Seventy Three or One? How Can I Choose the Right Metrics for my Website Audit?
What do analytics, statistics and heuristics have in common?
They all end in tics.
How do you deal with so many website audit measurement possibilities, and such short attention spans? Have you slathered any of these numbers into reports you’ve made?
- Cost Per Click
- Click-through Rate
- Viral Coefficient
- Cost Per Action
- Referral Rate
- Top entry pages
- Referral conversion rate
- Email Open Rate
- Soft Bounces
- Hard Bounces
- Regular ecommerce Bounces
- Visits to Purchase
- Time on Page
- Top Referring Sites
- Pageviews per Visit
- Top exit pages
And my personal favorite: Churn Rate1.
Which is what my stomach does when I try to plow through all the possible permutations of prospecting for possible progress in perfecting our web presence.
“Seventy Three Must Measure Metrics?” 2 Really?
United WebWorks feels your pain. That's why we aspire to bring a bit of sanity to your online analytics. Let's start with a simple question:
What do you REALLY need to measure? A good friend of mine in marketing said once, "If you want to know how you're doing, the ONLY question you really need to ask is: 'Would you recommend us to a friend?'" All other questions are fluff.
He's got a point. Would you rather have complex and clunky or simple and elegant? We might be able to make some headway with "simple" by thinking about the ONE question we need to ask about your online presence.
If your website is ad sponsored and counting eyeballs is important, what else do you need to ask besides "how many page views per month, and how do we increase it?"
You probably don't fall into the ad-sponsored category, so ask how useful is the total visit number? Sure management might want it every month, but the real issue is sales, profit and the bottom line. So what if your page views soar but no conversions are made? I'd be just as pleased if my pageviews fell but conversions increased.
For an ecommerce business, perhaps it’s a question of how many visitors leave without purchasing and where do they go?
If you solicit leads with an online form, the big question is where are people bailing out before they get to the form?
It might be, "What websites are my visitors clicking from?"
The upside of the staggering number of possible measurements is that you can pick and choose the exact one you want, or even tweak it a bit to make it fit your unique business. You may need to change the Big Question periodically, say after a big ad campaign, or weather event, but the idea here is to make your analytic data hit a crucial bullseye.
That said, there are a lot of analytics categories to consider. Let’s pare down 73 to just three of the more useful, tried and true numbers to look at for website audit:
New Visits to Repeats
These are the unique views- not repeats. It's not difficult to understand why you would want to keep track of a ratio of new to repeat clickers. The goal here is converting new visitors to repeat visitors. Watch out if your ratio of newbies to repeats is imbalanced. A rule of thumb is to take action when new clicks-ins are above 30% of total, and it could mean that your site is not sticky enough to retain visitors.
Traffic Sources By Segment
Direct Traffic arrives by means of someone typing your URL into their browser or by clicking on your bookmark they have saved. Another doorway is an untagged link in an email.
Organic Traffic comes from unpaid search engine entries.
Referral Traffic obviously comes your way through links on other websites.
Measure this and you are gauging the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. Are you low in Organic Traffic? Then pay attention to your search engine rankings. Referral traffic doing well? You've done a great job of inviting other websites to link to you.
Conversions By Source
If organic visits are high but conversions low, what does that mean? Probably that people are not seeing what they expected on your site. Take a look at what pages people are landing on, and how well your SEO keywords match what you offer. Referral conversions low? Take another look at your online partners to see what mismatches are lurking there.
These numbers reveal a lot about your website. Are you clear about what visitors should do next? Are they getting their questions answered?
The "Gross Domestic Product" is a metric that's been around since the great depression as a fairly reliable way to check the overall health of societies. Ever wonder why we continue to choose it as THE key metric, the ONE THING we need to keep track of?
Bhutan is one modern country to measures something else: the GNH. Gross National Happiness. In 2008 they adopted it (notably, NOT their GDP) as the key figure in assessing the well-being of their tiny nation.
"The World Values Survey points out that while income has skyrocketed in developed nations compared to their pre-World War II levels, the levels of happiness found in those countries have remained nearly static. The survey, conducted annually in nations around the world, found that materialism appears to be 'a happiness suppressant' [source: BBC]." 3
Measure carefully, my friend.
1 The rate at which paying subscribers do not renew their subscription.