Chris Raines: Hey there. Welcome to Episode 26. I had to reference a year, 26 of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast. My name is Chris, and this is Michael.
Michael Utley: Hey everybody.
Chris Raines: And today, Michael, we're going to talk about KPIs (key performance indicators), specifically KPIs related to your website. Michael, the reason this is so important is because we can talk about traffic all day long impressions all day long, but they're really not KPIs as it relates to your business. So we're talking about things that are close to making money and being profitable. So whether that's sales, whether that's appointment requests, or whether that's whatever it is, we're going to talk about how to best handle KPIs, how to set them up, how to monitor them, and how to succeed with your website beyond impressions and clicks.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And first step is setting your priorities, knowing what your priorities are, and making sure that you have everything tied together to manage around those priorities. So there are a lot of companies that don't sell anything on the internet. They may be using the internet to engage folks, to introduce their brand, and to basically educate them and make them know that a service is available.
Chris Raines: I would say most businesses.
Michael Utley: Yeah. A lot of businesses are like that.
Chris Raines: Every local business.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Any kind of local service business, you may be doing ecommerce or taking online orders or even restaurants, driving people to an app or to call or to place an order online. But in general, a lot of the businesses that use the internet for marketing, even a lot of our B2B customers in what we do, they're often just trying to educate, inform and get maybe at the end of the day, a sales lead, but that's really different.
Michael Utley: So number one is understanding what your priorities are and this is funny, but it may not be obvious to everyone. Even inside of an organization, there are often different sets of assumptions with people's different levels of sophistication of your sales funnels. They may not know what the sales team has done to really discern and understand the best ideal customer and that they're not somebody who necessarily shows up on the website and five minutes later is calling or filling out a form. There may be multiple touches. So understanding your sales funnel and then what the extent or the closest thing to a transaction or closest thing to the money for you is going to be possible on the internet. So just understanding what are we trying to accomplish. Are we doing online sales? Are we doing lead generation or are we just doing branding and awareness?
Michael Utley: What's the extent of what's possible for us as a company with the internet, and then understanding how to optimize around that. And then a real missed opportunity that we see quite often is not getting everything tied together and integrated with your analytics so that you can actually see and manage to that event. If the thing that is possible on the internet that's closest to the money for you is to generate a sales lead, how many times have we had somebody come to us with a website or a campaign or a set of ideas and they've got really great tracking of their website traffic. Maybe we start tracking their rankings and search engines. They've got a lot of different KPIs around their advertising campaign and they know how many form fills they're getting, but then the phone number is just going to some dumb phone number that they think is like their phone number and we've had it for years and we're not even tying that in to get it connected to the analytics.
Michael Utley: It's a really common situation that half of the activity around what a company says is their most important thing to do with the internet is not really even being tracked. And so getting phone and email tracked and integrated either to your Google Analytics or your other platforms, absolutely critical. And then Chris, let's take this further. What are Google Analytics Goals and how do we use those to tie into setting KPIs?
Chris Raines: Yeah. That flows in nicely with what you just talked about like everything that's possible to do on the site, we should have a handle on and be tracking. And you can do that through a thing called Google Analytics Goals. And I think with Google Analytics... what is it? Forthcoming out. They're going to change that to say conversions, but it's the same thing. And it's ways that you can track all of those things, so everything from contact form fills to phone calls, which you talked about. You can even track when someone clicks a download button for downloading a PDF or something like that, time onsite, video views. There's almost nothing that you can't track if you set it up correctly. I know I've worked with clients where I come in and I'll say, "How many phone calls are you getting from the website?" And they'll say, "Oh, about 20 a month," and then I'll go into Google Analytics and there's no goal set up, so like how do you know that? Some of those phone calls can be coming from somebody that shared your phone number to somebody else, the yellow pages that people still use that.
Michael Utley: Sometimes those are just the calls that made it through a poor user experience, incoming phone chirp network and made it all the way through to a tracking sheet. Sometimes those are half of the reality.
Chris Raines: So table stakes for all this stuff is setting up your tracking properly. And the benefit of that, of not just sticking your finger in the air, you can always go to your website data and say, look at how many form fills you got, and that's helpful. But running that through Analytics tells you where it came from, what region it came from, what device they were using and the channel they came through. Did they come through LinkedIn? Did they come through a Google organic search? Did they come through Bing? It ties all that together and gives you a real sense of where the action's happening on your website. And the only way to do that is by setting up these goals within Google Analytics. So making sure that when you look in your Google Analytics dashboard or not your dashboard, but your access and making sure that everything that matters to you on the website, phone call, form fill, ebook download, whatever it is for you is tracked. And then you can start to optimize. You can't optimize what you can't measure and track.
