Big Impact Without Big City Prices: Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Over the years, I’ve worked with many agencies – both big and small. I’ve had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the table, as a client and on an agency team. And each time, I have learned this simple truth: cost may not always equate to the value that’s provided.

Cost ≠ Value

In a past marketing role at Sovena USA, I was on a team that was challenged with launching a new olive oil product line in the retail space.

The olive oil business was, and still is, an old industry. For a new player, this would be a brutal, uphill battle as we were pitted against long-standing brands and market share leaders Filippo Berio and Bertolli. Not to mention our distribution in top retail locations, such as Walmart, Hannaford, and Giant, had store shelves that were already crowded. The competition was stiff all around.

We knew we needed help. We needed someone who had experience that we could leverage as we made our way through this new territory.

Sovena USA’s parent company, Sovena Group, is one of the largest olive oil companies in the world. Based in Portugal, their European brand, Oliveira da Serra, is like what Heinz ketchup is to Americans. Everyone knows it, everyone buys it, everyone uses it.

Because of the size and level of brand recognition that Sovena Group carries, as well as the close relationships it had already established with the agencies it used, we were able to get a meeting on the books with a U.S. branch of one of the largest ad agencies in the world.

Talk about pulling out all the stops. This ad agency won’t even have conversations with companies who aren’t willing and able to spend $800,000 in advertising – and that doesn’t include service fees.

After a few months of conversations and strategy planning sessions, we formed a partnership with this agency. The team was brilliant. It consisted of creative, futuristic thinkers who put heavy emphasis on visuals and messaging. It made sense for our brand.

They did great work, but boy, was it a lot of dough! I couldn’t help wonder if we could have reached the same results and successes with an agency that didn’t come with the big-name fees.

Big City Dreams

The hourly rate for marketing and advertising agencies can range. It depends on many factors including size, reputation, services provided, and more.

But there is one thing that always remains true – agencies from bigger cities charge more. That’s a fact.

Here are the ranges in fees for agencies based out of New York City:

  • Chief creative director: $775 to $849/hour
  • Executive account planning director: $528 to $541/hour
  • Account service director: $540 to $598/hour
  • Executive media director: $493 to $500/hour

Agencies in smaller markets will charge minimally 30 to 50% less than those levels.

Rather than just looking at size and location, businesses should explore an agency’s talent, processes, work ethic, and quality of work when making the choice on who to partner with. This is even more so the case if budget is a concern and you can’t afford to throw money away, simply because the firm is from Manhattan.

Here’s why you should look more closely at an agency and its rates before signing a contract:

1) Larger Agency Doesn’t Mean More Staff Members Working For You

Depending on the size of your contract, a small account team at the agency will likely be formed. This usually consists of an account manager or project manager, possibly a creative director depending on the scope of work, and then some sort of execution-based team members, such as copywriter, social media marketer, web developer, specific to the work that will be performed.

This is the thing. Just because a firm may employee 500, that doesn’t mean you have all of those staff members at your disposal. Most of them have their own client accounts. Nine times out of ten, you’ll have work performed by your small team, which puts you on the same playing field as a small- or medium-sized agency who will do the same for you.

Before signing a contract, seriously consider the members of your account team and the talent that’s represented, rather than just looking at the agency’s overall employment number.

2) The Big City Mentality Means Absolutely Nothing

Being from a small city in Upstate NY, I’ve often been wowed when I visit big metropolises. The heavy traffic, the skyscrapers, the commotion, it’s pretty cool if it’s not something you experience all the time. But, all that excitement doesn’t translate to better quality work.

Why should you pay a premium simply because of the mailing address of the office? It doesn’t add up.

Instead, look at the education, experience, and accolades of the team members who will be assigned to your account. What type of degrees do they have? What was the last company they worked for and what duties did they hold? What type of certifications have they earned? How long have they worked at the company?

As long as they have the know-how to handle your account and get the job done well, it doesn’t matter if they are from Los Angeles, CA or Little Falls, NY.

Your hourly fees from agencies in small to mid-sized markets will be much more reasonable – and you don’t have to sacrifice quality or experience because of it.

