Digital marketing, or web marketing, and social media have a very low cost to entry but that doesn’t mean we should ignore tracking our investment and return. While ROI is not entirely possible when it comes to measuring the success of a relationship and loyalty, it can be applied to the proof of such – gaining more new customers and retaining the existing ones.

You need to continue (or enter into) digital marketing and social media regardless of what your initial attempts are producing. To throw away the idea of digital marketing because you’re not seeing results, is like tossing out a cookbook because you made a recipe in it that you didn’t like. If you’re not seeing the results you want, change the recipe to suit. The same holds true for social media and digital marketing. But you’ll have trouble adjusting your marketing recipe if you don’t know what you started with.

Do This First

Before you begin tracking you need to do two things:

  1. Draw a line in the sand. List all of your followers, likes, subscribers etc. as they stand today. Your success needs a baseline, so write it all down.
  2. Start tracking your digital marketing efforts by day. There are a number of software platforms that can help you keep track of your digital marketing efforts, or you can track them in a spreadsheet, or use pen and paper. Use something you can update quickly and extrapolate the information you need just as fast. If you don’t, you’ll stop using it. You’ll want to track when (and what) you post to your blog and social media, any marketing emails, when you send your newsletters, etc. You’ll need this info because you’ll compare your efforts to your traffic and inquiries.

What Should I Be Tracking on My Website?

There are several things you need to start tracking on a weekly basis. A weekly basis is ideal because it allows you to see trends quickly and readjust as needed. Monthly allows too much time to elapse before you notice the numbers.

For the first several weeks after you start tracking look for true patterns before you begin tweaking. Until you have historical data you won’t know a random blip from a need for course correction.

The data listed below can all be obtained from Google Analytics. If you don’t have analytics set up on your site, do so today. It’s important. Really important.

Assuming you do, you need to track:

  • The number of unique visitors to your site each week.
  • Where your website visitors are coming from (traffic sources). Look at organic, direct, and referral sources. Organic searchers reach you after typing in a keyword associated (hopefully) with your business. Direct referrals key in the name of your business or your URL. Referral sources come from social media, outside links on other blogs and other places that “refer” them to you. If one area is weak, try some marketing activities to change that.
  • The number of blog readers each week.
  • The number of new customer inquiries you receive and where they’re coming from.
  • Which customer inquiries become customers. You’re looking for patterns here. Maybe you notice that people referred to you from your company page on LinkedIn are twice as likely to buy from you as people coming from Facebook.
  • Abandonment rate, if you have an e-commerce site.
  • Effectiveness of your call-to-action. Every page must ask your audience to do something. Whatever you’re asking, needs to be tracked.

There is no way to measure return on investment without a calculation. You must measure a baseline and note the changes that are occurring to gain a better understanding of what is working and what needs to be adjusted.

If you continue to plug away at your marketing, taking stabs in the dark, your efforts will fall flat because you won’t recognize opportunities to build on successful trends nor will you notice disinterest with particular posts. Digital marketing is not a final destination, it’s a journey towards business success that needs to be evaluated periodically. You want to provide your customers with something they want. Without digital marketing you’ll have no way to know whether you’re accomplishing that or not.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine,, AssociationTech, and Socialfish.   She’s just a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.