Online Marketing: The Metrics Lexicon

Posted By: Dave Kopf
Post Date: 02/09/2017

“WHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS MANAGED.” That timeless business axiom might have some solid mileage on it, but it couldn’t be more applicable to today’s online marketing environment.

Marketing online provides powersports Dealers with a powerful environment for tracking the performance of their marketing and advertising efforts . Where you might guess at how well a print ad in a local paper performs, with online advertising you can get solid numbers. With that information, you can start identifying what marketing efforts work; which ones don’t; what campaigns, messages and techniques can be improved; and what ideas need to get binned.

The level of control Dealers have over their online marketing efforts is pretty revolutionary. In fact, the metrics for measuring online marketing performance have become so nuanced, that it’s not surprising for any local business owner to feel awash in a sea of numbers. You can measure social media performance, email performance and search engine metrics, and that’s just the beginning.

Let’s look at some of the fundamental online marketing metrics you should 1) understand and 2) track to gauge your marketing effectiveness:

This is the overriding metric: How much did this advertising campaign cost you to run from start to finish?

The number of times your ad was displayed to a client device.

The number of unique users that saw your ad. It’s important to understand how this differs from impressions. Reach uses cookies to see unique users.

Click through rate (CTR)
This is the number of impressions that eventually result in someone clicking on the ad, and it’s expressed as a percentage. That doesn’t necessarily mean they get to the ad’s intended destination, but it does mean they clicked on it (meaning, they engaged with the ad).

This is the cost per 1,000 impressions, which is the standard cost unit for online advertising. You purchase on a “how many thousands of impressions” you want to buy. CPM functions as another good tool for calculating return on investment.

Similar to CPM, this is the cost per click, which is another fee structure for purchasing advertising, and another tool for determining advertising effectiveness in financial terms.

Page views
Typically tracked monthly, this is the number of page views your web site generates. If you’re doing advertising that points back to your Dealer blog, site or store, you want to pay attention to this broad statistic. You also should be tracking views of specific pages to see how they perform.

A session is the number of unique users with unique IP addresses who visit your site and request a page or pages from your site, or conduct some kind of activity, such as filling out a form or buying a product.

Average session duration
This is simply the average time consumed by each session.

The number of unique users with unique IP addresses that visit your site. This figure is useful enough on its own, but if you take this figure and the previous two (sessions and average session duration), you start to see interesting trends; for example, perhaps you see that you had 500 users in a month, engaging in 1.3 sessions a month that averaged 4 minutes per session and 3.3 page views a session.

Bounce rate
This is the number of users coming to your site and leaving after seeing one page. If you have an ad campaign that results in a high bounce rate on a page, you need to start rethinking factors such as the page’s content, the advertising’s message, or the offer on the ad or the page, for example, to keep visitors on your site.

Conversion rate
Expressed as a percentage, this shows the number of sessions it takes to generate the desired activity from the ad. That might be for someone to fill in a form, buy something from your website, or see a specific offer, for example.

Cost per conversion
This is a simple cost measurement to see how much of the campaign’s overall costs it took to generate a conversion.

Revenue and revenue per conversion/session/user
Assuming your online ad campaign is driving traffic to a web store or an offer (such as a trackable coupon), you can tally the overall revenue generated by your campaign. Similarly, you can also use this to tack your revenue by the number of unique users, sessions or conversions to further drill down into your campaign’s revenue.

There are literally scores of online ad metrics you can follow and will eventually track as you take a deeper look at your online advertising performance. The key is that if you start with these core metrics and regularly measure your marketing efforts against them on a campaign-by-campaign basis, you will start to get a clear, honest and manageable picture of how you’re actually doing.

It takes time to have enough campaigns and enough data to start benchmarking accurately, but once you have enough data, you can take action to improve your overall effectiveness. Measure across these broad metrics on a regular basis, and you will master your marketing.


“We start with monitoring website traffic on a weekly and monthly basis, looking at not only total hits, but click-through rates. We use the diagnostic side of CycleTrader to analyze which listed bikes are getting the most views and pay attention to the view/inquiry ratio. If we see a ton of views but no inquiries, we know we have a popular machine that is possibly mis-priced or poorly displayed.” – Bob Kee, co-owner and co-founder of Destination Cycle, Kerrville, TX

“Boosted Facebook Posts provide me [with] a breakdown of how many people clicked the link and took a look at the special promo. We are also able to narrow our viewership by choosing an age range, male vs. female, mile radius, etc.  Digital ads also provide metrics, but I can’t set parameters as far as viewership. I do know how many people actually viewed the ad … It’s most helpful to know how many people are actually looking at an ad, so when it comes time to choose where we are going to place online ads, I have a record and I can spend money based on those click-throughs.” – Andrea Tarnick, advertising manager, Star City Motor Sports, Lincoln, NE


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