Deciding on which analytics matter most is an important step in helping you determine if the marketing strategy you have is producing the results you want. You'll need to understand why you exist, what your goals are, and what data to collect to determine success or failure.
Understand Why You're Doing “It”
Whatever your marketing strategy is – whether content marketing, or social media marketing, it's important to know why you're doing it. Are you creating products to make the lives of your target market easier? Do you want more newsletter members? Are you trying to get sign-ups for a webinar? What exactly do you do, and why do you do it? Also, what do you want your website visitors to do when they get to your site?
Know Who You're Doing It For
Who is your target audience? Can you describe a persona down to the age, sex, job and income of your ideal target market? If so, create a few personas, maybe two or three that you can address all marketing materials towards. This will enable you to not only make better choices for content, but also to create better products and/or services.
Set Benchmarks and Goals
Once you know what you're doing, it's important to set some goals. The goals you set, such as signing 100 new people up for your email list, are very important. You want to be specific in addition to making sure it's a realistic goal. If you know what the goal is, it'll be easier to decide how to word your content, place your advertisements, where to locate sign-up boxes and more.
Collect the Data
Finally, you need to know what data to collect. There is more to a website than visitors to a page. You really want to track conversions based on your goals. How many people signed up for your newsletter due to the article you placed on that article marketing site? How many people signed up for and attended your webinar based on affiliate marketing efforts? How many people bought your book after reading an advertisement for it on Facebook?
Analyze the Data
The metrics that matter most are the ones that show progress toward your goals. You can have a million site visitors but if you make zero conversions, no newsletter sign-ups, and no sales, you haven't succeed. Those types of metrics say that the marketing you're doing isn't targeting the right people. If you have the type of sales and conversions you were looking for, then you can reasonable decide to do more of what is working and less of what is not to get even more conversions.
The best tool to use for analytics really is Google Analytics. It's free, easy to use and it works. There are others that you can use such as Spring Metrics, or Adobe SiteCatalyst. These tools can help you test and target your site with A/B testing, and more. Some tools are quite expensive so it's best to start with the free one, which is Google Analytics. If you then determine you need more advanced features, you can go from there.