one page. And a high rate tends to suggest that the marketing doesn't match up with the product. Whatever they expected to see, they didn't find it. And, weren't compelled to look further.
What to use: Google Analytics
- Conversion. How many people did what we wanted them to do? Buy or signup or play a game?
What to use: Internal databases + Google Analytics
- Sharing. How many people saw enough value in the content to pass it on? How many posted reviews, blogged, emailed, etc.
What to use: Nielsen Buzz Metrics
- Engagement. How long did people stay on the site? How many pages did they look at? Do they spend time with content meant for passionate customers?
What to use: Google Analytics
- Reputation. How is this campaign effecting how we're known? Is the overall coverage and conversation positive or negative - in what categories, against what parts of our story?
What to use: Perception Metrics
- Comparative trends. How does our indexed traffic (or other metric) look against our key competitors? Are we closing the gap?
What to use: Comscore + Google Analytics
Ok, get out there and measure.