When was the last time you took a look at your analytics dashboard? I mean a truly in-depth look?
Sure, all those high-performing landing pages and conversion numbers are great — but there’s something your analytics isn’t showing you —
“Well, that’s not true”, you insist. “I can see how many users clicked on this link or bought that product and ultimately converted into paying customers — isn’t that a form of engagement?”
The problem with analytics is the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know — and “engagement” is one of those elusive quasi-metrics marketers keep chasing after, as if to hold it up as the ultimate measure of a site’s success.
We can tie it to different data-backed metrics, but they don’t really give us the full picture. They tell us that the customer clicked on this, or bought that, but they don’t tell us anything about the customer experience that we’re all so keen to improve upon.
Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, explains it this way:
“The reason engagement has not caught on like wild fire (except in white papers and analyst reports and pundit posts) is that it is a “heart” metric we are trying to measure with “head” data, and engagement is such a[n] utterly unique feeling for each website that it will almost always have a unique definition for each and every website.”
Analytics are Meaningless, Unless…
Unless you tie them to something that matters. You can think of analytics like the “Check Engine” light on your car. It tells you that something is wrong, but it’s up to you to fix the problem. Analytics give you raw numbers for different touch-points and informs you, but they won’t adjust for you if, for example, you see a drop off in your conversion funnel. That’s all on you.
No pressure, right?
Of course, by the same token, you can’t have engagement without the data to back it up. Otherwise you’ll never know which channel delivers the best ROI or which landing page is converting the highest. Analytics and engagement are not standalone silos that are independent of each other. They need to be able to mesh together in a way that not only gives you workable data, but makes that data actionable.
How to Correctly Measure Engagement
So if analytics give you the raw numbers, how do you actually measure engagement? As every site has a different purpose and different end goal, there is no “one size fits all” blanket metric that engagement can substitute for.
You can’t tie it to click-throughs because they don’t tell you what happened after the click. And you can’t pin engagement on conversions either because you’ll be continually moving the goalposts as to what a conversion actually is as the customer progresses through your funnel.
As Kaushik advises, you need to boil down “engagement” into what it truly is — by asking why your website exists. At its core, your website has a unique purpose, and properly defining that purpose and then defining which metrics lend themselves to it are going to make your marketing life a whole lot easier (and more measurable!)
You can look at key analytics data to help you get a better, data-backed picture of your customer engagement, using things like customer retention, number of unique visits and how recent they are, as well as regular customer surveys and market research. But again, you’re trying to apply quantitative data to a very qualitative metric, so you’ll still be getting pieces of the puzzle rather than seeing the full picture.
Fortunately, you can have both your analytics and your engagement metrics working together to provide you with the kinds of findings you need to optimize your business growth even further.
Kissmetrics: The Best of Both Worlds
There are three key parts to Kissmetrics that helps marketing and product teams engage and grow their customer base.
- Analyze: This contains reporting tools like Funnel, Cohort, A/B testing, and the soon-to-be-released Activity Report. Use these tools to track and analyze user behavior.
- Populations: Keep track of your user base by viewing how many users are in a “Population“. Quickly and easily know if signups are increasing, if more users are engaged than 90 days ago, and much more. Check out this video to learn more:
- Campaigns: Where the rubber meets the road. After tracking behavior in Analyze and Populations, send behavior-based messages to users to nudge them towards conversion.
We call our platform Customer Engagement Automation, or CEA if you’re into acronyms.
With CEA you’ll be able to measure, track and act upon customer-based behaviors. See what a customer or user is doing with our reporting tools, and provide a “nudge” with behavior-based messaging.
There’s no need to export your data into a third party tool to analyze it — the platform handles all of that for you. You get the data you need in order to make confident marketing decisions, along with the measurable customer engagement tools that move your business forward — all in one streamlined, highly efficient package.
What’s more, you don’t even need any third party integrations to make Campaigns and our other suite of tools work for you. But Kissmetrics does play nice with others, by integrating with all your favorite tools including Woocommerce, Salesforce, Shopify, Optimizely, and more.
So stop digging through your analytics trying to find those elusive nuggets of “customer engagement” and start focusing on the metrics that matter. Because your data lives within the Kissmetrics platform, you’ll discover all kinds of powerful insights that analytics alone can’t provide. And when analytics and engagement are both working together like a finely oiled machine, there’s nothing stopping you from taking your business to the next level — full speed ahead.
Have you used Kissmetrics in your own business? We’d love to hear about your experience with the platform. Which engagement metrics have you found best reflect your business goals and objectives? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up.
Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.
Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
The early days of a new blog, podcast, or video channel are actually a sort of magical time.
It’s quiet. No one has shown up yet. You can say or do nearly anything. You have the opportunity to experiment and play without fear.
And, let’s face it … we all want to get past it as quickly as humanly possible.
While I truly would encourage you to stop and smell those roses, I also appreciate that we start websites because we want to build and serve audiences.
If you have something cooking and you’d like to accelerate the process of pulling your audience together, here are seven things I’ve found useful for my own projects.
Before we start on that, though, you must absolutely understand who you want to serve. What they believe, what they fear, what they know, what they don’t know. Keep digging and keep researching until you have someone in mind who feels like a genuine individual person.
Once you have a vibrant Who in mind, let’s get to work building an audience of them.
#1: Be ready for the traffic you get
At the beginning, when we’re squeaking along with just a few site visitors, it’s particularly important to capture every little scrap of attention we can.
So before you start trying tactics to get more new visitors, make sure that:
- You have at least a few interesting other bits of content for visitors to look at
- Your site doesn’t look like a dog’s breakfast
- You have a good way to capture visitor email addresses
If you’re making something interesting, you may well find that those first subscribers go on to become some of your most loyal fans. Give them a way to stay in touch by offering a smart email subscription that delivers plenty of value.
