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Key Terms for the Modern Marketer: Analytics Edition

Our Key Terms for the Modern Marketer series defines words every marketer should have in their vocabulary. As relevant terms change and buzzwords are redefined, we offer up the most current definitions so you can maintain your modern marketer status.

Previous:

Analytics Edition
Content Strategy Edition—Part One
Content Strategy Edition—Part Two
Marketing Automation Edition
Social Media Edition—Part One
Social Media Edition—Part Two
Social Media Edition—Part Three
Strategy Edition
UX/UI Edition
Web Redesign Edition

Analytics

Analytics is the practice of analyzing your data to reveal important patterns. It’s gathering numbers through tracking, measuring, and testing your audience’s actions in relation to your marketing efforts and then making sense out of those numbers. Meaningful data patterns tell you where you’re succeeding and where you can make improvements to your marketing. These conclusions are known as insights. You can measure and group your data to gain insights into virtually anything associated with your marketing, including user experience, website, social media, email, traditional marketing, and mobile.

Data

Data is information gathered. It’s the foundation of analytics. Data in marketing is the information you collect from users and their actions. Users can include website visitors, email recipients, social followers, leads, customers, anyone interacting with your brand in any way at any time. Actions are what these users do when interacting with your brand. Where they click. When they click. The forms they fill out. The messages they post. Data is gathered so it can be analyzed and inform the audience and brand insights that power your marketing.

Insights

Insights are the conclusions you draw from analytics. They may address your audience, your industry, your brand. They are used to inform your marketing. Common insights include which channels draw the most leads, which website pages attract the most visitors, which email format audiences prefer, which path to conversion is most successful. Marketers track specific data in an effort to gain a desired set of insights.


Attribution Model

To attribute is to give credit. In marketing analytics, an attribution model outlines which actions, or touchpoints (e.g., click or view), receive credit for a certain outcome, like a conversion. An attribution model assigns a percentage of importance to each touchpoint, so the final data reveals how a conversion, or sale, was made. For example, a Last Interaction attribution model on Google AdWords gives full (100 percent) of a sales’ credit to the last channel a user interacted with. Attribution model data helps marketers prioritize and optimize marketing to increase conversions in the future.

Benchmark

A benchmark is a standard data point that allows marketers to compare their data with industry, or competitor, data. Benchmarking helps marketers set goals, understand industry trends, and determine if they’re up to par with competitors. Google Analytics offers more than 1600 industry categories to compare against. Available benchmark data covers various channels, locations, and devices. Benchmark metrics, the measurements that lead to the numerical data, include number of sessions, bounce rate, session duration, and more.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website or landing page after viewing only the entrance page, without interacting with that page. A marketer’s goal is typically to keep the bounce rate low as they want visitors to browse or interact with their website. A high bounce rate often means the user has had a poor experience or doesn’t find what they’re looking for. It can also mean, however, that a user finds exactly what they’re looking for on the entrance page and has no need to explore further. If a website experiences a high bounce rate, marketers often perform A/B tests or a UX or website audit to uncover potential areas for improvement and make changes to lower the rate.

Campaign

Marketers build campaigns to promote their brand, products, or services. Campaigns consist of a series of unified marketing collateral (email, landing page, social posts, etc.), with similar messaging. CTAs often bring the user through the various campaign pieces. Campaigns and all of their parts work toward accomplishing a single goal (e.g., grow leads, raise awareness). Campaigns typically run in a limited time frame and refresh when you release new products or services, establish new brand details (identity, voice), or formulate new goals. They have a very clear launch strategy. Marketers measure the success of campaigns by setting up and labeling each element through an analytics platform, such as Google Analytics. This often involves assigning tracking URLs to each element.

Channels

Channels are categories of sources that lead users to your website or other marketing. Grouping sources together helps marketers better understand where their traffic comes from on a more general level. Channels include organic search, paid search, direct, email, referral, and social network.

Clickthrough Rate

Clickthrough rate is the rate at which users click through to your website or other URL from a specific starting point. For example, clickthrough rate can reflect the percentage of users who click on a digital ad CTA through to your website or the percentage of users who click on a blog post URL on social media.

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors who take an intended action. This percentage can reflect a wide range of actions, including users who purchase an item, click on a CTA, or fill out a form. This data is calculated by dividing the total number of people who visit your page or site by the number of people who take the specified action.

Cookies

A cookie (also referred to as HTTP, web, internet, or browser cookie) is a small text file, or a piece of data, that’s stored on a user’s browser. These files are created from websites that enable cookies within their code. Websites use cookies to pull data on their users, such as actions on a site. Cookies are also beneficial to users, because their information is stored within a browser, so when they return, the site will remember their preferences, login, or other useful information. Users have the option to enable or disable cookies when they visit a website that collects them.