3) Don’t Overlook The Attention You’re Given

At one point in my career, I was on the other side of the table. The organization I was with used two agencies – one for public relations and another for graphic design.

The PR firm was relatively large. They had six locations (up to nine now) and employed 200+. We didn’t have a big budget so we were the low man on the totem pole. We often had a tough time booking meetings because, we assumed, the needs of their larger clients took priority.

On the other hand, as a boutique shop that employed five, our design company was ready and willing to drop whatever they were doing to come to our aid. They rearranged their schedules to fit ours and turned around deliverables very quickly. The amount of attention we were given was fantastic.

Don’t overlook the agencies who will take pride in a relationship with you, welcome the opportunity to have your business, and will work hard to keep it. But, if you’re someone who enjoys being treated like you’re second-rate, then, by all means, risk it with a large agency.

4) Focus On Your Needs, Not The Needs Of Others

Many large agencies put heavy emphasis on creative work. This might include branding, logo development, strategy and messaging, storytelling, video production, photo and art concepts, etc. The thing is, most businesses – especially in B2B – have other priorities.

Not to downplay the importance of creative (because I know how important it is), but companies with sales teams starving for leads, long buying cycles, and extreme pressure from top-level management can’t be distracted with the next cool commercial that might win an ADDY Award. They need an agency that’s focused on helping them in the here and now. Less brainstorming, more action, with total emphasis on getting work done.

This is a major difference I’ve found. Compared to large agencies, mid-sized agencies can usually drive more meaningful, hard results for clients. One survey found that the most popular services featured among agencies across all regions included: SEO, PPC, social media, content, and analytics. If you need leads, work with an agency that’s going to offer a custom solution that consists of those type of services and is focused on your goals, not the next hottest trend or commercial.

5) Make Sure They Prove Their Worth

According to MarketingProfs, 82% of marketing executives say that they expect campaigns to be measured, yet only 18% to 26% actually are.

Marketing and advertising have matured over the years into industries that are less about art and more about science. What I mean is that our work can be, and should be, measured and proven.

Regardless if efforts focus on search engine optimization, online advertising, or lead nurturing, you must understand the amount of money you’ve put in (both out of pocket and time) and measure against the revenue that’s driven.

Forget the traditional efforts where you have only estimates of eyeballs that have seen your site or ad. Those are pointless. In the digital world, everything is trackable. It’s the only way to have a clear understanding of cost vs. profit.

It is so important to work with an agency that understands your business and its goals, and can put measurement practices into play to help you measure a return on investment.

In your initial discussions, question the agency team about their knowledge base in analytics and tracking. Inquire about the software and tools they have in their repertoire, and ask to see what positive results they’ve generated for other clients like yourself.

Today, measurement is the gold standard of digital marketing. You should feel good about your partnership with an agency and not feel the need to second-guess its worth.

Closing the Deal

All agencies are not created equal. Higher cost does not mean higher quality, nor does it signify more quantity.

According to 4A’s, the leading trade association representing the advertising agency business, agencies should charge based on several criteria, including reputation, service offering, and quality.

They use a great car analogy to represent this – Jaguar charges more for its cars because of its reputation for quality. Both it and a Ford get you from point A to point B in the same way. But one is able to offer a higher price point because they’ve earned the right to do so.

Before signing on the dotted line with a big agency simply because of its size or location, look deeper inside the walls. Ask around. What’s the agency’s reputation? Who will be working on your account? What’s their talent and experience? What type of services are being performed and what type of results will be seen? Finally, is this a partner who’s in it for the long haul? One who will deeply understand your business, take risks and put in the hard work right alongside you?

The best agencies are ones who you view as a partner, not a vendor.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

Choosing the Right Live Streaming Video Platform for Your Business

Live streaming is the bright shiny new object that all brands are chasing after. First, it was social media, then it was mobile, now it’s getting in front of audiences with real-time video content. Traditional TV viewership has declined 44% since 2012 as a result of the popularity of online video content, according to ZDNet. Instead of “rah-rah, look at us,” the best brands are leveraging live video to educate, entertain, and show something off that users find valuable.

