Web Analytics 2024: Increase Your Marketing Effectiveness by Tracking the Right Things

Daniel Bianchini // Co-founder

Tracking in 2024 is complicated due to third-party cookies, inconsistent algorithms and an overwhelming amount of information. Even when tracking a set of metrics, marketers often find themselves questioning the data results.

In fact, in a recent Common Ground poll, 47% of respondents said they don’t trust the accuracy of their data.

But there are ways to mitigate this. Web analytics remain a key essential tool in 2024 and the trick is to make them as simple as possible. By focussing on the 20% of data that matters, marketers can unlock the key to hugely increasing overall business growth.

In this article, we’ll look at the what, when and why of tracking, mistakes to avoid, and factors to consider during a PPC or SEO campaign. Armed with this knowledge, any marketer can improve their effectiveness and ROI.

Benefits of Analytics Tracking

Prioritising analytics tracking is necessary to prove the effectiveness and worth of any campaign. It can inform further optimisations, provide insight into user intent, and increase ROI.

These are obvious benefits of analytics tracking, but there are plenty of easy missteps to make that mean many companies often miss the fundamentals of data analysis.

Putting yourself in the user’s shoes

Following customer journeys from start to completion offers invaluable insight into their needs, pain points and approaches to purchasing.

It’s easier to see points of engagement, cross-channel activity, and identify weaknesses in the campaign funnel. Beyond simply measuring the quantity of website visitors, analytics tools can also assess the quality of traffic coming from different channels. With this knowledge, adjusting campaigns to ensure they’re answering user needs and driving meaningful traffic becomes far clearer.

Conversions and ROI analysis

The other important part of the user journey is whether they actually convert at the end of it, and what the ROI or ROAS is. However, cross-platform movement and cookie policies disrupt tracking, making it challenging to connect all the dots.

The trick here is to use third-party sites like Google Analytics and layer CRM information on top for more effective tracking. That way, marketers can get the bigger picture on customer trends and patterns, as well as identify any issues or points in the journey that are causing them to not convert.

In the case of PPC and SEO campaigns in particular, any micro conversions along the way help evaluate the full effectiveness of the strategy and its value for money. It’s a pivotal point in turning a customer into an MQL (marketing qualified lead) and can inform the rest of the campaign’s changes.

Common tracking issues

Not connecting analytics and CRMs is something we see all the time, and its impact can’t be understated.

In not doing this, over 70% of marketers can’t track their website conversions through to a sale.

The type of industry can massively affect how easy this is for a business. E-commerce stores, for example, will find it easy to follow a website conversion through to a sale. But B2B and SaaS companies will struggle a lot more.

In those industries, lead times are a lot longer and people are frequently passed between teams with offline components like demos and calls as part of the user journey. Most companies neglect to track during this stage due to general difficulties within their system, and thus lose valuable information on whether their conversions are resulting in that final sale.

That’s where systems like Hubspot come in. They can share tracking IDs with different platforms, like Google Analytics, to ensure a complete user journey.

If all this sounds obvious… it’s because it is. Half the time we’re aware of what we need to do, but need that extra push to actually implement it into our general workflow.

So, this is us doing just that.

Remember: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Different factors will determine the specific tracking for the PPC or SEO campaign.

The Common Factors That Determine What To Track

There are eight factors that allow marketers to choose the important analytics that will help them reach their goals.

The business itself

Depending on the business type, lifecycle stage and overall business needs, different analytics need to be evaluated.

In the case of a B2B SaaS company, for example, metrics like social media likes and shares aren’t meaningful. They likely won’t impact overall business conversions and other metrics, such as customer retention rates, are far more useful in actioning growth.

Likewise, depending where in the funnel a user is (if the business uses a funnel approach) will determine which analytics are most informative. What’s tracked at the top of the funnel should be very different from the metrics at the bottom. The same is true for demand generation strategies, which will need a mixture of marketing metrics that cover both traffic and brand awareness.

None of this is of any use, however, without being able to do something with the data.

Actionable insights and conversions

The most important thing to achieve from analytics tracking is actionable insights. Otherwise, the data looks nice, but is at its core, worthless.

When it comes to conversions, companies running PPC or SEO campaigns will need to customise their tracking strategies to account for longer lead times. Based on this, they can then make campaign adjustments at identified bottlenecks in the customer journey.

Any metric tracked shouldn’t just inform but provide insights that lead the business to ultimately alter and optimise its campaign approach. The type of lead is as important as the industry, the higher the quality of the lead, the more likely the chance of converting as it travels through the business lifecycle.

When choosing which factors to track, the question shouldn’t just be when and where in the process they are, but who they are. Audience personas help identify key users and approaches can be strategized around this to optimise return on investment (ROI).

Once that’s been decided, the next step in the process is to choose which metrics based on these factors are most beneficial to the company.

What should you track? Important metrics to consider

Assuming it’s a PPC or SEO campaign, the metrics chosen at each funnel stage should then align with overall business goals.

Brand visibility and reach

At the top of the funnel, optimisations and marketing metrics should centre around improving brand awareness and visibility.

