Understanding Website Traffic
The ability to anonymously measure a user’s interaction with a digital property like a website or app is what helps separate digital marketing from traditional marketing. In the past, approximations using tools like focus groups or statistical sampling were our best guess for how marketing campaigns might resonate with a target market.
For many companies such primary market research was simply too expensive to invest in. So, marketers would hope for the best with mass media buys and attempt to measure (unsuccessfully) which channels drove sales. Was it our print campaign? Our radio? Our TV spots? A combination of everything?
The feedback loop for this investment was long and leaky at best.
Not All Engagement Is Equal
To build on our discussion of Paid, Earned, and Owned media the topic of quantity is of great interest. It is human nature to view growth at a basic level and, as long as the trend on the chart is moving up and to the right over time, assume all is well.
Quick metrics like overall site traffic, Facebook likes or Twitter followers provide a quick and easy number but they can easily mask true engagement.
Let’s say it again: Remember, not all engagement is created equal.
If the digital marketer focuses exclusively on general metrics like overall traffic or followers, much can be missed.
Instead, we must dig deeper and see what people are doing. How are they interacting with our digital property via their clickstreams? We’ll dive into that in a second but first…
What’s a clickstream?
This term refers to the “digital fingerprints” that users leave behind when they interact with a website. Each click (or finger tap) on things like a button or navigational element is able to be recorded using some sophisticated technology behind the scenes on a website or app.
A clickstream is the recording of the parts of the screen a computer user clicks on while web browsing or using another software application. As the user clicks anywhere in the webpage or application, the action is logged on a client or inside the web server, as well as possibly the web browser, router, proxy server or ad server. (Source)
Clickstream data analysis allows us to get deep insights into how users are interacting with the digital experience. This feedback loop provides the foundation for evaluating all our digital marketing efforts. Whether we are using paid media for buying ads on Facebook to hyper-target our users or leveraging owned media and seeking to rank on Long Tail keywords, analytics gives us the tools to measure the quality of these sources and compare them to our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
In this section, we will split our Measurement focus into two areas: Quantitative (measuring the hard numbers) and Qualitative (measuring the people).
As with most topics in this text, we are merely scratching the surface of some fairly complicated subjects. This is especially true for web analytics. Our goal is not to necessarily make you an analytics expert but rather to give you an introductory overview. We would always encourage you to dig deeper on particular subject areas and this website covers digital marketing fundamentals.