There are essentially two areas that need to be thought-through before hitting “go live.” First, the strategy. Why are you choosing to do this? What value are you providing and what goal(s) do you hope to accomplish? What will you be saying? How often will you broadcast? Who will be the brand spokesperson? All of these of these questions (and more) should be identified and documented in a strategy/planning doc.

The second area is the technology/platform you’ll be using to manage the broadcast. There are pros and cons to each platform, and it will likely depend on your current audience (where your most/best fans are) and the type of equipment you have. Or, you could choose different platforms for different situations. Let’s consider your options.


Pros: Most popular, desktop or mobile broadcasting, commenting and sharing enhances virility, notification to followers, archive videos, great for longer broadcasts (4 hours max)

Cons: Technical issues happen, if you manage multiple pages then cross-publishing can confuse some content creators

Recommendations: Use when you have a large (or devoted) fanbase. Create a Facebook event in advance for the live stream, tease it and promote it ahead of time, go live. After the broadcast, have the video exist in your feed/library and boost it to get more out of your efforts.


Pros: Easy for users to view and play, can be found through hashtags and search, can be found within Periscope’s app in its location map for extra reach

Cons: Mobile-only posting, it gets lost in the shuffle like everything else on Twitter

Recommendation: Use when you have a devoted Twitter following, and you’re at an event where you want to give an “inside look.” Keep it short and sweet. Okay if the videos are rough and raw. Can publish here often. Reserve more exclusive content for Facebook or Instagram.


Pros: Still a hot, new feature, appears within the “Stories” area and can get more views than a normal video post, unlike Stories, you can broadcast up to an hour

Cons: Limited to mobile-only, limited to access only by app users (typically just your followers seeing the content), only accessible for 24 hours

Recommendation: Because of the timeliness of live videos and Stories on Instagram, it’s best to tease when you are going live through posts and Stories ahead of time. Remember, these are your best followers paying attention. Reserve for highly anticipated content: exclusive interviews, new product reveals, major company announcements, etc


Pros: Easy to set-up, archive video in your library, real-time comments, do not need to be a YouTube user to watch

Cons: Most businesses don’t have a ton of subscribers on YouTube, so you need a way to drive viewers

Recommendation: Use for longer video broadcasts if you aren’t active on Facebook, create a Live Event ahead of time so you can tease the broadcast link in ads, email campaigns, social media, etc. After running, leverage the archive version on your website and email campaigns.

Pros: Access to customer service, can embed video onto website, push to Facebook and YouTube simultaneously, ad-free

Cons: Costs money

Recommendation: Use if/when you are devoting a great deal of time, talent and money towards your live streaming program. If you are planning on broadcasting weekly and have thousands invested in equipment for a more professional quality look, go this route. It will allow you still to push your content to some of the above networks, but with added video production capabilities and support. 

Case Study: Live Streaming Lectures for CoreLife Eatery and Making the Change from YouTube to Facebook

The issue and set-up.

For years, CoreLife Eatery has hosted lectures inside of its restaurants. The team brings in credible authority figures from various fields (health, nutrition, fitness, medicine, etc) to speak to guests on educational topics. The events that take place inside of its Vestal, NY location have live guests and are also live streamed for online fans. Vestal was designed with live streaming in mind – it has a lecture hall, adjacent to the restaurant, and has professional video production equipment installed.

When we first started to live stream in 2016, Facebook hadn’t yet enabled the ability for brands to stream live via desktop. At the time, one could only broadcast from a mobile device. This just wasn’t feasible and would also produce a quality that wasn’t up to our standards. After research, we settled on YouTube.

Distribution became nightmarish.

The stream needed to go through YouTube but our audience resided on other social platforms – mainly Facebook (99% of it, in fact). Therefore, the links had to be shared on our Facebook location pages.

  • By the time the posts went out and started to gain traction, the hour-long live stream was over.
  • When we tried to boost the posts, by the time they were approved and received that extended reach, the live stream was over.
  • We also tried to send the live links out to our massive email distribution list. By the time emails were opened and clicked, the live stream was over.

Noticing a trend? The very nature of live video wasn’t allowing us enough time to promote.

