Chapter 8: Understanding the art and science of performance data

Welcome to the 8th Chapter of “The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing in a Data-driven World”. If you missed Chapter 7 you can read it here.

This is one of a series of 11 posts or if you want to get the entire book in one hit you can download the full book here.

Now that your content activity is aligned with your marketing activity and goals, it’s time to explore the data side of your strategy – specifically, the analysis of customer behaviour and engagement, optimisation, and measurement of the performance and impact of your digital marketing activity.

As you know, every digital action is measurable, and therefore as marketers, you can analyse consumer behaviour until the cows come home. Considering the explosion of data that we highlighted earlier in this guide, it is critical to focus on the major impact areas rather than wade through huge amounts of data within your organisation.

With that in mind, in this chapter we will explore four fundamental areas:

  1. UX – ensuring there is a logical interrelationship between digital channels (and offline channels) as well as a logical UX and journey within each channel
  2. Engagement – identifying the levels of engagement that you require from different segments of prospects and customers
  3. Quality conversion and optimisation – focusing on converting quality leads and customer behaviour, rather than losing focus on high-volume / low-conversion activity
  4. ROI – measuring the financial return on your digital marketing activity that maps to your business goals

User experience

UX quite simply is the experience the user has when visiting your digital property. Typically, you are aiming to quickly deliver relevant information in a format that is easy to understand and has a common-sense flow to it, and which meets a person’s expectations (intuitive).

Now while this sounds straightforward, UX is constantly changing and should not be thought of tactically or in isolation. New levels of technology, interactivity and rich media continue to impact on a consumer’s experience, in particular what people can do in digital channels. So UX should be thought of strategically in the context of the role of your digital marketing and brand in your consumer’s world.

You also need to ensure that you are constantly optimising your activity based on consumer outcomes. The essence of UX is to create a user flow and experience that is logical and can take a user quickly and seamlessly to their desired end point (be it a known or unknown point).

We will provide more detail about CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) later in this chapter, keeping in mind that a successful digital entity should be one that delivers on its business goals and builds on its brand world experience.

By definition then, UX involves a focus on the user, which means it is critical to take a customer-centric approach to building your digital activity. This will ensure you keep thinking about information, content and the overall experience from a user’s point of view rather than aimlessly pushing your content at people.

Remember that people have a short attention span and are always only one click away from leaving your digital property.

Here’s a quick checklist of questions to answer as you move through the UX planning and development stages:

  • What do your users need and does your site meet such needs?
  • What do your digital properties say to users about your brand world?
  • Do you want to have leads land on your main page, a relevant content page or a specifically designed landing page?
  • Does the UX help build on the relationship with the user or are areas confusing?
  • Does the UX encourage users to stay on your digital property?
  • Are the links on your page working, and are they directing people to the right areas?
  • What is the logical next step in the consumer journey after each piece of digital content is consumed?
  • Does the UX successfully onsell or upsell to your users?
  • Does the digital entity complement other channels?


In developing your UX strategy, you will naturally identify the levels of user or customer engagement that you want to achieve with your digital marketing. As mentioned previously, digital today = interaction = engagement. However, the term ‘engagement’ is often bandied around and treated as something to tick off a marketing list, rather than as the goal of digital marketing activity.

Engagement by definition invites people to participate and take action. As actions increase, so too does your data footprint. So it is important to set up your engagement criteria and metrics in a way that focuses on the most impactful measures. Remember that it is easy to drown in data, statistics and models. The key is to unearth engagement metrics that map to your business goals.

You should also consider engagement in the context of a customer’s life cycle. For example, if someone is initially seeking information, then there is no point assessing final sales-conversion metrics.

However, as the customer moves through the sales cycle, different engagement and conversion points become more important (refer back to our flowers2friends example in Chapter 4). The overall engagement rate can then be measured: total engagement as a percentage of the total number of people reached (users).

Here is a list of typical engagement metrics to consider for each channel: email, social media, website and apps.


