You’ve got a business site, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and LinkedIn profile — all of which are accurate, up-to-date, and full of interesting content. You’re good to go on the Web, right?
Maybe not. Unless you’re rigorously tracking metrics that matter to your business, you won’t know whether the time and money you spend on these platforms is paying off. That was the overarching message at a panel discussion yesterday afternoon at Inman’s Real Estate Connect event in San Francisco.
“You guys are doing a lot of marketing, but some of it is paying you and some of it isn’t,” said Jim Marks, co-founder and CEO of Virtual Results. “You’ve got to know which is which. You need to know the result of every dollar you spend. That’s called business.”
That means monitoring online measurements that actually bring you business, not just some nebulous concept like “eyeballs” or “Web presence.”
“What you need to look at is where the leads are coming from,” said Stephanie Streeter, lifecycle and ROI manager at Active Website. “What’s the best location to find those individuals? And keep revisiting these trends over time. The better educated you are on your site, how people are using the site, and where they’re coming from, the more power you’ll have in making decisions regarding lead generation.”
Fortunately, many of the tools needed to gather these kinds stats are free. Google Analytics is one of the more popular options available, but there are hazards with using it. If it’s not implemented properly, it may present misleading information about your site, Marks said.
“Setting up Google Analytics correctly is unbelievably tricky,” he explained. “Just make sure it’s set up accurately and you trust the data. Once you have that dashboard set up, you’ll be a much better Internet marketer.”
At the same time, you shouldn’t get too caught up in the tools you use, said Hiten Shah, co-founder and CEO of KISSmetrics. Your primary concern should be knowing which people are coming to your sites, how they’re engaging with the content, and how often they come back. That last one’s especially important, he explained, because research shows that people who touch your content five times or more end up becoming a lead.
“Sadly, most of the analytics discussions I get into are what tools people should use,” he said. “Whatever you use to measure, make sure you’re measuring what people are doing. Understand who they are and why they do what they do.”
Metrics will help improve your business because they’ll take the guesswork out of your marketing and confirm your hunches about what’s working online and what’s not, said Adam Wiener, vice president of analytics and new business at Redfin.
“You can use analytics to get a sense of how much activities are worth to you,” he said.