Before you decide what to measure on your website, you need to ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. What is your goal for your site and how does that goal sit within your organisation’s wider goals? Once you know that, it’s a matter of measuring how well you’re achieving that goal, where you’re doing well and where you’re going wrong.
Web mogul Set Godin hit the nail on the head when he said, “Measurement is fabulous. Unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure, as opposed to what’s important.”
So, what is important?
Website visitor numbers
This is the first metric everyone thinks of and looks at when measuring their website’s success. It is a good starting point when considering how well your site is doing, but that’s all it is. Unfortunately, I meet many people, including experts who put too much onus on their visitor numbers. Here are a few things to think about:
- Always keep an eye on this, but only as a first step.
- Unless you’re running an entertainment site, visitor numbers are not the measurement of success. Some sites get many visitors but don’t achieve their owners’ goals. Some sites can prove their worth many times over by drawing just a few of the right visitors.
- Visitor numbers need to be paired with other metrics to tell you anything you can act upon – Learn more below.
- Changes to your site that boost your visitor numbers can actually damage you true goals. For example, because general advertisements are cheaper than carefully targeted ones a website advertiser can boost visitor numbers for free by broadening the scope of their adverts. However, the poor targeting means they will be getting fewer of the type of people who are likely to buy the product.
Page visitor numbers
We’re starting to dig down into the metrics and get more useful results here. As you have probably guessed, page visitor numbers are the number of visitors to each page of a site:
- Check these first if your visitor numbers are high but your conversions (sales or sign-ups) are low. People may be arriving at your home page or blog pages and not moving on to your sales pages.
- This metric can help you put more advertisements and calls to action on popular pages to achieve your goals, and to work out which pages are struggling.
- If you have a defined journey that visitors take through your site. You can find out where on that journey you’re losing people and ask yourself why.
- Bounce-rate metrics – people who have left your site after viewing a page rather than clicking onward – can aid these considerations too.
Website visitor sources
You should be feeding people into your site from at least one source – For example, social media or Google advertising. This is a great metric for comparing the success of these feed-ins.
- If you divide the number of visitors by how much time and money you spend on each source, you can find out its efficiency. This helps you analyse your marketing, cut your spending on the cash cows and save more for the effective methods.
- You can also alter pages to sync up well with visitors from a popular source.
- Some apps and platforms allow you to track what visitors from each source do on your site too.
Returning vs. new visitors
Whether you run a quick-sale shop or are looking to build trust to secure a long-term client, loyal customers are always more valuable than one-offs. These two analytics sort the regular wheat from the one-off chaff.
- Even sites that sell one-off buys or things that can be purchased quickly benefit from returning visitors. These people may recommend your business to others.
- Returning visitors are much more valuable than new ones as they have been engaged by your site enough to come back. They are more likely to convert and interact. Aim to boost this metric.
- You should aim for a returning visitor rate of around 30%
- One of the reasons for the high visitors/low successes problem is that many people are finding your site but not being engaged when they get there. To ensure that’s not the case, check out that at least some are returning.
If you rely on your blog to promote your site through search engine optimisation or social media, track its popularity. This is often easy as most blogging platforms automatically count readers of each post.
How to use website metrics
It’s important to set a goal for each website metric you are tracking that adds up to success in your overall business goals. For example, if I wanted to sell websites by drawing a lot of regular customers onto my site using my blog, I would track sales-page visitors, returning visitors and blog popularity.
Use the different metrics together to build up a picture of how each part of your site is working for each kind of customer.
Then take measurements against your goals and try to diagnose what is going wrong in each case. That’s the all-important final step that sets the strategists apart.
Good luck, and if you need any help, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org