Managing Your Digital Channels with Metrics

Carol Evenson
Guest Contributor

Just as shopper metrics are critical for your brick-and-mortar stores, metrics for your digital channels will help you identify strengths to further leverage and opportunities for ongoing continuous improvement.

Paying close attention to e-commerce metrics will add strength and resilience to the digital channels of your retailing business. What gets measured gets managed, and what doesn’t get measured tends to run wild. You want to know exactly how your business is performing compared to your expectations.

You don’t need to become a digital marketing expert in order to take advantage of the natural data your digital channels generate. Just as with your brick-and-mortar stores, a simple approach to data is sufficient to add significant value to your business.

If you’ve been getting by without tracking your e-commerce statistics so far, this is a huge opportunity. Using data will enable you to make smarter decisions while spending less time on the decision-making process.

How to Compare and Choose Metrics

Not all metrics are created equal. Watching the right data in the right way can lead you down a path to increased profits and happier shoppers. Other forms of data measurement may mislead you, having you think you’re doing the right things only to be surprised by bad results down the line. It is essential that you know how to distinguish good metrics from bad.

Some metrics are foolproof. Like shopper traffic to your stores, website traffic is a great example of a key performance indicator (KPI) that can be relied upon to give you good information. Knowing how many people are visiting your site, and how long they are staying for, is important for quantifying the steps of your sales funnel.

Another KPI to consider is your conversion rate. Once somebody visits your e-commerce store, how likely are they to spend money before leaving? How much do they spend on average? Are there any conflating factors, such as time of day or time of year? These are metrics to keep a close eye on.

One last metric that every business should watch is their email sign-up rates. Email lists, along with more modern text/phone lists, are the best way for any business to keep in touch with its customers. Nobody can take away an email list from a business, whereas social media platforms come and go all the time. Measuring email sign-ups and conversion rates is a good way to track your business’ success in marketing and community building.

Simplicity is a Strength

Your goal is to use a suite of metrics that will actually make sense to you during the natural flow of business. When you are busy and have a lot to do in the day, will you be able to look at metrics for five to 10 minutes and draw useful conclusions?

If using your e-commerce data is a struggle, the data is unlikely to be truly useful. Metrics you understand are always more useful than the ones you don’t.

When a business is tracking way too many metrics, it is a sign that they are tracking down the symptoms of their results rather than the root causes. One may measure everything from time spent on videos and pages, to locations of buyers of different products, to age and gender differences in purchasing behaviors, and far beyond.

How likely is all of this information to be useful? What if there is a single root cause, such as the location of the “buy now” button on the web page? Measuring the simplest things can allow for massive action with minimal change to the system.

Consider how this works in other areas of business. Your company may employ one financial advisor, while Facebook employs a team of hundreds of accountants and beyond. That’s because a large business deals with tax laws and investments that are mind-boggling, spanning tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, a small growing business can work with one good financial advisor to ensure its basic financial strategy is sustainable and meeting all legal requirements.

Data management works in much the same way. Get very good at measuring a simple array of metrics that teach your business the essential information it needs. Limit yourself to that which you can truly act upon.

Choose Your Interface Wisely

The way that data is displayed makes a huge difference in how that data is interpreted. If a web interface for e-commerce analytics is confusing to you, it’s no good for you.

Make it easy for yourself. You shouldn’t have to spend weeks reading and studying just to make heads or tails of a few KPIs. On the other hand, you do need to be willing to commit a little time, such as a few hours, to read the documentation and learn the basics of how the e-commerce platform you are using works.

In general, many data analytics issues are more tactical than strategic. It’s not that the business operators don’t know how to identify good metrics in their heads. The problem is that people are getting confused at the nuts and bolts of how to integrate these tools into their business.

Follow the two day rule. Be willing to read, learn, and explore your data interface for two days as you try to understand how it works. After that, if you are still confused, it may be time to move on to a new interface or try a different visual approach to the data. It’s worth it to try again and again, exploring half a dozen interfaces if that is what it takes. Don’t rest until you arrive at a solution that you’ll be happy to use for years to come.

Keeping Track of e-Commerce Metrics

Once you have a sustainable approach to capturing and measuring useful data for your e-commerce business, everything will get better. It will be easy to identify the biggest opportunities and risks facing your business in the foreseeable future.

It is well worth it to take the time and energy to get these metrics and interfaces set up. If you are not a technologically savvy individual, you may want to recruit one of your more knowledgeable employees to jump in and help out. Whatever it takes, use data to strengthen your business. You will not regret it.

About the writer: Carol Evenson is a former real estate agent, current business consultant, and blogger mom. She enjoys sharing her expertise through her published works, and spends her days busy in the business world. 

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