  • Open rate = the total number of people who opened your email as a percentage of the total who received the email (this second total refers to those to whom the email was successfully delivered rather than the total number of emails deployed, which will include messages that bounce back). This rate should also be assessed in terms of a unique open rate (the unique number of people who opened your email)
  • Click-through rate = the number of people who clicked as a percentage of those who received the email (or you can look at it as a percentage of those who opened the email). This rate should also be assessed in terms of a unique click-through rate (the unique number of people who clicked on your email, not the total number of all clicks in the email)
  • Content clicks = the total number of clicks on specific content. As above, this should also be assessed as the total number of unique people who clicked on a specific piece of content
  • Pass-alongs = the total number of times an email was forwarded
  • Unique pass-alongs = the total number of unique people who forwarded an email

Social media

Not every company measures the impact of its social media presence. In fact, only 25% of firms are making such measurements down to individual pieces of content.

Social media measurements

Here are some key measures you really should assess for your business:

  • Fans/followers/page likes = the total number of people joining or signing up to your digital community. You can analyse these by location, date, source or demographics (gender, age, language).While fans/followers/page likes are interesting, it is often more relevant to analyse the ‘engaged fans’. For example, in Facebook, this refers to the people who are ‘talking about’ your page. The statistic appears next to your total page likes. However, be careful when using this, as it is only a seven-day activity measure.
  • Content interactions (clicks/likes/comments/shares) = the total number of actions within your page. You can analyse clicks on content, likes of content, comments and the total number of times a piece of content is shared.In addition, you can also analyse day of week and time of day for macro- and micro-interaction trends. And you can assess the fan reach to identify what percentage of your total fans actually saw your content in the first place.
  • Unique commenters = the total number of unique people commenting, as opposed to the total number of comments

You can determine the average post-engagement rate as follows:

(Engaged users divided by reached users) × 100

Social engagement metricsSource: Which social engagement metrics really matter?


  • Visits and unique visitors = ‘visits’ refers to the total number of page visits by all people within a specified time period (some of whom may visit multiple times). ‘Unique visitors’ refers to the total number of unique people visiting your website. You can analyse your visitors by demographics (age, gender), interests, location, new versus returning visitors, frequency of visitation, browser type, mobile device, source and the keyword they used to find your site. Recently these two metrics were changed in Google Analytics to Sessions (Visitors) and Users (Unique Visitors)
  • Time on-site or visit duration = the average time a user spends on your site. Be careful with this metric as marketers often look to increase time on-site. However, if you offer a fast UX and have created a simple end-goal process, then you may be looking to reduce average time on-site
  • Content pageviews per visit = the number of pages viewed and ‘consumed’ (downloaded, watched, rated, commented on or reviewed) per visit. As with time on-site, you need to be careful with this metric. If your UX is poor, then a high number of pageviews may be misleading
  • Time with content = the time spent on specific pages or with specific content
  • Content usage (single, repeat) = the total number of times a piece of content is consumed. This can be analysed by single usage or repeat usage
  • Screen flow / behaviour = the analysis of individual pageviews, time on page, the bounce rate, site speed and the page exit rate, along with the rates between pages. It is important to look at the drop-off rates to see whether pages should naturally be exited or whether there is a potential usability issue
  • Monetisation conversion = the total number of conversions (and associated dollar value) based on your goals or e-commerce offering


  • Total users = the total number of people who downloaded your app
  • Returning users = the percentage of users who have returned more than once
  • Loyalty = daily active users divided by monthly active users (DAUs/MAUs). This gives you a basic measure of how much the average user is using the app per month
  • Engagement index = a funnel of engagement goals that can be set up for in-app activity and which may include ‘Add to cart’, ‘Proceed to checkout’, ‘Buy’, ‘Write a review’, ‘Rate the app’, ‘Share to social’, ‘Tasks completed’, links clicked or specific areas visited within the app
  • Average session duration = how much time users are spending with your app
  • In-app purchase = the total number of in-app purchases (and their related monetary value)
  • Lifetime value = the total revenue a user generates with your app while still actively using it

Quality conversion and optimisation

As highlighted in our UX discussion, we encourage marketers to focus on quality conversion and optimisation rather than scattergun quantity and irrelevance.

Indeed, in the 2012 APAC Digital Marketing Performance Dashboard report released by the CMO Council in partnership with Adobe, 50% of Australian marketers said that social media optimisation, including boosting community growth and engagement, was a priority that financial year.

This reinforces the importance of the conversion metrics outlined above,