Understanding the various terms used to analyze and optimize data can feel like you're trying to read a different language.
There are phrases, idioms and commonly used industry jargon that can be difficult to comprehend unless you live and breathe data.
For marketers that rely on essential metrics for reporting, it’s crucial to know the ways to best aggregate, interpret and take action on the data you collect.
But before knowing how to do this, you must first learn how to speak the talk and walk the walk of a data scientist.
Here are 30 commonly used data analytics terms that every marketer should know to assemble and discern the most meaningful reporting possible:
An action is any activity a user takes when interacting with your website, application or product. This could include email signups, page views, downloads, video plays, purchases or any other activity that you would like to track.
2. Alexa Rank
Your website’s Alexa Rank is calculated by the average number of page views and visitors your site receives within a 90-day period. By monitoring your Alexa Rank, you can determine how your website traffic is comparing against competition and other leaders in your industry.
An automation is a triggered response to a user’s activity or behavior. For example, if a visitor to your site downloaded an eBook, the automation that triggers could be to add them to an email campaign or create a lead in your CRM.
Attribution links an established set of user actions to a desired result and then assigns a value to each of those outcomes. Marketers use attribution models and reporting to understand how their marketing activities are performing relative to business results. For example, if my goal was to learn if the blog posts I’m publishing are delivering qualified leads that convert, I could set up an attribution report to monitor how many people read my blog posts, sign up for a free trial and then convert to a paying customer.
5. Behavioral Targeting
Behavioral targeting is an advertising technique that monitors the behavior of a user to deliver more personalized, relevant messaging. If a marketer is collecting the right data, they can use behavioral targeting to engage customers and prospects based on a variety of information including purchase history, browsing activity, in-app activity and more to deliver truly customized messaging.
6. Bounce Rate
Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your landing page and leave without browsing further or clicking elsewhere on your website. Marketers want to reduce the bounce rate of their website to keep visitors engaged longer in hopes of boosting conversions.
An organization’s churn is calculated by the total number of subscribers or customers that leave throughout time. There are multiple ways to calculate churn depending on your business model. In a SaaS company for example, if a customer comes on board with a one-year subscription and later leaves, they will have “churned.” The goal is to keep your churn rate as low as possible.
8. Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is calculated when users take a particular, defined action that you want them to take. The most common measurement for conversion is the number of unique website visitors that convert to paying customers. However, conversions could be the number of people who sign up for a free trial, make a purchase, download a white paper, click on an ad, etc. Whatever your goal is, the conversion rate is what you will be measuring and optimizing to deliver the best customer experience possible.
Cookies are a delicious and often not-so-nutritious midday snack! The term Cookie also refers to a small file that is stored on a user’s browser or computer when they visit a website. Cookies (often called Tracking Cookies) allow marketers to track the behavior of visitors while on their site, retarget visitors while on other sites and map the path visitors take once landing on their site.
10. Direct Traffic
Anyone who has come to your site by typing your domain name in their browser or used a saved bookmark to access your site will be attributed to direct traffic.
11. Engagement Rate
Engagement rate is a term used to measure how “engaged” a visitor is with your brand. This can be calculated in multiple ways. For example, a visitor who came to your website and clicked on multiple pages stayed for an extended period and shared one of your social media posts would have a higher engagement rate than a visitor who only came to your website once.
Events and the actions mentioned above are relatively synonymous and you will hear the terms interchanged frequently. What you might not hear as often is the term Custom Events. Custom Events include any event (or action) that you would like to track. For example, a mobile gaming company might want to track how many of their users make it past the first level. So, the company would create a Custom Event that tracks level completion.
Often seen in Facebook and Twitter advertising, the number of impressions equals the number of times a piece of content has been viewed. For example, a post on Twitter could receive 200 impressions if it has been viewed by 200 Twitter users. Remember, not everyone who receives a tweet in their stream will see it. So, you should also consider the exposure, which reflects the potential reach that your content has, often called potential impressions. For Twitter, this would be the number of times your Tweet could appear in users’ Twitter feeds.
Funnel is defined as the steps a user takes from the moment they interact with your brand to the time they become a customer. By monitoring funnel analytics, marketers can find unique opportunities to improve the conversion process. For example, an online retailer could see that most customers are dropping off during the checkout process in their funnel and could optimize this process based on the data.
Labels allow marketers to save valuable customer segments (will discuss segments further down). By creating labels, marketers can quickly reference specific segments and set criteria for additional customers to be dynamically added as they meet the criteria. For example, a company could create a label called “At-Risk of Leaving” and include clients who have submitted a particular number or support tickets or who are coming to the end of their subscription.
