Why Do Metrics Matter?

Metrics allow us to measure our progress toward goals and ensure our efforts are making an impact. Without metrics, it’s impossible to know if our hard work or strategy is paying off. But what measurements of success matter? Of all the information and analytics available, which metrics should we look at the most?

Organic Social Media

Social media analytics offer many different metrics. Which ones matter the most depend on your campaign goals. If we think of social media as an extension of our awareness and content marketing efforts, we care most about the reach and impressions of our posts. Reach refers to how many different individuals saw a post or or piece of media, while impressions show the number of times someone saw a post (regardless of whether or not the same person or account viewed the media/post many times).

What about engagement? For most brand goals, engagement likely isn’t the best indicator of success when it comes to social media. While post engagement will help posts succeed, it’s best to measure those metrics using reach and impression performance.

Paid Social Media

Paid advertising on social media is similar to organic social media when it comes to prioritizing metrics involving impressions and reach.

Additional key metrics should be based on your campaign goals. For example, you might look at cost per click if you care about web traffic, or cost per conversion if you have a relevant tracking pixel installed and want to generate leads from your ads.

Keep in mind that you can set up many different ads and test various creative and copy against each other. You’ll likely find that some creative and copy performs better than others. Make changes on what you discover so you spend your money on your best material.

Google Analytics

In general, looking at three main metrics is helpful:

  1. Traffic. This includes total traffic, number of users, and number of unique and repeat users on a site. This is a good way to evaluate your site overall. Are people coming to your site and finding it helpful? Do they come back? How does your bounce rate look?
  2. Source. Do users come from search? Social media? Do they come directly to your site? This breakdown will tell you something about the intent of a user. A user coming in from search is, of course, more likely to be looking for something specific. Where your traffic comes from could help you determine the best ways to promote your site further.
  3. Time on page. Different pages should have different results on page time. On a content page, you want longer page time. On a reference page, you would expect a shorter time on page. Longer time spent on a reference page might even indicate that some information is hard to find for users.

Last, combine these things. Are social users bouncing immediately? If so, maybe you should promote something else. Do users from one source or another spend longer time on a page? If so, is that a good thing?

Note that when you evaluate the success of different web pages (or even different websites), it’s important to keep the different goals in mind. For instance, on our student story site, Journeys, time spent on the page matters a great deal. We do not expect the site to generate as much traffic as some other sites, but we want users to engage and connect with the content. Thus, time spent on the site should be key to evaluating one story against another.