The web analytics world today is very complex. There is a range of tools on the market, from free and easy-to-use solutions to analytics suites costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The abundance of different metrics and measurements make it difficult for the average web analytics user to know where to start. However, there are still a few key metrics that are common to all.
A small number of these should be measured daily by every website manager, online marketer and internet business owner. After incorporating these quick checks into your regular work routines, they will soon become second nature. In descending order of importance, these are the metrics you want and need to be following.
Website Traffic: How much of it is real?
One of the most important things to understand before starting any serious analysis is what percentage of your website traffic is actually “real.” The majority of visits on any given website last less than 10 seconds. The reason for this could be robots, spiders, or people who have landed on your site, accidentally clicking on a link or an ad to your page.
These fake visitors skew your data tremendously, often making a good page look like it is underperforming while hiding problems affecting first-time visitors that genuinely bounced. More importantly, you could be paying money for this fake traffic if it comes through a PPC or banner campaign. Therefore, always remember to check the traffic sources if you see a sudden spike in these fake visits. You will want to set a strategy to increase the percentage of “real” visits based on what you’re learning. It’s the “real” people that convert and buy your product at the end of the day.
Search Keywords: What were your visitors searching for before they found you?
If you check your traffic sources report, you will be able to see what people typed into the search engine before they arrived at your site. Try to look at the top 100 results instead of the top 10 or 20 which are shown by default. Question to ask yourself: What percentage of these results are terms that reflect your company or product name, and what percentage are more generic?
If visitors are searching for your “brand” (your company or product name), then they have already come about 60% through the consideration phase of buying from you. 6 5 2 What you want to do is get more “unbranded” searches to your site. This is how you attract new customers. For example, if 90 out of the 100 results are a variation on your company name and only 10 of them are from searches for exactly what you sell, then you need to do some work.
Start by putting more content on your website in order to: a) Help people, who do not know your brand, to understand that you are right for them, and b) Get your site indexed by the search engine for more of those unbranded searches.
Traffic Sources: What is your mix?
This is probably the simplest report to look at, and the least utilized. Look at the report in your web analytics tool that shows you the overview of your traffic sources. What you will see is a pie chart that will tell you how many people: came to your site from search came from other sites typed your website URL directly into their browser (or had it bookmarked) The ideal distribution should look like equal slices, so if your pie chart looks like anything other than the Mercedes logo, you have a problem. You want your sources to be evenly balanced so you will not be dependent on any one “type” of traffic to merit your overall success.
For example, the pie chart below represents a website with really awful SEO. The site is getting almost no traffic from search, therefore if a month goes by with no online campaigns, or referral traffic dries up, there is no online “footfall” to keep the site growing naturally. For companies that rely heavily on social media, referral traffic from Facebook might dominate the pie. When Facebook changes their Edgerank algorithm, less people 82,653 people visited this site 0.59% Search Traffic 35.66% Referral Traffic 57.39% Direct Traffic 6.36% Campaigns 4 3 see your wall posts, traffic would dive and sales would plummet.
Given the buzz surrounding social media, this is the most volatile of all traffic types. The last type, direct traffic, generally tells you how hard your marketing department is working to drive people directly to your site through brand recognition, URL recognition, or other direct response campaigns. It’s also a great indication of the spillover effect from email marketing, direct mail or banner ads.
Entry Pages: Are they doing their job?
Whether it is your homepage, a landing page, or a product page direct from a search result, the first page a customer sees when he enters your site is his point of entry. To say these pages are critical to a website’s success would be an understatement, as first impressions stand for everything on the Internet.
Therefore, you will want to see conversion rates going up and bounce rates going down on these pages specifically. What to check: The first thing to do when analyzing point of entry pages is to focus on your failures. If the page converts 3% of traffic, start by looking at the other 97%. Focus on what they did on the page, what images they looked at or clicked on, what text they read, and how far down they scrolled.
You are ideally trying to find behaviors that indicate a customer was interested in what the page had to offer, but left for an obvious reason. For example, if a customer repeatedly clicked on an image or special offer badge trying to get information on a specific product or offer, and then leaves in frustration when they realize the image is not a link. By then checking how many other visitors had the same problem, you can easily find which problems to fix first, and which will have the biggest impact on site performance.
Mouse click and mouse move heatmaps are the obvious first tool for this, and should never be overlooked when trying to analyze a single page in a sales process or conversion funnel. Initially, look for those parts of the page that have the highest concentration of activity, and those with the lowest. You then need to ensure any relevant call to action buttons and converting links sit squarely in areas of high activity, and let the low activity areas be used for large images and blank space. On a positive note, this is where you’ll see the biggest ROI from your activities. When you consider raising a page’s conversion rate from 15% to 20%, this only requires finding an additional five customers who wanted to convert out of a possible 85 visitors. You are raising your total online revenue by a third!
Web Form Stats: Are they performing?
Love them or hate them, web forms play the most important role for any e-commerce website. They are your online cashier. Any customer that gets to a lead generation 3 2 4 form, shopping cart, or payment page essentially has to overcome one final hurdle for you to achieve your business goals. They have to successfully fill out an online form.
That is why it can be so frustrating to discover after several weeks or even months that you have had a small bug or confusing question all along that has been turning away thousands of potential customers. Checking the performance of your online forms is quick and easy to do, and should be a daily ritual for any e-commerce manager. If you notice the performance dropping by anything greater than 10% on a given day, spend a couple of minutes seeing if you can find a reason for this. It might just be an anomaly, or a natural dip in performance, but it’s always worth the check.
Sales Goals: Are you meeting them?
Any analytics tool worth its salt will be able to tell you whether or not you are meeting your ecommerce goals. That said, you will be amazed how many times this essential metric is not even measured. Take half a day out of your schedule to make sure this feature is turned on, implemented properly, and tracking correctly.
You will never regret it, and it saves endless time and heartache in understanding what on your website is working the hardest to achieve success and which strategies either need to be shut down or overhauled. If you can’t integrate this directly with your ecommerce platform, then set an event or goal in your web analytics tool of choice to measure every time someone clicks on the final confirmation button of your payment page.
There are more elegant solutions to tracking conversions, but if you do not have the time or budget to set them up, this will do nicely. You absolutely have to be tracking this metric, and reviewing it regularly. Many platforms will even allow you to set an e-mail alert with information such as the number of sales in the last 24 hours. Having these arrive to your inbox every morning for a cursory glance is the best way to keep your finger on the pulse of your website, so to speak.
Make It a Habit
Getting into the habit of checking these six metrics on a daily basis will not take any time at all. Within a week or two you’ll be able to recall your website’s key success metrics off the top of your head, and evaluate the performance of anything from email marketing campaigns to site redesigns at a moment’s notice. These business specific benchmarks will tell you what direction your company is going in, how fast your online business is growing, and exactly what you need to improve to help get there.