By Adam Baer
Digital marketing analytics helps you figure out who your visitors are, how they interact with your bank and how you can communicate with them more effectively.
Digital marketing analytics provide valuable information about the people who are interacting with your bank through the Internet. First, it tells you how to optimize your website. Second, it updates you on the status of individual online marketing campaigns—the landing pages that users and potential customers are sent to when they click on your digital advertising.
Thus, digital marketing analytics reveal how effective your website is, which facets of the marketing efforts are working or not working and where your marketing dollars can best be spent.
In this article, I will discuss three topics: the definition of digital analytics, how to use digital analytics and what are the benefits of digital analytics.
The ability to measure traffic is the most important element of analytics. This is done in a number of ways.
First, make sure your website is tagged. Tagging allows data to be captured by the service you choose to track website activity (such as Google Analytics, Webtrends and so forth) and allows for a number of different metrics to be tracked. A best practice is to tag every page on your site including all landing pages designated for ad campaigns. It’s not as daunting as it sounds, since code can be placed in a header, which then populates throughout the site.
Second, make sure any links that bring traffic to your website are tracked. This includes any ads that are being run as part of a campaign, such as text and display ads, and e-blasts or newsletters.
Google offers a uniform resource locator (URL) builder tool specifically for creating customized tracking links with multiple parameters to label each type of ad you’re running. These tracking links are a crucial part to analyzing marketing data. There are a number of ways to sort and view data within Google Analytics, and properly tracking links allows you to match up the data within the platform.
Tip: The most important fields are Source, Medium and Campaign. You can track as many links as you want, and, if you use the Google URL builder, you won’t have to worry about your tracking links being coded correctly, since Google makes the most important fields required.
Note: If you’re not using Google Analytics you’ll want to make sure the links are configured to the specifications of the service you’re using. (The service can provide you with documentation on how to configure the links so that tracking parameters are captured properly by the platform.) Using tracking links allows you to know what marketing efforts are driving traffic to your website.
Getting started with Google Analytics is a free and fairly simple process, but it does take some coordination with your IT department or Web hosting service to install the code on your website. Once that’s done, you’re on your way to a treasure trove of measureable data.
There are a number of valuable benefits gained by measuring this data. Tagging your website allows you to see the geographic locations and online sources traffic is coming from, including search engines, online directories and advertising campaigns.
It can also tell you which parts of your site are underused and less user-friendly. For example, if your goal is mortgage acquisition, analyzing traffic on your mortgage page can be insightful. If people land on your mortgage page and immediately leave, there is a chance the page is missing the mark!
Along the same lines, if your digital ad speaks to your local lending experience but is linked to a mortgage rates page, users may drop off because they are not presented with the information they were expecting. Most likely, those users are looking to learn more about the people they would be working with and what makes you a lending expert. Analytics reveals the synergy, or disconnect, between your message and what the user needs.
Now that mobile devices are becoming the main driver of Web traffic, there is a whole new reason to use analytics. As usability becomes a concern, your website may be designed with the desktop user in mind, but a majority of your traffic might be coming from a smartphone or tablet. Analytics can show you how long users on a mobile device are on your site. If you have a low time-on-page average or a high bounce rate, your site might not be easy enough to use on a mobile device. This is especially critical when it comes to online banking. Mobile banking customers of today demand a mobile-friendly experience.
Event tracking is another valuable Google Analytics tool, as it allows you to track what people do once they land on your page. Event tracking can reveal the number of clicks on calls-to-action within specific pages such as an “apply now” button for a mortgage application or the “open now” button for checking accounts. When you enable event tracking, you’re able to not only tell which ad campaign is driving the most traffic to your landing page, but also, it lets you drill down to see which specific ads are performing the best. For example, on the surface, display ads may be sending the most visitors to your page, but digging deeper may reveal that text ads are actually the source of most of your account openings.
Similar to setting up Google Analytics, event tracking takes some coordination with your IT department. The event tracking code is tied to the calls-to-action on the page, so some programming is involved.
Like tracking links, there are several important elements that must be accounted for when it comes to tracking events: the event category, event action and event label. The event category identifies the page that is being tracked. The event action is the action being tracked, which in most cases will be a click on a button. The event label is simply what the button is labeled, for example, “Apply now.”
Your programming department, or that of your agency, is crucial to making sure that event tracking is set up and working properly because of the complex nature of integrating event tracking code within your website or campaign landing pages.
Reading and understanding your data
Installing analytics is the first step to really understanding your data. The second step is interpreting it. There are several key data measures that are pivotal to helping you understand what users are doing on your website and what actions they are taking on your landing pages.
“Audience data” is where you’ll find out all about the visitors to your website. You can see how often they visit your site, the number of page views and how long they stay on each page. You can also see what type of technology they are using to access your site. This includes Internet service provider, mobile device and browser. For example, your analysis will be able to tell you if you should be targeting your advertising to an iPad user who uses the Google Fiber network or an Android tablet user who is a customer of Comcast.
“Acquisition data” tells you where all of your traffic is coming from. It tells you how the visitors are getting there, including which search engines, social networks and outside referrals. This is where you get the full value of link tracking as a tool to gauge your marketing efforts.
“Behavior data” focuses on how customers interact with your website. This information is some of the most valuable as it shows how often each page of your website is visited and the average time users stay on each page and where users drop off your site. Behavior data can also reveal the effectiveness of the landing pages used in your digital ad campaigns and which call-to-action events are getting the most activity.
While there are several ways that data can be deemed unavailable within the analytics platform, untracked links are the No. 1 reason traffic data is not attributed. Third-party traffic that can be managed by the financial institution, or its partners, that is not tracked will be displayed as having no direct source and no medium—which are crucial analytic metrics you’ll want available.
Analytics can be a powerful tool for digital campaigns and websites. With the ever-growing use of mobile devices and digital advertising, analytics provide useful insights into how your customers interact with you and the best way to get your message to them. Don’t be afraid to dive in. There is gold in your data. You just have to grab your tools and get it.
A Glossary of Online Marketing Analytics Terms
Session: The number of requests that take place on your website within a given time, usually 30 minutes by default, and can be attributed to unique and return users. This metric demonstrates how often users are interacting with the elements on your website, including page views and social interactions. “Session” and “visit” are often used interchangeably.
Page views: A number attributed to how many times a single page is viewed. Page views gain relevance when compared to other pages or prior time frames.
Bounce rate: Percentage of how often a user lands on a page and then exits without interacting with it. Mobile traffic tends to have a higher bounce rate than other devices. This is a useful metric for measuring webpage effectiveness.
Direct/None: Traffic that cannot be attributed to a referral source. Most of the time, this is a result of untracked links. However, email link clicks are another typical source of direct traffic.
Source: A referrer to your website, often the last place a user visited before coming to your website or landing page. This is a critical metric when evaluating ad campaigns. A source could be a search engine, mobile app or social network.
Medium: The source category that brought a user to your site. The medium could be a digital ad, a referral or organic traffic from a search engine. This metric tells you which elements of a campaign are performing best.
Organic: Unpaid traffic sources to your website that come from search engines. Websites often see more organic sources than landing pages. However, campaigns that run for a long period of time start to build organic source traffic.
Tagging: Placing a snippet of code on each page of your website for the purpose of tracking analysis metrics, including number of page visits, time on page, etc.
Adam Baer is the digital marketing analyst with Pannos Marketing, Bedford, N.H. Pannos is a communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions.
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.