Measuring Website Performance

Measuring the performance of a website is akin to tuning an F1 race car for a Grand Prix.  It is vital to get all the correct data in order to make the right decisions.  However, too many businesses look blindly at their tracking metrics without taking the time to define what the 'right data' is; or, more specifically, what 'right data' is for them.Every race track is different, just as every website is different.  Each website should be built with specific measurable goals in mind.  At a high level, these goals typically include one or more of the following: Lead Generation, Ecommerce (sales), and Brand Awareness.  It follows that metrics related to these goals are critical to measuring the true performance of any website.

Key Performance Indicators

With the primary goals of your website in view, you need to create a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) to help measure your success and identify areas for improvement.  For the sake of this post, I will focus our analysis on some basic KPI's for a lead generation site.  In future posts, I'll cover KPI's for other types of websites.

The Most Important KPI - The End Result

We need to begin our list with the end result, or the ultimate goal itself; in this case the number of leads generated.  Without this information, all of our other metrics will be viewed out of context.  With a goal of generating leads, we need to understand how many leads we receive, how qualified the leads are, the source of the leads, etc...

Unique Visitors

Unique visitors are the number of visitors to your website that your analytics package deems to be unique.  For lead generation sites, this metric is valuable as it lets us know how many unique visitors the website has been able to serve.

Traffic Sources/Medium

We need to know where our traffic is coming from in order to know if our investments in online media (SEO, PPC, Email Marketing, Directories, etc.) are paying off.  Knowing what is bringing in traffic and what is not will give us a better idea of our ROI.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is the number of visits that resulted in just one page view on the site.  A high bounce rate may be an indicator of either poor content, usability issues, or a high volume of unqualified traffic.  If you are investing money in a search engine optimization or Pay Per Click campaign and are seeing a high bounce rate, especially for pages that you are targeting, this should send up some red flags.  Something is wrong.  However, it is again critical to view this metric through the lens of our primary goal - lead generation.  Imagine that a visitor performs a Google search, clicks on your listing or ad, and lands directly on a relevant page of your Website.  If they like what they see and pick up the phone to call you (without visiting other pages of your site), they would be counted as a bounce ... yet they may be a highly qualified buyer.  This points to the value of phone inquiry tracking (we'll talk more on the issue of phone tracking in a future post).

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of visits that result in a specifically designated site goal being achieving.  Tracking the percentage of visitors that convert allows us to know if the increases in traffic we generate due to top placement on Google is actually converting into meaningful results.  If our conversion rate is not staying inline, or preferably increasing, than we may need to refocus our keyword targets or consider on-page usability improvements.

Trend Comparisons

A trend comparison is not a metric in and of itself, but it provides a meaningful way of looking at your KPI's.  It is always valuable to compare data against other time periods.  We are able to gauge true performance over time, especially looking at year-over-year data.  To have a winning Internet marketing program, we must commit to continual improvement over the long haul, not just for one race.

Remember They're Your KPIs

It is important to have a set of standard KPI's that are relevant to you and the goals of your website.  There are many more metrics to consider in a deeper analysis of the performance of your site, but the above list should be a staple in anyone's dashboard.

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