Measuring the ROI of Your Online Advertising
Written by Sarah Rowland
Last updated: 19/09/2016
With marine marketers understanding the extraordinary power of online advertising now more than ever, it’s important to understand exactly which of your online efforts are producing value for your business, and which aren’t. Especially when you’re part of a smaller marine business with a smaller marketing budget.
The problem with measuring the ROI of online advertising isn’t due to a lack of data, but more to an abundance of data and a lack of knowledge of how to successfully interpret this data to aid a successful digital strategy.
This month, Yachting Pages offers tips for marine marketers who are hoping to connect the dots between their online investment and their incoming revenue.
Tools for measuring the ROI of online advertising
You may know the statistics that you would like to measure, but how are you going to successfully track them? Even if you have a custom web tracking tool in place, we would recommend that every business sets up (and gets familiar with) Google Analytics (GA) to uncover what’s driving leads, and hopefully sales, directly to your website.
Widely known as the best free analytics tool available to digital marketers, the GA dashboard does look overwhelming if you’re not accustomed with the interface or functionality; but practice really does make perfect. The Small Business Guide to Google Analytics from Simply Business should help you to get started.
Three important digital marine marketing metrics
Once you’re all set up, it’s important to set the metrics that will help you to reach your marketing goals. These must be easily and accurately trackable in order to provide data that helps you to evaluate and rethink your strategy.
Only you will know the metrics that are important to your business, but we have provided an outline below to get marine marketers started:
Visitors: How many people are visiting my website?
You’ll surely want to know how your website is being used, and this starts with who is visiting it. It is possible to track who is coming to your site, where they are coming from, where they are going, and how long they spend on each page, among other interesting data.
By tracking the total number of visits, unique visitors, pages per visit, average time on site and bounce rate, you will be able to gain valuable insight into your website’s performance and how to improve it over time.
Ultimately, your traffic depends on the type of product/service that you provide, and the type of conversion that you are hoping to achieve, but start to get familiar with the cycles that appear; watch for major dips and peaks and try and attribute these to any changes made on your website or in your marketing efforts. This general information can be found in the ‘Behaviour’ tab on Google Analytics, but more specific audience demographics can be found under ‘Audience’, including their age, gender, location and device.
Raven or Google’s own URL builder will help you in setting up custom campaign URLs with which to track traffic coming from your online advertising and in-house marketing efforts. A unique track-able URL will be created which you can then provide to the hosts of your online advertising, and also add to your own email campaigns to trace how successful these ventures are, by checking the campaign’s data collated under the ‘Acquisition’ tab.
Source: Where are my web visitors coming from?
Not their geographical location, but their route of entry to your website: Through an online search for your business or brand; an ‘organic’ search for your products or services; paid advertising; social media channels; directly typing your website in; a link from another website, etc.
Ideally, it’s good to have a mix of the traffic types: Search traffic, direct referrals and paid campaigns. After all, if you rely on one heavily and Google and other search engines make changes to their algorithm, you could lose traffic, and therefore money very quickly. This can also be tracked in the ‘Acquisition’ tab in Google Analytics.
Conversions: What are people doing on my website?
Defined as the count of the action that you want visitors to take when they arrive on your business website from your online advertising. This could include a newsletter or event sign up, a download, or even a direct sales lead in the form of an email or telephone call.
Further digital metrics to consider
It’s great that you can track where your online traffic is coming from, and whether these users follow through and convert, but it’s also a good idea to ask those that call, email or visit your office where they heard about your business.
The ‘click’ may be the first step, but you need to ensure that you are still tracking matters at the source and finding out where those that are converting are coming from: Where did they hear about you and what made them get in contact?
How? Just ask. Stats are great, but we should be asking where people heard about our business once they get in touch. This way you’ll have two data points to help you in making better advertising decisions. You could also add instruction to ask people to quote a specific quote or key phrase to you when they call from seeing your online adverts, e.g. “Yachting Pages promotion” when calling to enquire about an online promotion posted on Yachtingpages.com.
What is a good ROI?
As marine marketers, we know that the time of year, target audience and product/service type can all determine the success of your online advertising. What’s great is that, with the seasonal trends of the yachting industry, fluctuations in the performance of your chosen online advertising can be somewhat predicted and prepared for.
Regardless, after tracking the performance of your online advertising for a few months or years, you will start to notice and analyse patterns that will shape your performance expectations in the future, allowing you to make educated decisions about your online investment.
Put simply, we want to know how much we invested, how much the estimated return was, and was the latter greater than the former – enough so that it was worth the effort or investment? But don’t underestimate the powers of brand awareness, just because you haven’t got conversions straight away, doesn’t mean that you’re not getting the message out. Make sure to ask the company that you are advertising with to give you statistics on how many times your advert has been viewed, as this too is a valuable statistic.
Three steps for improving the ROI of your online advertising
Once you have gotten to grips with tracking the performance of your online advertising, there are a few basic steps that you can follow should you find yourself a little disappointed with the results. Make sure that:
You direct users to the page that is most relevant to your ad: High bounce back rates in Google Analytics suggest that the page you are tracking is not always relevant to the searches that it is being returned for, or that the page is not properly optimised for the right key terms and phrases. You may need to revisit the keywords and meta data of these pages to ensure they are more relevant.
That your website is easy to navigate: Alternatively, a high bounce back rate may also suggest that your pages are not written or formatted for users. If users cannot quickly find what they are looking for, they are likely to give up and look elsewhere, meaning you may miss out on valuable leads and sales.
You add a clear call-to-action: Ensure your desired call-to-action is clear and easy to find and follow. Don’t give more than one option as this will distract from the preferred end goal. Giving hyperlinks off to many different pages may mean that your user does not follow through the sales funnel and get in contact with you for that sale.