Chris Raines: So Google Analytics Goals, make sure they're set up and set up properly.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And I would add a little tag under that. Avoid the trap of buying into an expensive marketing automation platform. They're great if you're ready to do a serious inbound marketing or sequences of emails if you're ready to use the things that they're good at, but with GA, Google Analytics, you can actually fix a lot of these gaps for free. You can actually connect all these things and get it all working. So avoid the trap of buying a more sophisticated marketing automation platform because you're really buying the idea of getting your house in order. You can get your house in order with Google Analytics or with your platform before you get into more sophisticated marketing. Use the tools you have until what you want to do is greater than what that tool can provide and then move to another tool.
Chris Raines: Michael, let's have you take this next one. Pick your marketing KPIs for better return on investment.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah. This kind of builds off something we hinted at in the earlier segment. We can always imagine that there's a set of customers out there and they're coming into our sales phone. They were wearing the brand. They were looking at pricing options they're ready to buy. And so we develop a sense of what goes on with the customer journey, but it's important remember that for the most part, for a lot of businesses, only a portion of that is happening on the internet or on a particular page of your website or on a particular landing page experience. So understanding exactly what things you want to drive up, what are the numbers in the sequence that are the chunk points that everyone who becomes a customer is going to get through this one chokepoint or this one point of contact that you can really understand and focus on driving up.
Michael Utley: For us, it's qualified leads. We work with a lot of companies that are doing lead generation on the internet, a lot of B2B, a lot of healthcare, a lot of construction, a lot of home services, the trades. You work a lot in health and wellness. And so between our companies, we have a lot of folks who are trying to get a lead. So just using that as an example, it's easy to have form fills and consider that a lead, but if you really want to cut out confusion, you can actually say, "Wait a second, is this a lead, or is that a qualified lead?" And so then you've made a real distinction that's really profound so that you're not so subject to the waves of distraction that can happen with the complexity of the internet, with random form fills, with duplicates and you're really measuring something that everybody agrees is important. If we drove up qualified leads, it would really change us as a company. And so using the common sense of what really matters to understand what do we really want, that's a really big factor. Another one is on traffic. Earlier, you used the word hits and somebody else said-
Chris Raines: This is like old school. That's why I used it.
Michael Utley: Almost stopped everything.
Chris Raines: How many hits are we getting?
Michael Utley: Yeah. But local SEO, entrepreneur, and innovator, John Hinshaw recently put on Twitter, "How many hits does your website make?" And I think he was just trolling, right? But yeah. Thinking about traffic versus traffic that's relevant. This is a really good one. So I really like in area traffic, traffic that's in your geographic area as opposed to website visits. That's a really good way to go from hits, which is not a real thing to are these people. And so you're really coming down to removing noise and getting away from the handles that people commonly use to describe KPIs to things that are closer to the money and real, real things for the world that you work in and really represent success. All right, Chris, talk to us. This is an area where you and I have spent a lot of investment and energy over recent years to get really good at, but could you talk to us about creating marketing dashboards?
Chris Raines: Yeah. So this is just to me, it's a way to, so we talked about using goals to track everything and get a handle on what's happening, measurement. And then a dashboard is just measuring that over time. So you take all of the data that you gather, say for January. We're in January 2021 right now, probably February when this is aired, but it could be as simple as a Google Sheet where it's monthly columns on the top and all the metrics that matter to you on the bottom so you can kind of see how you're tracking over time and see what needs to be addressed, what's working, what's not and just developing a practice, even if it's rudimentary like a spreadsheet. Now, if you wanted to go further, you could hire an agency for your marketing and they'll put it together for you.
Michael Utley: We have a whole single login dashboard called Apogee Metrics. We don't really market under that name, but we bring Google Analytics, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, custom metrics. So it's all on one platform, one login.
Chris Raines: One private link where everybody... not to pitch Apogee Metrics, but like... So if you want to get fancy with it, you could use Google Data Studio or Tableau, or one of these other platforms that are a little bit complicated to use. But if you can get your handle on it, you could bring up a live dashboard that can show you in real-time what all of your metrics are doing. The point is whether you use Google Sheets or a professionalized solution is develop a regular routine, a cadence of maybe it's monthly, where you're sitting down and you're putting your data in and saying, "How did we do this month compared to last month? What's the overall trend? Are website conversions going up or down? What's happening with phone calls. Oh, why did we get four phone calls last month when the month before we got 20? What's going on there?" So it helps you to see patterns and to really get a sense for not only where you are, but where you've been and the trajectory of things. So developing that habit of creating a marketing dashboard and sticking to it even if it's simplified is really important in terms of getting a handle on what's going on in your business.