You’re not going to get a zillion visitors in the early days. But if you can spark and maintain solid relationships with the ones you do get, you’ll start to pick up momentum.
#2: Answer the right questions
Once you (truly, madly, deeply) understand your Who, you’re ready to think about how to best serve them.
One time-honored tactic comes from sales consultant Marcus Sheridan — answer every question you’ve ever seen, received, or heard of in your topic.
The idea isn’t to write a 150,000-word manual. Instead, make each answer a single blog post — and keep the answers simple and useful.
This does a few things for you:
- It gets you past that dread of the “blank page.” Answering questions is pretty straightforward.
- It reveals any knowledge gaps that you need to work on.
- It spurs you to head out into the digital world and start hunting for those questions. That’s a great way to learn a lot about your audience.
- It creates a steady stream of fresh content. This is helpful for search engine optimization, but, more importantly, it makes your site interesting for human beings.
Figure out a calendar you can stick to for these. Since they’re fairly easy to create, you might publish two of them a week for six months or more. Every other week, swap in a more in-depth article that’s got more meat to it.
You may want to have a few of these done in advance, because I promise you’ll have days when even a 10-minute post is going to be tough to get created and published.
This is also a great way for you to start developing good publishing habits.
I refer folks all the time to Pamela Wilson’s post on publishing one strong piece of content a week, as a model for the steps you want to go through. These quick Q&A posts don’t need as much promotion, but it’s still a good opportunity to practice your process on lower-risk content.
#3: Do one epic thing
If you want influencers to link to you, social media darlings to share you, and potential customers to connect with you, you have to do something to deserve all of that attention.
You have to do something epic.
You might be epically good at what you do. You might be able to pull off some kind of epic stunt.
But most likely, your venture into the realm of epic is going to involve creating a seriously good piece of content.
Boring blog posts, weak videos, or copycat podcast episodes won’t cut it. (We already knew that, right?)
Not every piece of content is going to be a home run. But, at least once in a while, you need to swing for the fences.
Make time regularly to create and publish content that’s more thorough, or more creative — or maybe more innovative, empathetic, or far-reaching.
You’ll create a few near-misses before you come up with one that’s genuinely epic. So you should probably get started on those early attempts. Maybe today.
#4: Be a social butterfly
You might love social media, or you might avoid it like the zombie apocalypse. Either way, it’s a good place to look for new connections.
When you’re growing your audience, schedule one or two short sessions on one relevant social platform every day.
- It might be posting in a big group in your topic.
- It might be posting content to your own page.
- It might be cultivating relationships with other web publishers.
Most likely, it will be a combination of those.
If you’re trying to get a site off the ground, you don’t have hours every day to waste on Facebook. But two well-planned, 10-minute sessions every day can do you a world of good.
Facebook is the biggest dog at the moment, but it isn’t the only option. Instagram has been showing a lot of promise lately, and for the right business, Pinterest can be a winner. And for those with B2B products and services, LinkedIn is refreshingly drama-free — and a place where people expect to do business.
If you have trouble with keeping yourself to short sessions, consider a productivity app to help out.
And don’t fall into the trap of building a giant community on a social platform — and neglecting your own site. Your time is typically better spent optimizing your content to get more shares and building up a good volume of high-value content.
#5: Take one controversial stand
We all know that one person on social media who flips the table over every irritation or slight.
That’s exhausting and counterproductive.
But there’s a word for people who never take a difficult stand, never ruffle any feathers, and never speak out:
Whether or not you overtly address politics is up to you. But, as Brian Clark likes to say, “This is the internet — there’s potential for controversy in any strong statement.”
Whether your niche is fitness, dog training, finance, parenting, or knitting — there are fiercely passionate camps around certain topics.
Do some real research. Question your own biases. Weigh the evidence and consider other points of view. Be willing to be swayed by reliable evidence that contradicts your assumptions.
And once you feel confident that your position is grounded with solid evidence, take your stand in the camp you believe is right.
You can literally enrage some people by asserting that the earth is round.
Trying to placate the ignorant doesn’t change the roundness of the earth.
(By the way, if you click the link above, how cool would it be to have a Science Emergency Defense Plan with NdGT on tap.)
#6: Buy a little traffic with money
So if you have a steady, consistent stream of useful material (your question and answer content), along with a few epic pieces, and you’ve taken a stand in your topic … is there anything else to do to get the ball rolling?
You can always try buying a bit of traffic with social media ads.
This is a game with rules that change almost daily, but it’s a game worth playing. Pick the most financially viable platform of the moment (right now it’s Facebook) and buy a little bit of traffic.
“A little bit” is not $1,000 worth of traffic. It’s not $100. Maybe spend $10 this week. And, if budget permits, $10 next week.
Think “risking your Frappuccino,” not “risking your mortgage.”
Learning to buy small amounts of traffic will give your momentum a bit of a push. It will also teach you all kinds of useful things that you’ll be glad you understand when you get more successful or have an offer you’d like to promote.
#7: Buy a little more traffic with time
The other way to “buy” some traffic is to put time and energy into writing guest post content for other sites. You may also find it valuable to appear on other people’s podcasts.
Like #6, this makes sense once you’ve got something worth checking out on your own site.
Guest posting broadens your audience and gives you a great opportunity to form relationships with other web publishers. It can also have nice SEO benefits … but that typically comes down the line, when your site’s a little more mature.
Remember to only submit excellent material for guest posts. It just isn’t smart to show less-than-great work on a larger stage.
Where are you on your journey?
Do you have all the traffic and subscribers you want? Still working on it? Found any great strategies for building an audience in the early days?
Let us know in the comments!
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