How to measure the performance of marketing automation
In the dawn of the new decade, we all know that relevant marketing is first personalized and second automated. But a digital marketer’s job doesn’t end simply after creating a bunch of personalized automations. One of the most important steps in a healthy marketing workflow is measuring and learning. Without constantly measuring and learning from your marketing automation, your marketing will never deliver its promise of growth and just burns your money without a rewarding return on investment. In this article, we’ll learn about why, how and what to measure when it comes to the performance of marketing automation. Let’s dig in.
Why measure your marketing automation at all?
Marketing automation is a one-way human-machine activity. This means that you ideate and set an automation rule, and software will begin running it until you ask it to stop. Your campaign may easily go the wrong way in its early hours and may last until the end of your campaign. This is especially important when your automation campaigns are personalized. Insufficient funnel research, poor segmentation and technical glitches in your automation tool and inaccuracy in your analytics software are one of the many reasons you always want to be aware of the performance of your campaigns from the moment it starts.
That’s why two of the steps Eric Ries’ famous feedback loop is about assessing what’s built. In his book on lean analytics, he extrapolates this model of marketing and suggests that all the marketing activities should be constantly evolving by testing different hypotheses, measuring their results, trimming what is not working and expanding on what is working. That is why an analytical approach should be present in two stages while automating your marketing: ideating new campaigns and measuring them after execution.
The first important factor involved in an efficient analytical approach is your KPIs or your key performance indicators. KPIs are also the first and foremost complaint against marketing automation. The second important factor in your analytical approach is the tool you use to measure your campaigns. You should always check to see if the marketing automation tool or a third-party analytics tool you’re using offers enough insightful performance reports about your automations. In the following sections, we’ll explain further about both of these factors.
How should you choose your metrics?
It is difficult to choose the right metric that applies to all contexts and lines of businesses as each has its own different needs and goals. But the following are some attributes that can define the ideal metric for your business no matter what you’re doing and what your goals are.
Leading not lagging
Lagging metrics explain the past and provide insights about normal, managerial and routine operations, whereas leading metrics provide a speculative understanding of the situation and try to find unknown insights to give you the upper hand in predicting the future. For example, total leads, total product rating, total churn rate, total support tickets are lagging metrics while qualified leads provide clue about which cohort of your leads you should invest in next and periodical churn rate and quarterly support tickets give you an idea about the recent state of the metrics and help you improve it.
Actionable not vanity
If your metric provides information on which you cannot act, it’s a vanity metric. Vanity metrics such as total sales, total revenue, total traffic, total leads, total customers and such just make you feel good, but they don’t change how you act. Actionable metrics on the other hand change your behavior by helping you decide and pick a course of action. Actionable metrics focus on a specific segment, campaign or period of time – for example, generated traffic, active leads, potential customers, generated revenue.
Comparative not absolute
A metric is most useful when studied compared to its symmetrical counterpart. For instance, comparing the end of the current quarter to the end of the previous quarter. Some of metrics that can be studied this way include quarterly sessions, quarterly bounce rates, monthly leads and customers. Some metrics should be compared between two email campaigns such as email open rate, email click rate, coupons used, abandoned cart. A positive result means you’re on track and a negative is a clue that there might be a leak or need for improvements.
What to consider when choosing an analytics tool?
The tool you use is the second-most important factor to consider when measuring the performance of your marketing automation. Your measurement tool should be able to track the metrics you require and display them in the right format so that you can extract the necessary insights. When trying to find an analytics tool, always consider and make decisions about the following matters.
The depth of collected data
Your ability to choose relevant and comprehensive metrics is directly affected by how your analytics tool collects information from your user. Google Analytics and many other tools that are based on Google analytics base the tracking on the cookies and visiting sessions whereas independent analytics tools rely on their own tracking to collect information, which helps them collect wider ranges of metrics on your website.
The channel they are monitoring
The channels your analytics tool is tracking is also an important factor when choosing an analytics tool. Some analytics tools such as Google Analytics track only in-site activity while an omni-channel analytics tool allows to collect analytics from different channels. This enables you to have a more holistic view over your campaign activities and cut the need to use a separate analytics tool to track metrics across different channels such as emails, website and popups.
What analytics tool option do you have?
Tools based on Google Analytics
Most of the analytics plugins on the market – such as Site Kit by Google, Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin and WPMUDev Beehive Pro – compile their analytics reports from Google Analytics, who is a giant in the field of analytics.
There are certain upsides in having data collected by a third-party like Google Analytics like reports that are standardized throughout the industry.