View numbers were extremely low too – some videos were only watched live by about 20-40 people and watched later by another 70-100. The “CoreLife Lesson: Maximizing You Not” video, for example, has only 133 views to date. Attaining comments and responding to them on the YouTube chat board was also not very effective since we couldn’t pull comments into our third party social management tool (SproutSocial).

Not long after we started doing YouTube live streaming did Facebook open up its capabilities to live stream from desktop (meaning, you could now use full video equipment to broadcast). After giving ample time to YouTube, and testing various tactics, we realized it would be in our best interest to change our strategy.

We made the jump to Facebook Live.

We began with research in how Facebook Live works – particularly for brands. We then held a training session with the client who would be using the equipment on-site in Vestal to broadcast. They had a video encoding software called Wirecast that allowed the videos to be uploaded directly to Facebook. This software also allowed them to toggle between multiple camera angles and add lower thirds and other basic video production techniques.

We walked them through the process, granted them access to the Facebook brand page, established a sync with Wirecast, showed them how to create a title and description for the post, and tested.

Our sharing plan came into focus.

Since we had 25 Facebook location pages (and knowing that number continues to grow), we didn’t want to publish the video directly to all 25 locations. Though this is technically possible – it would require increased software costs (maybe even forcing them to purchase and learn a completely different video tool) and it required that we provide access to all Facebook pages to the client (which increased the risk of accidentally publishing and posting – which we always try to prevent).

Therefore, we decided to broadcast live only to the main brand page, and then we would be on standby to immediately share to all other 24+ location pages. Through that unique link, the live video would remain live on all pages where it was shared. In doing so, it allowed us to gather more views and more comments across all of our pages.

Commenting would exist as normal Facebook comments, meaning it would be aggregated inside of SproutSocial and our engagement team could more easily manage responses. Additionally, we have all of our Facebook pages connected and authorized to cross-post. This allows us to save the original video into the libraries of each of the location pages (something that is important to the client), so the videos can always be found later no matter what community a fan is from.

Here are some results.

In the first few live streams we broadcasted via Facebook, we saw more than a thousand views in real-time, and another several thousand after the live videos ended – since they continued to exist as videos in our Facebook feeds. The “CoreLife Eatery – Happiness Axis” video, for example, has gathered 6,718 views to date. That’s a 4950% increase from the example above that was broadcast via YouTube. We created an event for the live stream ahead of time, teased it on our Facebook pages, distributed an email to our fan base with the link, and managed comments from the video in real-time. If we boosted the live stream videos across our pages after the broadcast concluded, we would have seen even more impressive stats!

Overall, this adjusted strategy required some upfront work and training, but it has panned out much better from an upkeep standpoint and generated greater results. For us, it was a much more successful solution.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

Low-Cost, High-Value Marketing Ideas

There are thousands of articles out there on the best digital marketing tactics. How do you decide which ones make the most sense for your material handling company? It’s a big undertaking.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, too. Some of them – heck, maybe most of them – would fail you. And it might not be your fault.

Not all tactics work for every company. There’s a reason why street teams helped RedBull successfully launch the brand in the U.S. and why consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies continue to run free-standing inserts (FSIs) in Sunday newspapers. It makes sense for them. If they weren’t generating positive results, they would have cut those programs years ago.

There are many factors in deciding on the best marketing tactics for your business. They include:

  • Your industry
  • Your target audience
  • Your budget
  • Your resources
  • Your timeline

Our company has been working alongside material handling businesses for more than a decade, building marketing strategies and helping to carry out a variety of tactical efforts. We’ve learned a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t, what’s expensive, and what generates a healthy return on investment (ROI).

Here’s our secret list of low-cost, high-value marketing ideas for material handlers.

Local Optimization

Local optimization is the improvement of a brand’s presence in search engines, among local searchers. This includes ensuring Google MyBusiness and Bing Local pages are accurate and thoroughly built out. One should run a citation report to make sure that local listing websites feature correct and up-to-date information for your business. This can also include a program to encourage positive business reviews for your company. Finally, your website should be optimized through keywords, content, and metadata around geo-specific search terms. This will boost your rankings above competitors in the search engines, giving you an edge on the amount of free, organic traffic coming into your site. A recent study states that 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. These are hot leads. Act appropriately.

