The following is a guest contributed post by Kelley Schultz, Director of Digital Marketing and Analytics at DialogTech.
As 2016 comes to a close, most digital advertisers would agree that end of year is one of their busiest times. Whether you’re running ecommerce campaigns in the thick of the holiday season or planning your 2017 media campaigns and budgets, your days are probably jam-packed with forecasting meetings.
Speaking from personal experience, forecasting can be a challenge but there are ways to improve it. I use channel and campaign analytics data to not only help budget media dollars, but to also forecast conversion volume and revenue by month.
I thought it would be beneficial to map out some of the key Google Analytics reports that will help improve your forecasting exercises. While there are multiple analytic reports that you should be pulling, here are four reports that will take your forecasting to the next level in 2017.
Monthly Performance: For Every Campaign
This report may seem like a no-brainer since we all look at historical data year over year to forecast our monthly and quarterly budgets. But sometimes we fail to make the extra step of looking at monthly performance by individual campaigns. Every campaign has a goal. Whether it’s acquisition, engagement, retention, or purely branding, digital advertisers hold every campaign accountable.
TIP: Constant measurement of all conversions is key. Measuring when your campaigns are driving the most phone calls or cart checkouts will be essential for allocating budget at a campaign and channel level by month. This report will also give you a baseline for measuring performance in 2017 when compared to historical years.
Top Conversion Paths: For Every Conversion
We all do check-ins at a channel level to see which channels are driving site traffic and conversions, but what about multi-channel reporting? If the majority of your site traffic and conversions come from earned media then your branding efforts may not be getting as much credit as they deserve. In most cases, social media and display media are top-of-funnel channels and if you were to only look at performance on a last click attribution model, you may decrease your spend in these channels, which could then decrease the volume of traffic and conversions from earned media.
If you have Google Analytics, one of the best reports I can recommend is the Top Conversion Paths report. I’m including a sample report below. This allows digital advertisers to do more than see the channels that lift earned media. If you then filter by month, you can better allocate your 2017 budget to ensure the highest return.
TIP: Make sure your Analytics account is recording every conversion type (including offline conversions such as call conversions). That way you’re allocating budget from a true representation of your data and ensuring you’re optimizing for efficient growth.
Device Segmentation: Know Where Your Top Customers Convert
Consumers are spending more time than ever on their mobile devices. And digital advertisers are building and optimizing campaigns for mobile traffic. eMarketer has estimated that over 50% of searches are now mobile and 60% of display media is seen on a mobile device. With all this movement towards mobile, is reporting following suit? I can’t stress this enough, but it’s extremely critical to segment out your monthly campaign performance by device. Especially when we have more options to bid separately on mobile versus desktop devices.
Further, mobile conversion types are often different than desktop conversion types. For instance, my PPC account shows that more calls happen from call extensions on mobile than desktop, and they are lower funnel conversions. The time it takes to close a sale is shorter for phone calls. To maximize my ROI I then want to ensure I’m getting as many call extension conversions as I can devote budget to.
TIP: Do not blanket report and ignore segmenting out by device. If you do this your reports may not show true campaign ROI. Nor will you be forecasting budget accurately for 2017.
Time of Day: Know When Your Conversions Happen
I often see digital advertisers put bid modifiers on their PPC campaigns to adjust for conversions by time of day. This is a good practice, but one that should be implemented across every digital campaign. It should even be taken into consideration when forecasting your budget for the next year.
It makes sense that you should only run digital media campaigns when the brand is open for business. But if you pull time of day analytics, you may find that your target market is on different devices at different times and this insight will allow you to adjust your bids to improve your reach. Most advertisers will find that time of day activity will vary by demographic, including: lifestyle, age, gender, and more.
TIP: When you’re forecasting for next year, use analytics data to figure out when your target market is in the “research” phase, or top of funnel. This will better allow you to get your ad in a prominent location to maximize reach. It also may give you an edge against your competitors!
TIP: Use your call analytics to also know when your target market is calling from digital media, and make sure you have staff on hand to close the sale!