1- Data that is tracked only from cookies without using the info from the WordPress/WooCommerce user base might contain subpar of inaccurate analytics and reports, which could make it more likely for you to jump to the wrong conclusions. A good example of this is the reports made by Google Analytics that only take sessions into consideration, not other user insights about users.
2- The e-commerce analytics you receive from Google Analytics might differ from your native WooCommerce.
3- With tools that rely on Google Analytics, you won’t be able to measure the performance of marketing automation based on different user types like leads or customers. From Google’s point of view, every visitor is the same, therefore each session is the same.
4- Your insight over non-web page campaigns, such as email campaigns and popups are very limited, and you’ll need separate tools to track them.
Omni-channel analytics tools such as Growmatik
Growmatik is an omni-channel marketing automation tool that has its own analytics tracking and metric system and provides analytics reports. It creates reports based on browser sessions, cookies and WordPress-level data and user info so it can provide analytics for different user types: guests, leads and customers. This facilitates more detailed information such as individual user activity log, shopping behavior and more. Due to its all-in-one essence, you can track different channels campaigns such as web page content, email and popup within one dashboard without the need for extra tools.
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How to measure the performance of marketing automation with Growmatik
Growmatik analytics reports are divided into three sections. Each of these reports are useful to cover different analytical approaches:
General growth analytics:
Covers metrics related to general growth with leading format. Allows users to see reports in both session-based and user-based views and within a selected timeframe.
Customer journey reports:
Offers a holistic and interactive view of your customer journey divided into 5 main dimensions. It’s useful for an in-depth attribution of your campaigns and funnels within a selected timeframe.
Tailored performance reports for every automation rule:
These are performance reports with relevant metrics related to your specific automations that help you understand how the automation has performed and decide on what to do next.
Let’s take an overview on how to make use of each analytics report in Growmatik.
Track overall performance & growth using the Reports page
The 5 most important performance and growth factors are:
- Engagement and performance
- Site traffic
- Leads growth
- Customer growth
To track these important matters, the Reports page in Growmatik provides the following metrics:
- Audience/Visits Chart
- Top Sources
- Top UTMs
- Top Keywords
- Top Countries
- Page Views
- Bounce Rate
- Total Audience Count
- Top Sales
Reports are generated based on the selected timeframe. You can find out whenever a metric has increased or decreased using the growth indicators next to each. For example, the below metrics show a 10% increase in pageviews, a 1% decrease in the bounce rate and a 7% growth in the total audience count within the selected timeframe.
The group of metrics on the left Audience/Visits Charts, Top Sources, Top UTMs, Top Keywords and Top Countries can be set to show analytics based on sessions (visits) or the audience type.
The Audience/Visits chart is an important report in the Reports page that displays 6 important metrics in itself:
User-type level reports
- Generated guests
- Generated leads
- Generated customers
- Number of visits by guest
- Number of visits by leads
- Number of visits by customers
By using the Audience/Visits trigger, you can switch between the two report types. You can track the growth using the growth indicators next to each metric as well as the diagram.
For example, the chart below shows within the past 1 month, the website has had:
- 6,000 guest users with a total of 724 visits
- 380 leads with a total of 808 visits
- 80 customers with a total of 233 visits
Metrics such as Top Countries, Top Sources and Top UTM are also provided for each user type separately. So, for example, you can discover how many guests or leads or customers you had from a specific country.
Also when looking at Top Sources in the Visits mode, you’ll see the list of top traffic sources based on the site visits but when looking in the Audience mode, the list shows the top sources based on the number of different user types they have referred.
For example in the following website DuckDuckGo has referred:
- 3600 guest users with a total of 4049 visits
- 122 leads with a total of 200 visits
- 24 customers with a total of 83 visits
Track customer journey
Growmatik’s Customer Journey page provides a broad overview of your WordPress site in various dimensions and what’s happening in each: ocation, source, landing, subscription channel and purchased item. For each dimension, you’ll be able to view a list that ranks the top items in each category such as top traffic countries, top traffic source sites, top channels where people subscribed and top purchased items. Growmatik also allows you to select each of these factors as a filter in order to figure out exactly how people landed on your page and what they did once they got there.
Being able to map out the customer journey helps in producing a more accurate attribution report and to make better segments for your marketing activities. By using this page, you’ll be able to have a better understanding of certain attributes such as which marketing campaign was the most lucrative, who the most loyal customer base is, which country most of your customers are coming from, and more.