Data like upward trends in keyword rankings, and overall impressions can prove that content is reaching a wide range of potential buyers. Tools like Google Search Console, Trends and SEMRush/Ahrefs will provide plenty of information to inform targeting, and two of them are free!

The best way to see how effective this is, is to split content tracking into branded and non-branded, to separately monitor the success of each side.

The value of this can’t be understated as it impacts the entire customer journey. By building out the top-of-the-funnel content to be informative and engaging, companies can see significant growth in visibility and organic traffic.

Getting traffic and engagement

When buyers start to engage personally, the metrics need to change. Especially in the case of PPC campaigns, metrics like cost-per-click and traffic help show if the content is luring people into learning more.

If they are, they should naturally progress to engaging directly with the brand, by undertaking a micro-conversion like downloading an ebook.

Now, we’ve already discussed the importance of micro-conversions but it bears further mention. This is ultimately the most important metric to track. It provides far more information than more “wishy-washy” metrics like bounce rate, sessions or scroll depth, which can fluctuate for any number of reasons.

It also indicates a high likelihood of the lead taking the next step to conversions and sales. At this point, the buyer should be entered into a CRM like Hubspot and matched with previous data from Google Analytics to fully track their journey.

Closing the loop:

This is the point where a marketer needs to see if the success of closing a sale was worth it. What’s the average order value? Was the ROAS good?

These are fundamental questions in a PPC campaign. It’s absolutely necessary to track these in order to determine if the funnel is not only appealing to users, but cost-effective. Ideally the higher the conversion rate, the lower the ROAS will be. And as always, when it comes to spending money to make money, there needs to be proof of success that stakeholders can see and appreciate.

By considering these factors, Common Ground reduced Alfresco’s cost-per-click by 162%, making the ROAS much higher.

Ad platforms will provide some of this information, but it’s only by looking at the whole picture that a campaign’s true effectiveness can be determined.

Using the best platforms

We’ve already mentioned Google Search Console, Hubspot, SEMrush/Ahrefs and Google Analytics; but there are a few other platforms worth investing in.

Some favourites here at Common Ground are:

  • Cookiebot
  • Agency Analytics
  • Calendly
  • Hotjar
  • Google Ads
  • Looker Studio
  • Supermetrics
  • Infinity Tracking

The initial cost for some software may seem high. But the return is invaluable, allowing a more complete picture of business strategies that lead to greater optimisations, and ultimately higher revenue.

We can’t stress enough that it’s more than worthwhile to put some money behind analytics tracking for the best results. Only 37% of people we asked during a Common Ground webinar pay for additional reporting tools.

This almost perfectly correlates with the previous statistic that 70% of marketers can’t track conversions through to sales. They’re missing important steps in the analytics journey. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to track without using third-party and cross-platform resources; which usually come with a price tag. This becomes even more apparent when part of the transaction is moved offline to other methods.

In fact, it’s one of the biggest mistakes people make with tracking data. Let’s look at a few more.

Common Web Analytics Mistakes

Assuming the business is tracking web analytics at all, even the most experienced marketers can make small mistakes that impact their data.

One of the favourites is focussing on vanity metrics. It happens all the time, especially if those metrics look way better than the ones driving growth. To a stakeholder, 2,000 Facebook shares might sound far better than 100 email sign-ups.

But don’t overcompensate by going the other way and tracking everything either. Instead ask: “Does this metric relate to my goals and help me achieve them?” This simple question can lead to a re-evaluation of the important data for a business, from vanity metrics to actionable insights.

Data issues

Given that it’s already been established that few marketers trust the accuracy of their data, it’s unsurprising that analytics are sometimes taken with a pinch of salt. Wherever possible, take steps to mitigate any data loss, and assign values to conversions so their full potential is clearly defined.

Putting users in the right context

Sudden peaks and troughs in the success of a campaign can be from outside sources. In businesses like B2B SaaS, for example, no one is making huge sales during the last week of December. Everyone’s on holiday, and campaign adjustments won’t make them rush into work to purchase.

Even just acknowledging this natural drop in success rates can help mentally reposition a campaign to narrow in on times that should be targeted. Segmenting users and putting them through the right channels and funnel is instrumental in balancing out times like these.
Quality and frequency

One £20,000 conversion is worth more than 20 £500 ones. The second figure may look better at first glance than a single line of revenue, but both the lead and monetary value are higher. They have a much higher likelihood of further conversions, making them a far higher-quality lead too. Understanding this and applying it to metrics will lead to adjustments in strategy that target those higher-performing leads.

All this is said, however, with the caveat and expectation that analytics are being monitored consistently and in context. Otherwise, the data will be unfairly skewed, leading to poor campaign adjustments.

Overall, web analytics aren’t going away any time soon. They’ll continue to be an absolutely essential component of any campaign, and the primary way of informing strategy and improving ROI.

In 2024, not much will change in terms of this, except for those who read this article and now feel they have a better overall understanding. By avoiding common pitfalls, understanding business needs, and tracking the right metrics, anyone can set themselves up for campaign success.

If you want to learn even more about web analytics in 2024, you can check out our full webinar, with analytics expert and Common Ground co-founder, Matthew Taylor, here.

Daniel Bianchini // Co-founder

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