KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, which ones really matter in local.
Deep Dive Into Local series from Feb 13th, 2017. In our Deep Dive series, we take a closer look at one thing in local that caught our attention and deserves a longer discussion.
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Mike: Welcome to our Deep Dive in local for the week ending February, 13th. Why don't you kick it off, Mary.
Mary: Today, Mike and I are going to talk a little bit about KPIs, Key Performance Indicators, and which ones really matter in local, and how they're going to differ for different types of businesses. I know that Barbara Oliver (retail jewelry sales & service), Mike's pet client, is a good example. But the KPIs that worked for her are not necessarily going to work for other types of businesses.
Mike: I identified four critical KPIs, key performance indicators on the web, that seem to correlate strongly with sales: driving directions, click to calls, fill out the forms, and direct contact via messenger on Facebook, or via Facebook contact. The one that's the best predictor is probably driving directions. Because somebody is indicating they're going to come, we don't know if those are new customers or not. Click to call is the second best.
I don't have a lot of service businesses in my consulting background, but I was talking to Dave Oremland, who runs a number of small businesses in the DC area. For his particular type of business the best KPI is the form fill. He runs a onetime service that provides a training program. He found that the best indicator of a potential sale was filling out a form rather than driving directions. For most of the people who have already agreed to take his training course, filling out that form was the closest thing to a sale that he could identify. I would think in a service area business, a phone call is probably the best KPI. A phone call is really the key thing you need to do to initiate that client contact and move them into it.
Mary: Some types of businesses just won't get many form fills. For example, if you have a plumbing emergency, or if your heat goes out, you're not going to fill out a form. You're going to start calling people.
Mary: So you need to be tracking those calls religiously, I believe. I think that, for a lot of service area businesses, if you're not doing call tracking, you're really missing the boat.
Mike: I think you also need to take it one step further. You need to track the calls plus figure out where those people are calling from, then how many of those converted to actual quotes. And how many quoted convert to actual jobs.
So it's still a funnel. And you still need to understand that while the KPI indicates whether your digital efforts are improving, staying the same, or going down, ultimately it is the conversion to a sale at the end of that matters.
Part of the problem with Web Analytics that I've seen is that they just throw so much stuff at you. There's session duration, new visitors, old visitors, page reads, and likes, and shares, and on and on. They throw a ton of stuff at you and it's very difficult, particularly in Google Analytics, to dig down into a few indicators. In fact, many sites I look at are not tracking click-to-calls on the websites, or driving directions on the websites. So two of the best KPIs in local coming from your website are not even been tracked by a lot of people.
Mary: Right. And Google Analytics has become so complex that even an SEO professional like me finds it hard to keep up with what's going on in there. You can imagine what it's like for a small business to try to figure out the right way to set up Google Analytics. That's one of the things that my business partner, Carrie Hill, is doing quite a bit of work on: analytics setups for small businesses. In addition, tailoring reports for them so that they're getting information that's meaningful, and that they know what to do with that information.
Mike: Yes, with Google Insights you could critique the quality of the data. But I think as a general rule, the Google Insights that come from GMB, gives you some indication of what's happening at Google. And, in Barbara's case, we saw that 70% of her KPIs were happening on Google, so it's a critical source.
What would be interesting to me would be to take the data from that API. Take similar data from Google Analytics, and bring it together into a nice simple report that shows how many people called you, how many people used driving directions, how many people filled out your forms. In other words, how many people took the actions that you wanted, all viewed in a nice, simple interface that said "Here's what we saw last month."
Mary: Yes. Sometimes it makes sense to set up two different sets of reports in Google Analytics. One to show the business owner what makes sense to them, and another to show us some of those esoteric SEO things, like bounce rate and time on page that are really meaningless to the business owner, but can be informative for us.
Mike: Right. It's interesting how little of that has been done. We're still in such early stages. And we get so much data. And you get data in all these different silos. Facebook has its own data. Analytics has its own data. Insights has its own data. Yelp has its own data. And it's very difficult to pull that together into a comprehensive view of the online KPIs. Some people have call tracking, some don't. But even if you do, that's another separate silo. It would be nice to view everything in one unified place. David and I talked about this a couple of weeks ago at Street Fight. I don't know how much a small businesses would pay for a dashboard that provided those insights in a single place. It's an interesting question.
Mary: Yes, it's hard to track that information all the way through the funnel. It just is.
Mike: Yes. And it requires business participation. I think every business should be periodically, one month out of the year, two months out of the year, interviewing clients to create that last attribution link that's missing. To understand whether they came from the radio ad, whether they came from Google, whether they came from wherever. That attribution chain is still broken for local.
Mary: Right, and I think sometimes you need to push that task onto the business owner.
Mary: Because it's too easy for us to do things and send them numbers, and nothing computes, and nothing gets done.
Mike: Right, if you take that last step and do a survey, then you can put it in concrete terms and compare it to your expenditures vs. actual new customers. Understanding of the digital KPIs, you can then create an insightful look at the flow from Google or the website on through to the customer, and understand how many people you need to have reading your website. How many people need to actually click to call you, or click to fill out your form, or click to your driving directions, to actually create the decent profitable job at the end. You might find that some advertising generate less return compared the cost.
Mike: And without tracking all of that you're not going to know. What's amazing is how few have taken that next leap to try to gel that together. I think we're close.
Mary: Yes. That's true.
Mike: Anything else to add on this?
Mike: All right. Well, that's our Deep Dive into KPIs for the service industry and others. If you have anything to add, let us know, we would love to have a conversation about this. Talk to you next week.
Mary: Thanks, Mike.