Small data: Learn to measure your growth
In my previous article, I discussed what small data is and how it can have a major impact on your business. There are lots of metrics and data to measure and analyze as you build your business’s digital presence. With this article, my goal is to focus on common sense data you can review to make decisions to improve your online marketing efforts.
Understanding small data as it relates to your business
One of the most popular and powerful analytics tools available for small businesses is Google Analytics. If your website was built without it you can easily set it up using these instructions to capture the important data it generates. Below are some key metrics that are important for your business and that you should review on a regular basis.
Metrics that tell you where your visitors come from
- Direct traffic means how many visitors came directly to your site. The more direct visitors you have, the more brand aware visitors are becoming and that's a good thing. You will want to observe this metric to see how it improves over time. As this value rises, it’s a good indication that your overall marketing efforts are proving effective.
- Organic search traffic is a very important indicator because it tells you how much search traffic is coming to your site. It’s important to understand what keywords people are searching for in order to create relevant content that answers specific questions.
- Referral traffic is another key metric. As your business begins to grow, other businesses that are in the same industry will want to get to know you, partner with you and link to your site—referring visitors to your site. These relationships are important to cultivate and build on an ongoing basis to improve your overall search ranking. Referral traffic also tends to have higher conversion rates if the referring sites are relevant to your industry.
- Social media traffic is important, especially in the awareness and consideration part of your customer life cycle. If people are not talking about you, providing reviews or recommendations, you can rest assured it will affect the number of customers you get. Furthermore, if people are talking and providing some sort of negative feedback, it’s important for you to listen, analyze and respond in order to avoid negative word-of-mouth affecting your business.
Metrics that tell you about how engaged your visitors are
- Bounce rate—Tells you what percentage of your visitors leave your site after visiting the homepage. Why is this important? If visitors are leaving right away, it could be that they didn't have a great experience on your website. This is an early indicator that you need to explore the overall look/feel, messaging and functionality of your website.
- Site speed—Tells you how long it takes for your site and pages to load. The fact of the matter is, if your site is slow (takes more than 4 seconds to load), your bounce rate will be high. So this is an important secondary metric to look into.
- Visitor feedback—The best websites ask for feedback from their visitors in order to continuously improve the overall user experience of their site. To make it simple, user experience will be one of the biggest bottlenecks for your business if it is ignored. There are many tools that allow you to do collect feedback, such as Zen desk or Users Voice.
Metrics that tell you if visitors are becoming customers
Goals are one of the most important metrics to configure in your Google Analytics account. This is the only way you can easily associate all of your online marketing efforts to the bottom line of your business. A goal can be as simple as a newsletter sign‑up, a contact form being filled out, or feedback being left by visitors.
Once goals are configured, it will allow you to make more sense of all the other metrics measured in your Google Analytics account in order to find out and infer what’s helping your business grow and what’s acting as a roadblock.
These are just a few ways of capturing and digesting the metrics captured by Google Analytics that will provide valuable insights into improving and growing your business’s web presence. Investigate your data, get feedback (from customers, site visitors, marketing experts) and understand that there's always more you can do to optimize when it comes to the web. The key to your online success is to experiment, try new things and evaluate on a regular basis while seeking advice from experts.
If you would like to understand more about the importance of website analysis and the steps involved to complete one on your own, see How to conduct a website analysis.