Online marketing success has an ever increasing importance to your business’ success. For a lot of businesses this is known, but it’s hard to be effective since the web is evolving at an exponential rate. As online marketers, we have found digital data to be one of the primary keys to grow such success. Due to these benefits of data, more data is being created and analyzed every day. Now we are in an era where the term “big data” is a common term in everyday business. With the vast amount of available data points, we have realized that watching all of them is inefficient and can cause more harm than good when just one of these data points experiences significant change. To combat this fear, we have developed computed aggregates of metrics that represent one, more complete metric. It’s easier to watch and tells a broader story. This may seem like a new approach or that we’re masking the details unnecessarily however, let’s remember that this is not a new method. The stock market has done it forever and at such a success level that the DIJA, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have continuous coverage on every news outlet.
Formalizing an Index Metric
In order to make an index we have to understand the goal we are trying to measure. Once we understand the goal we can compile a group of available metrics that, when taken together, measure the achievement of that goal. With the individual metrics in hand, it just comes down to aggregating them in way that makes sense for the index. Oftentimes it’s not just a matter of adding some number together. Usually we must apply individual weighting to each metric where the weight is proportional to the metrics involvement in satisfying the intended goal. So, that is basically how an index is developed. Now let me share a few indexes we have developed.
Brand Awareness Index
Most online marketers cringe at trying to measure brand awareness. When we had keywords available to us, it was a little easier. However, a lot of brand awareness occurs off-line. This is where indexed metrics come into play because we can start to put together a bunch of other signals which have less weight per metric, but when combined, will paint the picture of a brand’s name being used online.
When we started to develop our brand awareness index, we had a few people sit down and write down what they thought showed brand awareness. The list of metrics we got back ranged from direct visits to social media mentions. This new index approach gives us the power to pull data points from any online data source so that we are no longer limited to just one resource. Not only does the brand awareness index pull in multiple metrics from multiple data sources, it actually gives a better picture of how well the brand is doing online, as a whole. Gone are the requirements to watch 9+ metrics and decide if we are doing well or poorly for that goal. And we no longer need to have a data expert explain what each metric means to everyone getting the reports.
Search Engine Visibility Index
Search Engine Optimization is one of the base-level requirements for the online success of a business. It has become one of the biggest pipelines for incoming visitors and will surely grow more important each day as the internet is being wired into our everyday lives, devices, and appliances. SEO has required a completely new approach because of the ever-changing algorithms search engine company’s like Google and Microsoft employ to calculate how pages are ranked. Once again, we are left with limited data since the disappearance of useful keyword data.
Using tools we have developed in house, we were able to identify significant algorithm changes and did a 360-degree spin to focus less on keywords and more on a page’s context and intent for organic measurement. So for us to track the success of our webpages in search engines, the development of the search engine visibility index came about. At our core, we are a company of online success optimizers; so this means that we do not just care about Google, but also Bing and any other search engine that brings in converting visitors. So, our search engine visibility algorithm takes a pages ranked position on all converting search engines and aggregates it up into one metric to trend and analyze.
With this new index we have been able to optimize faster and better to increase organic visits for our partners. It has also made our whole system report on metrics that have nothing to do with keywords, or even one data source for that matter. Another benefit we see is that we can pull out one piece of the aggregated data and substitute another without anything above it being noticed or effected.
The Power of Many
The final word of wisdom related to using indexes is the power and flexibility to be had by trending the system instead of many single metrics. When we do not use indexes to aggregate a goal’s measurement it requires watching and analyzing multiple single points of the story to determine if we are on the right track or not. With the use of indexes, we can show the entire story in one metric which helps to eliminate the scares of single metric volatility and consolidates reporting. It also allows us to quickly tell when a real success or failure occurs. For example, when the index rapidly increases in a positive direction we know most of the single metric signals are aligning for success and it is time to celebrate. The power gained by bringing together multiple metrics is one that we use every day for our client’s success. It efficiently tells the complete story towards our objective and is an easy way to combat the big data problems we are faced with today.