One thing I consistently recommend to clients is that they install and monitor Web analytics. Not everyone does, of course. But it’s definitely the starting point for making websites better, in terms of accomplishing business goals.
There can be lots of different approaches to a Web analytics program. In fact, there might even be as many unique uses for Web analytics as there are different real estate websites that have analytics installed.
One company may be measuring to calculate ROI on paid advertising or search traffic versus social media efforts.
Another company might be using analytics to listen to their customers by reviewing keyword reports and traffic patterns.
A third company might be using analytics to identify conversion rates for different paid advertising headlines.
A fourth might be using analytics to figure out if new visitors behave differently than repeat visitors.
Depending on the goals of each company, all of these approaches are right. There really isn’t a simple "four metrics every Realtor must track day and night or risk joining the career path of the fax boy."
That said, there is an important guideline when setting up your analytics program: Measure what is important for your company’s values as much as you measure for the bottom line.
Hopefully your company’s values align neatly with your bottom line already (if not, then this should be a topic for a future column).
Here are some examples of metrics that might be aligned with your company values.
Outstanding customer service: Many real estate professionals promote their high commitment to customer service. You can measure your performance in this in several ways.
- Number of social media mentions that are expressing positive sentiment after being helped in some way. (Usually these messages include "Thanks!")
- Number of qualitative/voice-of-customer surveys that mention "ease of use" of website as something good about the site.
- Number of non-real estate questions answered via social media (answering real estate questions isn’t outstanding if your business is real estate — it’s standard).
Expertise: Like outstanding customer service, many real estate professionals claim to have expertise in a geographic region or property type or type of sale. You can put some measurements in place to track your progress in being the expert. Here are a handful of metrics related to expertise:
- Number of questions related to your expertise answered.
- Number of new pages related to your expertise created.
- Increase in expertise-topic mailing list distribution.
Measuring for values, measuring values
The purpose of metrics and analytics is to help you make better decisions so you can take better actions. If you aren’t sure how your Web analytics can really relate directly to your bottom line, start by measuring things that encourage fulfillment of your brand promises.
Once you do have a solid program in place that can directly relate online activity to your company revenue, continue measuring the company values metrics. Hopefully you will see a direct relation between your values-based metrics and your bottom-line-based metrics.
If you don’t see a relationship between fulfilling your brand promises and an increase in your business, then perhaps your values aren’t matched well with the people in your market. Or perhaps you don’t really believe your company values yourself.
Either way, if you see no relationship between your company values and your bottom line then it’s probably a good time to review your values.
Ultimately, the kinds of things we measure will influence the actions we take each day. If all of your key metrics are strictly focused on the bottom line, you may run the risk of losing your company "soul." Attaching performance metrics to your values is a way to maintain your vision.