Expenses: Set-up and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased organic traffic, better search presence, improved brand reputation through reviews

Remarketing Ads

You have probably been on the receiving end of remarketing ads but may not know them by name. If you’ve ever shopped on a retail website, let’s say for a band t-shirt, and then noticed an ad for that same t-shirt while on a totally different website, that’s remarketing.

Through code and cookies, it recalls what web pages you’ve visited and advertisers are able to personalize ads based on that historical data. It’s genius. Consider past web visitors who have browsed your site in search of used forklifts. Employ remarketing to stay top of mind among these prospects and re-engage at a later date when they’re more ready to buy. It’s a pay-per-click model so you can control the budget. Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website.

Expenses: Recommendation of $500 – $1000/mo for ad costs through Google AdWords, management expenses

Outcomes: Increase leads, higher brand recall

[View our free slideshow on 10 reasons why your customers aren’t seeing your web content]


We live in a world where we value instant communication. We’ve been sensitized by SMS texting and social media and, generally speaking, customers are increasingly impatient. That’s especially the case when a prospect is suffering downtime due to faulty equipment, and he/she needs an answer…fast.

Consider implementing LiveChat on your site. Through this software, you can encourage web users to get in touch immediately with a customer service representative, rather than submit a form and wait hours or days to hear a response.

Plus, users can multi-task while they type, something very important to busy buyers. They can briefly describe their issues and get helpful information or begin moving forward with a purchase right then and there. From a buying sense, these are your hottest leads: they have a problem, and they need help now. Why delay that process? Some companies have seen improvements in conversion rates of 45% as a result of LiveChat.

Expenses: $60/mo for the software, set-up expenses, staff member(s) to manage customer service

Outcomes: Increase leads through the chat form, improved customer service, reduce wait time in the buying process

Automated Email Marketing

Most material handling companies have been in business a long time and I bet yours has too. Over that time, you’ve collected contact information from many past buyers. Let’s put that data to use.

According to VentureBeat, of all marketing tactics, email marketing generates the highest return on investment (likely because distribution is so inexpensive). When using an automation tool, you’re able to set up workflows that carry out actions without you needing to think or manually push buttons.

Consider these automated workflows:

  • Instant email: This is for those who submit for more information on your site and should ensure that his/her message has been received. You can supplement users with relevant reading material while they wait for your phone call.
  • Cold leads: Perhaps you tried selling parts to contacts in the past, but the deals fell through. They aren’t bad leads, just cold. Set up monthly automated emails to help stay top of mind and ensure they’re aware of your latest offers.
  • Cross-selling: Much like recommendations from Amazon for similar products, if your system recalls what customers have purchased in the past and you’ve properly segmented your lists, you can automate emails to cross-sell or upsell more strategically.

It’s best to think about these tools as an extension of your sales team. A software like Hubspot will let you email directly to leads, input customer information, and track stages throughout the buying process. The tool is intelligent and understands the pages and emails that prospects visit to give you a clearer insight into their wants/needs so you can act at the right time. The software also provides reverse IP lookup so you can see any large companies visiting your site even before they submit contact information to you. We call it professional stalking.

Expenses: $800 – $1000/mo for automation software, setup, and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased leads, shortened buying cycle, improved upselling

As a material handling professional, there’s a lot you can do to improve the relationships you have with current customers and generate new leads. But it’s like the Wild Wild West out there. You’re being faced with a ton of ideas and tactics, and there are plenty that aren’t in your best interest to pursue. Take our advice and look closely at the four that we’ve already tested that have the lowest costs and highest value for material handling companies. Need help? Give us a shout today.

[Download our exclusive eBook on how to prospect better in the digital age]

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. To view, click here.

Define Your Target Audience: A 44 Point Cheat Sheet

Last September, Rolling Stone announced that it would be putting itself up for sale. The magazine that once focused solely on the music industry has changed its identity throughout its 50-year history, but its most notable transformation was during its “Perception vs. Reality” campaign, which focused purely on redefining its target audience.

