Numbers Tell A Story; Understanding The Story And Responding Drives Inbound Leads
Everyone says that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In the case of inbound marketing, numbers are worth a thousand words, too. When marketing moved from mostly art and creative to mostly math and science, we realized that analysis, experimentation and insights would be the difference between high-performing client programs and low-performing client programs.
One of the challenges is knowing what to look at, when to look at it, what the inbound marketing metrics are telling you and then, most importantly, how to respond to take advantage of the opportunity or challenge within your inbound marketing program. To further complicate the situation with inbound, most of the metrics are cross-connected, meaning a variety of variables are affecting the performance. You have to understand the interconnectivity to drive improved results based on data.
Here are some engagement metrics that you need to keep an eye on, what you should be looking for in these numbers and what to do if you think your numbers are below optimal levels.
Courtesy of Google, site-wide bounce rate is defined as “the percentage of single-page sessions” across your site. If you have 100 sessions and 50 of those sessions include single-page sessions, you have a 50% bounce rate. I’m not providing any industry benchmarks for bounce rate because what makes up a reasonable bounce rate is very contextual.
For example, if you have a lot of blog views on your blog, those typically are single sessions. People get notified of your new blog article, they view it and they leave. Mission accomplished for you, but a bounce is registered with Google. Also, if a visitor bookmarks a page on your site, returns often and leaves directly at the same place, this could push up your bounce rate. If you’re looking for warning signs, bounce rates of 75% or higher could indicate issues.
If you feel like you need to improve your bounce rate, consider your page design. If the page is too long, too complicated or doesn’t proactively offer additional pages via links or educational offers via links, you’re probably going to have a high bounce rate.
By creating a website page blueprint for every page on your site, you’ll have thought through the “where do we want them to go next?” and the “what action do we want then to take?” questions, which means you’ll provide answers to those questions on every page.
Keep track of the bounce rate, benchmark it as it exists today and as you add new links and content offers on your pages, you should see the bounce rate decreasing.
Average Page Views
This metric is the average number of pages visited by a user during a single session. If a visitor hits three pages before they leave, your average page views is three. The higher your average page views number, the more pages your visitors are checking out while they’re on your site. This is usually a pretty good indicator of how valuable your site pages are, how interesting the messaging is and how engaging the content offers are.
Again, there really aren’t any industry averages on page views, so it’s more about knowing your numbers as they exists today and working proactively to improve them. You should have some idea about how you want your site visitors to navigate through your site. This might be by role or by position in the buyer journey, but you should know. What pages do you want people to see? These pages need to be prominently linked and the copy on the pages needs to support the flow through your site.
It might be hard to know exactly what you want them to do when you launch a new site. But over time, you should get the data that shows what pages people are visiting, what pages people are skipping, what pages have the best click-through rates and which pages are the top exit pages. You can leverage this data to improve the average page views simply by improving the visitor experience.
This used to be referred to as average time on site. It’s now called session length. It’s basically the time associated with the average visitor’s trek through your site. The longer the session, the more value a visitor is getting from your site (or at least that’s the idea). If a visitor steps away from their browser while they’re on your site, it’s going to give you a false positive. It’s going to look like they’re spending a ton of time on your site, when they’re not there at all.
To increase your session length, you have to look at your website not as an electronic brochure but as an informational hub filled with educational assets and content that people are going to want to access to help them do their jobs better. If every page is filled with links to other pages and access to educational content, the right visitors will click and click until they’re satiated and ready to move on.
Video also provides an opportunity to increase session length on your website pages. If you have even a 90-second video on a few of your highly-visited pages, there is a very good chance that these videos will increase the session length metric for your website. At the same time, you’re giving your visitors a visual element that helps to tell your story, engage your prospects and convert them into leads.
Our websites look different today than they did even five years ago. We used to have to convince clients to have content “below the fold.” Today, pages are long, scrolling stories. One reason for these long, scrolling pages is that 50% of search and viewing happens on phones and other mobile devices. This change also means you should change the way you measure engagement.
Putting content and offers at the bottom of a long, scrolling page is fine, unless people are not getting to the bottom of the page. Scroll depth shows you how often people scroll to the bottom of the page. We typically use Hotjar for this type of data collection, and the insights are brilliant for adjusting offer placement to improve conversions and drive more leads.
It might make sense for the “Request A Consultation” to be at the bottom of the page, but if people are not getting there it’s useless. Putting it in two places and calling attention to its location higher up on the page or even using floating offer panels are good solutions for long pages that don’t support visitors making it to the bottom of the page.
There is another more basic way to measure engagement on your website, and that’s conversion on the content on the site. If you agree that people are looking for educational information, then if you publish the right content on your site, visitors should be engaging with it and converting from visitors into leads.
Content offers should be converting in the 30% to 50% range. The landing pages for those offers should be converting between 50% and 70%. There should also be a spectrum of offers on the site that are delivered in context to the buyer journey via your website pages, with offers for the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel. This is one of the biggest mistakes we see. If you want to improve engagement on your site, stop offering only bottom-of-the-funnel offers and start offering a wider array of content types.
If people don’t convert on your offers, then you have the wrong offers. A series of experiments can help to uncover if the offers are bad, the CTAs are bad, the landing pages are bad or the placement of those CTA buttons is the problem. Once you work out the issues, you should be good to go on lead generation and engagement metrics that show your program is working.
Now that you know a little more about the data available, what it’s telling you and what a few potential action steps might be as a response to the data, you should be in a better position to drive results from inbound marketing.
Taking a scientific approach to marketing means understanding that you’re going to need to run a handful of experiments before you uncover any actionable insights. These experiments take time. The more structured the approach, the better the results and the more accurate the findings. You want to be careful not to make too many assumptions or draw conclusions without enough data to validate your hypothesis.
Just like writing, this is an acquired skill that might take time to get comfortable with. With inbound marketing, it takes time to find the insights and optimize the program to increase performance. Stay focused, be patient and understand that failed tests produce just as much positive information as successful tests. Remember, learning what not to do is just as important as learning what to do.
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