Tracking and reporting ROI for SEO is a big challenge for digital marketers. Things can get especially tricky if your business is not an e-commerce, service, or local business.
To make sure that our SaaS clients understand the effects of SEO improvements on their website, we’ve developed a dashboard that is customized for their specific goals.
The good news is that we use a free tool – Google Data Studio, and data from the most popular and free sources – Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Even better, the dashboard can be used both for reporting to the C-level executives and for analysis and strategy tweaks from the marketing team.
You can take a look at this sample dashboard. If you’re hungry for a detailed walk-through, check out our webinar “The Ultimate SEO Dashboard for SaaS”, which is available on-demand here. If you’re thrilled about the KPI & ROI part, keep scrolling.
Finding the Right Goals for SaaS
Any KPI tracking and reporting starts with goals. We all know, love, and use the SEO basics such as non-branded traffic. To take things to the next level, you’d need to set up granular goals that are specific to your marketing strategy and product.
By doing that, it would be easier to see if things are going in the right direction (we all know that getting in position 1-3 takes time), and you’ll be able to dedicate resources to the strategies that are working.
We recommend choosing 3 to 5 goals when you start – go with more only if you offer several very different software types, and revise them every 6 months. You can also add some temporary goals related to short-term marketing campaigns such as organizing an event or a webinar.
Try to set realistic goals based on previous experience and/or the results of other marketing channels – for example, increasing demo subscriptions by 10% for the next quarter, or getting 100 app downloads a month.
Here are the most common goals for SaaS that you can use directly or adjust:
- Product subscription;
- Demo subscription (for every product/plan);
- App download;
- Contact form submission;
- Lead form submission;
- Call with a sales representative;
- Chat with a chatbot;
- Case study/White paper download;
- Watching a video demo;
The GA goal completion data can be mixed with feedback from sales about whether the leads are valid and what’s the real conversion rate.
- Non-branded traffic by content type (article, product page, product feature page);
- Impressions for non-branded keywords;
- URL CTR;
- Clicks, impressions & CTR for new or optimized content pieces;
- Bounce rate;
- Pages per session;
- Time on page.
- Newsletter subscription;
- Webinar/free event subscription;
- Downloads of a free educational resource (E-book, Infographic);
Make sure to apply the Organic traffic segment to the GA goal completion data.
If you’re doing this for the first time, make sure that the website’s tracking is done properly, otherwise, you can be easily misled. Also, take into account any seasonality changes in your industry, or the possible effect of other marketing campaigns.
Taking It to the Next Level – SEO ROI
Let’s face it – ROI is the only thing most company managers care about. You can try to wow them with impressions, email subscribers, or demos, but it would be very hard to secure a good budget for SEO without at least a rough sense of return on investment.
As a start, you need several important company metrics:
- Average customer lifetime value
- Average customer acquisition value
- Conversion rate from demo to customer
- Monthly SEO costs (inhouse team, tools, writers, images, dev time, agency/freelance consultants, etc).
If you have these and you’ve managed to settle on the conversion goals from the list above, the rest is a piece of cake.
Also, make sure to take a look at how ROI is calculated on the company level or for paid channels, so you can use the same approach. For example, if personnel costs/agency payments are not added when calculating ROI, exclude this part from the calculation to have consistency.
Let’s look at an example – Demo Subscriptions:
When you have the profit estimation, use a classic formula to estimate the ROI based on $4,000 a month SEO expenses:
When you have multiple goals, it’s best to calculate a total Customer value and ROI. The other option is to split evenly the SEO cost.
This logic can be applied to every one of the goals you have chosen. It will not only be valuable for management but will also help you think about what brings the most profit for the company.
And some great news: once you set up the formulas in Google data studio, the tool will calculate everything. You need to go back only if there are changes in the estimations you’ve added (costs, conversion rate, etc).
The Other Pieces of the Puzzle
The C-suite may care only about ROI and KPIs, but as a marketer, you need more information. That’s why our dashboard includes several more data points that are crucial to understanding what’s going on on the website: whether the latest updates had a positive effect or why the bounce rate jumped like crazy. Here’s what else we track:
- Non-branded traffic by device
- Page speed
- Indexation rate (valid, excluded & pages with errors)
- List of To-dos for dev/content team
- UX metrics by landing page
- Performance by query
If you love the dashboard, but you don’t have the time to set it up or you have specific requests – get in touch with us, we’ll be happy to help. And don’t forget to check out our roadmap for creating an SEO Strategy for SaaS.