Our “What’s in your dashboard?” series is back again! So far we’ve had the fortune of learning from experts such as Stephan Hamel, April Wilson, Judah Phillips, Peter O’Neill, and Jim Sterne on their most powerful KPIs. We’ve explored a wide range of topics such as website content optimization, how to measure business performance, and the importance of data-informed organization.
This time we’re asking popular author, CEO, and data expert Steve Jackson (bio below) what’s in his dashboard! The question remains the same: what are the top 3 KPIs/Charts that you find particularly valuable for measuring digital marketing or eCommerce management?
It really depends on the kind of operation you’re running as to the kind of dashboards you should have. In my books (Cult of Analytics and The Sucking Manifesto) I’ve written about the kinds of KPIs you could look at, as well as how to develop a culture around measurement while creating your KPIs. But I digress, nearly all of our clients have some need for these 3 kinds of KPIs or dashboards.
We find all our clients need to know at a high level where their traffic is coming from. We typically take a 13 month view of the data so you can compare the same period you’re interested in with the same period last year. You are looking to understand what’s changed over time and why it’s changed. If there is a peak of traffic at a particular point in time what has influenced that? If there is a particular drop in search traffic, have campaigns been stopped or has Google done an algorithm change that has wiped out a major source of traffic? The point with looking at reach segments is to understand what works to drive your most impactful traffic in terms of sales/leads or simply just eyeballs and pageviews if you run a media site. You also need to be on the lookout for the type of reach source that drives a type of user. So what drives new visitors versus repeat visitors? What drives repeat visitors versus customers to your site? The differences should be key to your reach strategy.
Similar to reach, we take a 13 month view of the behavioural changes. Is one section of your website “bouncing” higher than the others? Meaning is the site being read and understood by your users or are people arriving and leaving without clicking anything? We tend to find that certain areas outperform others and the under performing areas are places you might want to start working on A/B testing content and calls to action. We also see things like process abandonment changing. If six months ago the processes such as moving through shopping carts, people filling out forms, registering or subscribing to newsletters or for white papers are abandoned at a higher rate, then investigating why is key to increasing conversions to those calls to action.
So, are the conversions you’re generating over the last 13 months changing? Are the costs of generating those conversions rising or falling? And, finally, is the whole thing profitable? In short, we usually measure conversions trending over time whilst monetising them. We then transpose back to ROI on traffic sources and tweaking behaviour to increase the outcomes. But where we can it’s more interesting to know the value of a customer than it is to simply know the cost of one. So if by measuring cost per acquisition source, customer value and profit per product/service you can determine which traffic sources to use to attract different types of customers most efficiently, you are well on your way to understanding how your business really works. You can figure out when to ramp up one activity and when to stop another. We’ve seen certain campaigns be tremendously expensive in terms of cost per click or acquisition that have actually led to high value customers, meaning the ROI is still significant for those activities. Dismissing things because they’re expensive is not always the correct way forward. Otherwise we’d always hire the cheap lawyers to handle our legal affairs!
The secret sauce about KPIs is to realise that they are all connected. Looking at conversion is pointless if you don’t look at how people reach you to convert, or what behavioural obstacles you can remove from their path to make converting easier. Looking at costs is pointless unless you also understand customer lifetime value, otherwise you simply optimise for the cheapest source. Looking at user behaviour alone without segmenting against the type of audience and looking the user objective (that should align with your business objective) is also a big waste of time. Finally, if you just understand that most of your traffic comes from Google then you’re not working hard enough. Ask yourself what would happen if Google didn’t exist? How much business would you still have? Then you have some insight, but that means you haven’t looked at the traffic source in isolation.
“The whole user journey with your brand is connected and your KPIs should connect the dots, not isolate them.”
Steve wants to make his clients €1billion. Starting from January 2013 Quru, the company he serves as CEO, started asking their clients to verify the wins brought to them so they could be added up and one day reach €1bn. Quru want to be able to go through a list of cases they’ve been involved with, nod, smile, crack open a bottle of malt and say yes, they verified it, we made a billion euros. You can measure their progress by visiting their website.
Steve has written 2 books, The Cult of Analytics and The Sucking Manifesto, and is a regular speaker at events like the eMetrics, Search Engine Strategies, Internet Marketing conference and was awarded an honour of recognition by the Digital Analytics Association in 2009 for his work in developing analytics in the Nordic markets where he served as a Chairman for the region.
In his spare time he can often be found fishing, sampling good malt whiskeys or pulling his hair out watching SAFC.
Not Another Dashboard.