Web Metrics a Digital Marketer Should Care About
To be successful in digital marketing -- heck, all marketing -- you need to be data driven. I look at different types of metrics on a daily basis, but I have a core set of metrics I look at weekly, monthly, and quarterly, and wanted to dive into why I look at these and how these same metrics might help you and your strategy. Let’s dig in.
Tools I Use
What Metrics and Why?
Unique visitors: I look at unique visitors as my standard traffic metric, since pageviews are inflated when you’re looking at top-line traffic. A single person can be counted a dozen times if you look at just pageviews as they move throughout your site, sessions are also another inflated metric when looking at total visitors. One unique visitor over your set time period shows a more true representation of your total audience
Page views: I know I said above I feel this is a deceptive metric but it does add value. Page views call tell you how deep your visitors are digging into your site, how engaging your content is to induce them to read more … or it can be an indication that they can’t easily find what they are looking for. Page views are super important to publishers who need to build an inventory for ad impressions. For a marketer they mean something else altogether. This is also a good way to keep track of the load on your site.
Mobile traffic: I watch this number to pay close attention to our mobile traffic growth. B2B companies haven’t picked up the levels of mobile traffic like most B2C companies have, but it has been slowly increasing. We want to always keep our site optimized for mobile ease-of-use.
Organic Traffic: This type of traffic is our most valuable because it comes to us naturally, it wasn’t bought or bribed. These users are showing genuine interest in our products and information about them, and we want to ensure this is growing.If it isn’t, then we need to catch it fast and see what we can do to fix it.
Click events: I track all clicks on pages set up through Google Tag Manager. This gives me the ability to have granular level reporting on sections of our pages as needed. This data helps add value to our heat maps that we also generate through Crazy Egg software.
Time on site: What does this metric mean? Is too long a time spent on your site bad, meaning the visitor can’t find what they need? Is it good because they are staying to read your blog content? This metric gains value from the qualitative data discussed above. More time on blog type content is a good thing, because it means the visitor is reading more and finding value in your content. When you notice users spending large amounts of time on pages that don’t seem to make sense, you can learn a lot from doing a usability test and watching someone go through your site.
Pages per session: this metric tells you on average how many pages each visitor looks at before they leave your site. If you are a blog site, 1 might be ok. You need to know your business and your user paths to define what success means for your business.
Bounce Rate: This metric indicates if the content your visitor lands on is what they expected. A high bounce rate means someone landed on the page and then left without clicking or taking any other action. This is something to watch, since you want to ensure people know what to expect when they land on your site, and so you can keep them engaged enough to take that next step.
Exit Rate: Where are people leaving your site? You know that everyone will leave your site at some point but if you are aware of this metric you can help ensure they are leaving because you have fulfilled their needs, and not because you haven’t provided them with the logical next step which indicates your UX might need some work. For further detail, you can read my previous blog post on how to keep traffic on your site, where I talk a lot about exit rate and bounce rate.
Sales Funnel Metrics:
Total Leads/total form fills: I track total leads collected by our web properties on a regular basis so we can easily track our conversion rate of all visitors to leads. We consider form fills to be one of our key goals and I track this by total leads coming in through our website. I collect this number through SalesForce.
Total MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads): I track total leads and then watch as those leads flow through our sales funnel. I like to keep track of how many of our total leads are turning into qualified marketing leads for our sales team.
Topline Opportunities: This is tracking potential dollars generated from the website. It is important to know which conversion sources on your website are generating potential for your organization. I track top-line opportunity to ensure the quality of the leads coming through and at what rate they turn into opportunities. Total Bookings: How much money does my website generate? Reporting on total bookings or closed business can help you justify spending more on your website if and when necessary, and it is also a huge validation that you are doing your job well. If your site is an ecommerce site this is very important. For B2B businesses like ours, we need to ensure our site can provide the information our customers need to be able to make a purchasing decision.
How often do you look at metrics?
I look at Google Analytics every day for ad hoc requests that come up, but I really dive into specific numbers on a weekly basis. I’ve found digging in more often than weekly will make you go a bit crazy because data fluctuates regularly and taking a long view is better to see trends worth digging into. I also populate an executive dashboard on a weekly basis for our CMO and CEO to see how our website is performing and get a view into the health of the site which is an indicator into the potential health of our business. I roll my reporting up weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. This gives me a nice view to compare seasonality trends and to watch the growth long term.
These are the base set of core metrics I pull on every site I manage. Some sites require that I go into more detail in specific areas such as a blog section or product pages if the site has a specific focus or goal. I pull these metrics out of Google Analytics on a weekly basis and keep them in a spreadsheet. This allows me to easily go back and compare data year-over-year or month-over-month. (Author’s tip: Exporting data out of Google and storing it in spreadsheets has been beneficial to me on multiple occasions.)
Why do you care?
As a digital marketer you are probably asked to develop a web strategy or sub-strategy for things like blogs or social media. How do you start that exercise? Metrics of course! I recently needed to dig into our blog and create a blog strategy to drive its growth and examine its role in our overall content strategy. I started by looking at the various metrics described above relevant to our blog to get an idea of where we were starting from and what reasonable growth targets would be. You can apply this type of thinking to other strategies as well, like content and even personalization strategies. I think this information is important to every digital marketer because if you don’t know what has been successful on your website then you don't know how to create more of it?