Data Visualizations

Data visualizations help marketers understand data and its significance. They may be especially helpful for right-brained individuals and are often presented as charts or graphs. Putting data into a chart or graph helps marketers see the relevance of certain data and start to view the analytical patterns that lead to key marketing insights.

Engagement Rate

Engagement rate is the ratio of engagements, or hits, to a specific measured variable. Common engagement rate formulas are time spent on site per user, engagements per user, or pages per visit. Engagement rate is measured on websites as well as on social media, and other marketing channels.

Entrance Page

An entrance page is the website page where a user begins a session. Marketers track entrance data to understand which pages users most frequently (or infrequently) land on.

Events

Events are user interactions with your website content. They’re a type of hit. Marketers can set up tracking on events within their analytics platform to glean insights on a particular element of their website or marketing. Common events include playing a video, downloading an ebook, clicking on a mobile ad, or filling out a form.

Goals

Marketers set analytical goals to serve as benchmarks for data. Marketers can set general goals using their own methods or they can set goals within analytics programs. The benefit of setting goals within an analytics program like Google Analytics, is specific data is measured in relation to the goal, so marketers can see how the real data compares to their goal without doing any additional work after setup. Goals can include session durations, social media button clicks, or URL destinations, such as thank you or confirmation pages.

Hits

Hits are user interactions with a website, within a single session. They can also include interactions with other campaign elements such as social media or events. Hits can include navigating to a new page, liking via social, clicking on a CTA, or filling out a form. Data is collected each time a user hits.

Pageviews

A pageview is when a page is loaded or reloaded on a website. A pageview metric in analytics is the total number of pages a user views within a session. A unique pageview metric is the number of sessions a page was viewed one or more times. Within a report there will be more pageviews than unique pageviews.

Segments

Segments are portions, or sections, of your data within an analytics report. Marketers view data in segments to make it more digestible or to analyze a more specific set of data. Examples of segments include users who visit a specific page or sessions that begin from a particular source. Insights acquired from analyzing segmented data can help marketers target certain audience members or optimize a website page or campaign.

Session

A website session, also known as a visit, is recorded data on a single experience on a website from a single user. Sessions are recorded and studied in analytics so marketers understand how, when, and why users experience a website, the path to conversion, and more. Google Analytics and other analytics software define a session differently, so it’s important for marketers to understand how a session is measured within their specific software and situation. Google Analytics ends a session after 30 minutes of inactivity, at midnight, or if a user arrives on a website via a different campaign than before. Within Google Analytics, users can have multiple interactions or page views, but if it’s still within the time and campaign parameters, it’s considered one session.

Sources

Sources are the places online that lead a user to another place online or to perform a specific action. Sources are often search engines, websites, emails, and social media profiles. They are more specific than channels. They pinpoint exact website, email, social profile, etc., rather than the overarching category. Marketers track source data to understand what’s leading users to their website, landing page, etc. A traffic sources report (available in Google Analytics) is a list of sources that lead people to your website. Traffic sources featured on these reports often include direct traffic—instances where a user typed your URL into the navigation bar, navigated via bookmark, or clicked via email—referral traffic—instances where a user clicked on a link to your website from another website or social network—and search traffic—both organic and paid search engine traffic. You can also set up tracking URLS to track traffic from other or more specific sources.

Tracking URL

A tracking URL is a unique URL that marketers set up to track sources from specific places, like an email, digital ad, etc. to a specific destination, like a landing page. Usually, these are used for individual campaigns to gauge the success of marketing on different channels.

Unique Visitors

Google Analytics replaced the term unique visitors with users. This is important to note as Google Analytics defines many of the terms marketers use in analytics. Some marketers still prefer to use the term unique visitors instead of user, while some equate unique visitors to only new visitors. A marketer must understand how their analytics platform defines these terms so they know what the data means in their individual context.

User

A user is an individual online. Data related to users and their actions online is gathered through tracking cookies. Marketers use this data to gain insight into their audience, site UX, campaigns, and much more. A user metric is the number of non-duplicated users who’ve completed a session during a set period of time. If a user completed two sessions within the set time frame (e.g., one month, one quarter), they are counted as one user. Under the user umbrella are new users and returning visitors. A new visitor is someone who completes their first session on a website. A returning visitor is a user who has previously completed a session on the website.

Users Flow

A users flow is the path a user takes on a website, from the source to the entrance to performing a specific action or exiting the site. Marketers examine users flow data to better understand the site’s UX. Users flow reports can show an array of information, including which pages users leave and which sources, pages, or paths lead to the most conversions.

Picture of Katie Yohn
Katie Yohn
Forever a student of marketing and the written word, Katie is always on the lookout for new ways to connect with audiences. She enjoys learning about emerging trends and sharing what she's learned. She also has an affinity for alliteration.