Download the 44 point cheat sheet to identify your target audience

For Rolling Stone, they wanted to show that their readers were no longer deadbeat hippies – like before – but instead, consist now of a younger audience – yuppies, classy, professional, with money (an appeal to both readers and advertisers). And it worked.

Before beginning any marketing work, it’s always best to first consider your target audience. These individuals create the group that will be your heaviest of users. They are the ones you will [wisely] spend your marketing dollars on. They are the ones who become brand advocates and act as walking, talking salespeople that you don’t even have to pay (well, not in salaries, anyway).

A firm and stable understanding of your target audience is critical to strategizing and selling. We call this target market identification or, the buyer persona process.

Stop. Close your eyes. Spend a few minutes thinking about perception vs reality for your brand for just a moment.

You may perceive your audience as one that is far different than it is – either because of ignorance or because of who you want it to be. Or, your target audience may have changed over the years. Maybe your most lucrative buyers have aged out and are retired, and you’re now out of touch with the Millennials who have replaced them (you should refresh your buyer personas every three to four years).

An example of a completed persona for our client DeIorio’s, pizza dough supplier.

The various traits and makeup of a person can influence how you might want to reach and market to him/her. Many different aspects should be identified and explored and understood, and later combined, to create a profile of each persona. The sum is a detailed description of each buyer, how you might be able to connect with them, and vice versa, how devoted they might be to your brand, how much they are willing to spend on you, and how often.

A target audience is made up of both demographic and psychographic traits.


Demographics are innate traits that make up a person. Many of these qualities are outside of that person’s control. This information is much more tradition to look at for marketing purposes, but still significant nonetheless. Some examples:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Education Level

Click here to see all 15 demographics!


Psychographics are a much newer way of looking at buyers. They are based on habits and lifestyle patterns. These are decision-oriented and can change over time. Psychographic qualities are extremely important to decision-making. Here are examples:

  • Political affiliation
  • Marital status
  • Children

Click here to see all 15 psychographics!

Where Can I Find This Data?

Formal market research is always a great idea. Large agencies will follow a very structured process to build questionnaires that will address important business problems within a company (in this case, understanding who your brand currently appears to, and/or how they feel about your brand). Quantitative and qualitative research would be conducted, and questionnaires would be built and carried out to develop both valid and reliable data on the demographic and psychographics of your target audience. The only problems are: true market research takes time, and it can be very expensive.

A second option – you can lean on an agency to perform digital-based research, conduct interviews with your team and build buyer personas. This establishes target audiences and provides insight into how you might be able to reach and market to them. This is also a formal process, but is less expensive and can be turned around more quickly since much of the insight is generated by internal insight from sales/marketing team members, rather than from questionnaires among consumers themselves.

Finally, you can lean on readily available online resources to access data on your own. These can be owned channels or third party sites. There are a number of sources to use to perform self-market-research and gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. Good news: many of these resources are free or inexpensive, allowing brands to more easily gain a deeper insight of customers and build accurate buyer personas.

Check out this slideshow to find out eight free tools to help with market research

What Can I Do With This Data?

All the data in the world is useless if there are no decisions made because of it. If you and your team is going to spend time researching, interviewing, and building buyer personas – you have to put them to work. Resorting back to the 4 Cs of marketing, here’s some example of what buyer personas can help marketers answer:

  • Consumer: What does your buyer want out of a product? What are his/her pain points and what can your product/service overcome? What is the shopping/buying experience like? Is it positive? How can you improve it? How long does it take them to buy and what goes into that process? How can you make it easier?
  • Cost: Are you charging the right amount for your product/service? Can you charge more? Less? What accessories or add-ons do you provide? How can you upsell better? Not just to make more money but to provide a better experience for your buyers. What are other fees involving in buying? Travel? Shipping and handling? What can you do about those extraneous costs?
  • Convenience: How does a buyer learn about you? How easy is it to get in touch or to work with a salesperson? Or, to trial your product or service? Convenience doesn’t stop at the cash register. What type of post-purchase services do you offer? Support? Help Desk? What do you consumers need?
  • Communication: Are you leveraging channels where your buyers are present/active? Are you advertising in the right place? Are you setting the right targeting parameters when creating advertising audiences? How can consumers get in touch? Phone? Text? Twitter? What software are you using, what can you use instead?