Respectively, you can use the customer journey tool to learn about the funnels involving any of your automations. For example, a specific email campaign or segmented landing page can be set as a filter and the customer journey related to that will be generated and visible. In the example below:
→ Top 5 traffic locations are: Belgium (?%), Switzerland (?%), Italy (?%), Czech (6%) and Austria (4%)
→ ? visitors landed on ? and ? visitors on homepage.html
→ ?% of those who subscribed (? people), subscribed via the ? popup
→ Ended up buying ? (total of ? purchases)
Monitor how your web page personalization automation performs
Personalizing web pages based on user attributes and behavior is an important marketing practice to increase engagement and conversion rates.
We need metrics to measure our page personalization’s relevance and effectiveness. They should show how our segment is engaging with it and how much it affects conversion rates. Consider the following metrics:
- Generated sessions / pageviews
- Average time spent
- Bounce rate
- Generated leads/customers
- Generated purchases/revenue
For example, an automation rule that personalizes our landing page based on UTM parameters shows how it performs through the built-in performance reports using the Report button in the Growmatik automation dialogue:
As you can see, our personalization campaign has high engagement metrics but does not result in conversions. Obviously, we need to revise our personalization in a way that it triggers user actions.
Track the effectiveness of your email automations
Email automation is part of nearly every digital marketing strategy. There are tons of apps and services that automate your email campaigns but the performance metrics they report (for example, Mailchimp is mostly limited to recipient engagement like opening and clicking rate). If you want to also understand what happens to your recipient after they click on the email as well – does it lead to a conversion, for example – you will need a second analysis like Google Analytics for the website. An all-in-one marketing automation solution like Growmatik might be able to show you all the metrics related to engagement on both the email and website sides as well as your final shopping pages altogether in one report.
Consider the following metrics to best track your email automation campaigns:
- Email sent
- Opening rates
- CTR rates
- Generated sessions
- Average time spent
- Bounce rate
- Abandoned carts
- Coupon used
- Generated customers
- Generated purchases / revenue
By using the Report button in the Growmatik email automation dialogue, you can access all of these metrics:
In the example above, our email automation rule has sent 8,900 emails so far with good open and click rates, an average of 4 minutes was spent by the audience on the website when they clicked on the link, 78 leads turned to customers, 6 clickers abandoned their cart without checking out, 18 users used the coupons included in the email and a total of 65 items were sold, thanks to this campaign.
Measure your popup automation
Popups are widely used in different stages of the customer journey from acquisition to nurturing and retention. The metrics used to track their performance are mostly related to the number of signups and the click rate, but an efficient performance measurement for popups can include metrics related to the number of times the popup was displayed, generated sales and revenue and the number coupons used. You can consider the following metrics:
- Number of times popup was displayed
- Number of times popup CTA was clicked
- Generated leads / customers
- Generated purchases / revenue
- Coupons used
By using the Report button in an automation dialogue in Growmatik, you can track all of these metrics.
In the example above, our popup automation rule has been displayed 1,800 times, the buttons were clicked on 238 times, generated 56 new leads, turned 23 leads to customers, led to 16 purchases with a total of $760 in revenue. The coupons we provided inside this popup were used by 14 users.
What can we learn from our measurement?
Using the right metrics that have the three important features we discussed earlier (leading, actionable and comparative), we can gain insight in the efficiency of our campaigns, find out where the problems are and correctly plan for the next step.
- Conversion & growth rate
How your campaign is performing with regards to the generated engagement (clicks, sessions) as well as the new generated user types (leads & customers)
- Return on Investment (ROI)
A solid analytics tool will tell you the value you directly received from a campaign with metrics such as numbers of sales and generated revenue and number of coupons used. With these metrics, you can calculate your ROI and judge your campaign effectiveness.
- The quality of segmentation and targeting
Campaign quality is directly related to your segmentation quality. If you see poor engagement and value driven by a campaign, you definitely need to check if you are targeting the right segment.
- The reliability of your analytics software
If you’re sure you have set up everything correctly from segmentation and targeting to campaign material and duration but your results are far away from your expectations, you may also need to check if your analytics software is set up properly and is correctly functioning.
Embracing marketing automation and personalization as a new standard is the only way to stay relevant. And we need the right analytics to constantly evaluate and refine them along the way. In this article, we reviewed why, how and what when it comes to measuring the performance of marketing automation and how to measure the performance of different types of campaigns using Growmatik. If you know any related practice beyond these points or have experienced an interesting measurement lesson, please share your thoughts in the comment section.