To understand how your online marketing efforts are performing and how you can improve them, you'll need to regularly track and analyze the metrics from those campaigns. These metrics highlight the areas on your website, blog or in your online marketing program where you're doing well, what needs additional tweaking and processes that need to be scrapped.

Understanding metrics can help enable you to identify big problems such as poor timing, inconsistent search phrases, incorrect prospect definitions and flawed audiences. Most importantly, it can help avoid wasting time and money due to poorly-executed websites or marketing campaigns.

The tricky part is knowing the different types of metrics and how they affect your business. Here, I've assembled a glossary of terms you'll need to know to successfully track, analyze and improve your online and email marketing campaigns.

Google AdWords Metrics
If you are using Google AdWords -- which offers pay-per-click advertising and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads -- then you should get familiar with the following terms:

  • Click thru rate (CTR). This is the percentage of people who clicked on your advertisement. For example, a 5 percent CTR means five out of every 100 people who saw a particular ad clicked on it. An average CTR for e-commerce sites is 1 percent to 3 percent.
  • Average position. This tells you the placement of your ad in search results. Most retailers find positions three through five have the best results.
  • Impression share. Want to know how many times your ad displays per number of searches made on a particular search phrase? Then this is the metric you'll want to check. For instance, if your impression share was 50 percent, that would tell you that your ad was displayed half the time. A strong impression share generally is about 80 percent.
  • Bounce rate. This tells you the percentage of people who clicked on your ad and went to your landing page, but did not visit a second page. A bounce rate of 30 percent means three out of 10 people clicked on your ad and left after visiting your landing page. The lower your bounce rate the better, but a good rate is 40 percent.
  • Conversion rate. This tells you the rate at which visitors are converted into buyers. Typically, 1.25 percent is the low end for e-commerce sites.

Email Metrics
For email campaigns, many of the metric names are different but track some of the same things. It's useful to uncover what your industry's standard numbers are so that you can compare your own success rate. The terms you'll need to know include:

  • Opens. This tells you how many recipients opened your email.
  • Clicks. Check this to know how many recipients clicked on your offers.
  • Bounces. An email usually gets "bounced" when it's sent to an incorrect email address. If you're receiving a high number of bounces then you'll to verify the emails on your list.
  • Non responders. This tells you who did not open your email.
  • Forwards. This notifies you of how many people passed your email along to someone else.

Website and Blog Metrics
You can also track visitor activity on a website, blog or landing page. Google Analytics supplies much of this information at no cost. Some of the metrics it follows are:

  • Total visits. This is the number of first-time and return visitors to your site. "Unique visits" tracks the number of first-time visitors and "return visits" refers to the number of visitors who return to your site.
  • Leads. The number of prospects who filled out a form or downloaded an offer.
  • Popular pages. Want to know which pages are resonating best with your visitors? This tells you which ones get the most visits.
  • Search engine key phrases. These are the top phrases people used to reach your site or landing page.
  • Geographic locations. This tracks the parts of the country and world your visitors are from.
  • Referring websites. This refers to other websites -- other than search engines -- that referred people to your site.
  • Page rank. A criteria created by Google and one of the determining factors of a web page's strength in search.
  • Number of inbound links. These are links from other sites that point to your site or specific pages.

Deciding which of these metrics you wish to analyze will depend on the campaign you are undertaking. Once you determine your methods and metrics, download a sample metrics report and begin analyzing them monthly. This can help you identify how your efforts are improving and where additional effort might be needed.

The Accidental Sales ManagerThis article is an excerpt from the book Outcome-Based Marketing available from Entrepreneur Press.