When then-candidate Donald Trump’s testosterone levels were shared on national TV, many Americans were… completely mystified, because they had no idea what that number meant. It can be like that when you’re looking at your digital marketing metrics.
Chances are good that the numbers you’re seeing in reports are unfamiliar to you. Here are some important digital marketing metrics, and what they mean:
- Impressions refers to the total number of times your ad or other content was shown to someone. This means that someone searched for “DaVinci surgery” and was shown your ad for DaVinci surgery, or that your tweet showed up in someone’s Twitter stream. It doesn’t mean that the person looking at the computer screen paid attention or clicked through to learn more. This number is similar to the traditional concept of circulation — the number of newspapers or magazines that get delivered. It’s a little more accurate, though. Your content was shown to someone on a computer screen, while a newspaper might be delivered to a household and never opened. This means that the same cost per impression for digital content almost certainly is a better deal for digital content than for traditional media.
- Cost per click refers to the price you pay for an ad when someone clicks through. Some digital ads are priced according to the number of impressions. You can choose that metric for Adwords ads when you configure them. But it’s more common to pay for each person who clicks on your ad and goes on to your landing page. Not only can this give you bargain rates, it also allows you to track and make data-driven decisions about your resources. Facebook and Adwords are two examples of this type of advertising. You generally want to see the average cost per click getting smaller, but this depends in part on your competitors — something you can’t control.
- Organic traffic refers to the visitors who find your content by searching at Google or another search engine. You don’t pay for this traffic, though you probably pay for the content that brings it to you. SEO focuses on enticing organic search traffic to your landing pages. For most good websites, this is the top source of traffic. It’s often the top-converting source of traffic, too. However, just getting more traffic may not be enough to reach your business goals.
- Targeted traffic is the right traffic for your business goals. For example, if you have a clinic in Tulsa, you probably won’t benefit from an increase in traffic from Ft. Worth. If your organization’s goal is to influence government decisions, on the other hand, you will benefit more from traffic from Congress’s network than from local visits. Figuring out what targeted traffic looks like and how best to measure it is an important step in configuring your analytics.
- Pageviews are the total number of times a page at your website is visited. This includes people who come back to a page as well as new visitors. This number can tell you, among other things, which of your posts and pages are the most popular. This can tell you which pages or posts should get strong calls to action. You can also see whether your website is meeting your goals by noting how many people are clicking through to your patient portal or whether contacts are increasing.
- Ranking can be a tough metric to pin down. This is basically the old “#1 at Google,” but it has become a lot more complicated over the years. Google’s Search Console can show you the average position where your website shows up for various keywords. So, if your website has a ranking of 1.0 for the keyword “pediatrician near me,” that means that when Google showed your website for that search term, you were on average in the #1 position. That doesn’t mean that Google showed you at #1 every time someone typed in that search term. You want to see high rankings for as many relevant keywords as possible. This information can also tell you which keywords you should be working on.
- Position is an important metric for Adwords. In our experience, it’s important to have a #1 or #2 position in ads. If an ad is showing at #4 (the bottom of the page), it probably won’t offer a good ROI. Position depends on a number of factors, so you can often improve your position. However, if you are not able to get a strong position for a particular keyword, we’d suggest that you stop that ad and use another strategy.
- Engagement shows how many of the people who saw a post or page engaged with that post. This metric has different meanings in different contexts. For example, Facebook gives an engagement rating for every post based on the percentage of visitors who Liked, Shared, or commented. This number can be affected by the number of impressions. So, a post seen by 5 people and a post seen by 500 might both have 20% engagement. For the less popular post, that’s just one Share or Like. Google Analytics measures engagement in several different ways, including the length of time a visitor spent at a website and how many different pages they saw. Broadly speaking, more is better here.
- CTR stands for “click through rate.” That means the percentage of people who click through when they are offered your page. This is very important for Adwords — it’s one of the factors that determines your cost per click. Google considers 1% a good CTR for ads, but we see as much as 10% or more. You can see the CTR for organic traffic at the Google Search Console. We’ll see CTRs as high as 40% or more here. If you see that a page has a lot of impressions but a poor CTR, you should put in the effort to improve that metric.
- Performance can refer to a number of different metrics, but one common way the terms is used is to describe the technical behavior of your website. This can include uptime (how often your website is unavailable, or down) or how fast your pages load.
Often, the best metrics are those that are connected with your specific goals. Do you get the number of leads you want each month? Are your patients using your online portal? Are your donations higher this year than they were at the same time last year?
But the specific metrics of digital marketing can be useful, too.