Michael Utley: Yeah. And most of how we think, we're thinking about monthly numbers, annual numbers, and then... Yeah, I'll talk about this as kind of a next segment to build on marketing dashboards. We really liked the idea of developing awareness across your organization of your analytics. It's not always the case that everyone in your organization has the same set of assumptions about how the internet works and what it means to the company. So they may not all be sensitized to some things that you want to promote and actually see happen more often.
Chris Raines: Can I interject one? This is based on what you said. So you might think you might care about leads, but what do salespeople care about? Qualified leads.
Michael Utley: That's right.
Chris Raines: So you might be in your dashboard bragging about leads if you're in what part of the company and the marketing side, but your salespeople are going like, "I don't care if there's 100 leads. 60% of those were trash," so that means you want to include qualified leads in your dashboard. Sorry to interrupt, but-
Michael Utley: No, that's exactly right what you said. And to build on what you're saying, leads are a little bit like hits. What is a lead? So sometimes if a company makes an investment, maybe in using a database for doing some email marketing, they may sort of consider all those outreaches as leads. Well, they're not. And the salespeople are going to say, "Wait, what is this stuff? You're giving me just cold information. This is just data. These aren't leads." And so once you start to promote, these are the numbers we're looking at, you may have some people kind of push back and say, "Hey, that's not really what matters," and that's where it gets interesting because then you're working as an organization to say, "Hey, what really makes us better? What really benefits us? At the end of the day, what's a real win?"
Chris Raines: And so then you got leads, qualified leads, on-site quotes given...
Michael Utley: Yep. Pricing.
Chris Raines: Sales. Then you could really build your funnel and track it over time. That's where it gets really interesting and really effective.
Michael Utley: Yeah. In my sales funnel, we don't consider it a lead unless it's a qualified lead and there's essentially it's on a path for request for pricing. And one of our stages in our funnel is a request for pricing or actually pricing sent. And so, yeah it's a very good kind of comparison. So yeah, we've had so many interesting conversations around this with companies because here's what happens. Here's what's crazy. Everybody in every level of an organization has a slightly different set of motives. Sometimes the C-suite is very focused on appearances and they know that the board is a little bit checked out, but these traffic numbers always got to move in the right direction. So when a Google Core update happens and you maybe cut out a lot of out-of-service area traffic, suddenly they've got an emergency on their hands because they haven't been working from the best possible way of articulating what's happening on the site.
Michael Utley: Hey, traffic is going up. Yeah. A lot of it's out of traffic, but they don't know that. They wouldn't understand it. They're not people with Google Analytics data.
Chris Raines: Sometimes they're very the bottom line oriented. I would say maybe more often than not they're like, "I don't care how many hits you got. I care about how many new customers we have, how many customers did we lose, and what's the bottom line."
Michael Utley: That's right. So being able to discern what are the actual real levers that drive the numbers that matter most and then what we're doing with a lot of folks is setting up even a regular pulse information. So something that I think is very valuable is looking at year over year. We do a lot of SEO and this is kind of a slow cooker type of tactic. It's best when it's invested in consistently month after month for years at a time. Sort of new content that you put on your website kind of builds up every month. You're sort of building more stairs to go higher and higher, but sometimes you have to give that a little bit of time and see it. And so if you want to correct for your own seasonality, you can look at year over year.
Michael Utley: So creating a sense across your organization of the things that everybody thinks are a big deal. Seeing if the snarky folks in the programmer pit will poke holes in your logic or if the sales team will sort of push back on certain things and say, "Hey, these leads aren't as hot as you think they are," those are all helpful. Treat all those as a gift and try to incorporate those into really identifying and creating a conversation around which KPIs are really going to matter.
Michael Utley: All right. Hey, thanks for being on this episode, how to use online marketing KPIs well.
Chris Raines: Smash the subscribe, that's what the YouTubers say.
Michael Utley: Smash that subscribe. We don't care if you smash it, you can just click it.
Chris Raines: Click it gently. Be nice.
Michael Utley: That's fine. Don't mess up your equipment or anything, your computer. All right. Hey, thanks. We'll see you on the next one.