Query “What should you measure in your website analytics?” and you’ll net 190M search results. Pose the question to a dozen specialty web strategists and you will get a dozen different answers. The concepts of what a website can be are so fluid that your measurement approach could be tackled dozens of ways. Generally, these methods are neither completely wrong nor completely right, but you can achieve better results if clear on your website purpose.
The first question you need to ask yourself: “Why do I have a website?” Here are a few of the more common reasons for a website and Mansfield Inc.’s perspective on what you should be measuring for each
If you have a website that is primarily an online store, user journey is the top thing to track. All the visitors in the world are meaningless if they never purchase. User drop off will be the first problem you will want to monitor and tackle as it may indicate users experiencing bottlenecks, which is a common cause to prohibiting the completion of sales. Tracking and identifying how far users get through the purchase process before dropping off can indicate that your products not being adopted by your audience or your site providing a poor user experience that they abandon the process. More importantly if you have a high drop off rate on product pages that don’t have inventory you have a successful product, but no products to sell. Those pieces of information can dictate your own vendor purchase agreements.
For example, the gig economy has led to the explosion of services on demand, independents and entrepreneurs able to compete with large established companies for creative, marketing and consulting services. This type of website should include portfolios, case-studies and testimonials they believe represents their business. These sections of the website are the key drivers for website traffic, but page views alone are the not the main indicator of success.
For a successful portfolio website to work you must measure the amount of time on page. If users are generally skimming over the pieces presented on the site, they are not in line with their interests. However, if one page of your site is gaining a greater share of the time spent on site, it can indicate that that piece is more relevant or interesting to your audience. One solution is to move that more interesting content between the landing page and a call to action to sign up as a new customer and help convert passive scanning to lead generation.
Prior to the internet, people became thought leaders by publishing in books and journals that would lead to speaking engagements to grow their physical audience. Online publishing has not only greatly reduced the costs of sharing your ideas, but the lead time from concept to read content has dropped dramatically also. This content churn means that an optimized path to delivery and content topics is of the utmost importance.
To build out your website as a driver of content, some key metrics to track are pages per visitor and traffic from your newsletter. Treating your newsletter followers like an advertising campaign will allow you track which content is of interest to your current audience. Tracking the pages per visitor will give your perspective on whether all pieces of content are creating value for you or just a few select pages. Looking at which pages are getting the most views will help drive your content strategy in the right direction.
Understanding the difference between website and web application is critical. From a high level they both appear the same, both are viewed in a web browser and jumping between them is seamless with a good architecture. The big distinction is that web applications have processing done on a server level, driving information to a database and a code base that could be 20 times as big. A marketing website that supports these applications are used as landing pages or provide supporting documentation for new users.
A marketing website for a web application is useful to track inbound traffic to the application. Once you identify where the users are coming from you can target and remarket to turn them into customers. The most important metric to track is called the referrer source in the acquisition section of your analytics platform. These will be social media campaigns, organic search results or paid campaigns if you have implemented them.
If none of the above apply to you, perhaps you are just using your website as your online business card. Business cards are primarily used to facilitate communications with you from someone you have shared the business card with. An online business card essentially shares that business card with the world.
The key indicator of this type of website being successful is contradictory to how many SEO campaigns work. If the user finds the contact information they need it will be automatically be considered a drop off as they will most likely leave the site after they send an email or call. If the find the information on the landing page, then the page will show an abnormally high bounce rate. These terms are typically seen as enemies to the website, but in the right circumstances they are key indicators of success.
Mansfield Inc understands the importance of tailoring analytics to the success of your website. We don’t believe in a one size fits all approach to website measurement, contact us to create a custom measurement plan that fits your needs.