16. Lead Score
If you’re using Hubspot or Marketo for your marketing automation efforts, you’re probably familiar with a Lead Score. Lead Scoring assigns a number (score) to a lead based on the perceived fit for your company and the lead behavior. For example, a visitor who downloads a whitepaper reads a blog post, attends an event and requests a demo will have a much higher lead score than a person who has only downloaded the whitepaper.
Omnichannel refers to the growing need for a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. For example, if a customer is shopping for your product, their experience across their tablet, smartphone, desktop or in-store should be relatively the same.
18. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
You’ve probably heard this term multiple times before. For clarification, PII refers to any user data that could be used to distinguish one person from another. Standard PII identifiers include phone numbers, email addresses, social security numbers or mailing addresses.
A property can be any number of defined data points that you are tracking. For example, a customer property could include age, gender, location, company, email, revenue, etc. You can also define specific properties that you’d like to track such as industry, website, number of Twitter followers, etc.
In its simplest terms, a referrer is any source that sends a new visitor to your website. This could include social media posts, Quora questions, images embedded with links, posts on other blogs, backlinks and more.
Retargeting is a form of advertising that works by tracking users who visit your site, placing a cookie on their device or browser and displaying an ad to that same user as they interact with other sites or applications. Retargeting helps to bring back those visitors who might have been interested at one time but need a little reminder to convert into a paying customer.
22. Revenue Report
A revenue report is similar to an attribution report but is solely focused on revenue generated from specific activities. For example, you might want to pull a revenue report if you’re interested in understanding exactly how much revenue your event marketing campaigns have generated.
Defining segments within your audience will allow you to better sort and understand your data. Segmentation allows marketers to quickly view and react to people who are taking certain behaviors or that meet specific criteria. For example, you could create a segment of users who belong to an enterprise organization, visited your site at least three times and downloaded your eBook. Customer analytics solutions such as Woopra, allow for in-depth and targeted segmentation to help marketers quickly identify problem areas and opportunities.
The term session (often called visits) refers to the activity a visitor takes on your application or website throughout a given time. The actual amount of time that is attributed to a session varies depending on your analytics solution. For example, a two-hour session could include the projects, purchases, and reports that a user engaged with while on your application. After a period of inactivity, the session ends and a new session will begin as soon as the user comes back to your site or application.
A source can be any offline or online channel that drives traffic or lead generation. Like referrers, sources can include search engines, social media, blog posts, etc. Unlike referrers, sources may also include specific campaigns. For example, an offline direct mail campaign could be a source that is equally important to monitor and measure within your analytics.
With so much data, it can be difficult to break down and analyze the information you receive to extract the most meaningful insights possible. Taxonomy is a way of organizing your data into categories and subcategories to allow for greater segmentation and filtering. For example, if you’re tracking blog post engagement within Wordpress, the taxonomies you could include for additional filtering might include comments, searches, article views and blog subscriptions.
Touchpoints are all of the various interactions that a user has with your business along the path to conversion. This could include anything from their first email response to the live chat conversation they have with a support representative. By tracking the different touchpoints a visitor makes along the path to conversion, marketers gain a better understand of which touchpoints are most valuable and how many it takes to convert an interested visitor into a paying customer.
Related Article: Dizzying Data: What the Rise in Data Complexity Means for Business
28. Tracking URL
A tracking URL is a regular URL with a token or UTM parameter (learn about UTM parameters below) assigned to it. Tracking URLs allow marketers to track where specific traffic originated.
29. Unique Visitors
Anyone who has accessed your website at any point in time is as a unique visitor. This is tracked by a cookie placed on the browser or device of a visitor along with their associated IP address. As long as the visitor comes back to your site from the same browser and device, they're counted as one unique visit. If, however, a visitor clears their cookies or visits your site through a different browser, they're then counted as two unique visitors.
30. UTM Parameters
Also known at UTM codes or UTM tags, UTM parameters are essentially source descriptions that are added to the end of a URL. These tags allow marketers to identify the exact source of traffic coming to their website and tie activity on specific channels to business results. Without a UTM tag, you might be able to identify that a visitor came to your site from Twitter, but you wouldn’t know what post or campaign drove that traffic. With a UTM tag, you can include the source (i.e. Twitter), the medium (i.e. email), the Content (i.e. “Why Marketing is Awesome”) and the keyword associated with that campaign for clear attribution.
If you’ve made it to the end of this list, you’re well on your way to becoming a data-driven marketing expert. While the definition of many of these terms can fluctuate slightly depending on how your organization is analyzing data, a basic understanding of how marketers speak of and analyze data will allow you to turn your data insight into proactive action.