Posted by randfish
I ran across this survey data eMarketer released last week and my heart sank:
This first chart looks innocent enough. It's when you look at the next one (from the same report) that things get ugly:
As a CEO, an SEO, a web marketer and a participant in social media, this drives me absolutely crazy. The very last item on the list is "conversions, ROI, etc." If your pulse isn't pounding, you might need to cut back on the pharmaceuticals.
Absolutely nothing in the analytics world should trump conversions and ROI for "senior marketers" or anyone else who cares about the success of a company. If you're thinking in terms of time on site or unique page views as primary metrics - metrics you'd describe in a survey as being those you're "most interested in" - there's a big problem. The web as a medium is designed to let you capture data beyond number of viewers or engagement level. It lets you track return visits and actions and build sophisticated models that predict what activities will drive up revenue and earnings in the most cost-effective ways. Why let it go to waste?
This report from Forrester suggests that the spend on web marketing has a lot of growth, and social media in particular is poised for exceptional CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). But, I'm tremendously concerned that if marketers obsess over metrics like time on site, unique page views and CTR, they'll miss out on the real opportunity of all these channels.
ROI should be the ultimate metric - it should be the most important thing on every marketer's mind for every project and every channel. I'll grant that prioritizing the projects and investments that have the highest return is challenging, and even the best do it imperfectly. What worries me is that there are marketers who may be taking their cues not from the great analytics data suggesting that, although first-time visits from social media may have low value, over time, they can drive greater brand engagement, predict higher rates of repeat visits and eventually become buyers and brand evangelists, but from the onslaught of press coverage and media attention around social networks.
If you're taking your clues about where to spend your marketing budget from the media, rather than experiments and data, get ready for disappointment. Likewise, if you're measuring the wrong thing, you'll never know the right place to spend those dollars.
The beauty of online channels like SEO, landing page testing, conversion rate optimization, email marketing and, yes, social media is that the data tells a story we can read. So long as we're willing to hear the message, we can draw the connections to find the traffic sources that cost less and earn more. We can invest in those until the ROI from them diminishes to a point where other channels become viable. But only if we're paying attention to the metrics that matter.
There have been tools, data and experienced professionals in this field, fighting these fights for over a decade now. Tragically, it seems that we're in for a long slog.
p.s. We've filled up about 600/1,000 spots for Thursday's PRO webinar on SEO Analytics - feel free to join in :-)