There are so many questions that can be answered when buyer personas are developed. In doing so, you can be more strategic and effective in your marketing and have a greater return on investment.

Need help?

Download our 44 point cheat sheet and get started today!

This article was originally published for Site-Seeker. You can find it by clicking here.

Pressed on Time? Top 5 Website Metrics to Track

Every marketing program is different. Some, with lots of tactics and movement, can cause marketers to spend dozens of hours building reports. Just last month, my team and I logged 25 hours on a single quarterly report. There was just so much to cover (or rather, uncover).

Thoroughly gathering and analyzing data isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for any successful marketing program. In doing so, you can help determine how users are behaving on your site and what your most effective marketing tactics are. It also allows you the ability to notice trends and patterns of your best customers. By interpreting data, you can make better decisions on how to improve and remove any guesswork from the equation.

I’m not stupid though. I’m a realist. I know most marketers and business owners don’t have 25 hours to spend on a single report. So I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s our team’s five favorite web metrics to track. These are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can most quickly give you the insight you need to keep tabs on your activity and hint at what to do next.

1) Goals

Goals are the most important actions on a website. Setting up goals inside of Google Analytics (or related website tracking software) at the very start of your program is critical to maintaining true data. Every program will have different goals.

  • B2C businesses with e-commerce integration on their site will almost certainly have transactions and/or wish list entries as goals.
  • B2B brands with longer sales cycles typically have form fills as goals.

Take time to identify what type of goals you need within your program and set them up properly in Google Analytics. Name your goal, accurately depict the action that should be recorded, and place a value on it. Almost all of your views throughout the software will allow you to see what is driving goals and at what rate.

For your goals that track information about sales leads – like request more info or content gate forms – you’ll want to make sure you are using software to properly track and follow through on those leads. Consider marketing automation, lead nurturing and customer relationship management (CRM) software to better manage the sales process at it relates to your web-generated prospects.

“Goals are the most important part of any report, for any client. Organic traffic, paid traffic, social media activity – none of it really matters if you can’t measure the effectiveness of your efforts. How you do that is through the tracking of goals. This can include form fills, LiveChat touches, mobile click to call, and more. By placing a value on those actions, you can even equate goals to true dollars and better measure your return on investment. Of course, you’ll want to identify cost per acquisition first.” – Trey Didio, Digital Marketing Specialist

2) Events

A square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus isn’t always a square. I love that analogy. I use it all the time but I think this is the first time I’ve ever worked it into a blog post. Go me! Events can (and often are) used as goals, but don’t have to be. Our team typically uses them as quality verifiers. These are less important actions, compared to goals, which take place on a site that help understand a user’s behavior and help you improve the user-experience.

Think of things like PDF opens, usage of certain features like nutritional calculators, video views, etc. By exploring usage of these assets or features, you can understand what is improving your on-site experience, keeping users engaged, and potentially assisting in a conversion on your site.

“Measuring events is one of the most important keys to success when measuring website performance and calculating ROI. It helps you discover if your site is pleasing to your audience. Tools like Google’s UTM builder and/or Google Tag Manager make is easy to organize and track events as you start to build and measure your marketing campaigns. You can easily see these under your “Events” and “Campaign” tabs in Analytics, and you can run a number of metrics against these items. When you invest money into building content and assets like videos, ebooks, landing pages, etc. it’s best to keep a watchful eye on the effectiveness of them.” – Jessica Amidon, Senior Digital Marketing Team Lead

3) Medium/Source

Medium/Source is the breakdown of where traffic/visitors originate. It’s a very popular KPI to explore since it helps judge what efforts are best at driving traffic to your site. Going one step further, you can explore what type of traffic sees the most conversions and therefore has the highest quality visitorship.

