B2C Marketing Analytics for Beginners

Typical B2C Digital Channels and Metrics

This lesson will give an overview of the common digital channels used in B2C marketing and the common metrics used to measure their performance. Most channels are discussed in greater detail later in the course.

Typical Digital Channels

Search – Organic Search and Paid Search

Online search has become a primary way that a user finds an online business. Organic search is where the search engine serves up the link to your site using its own algorithm to get relevant and useful search results to the user. In paid search, you pay the search engine to display your advertisement when specific keywords are used in a user’s search.

For example, here is what Google presented after a search for “b2c marketing channels”. The first item is a paid ad from LinkedIn (identified by an “Ad” label) and the next one is an organic result that Google has determined is the most relevant for the search.

Typical Channels - Search

Display Advertising

Display advertising refers to ads that can be published on many different types of web properties. Also known as banner advertising, they can be text, flash, video, etc… For example, here is an ad for Boost Mobile on the satirical news site The Onion.

Typical Channels - Display


Social Media (Organic Social and Paid Social)

Social media marketing is advertising on social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, etc…). It can be organic, where you or your customers and fans post about your company and generate views and clicks from the post’s own popularity. You can also have paid ads on these social platforms.

Here is an example of two posts on Facebook. The one on the left is a paid ad for The New York Times (identified as an ad by the “Sponsored” label) and the one on the right is an organic post by Hechoverde to an article on GlobalCitizen.org.

Typical Channels - Social Media

Email Marketing

Email marketing is where you send marketing messages directly to your customers’ email inbox. Unlike the rest of the channels in this tutorial, it requires that you already have the contact information of the customers you’re sending your message to.

Referrals and Affiliates

Sometimes someone will post about your site and link to it. That’s a referral. This can be on someone’s blog, a news story, an online tutorial, etc… For example, if you clicked on this link to Wikipedia’s article on referral marketing, to them you would look like you came from the referrer www.dataschool.wpengine.com. The only difference between organic social posts from your advocates and referrals is that organic social happens exclusively on social networks whereas referrals can happen on any other type of web property.

You can also encourage referrals through incentive programs. These are commonly referred to as affiliates. Incentives can take many forms:

  • offering your customers a discount if they get their friends to sign up
  • partnering with a content site or an influencer with a large social following to link to your site, usually for a commission
  • joining a network of affiliates where anyone in that network can drive traffic to your site, usually for a commission


Direct refers to traffic that comes to your site by users typing your URL in their browser’s address bar or from a saved bookmark. In practice, most tools define “direct” as traffic that has no tracking information that would categorize it as anything else. In that way, “direct” is more like a catchall bucket – it includes users who typed out your URL, but also includes clicks from other channels that can’t be tracked. More details on tracking channels and campaigns will be covered in a later section.

Common Digital Marketing Metrics

Different channels and platforms offer different types of media and functionality for your marketing messages. For this reason, the exact way to measure performance of a message and how users interact with it vary across channels and from platform to platform. However, there are some metrics and some families of metrics that apply almost universally. These are:

  • Reach – a measure of how many users you can get your message out to. It can be the number of followers on Twitter, the number of impressions of an ad, the size of your email mailing list, etc…
  • Frequency – while reach speaks to how many people you reach out to, frequency measures how often each person saw your message
  • Engagement – quantifies the interest you generated with your message. This could be likes on a Facebook post, retweets on Twitter, etc…
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) – measures how successful a message was in immediately leading traffic to your site. It’s the rate of users who clicked on the message out of all who saw it
  • Conversion rate – used to assess how well you can capitalize on the traffic that has made it to your site. It’s the rate of users who made a conversion (a signup, a purchase, etc…) out of all who made it to your site
  • Revenue – measures how much money the traffic brought in
  • Return on Investment (ROI) – measures the efficiency of your marketing spend. It’s how much revenue you make per dollar of marketing spend

Each channel and advertising platform has its own set of nuanced metrics to help you understand performance in depth. We’ll go over many of these metrics in later sections.


This tutorial gave an overview of the most common B2C digital marketing channels and the metrics used to measure their success.

With so many metrics to describe the performance of a marketing message, it can be hard to judge whether it was successful or not. The next lesson will provide a framework for selecting primary metrics for your campaigns based on what part of the marketing funnel they target.