Metrics are tools for supporting actions that allow programs to evolve toward successful outcomes, promote continuous improvement, and enable strategic decision-making.
You would not dream of trying to run your business without a range of reports that show you how your sales and promotional activities are performing and your web site should be no different.
Here’s my list of the top metrics you should be looking at on a regular basis:
Specifically, I like to focus initially on unique visitors. This is the number of people that visited your site during a specific timeframe (e.g., yesterday, last week, last month).
These numbers are important because they represent the size of the audience that you are reaching. As you expand your marketing efforts, you will want to see if they are effective. As you get a handle on tracking visitors, you can expand to look at repeat visitors. If your number of repeat visitors is growing, this means that people are visiting your site once and then deciding to come back again to shop or read. This means that your site was compelling and useful, or “sticky” in online marketing lingo.
Referrals track users as they click on links in search engines, on other blogs, and other websites to your web site. The referrals report will show the number of visitors you are getting from social sites as well.
Understanding where you traffic is coming from is the key to understanding how the work you are doing to promote your business is working. Are people mentioning you on their blogs and linking back to you? Are your social efforts paying off?
- Bounce Rate
A “bounce” is when someone visits your site and immediately clicks the back button or closes their browser tab. What this usually means is that the user didn’t find what they were looking for on your site and decided to leave. This is the equivalent of someone walking in the front door of a store, taking a quick look around, and immediately walking back out the door.
Obviously, sometimes people just end up on the wrong site by accident, so getting your bounce rate down to zero is impossible. But reducing the rate is critical. Every lost visitor is a lost opportunity, so you’ll want to figure out why people are leaving and try to add the right content or navigation on your site to keep users around.
- Exit Pages
People often confuse “bounce” and “exit,” but they are very different metrics for you to measure. Unlike a “bounce”, when a user visits your site and barely views one page, an “exit” is when a user visits multiple pages and then leaves your site.
Some pages on your site may naturally have a high exit rate, such as your order receipt page. After all, a visitor is probably done with their purchase if they have reached the order receipt page after successfully completing a purchase.
- Conversion Rate
Of all the metrics you might track, conversion rate is probably one of the most important. Conversion rate is the percentage of people who achieved a goal on your site. Goals are things like completing a purchase, filling out a contact form, or viewing a certain page on your site.
The reason conversion rate is so important is that it is the ultimate measure of how successful your site is. If your site has a low conversion rate, you are either attracting the wrong kind of visitor to your site or your site is not effective at convincing your visitors that you offer the right solution to their problem.
- Top Pages
Finally, it’s important to know what pages your visitors think are the most important on your site. By viewing your top pages report, you know which pages to focus on as you look to improve your site and which pages will have the most impact if you make changes.
Web analytics and metrics can be overwhelming. The key to avoid drowning in the sea of numbers is to start small. Pick a metric that matters to you and your business and track that one metric and try to improve it. By focusing on only one thing as you get started, you’ll get a better feel for the numbers and how you can impact them. As you get comfortable, you can expand the metrics that you track.
Kaushik, A. (2010). Web analytics 101: definitions: goals, metrics, KPIs, dimensions, targets. Retrieved from http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/web-analytics-101-definitions-goals-metrics-kpis-dimensions-targets/
Parsons, N. (2013). The 6 most important web metrics to track for your business website. Retrieved from http://articles.bplans.com/the-6-most-important-web-metrics-to-track-for-your-business-website/
Starak, Y. (2016). Analyzing key metrics in your web site traffic reports – part 1. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com/416/analyzing-key-metrics-in-your-web-site-traffic-reports-part-1/