There are typically five different media: direct/none, organic, paid, email, referral. There can be dozens, if not hundreds, of sources, which is a drilled-down view of those media. For instance, within organic traffic, you may have organic/google, organic/bing, and organic/yahoo. Within referral, you could see referral/, referral/, and referral/

“As a marketer, you have to understand which sources and media are producing the best return on your investment. Don’t just look at traffic numbers, but look at goal completions too. If organically your site is doing well from a traffic perspective, it is definitely a good thing. But, you should dive further and see if that organic traffic is of good quality i.e. are those visitors converting or taking valuable actions on the site? What type of actions? Are we getting contact information from them to help them enter into our sales funnel? Furthermore, look at the pages that are not converting, or are converting at a lower rate, and try to spruce those up to mimic the conversion rates on better pages.” – Priyanka Kapadia, Operations Manager

4) Organic Traffic

Not all marketers or business owners engage in paid online advertising, so we’re not featuring it in our top 5. But, on the other hand, everyone should be monitoring organic traffic. Organic traffic is made up of visitors coming from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s essentially “free” traffic because you aren’t paying for the clicks.

You do, however, need to put time and attention into your site to improve it in such a way to achieve higher search rankings and get more of that free traffic. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO), or technical, textual and creative improvements made both on your site and on other sites that link to your site. Having a solid SEO strategy and solid rankings in the search engines can lead to great traffic volume over time.

“Looking at organic traffic can give you a snapshot of how your SEO efforts are doing. If the traffic is stagnant or slightly decreasing, that’s a good sign that SEO efforts need a boost. I would perform an SEO audit and competitor analysis and come up with a new strategy based on the results. If it’s falling sharply, you should drop everything you’re doing and check to make sure you’re not being penalized by Google, or in noncompliance with a recent algorithm update(s). It could also mean the site has been hacked, the site has accidentally been set to “no-index” or has disallowed search engines from crawling via robots.txt. If organic traffic is increasing, then check to see if there’s a particular reason why, and double down on what you’ve been doing. If organic traffic is increasing sharply, you should pop open a bottle of champagne then call me and with the secret ingredient so we can make millions selling an ‘SEO Hack’ book.” – Dan Weber, Account Manager

5) Top Organic Landing Pages

A landing page is a page that’s crafted to receive traffic from an external source – like Google or Twitter. When building landing pages, it’s important to remember that a user may not have seen any other page on your site yet. Therefore, these pages should offer a great user experience, give the user what he/she needs to know about your brand and product/service, and provide the ability to learn more or buy.

A common misconception of websites is that everyone comes to the homepage and navigates from there. It’s simply not true. For some of our client sites, as much as 40-60% of traffic goes through landing pages, rather than navigating through the homepage. Optimizing landing pages is a giant but critical task for the improvement of any website. More importantly, organic landing pages, or those pages that are ranking in search engines and receiving traffic directly, should be given extra attention.

“It’s important to measure top performing landing pages so you know which pages are best at driving traffic to your site. In a way, these are your heavy hitters – your best pages. Consider adding prominent call-to-actions on these pages. In doing so, you can track more than just page visits, duration, bounce rate, etc. – you can see if the page is effective at driving conversions. Are they watching the video? Downloading the case study? Filling out a form? This helps measure true success of the pages. Also, don’t forget to look at how you have these top performing pages built so you can replicate that strategy on other pages and help drive even more organic traffic to your site.” – Melinda Aiken, Account Manager

You must always keep tabs on your website’s performance. It’s the single most important element of your online presence and, depending on your product or service, could very well be more trafficked than even your storefront. Make sure to set up a dashboard, and auto-reports, inside Google Analytics to track these five metrics, as well as other KPIs that you deem as valuable to your marketing efforts.

Here’s How To Set Up A Dashboard:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics:
  2. Select the property and website you’d like to view.
  3. Navigate to “Customization” and “Dashboards” in the left hand sidebar.
  4. Create a new report, name your report, and then create a dashboard.
  5. Set up modules for the metrics you want to track. This may take a little time, especially if you’re a novice, but it’s worth it.
  6. Click on email and arrange for the reports to be sent to you and how often.
  7. Whenever you sign into Analytics, you can now view this dashboard for a quick pulse check on your digital marketing program. Remember to select the date range you’d like to view.

This article was originally published for Site-Seeker. To view the original post, please click here.