Right now, there are almost 1.9 billion websites on the internet. That means that your competitors are almost guaranteed to have a functioning website just like yours.
So how do you make sure your website is performing at its best and you’re getting the best possible ROI on your internet marketing activities? It all starts with web analytics. You can’t manage what you don’t measure after all.
But what is web analytics? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the metrics you should be monitoring so you can convert more website visitors to leads, and more leads to paying customers.
Why Use Web Analytics? The most successful businesses track as many metrics as they can. Without tracking, you simply can’t know what’s working and what isn’t. It’s also impossible to see where you’re wasting time or money, and how this can be improved.
Many managers and business owners instinctively use their intuition or their “gut feeling” to make key business decisions. While there’s nothing wrong with following your gut (and this can be a great thing in business), there’s no way to argue with numbers.
Metrics don’t have any biases or expectations. Instead, they’re black and white and easy to compare. If you’re not measuring your web analytics, you’re doing business in the dark, while your competitors have all their lights on.
Not All Metrics Are Equal These days, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of data available. We have more data at our fingertips than at any other time in history. So it can be difficult to know just which data is relevant, and which is not.
Business owners and managers can measure everything from website visitors to Facebook likes. This ability to collect and analyze data allows you to see what’s working and what can be improved.
For web analytics to be useful, they need to be tracked and measures. While analytics for a single time period may be useful, they become less relevant when they’re not viewed over a longer period of time.
When you follow analytics over longer periods, you can see insights around trends. For example, comparing monthly or quarterly analytics can allow you to see trends as they’re developing so you can make adjustments.
Vanity metrics are the metrics that have nothing to do with your bottom line but can give your team an inflated sense of success. Often, they’ll be easy to calculate but also influenced by so many factors that they’re unreliable.
One way to think about metrics is whether they relate to ROI. If they don’t tell you anything about how your revenue is impacted, using them to justify business decisions is a bad move.
Here are some examples of vanity metrics:
Blog Post Views This metric establishes that you’ve created good content and established your team as thought leaders, which is great. But it doesn’t indicate where these blog post views are coming from, if your post actually answered your readers’ question, or how long they spent reading (or not reading) your post.
View Count Video is massive in digital marketing right now, so you may have a video on your website, or be linking to your company YouTube account. When you consider your reach, view count is definitely important. However, if you’re sharing your video on social media, a view may not mean what you think it means.
On Twitter and Facebook, someone only needs to be watching your video for 3 seconds for it to count as a view. On YouTube, this is a little longer at 30 seconds, but if you’re sharing a four or five-minute video, this metric tells you nothing.
Social Channel Likes If you’re working on a digital marketing campaign, you’re likely including social media as part of your strategy. But it can be easy to get caught up in how many “likes” you have on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
Unfortunately, on a small number of your social media followers are seeing your posts unless you’re paying for advertising.
Email Open Rates At first glance, this seems like an excellent metric. After all, the more people who open your email the better…right?
The problem? This only tells you and your team whether you had a compelling subject line that persuaded subscribers to open that email.
The Metrics You Should Track If you’ve been tracking the above metrics, you may be feeling confused. If they’re vanity metrics, what should you track? Anything that directly relates to ROI. These metrics include the following:
Bounce Rate if a visitor leaves your site after visiting and not interacting further, they’ve “bounced.” Google Analytics considers anyone who only visits one page on your website to have bounced.
However, the overall bounce rate may not be all that helpful. After all, what if someone visited your Contact page, noted down your information, and then left?
It’s more helpful to analyze the bounce rate for each of your website’s pages. That way, you can see what actions people are taking next after arriving at each page. This allows you to find ways to fix the pages with higher bounce rates and see what’s working on the pages that have a low bounce rate.
Conversion Rate There’s no doubt that traffic and website visitors are important. But if thousands of people are visiting your website, this means nothing unless some of those people are converting into paying customers.
When you track your conversion rate, you can see if each page is working and focus on the type of activity that increase the number of people converting. This will mean deciding what a conversion is based on your goals. This could be someone who downloads a free guide, signs up to your email newsletter, or actually purchases your product.
Engagement We’ve already mentioned that your number of social media followers isn’t a particularly helpful metric to measure. Instead, replace it with engagement.
Engagement measures how many people have liked or commented on your posts. To get this number, look at your last 10 social media posts, and note down how many comments and likes each has. Then, add these numbers together and divide them by 10 (the number of posts you’re looking at).
This is the average number of comments and likes for each post. Once you have this number, divide it by how many followers you have on that social media channel. Finally, times this number by 100 which gives you your percentage of engagement.
Engagement gives you a much better idea of whether your followers actually care about what you’re saying.
Engagement is also important when you’re sharing videos. While Facebook may consider someone who watched your video for 3 seconds to be a ‘view’, you can instead see how many people are actually watching your video until it’s complete.
All of the platforms that allow you to share video will give you these types of analytics. Instead of focusing on views, you can see metrics like Average Completion and Average View Duration.
Email Click-Through Rate While your email open rate doesn’t tell you much, your email click-through rate is a different story. It’s a good idea to look at the average click-through rates for your industry so you can compare your rates with the average. This will help you see where you stack up compared to some of your competitors.
Leads It’s crucial to understand where your leads and customers are coming from. You can do this by implementing a strategy specifically to monitor leads. Some tools you can use for this include Google Analytics, Pardot, and Salesforce.
These tools show you how your leads are finding you, how they interact with your websites, and where they’re getting ‘caught’ in your sales funnel. Remember: The goal is to convert website visitors to leads and leads to paying customers.
Exit Pages There’s a difference between an exit and a bounce. A bounce is when someone lands on your site and leaves after visiting one page. An exit is when someone visits a number of pages on your site and then leaves.
Some of your site’s pages will naturally have high exit rates. For example, if you’re selling products online, you can expect your order receipt page to have a high exit rate since visitors are likely to have finished their purchase.
But if you notice that some other pages have high exit rates, you could have an issue. Examine these pages and consider why more people are leaving your site. Are they finding the information they need? Maybe they’re not finding it? Is the layout confusing?
Wrapping up As you can see, web analytics are hugely helpful when it comes to growing your business. But not all analytics will give you actionable information that benefits your bottom line. By focusing on the metrics that impact ROI, you can free up time and avoid data overwhelm while scalling effeciently.