The advent of big data has brought about many different conversations concerning analytics, tracking and measured marketing. As marketers, we definitely know the importance of tracking our efforts, but we can get overwhelmed with what we're supposed to be tracking and what we're not; what, at the end of the day, should we be spending our time on?
While there are literally hundreds of metrics we could be looking at, I would instead encourage you to focus on five key website metric categories and identify the metrics within those categories that are important for your business:
- WHO visited your website.
- WHY they came to your site.
- HOW did they find you.
- WHAT did they look at.
- WHERE did they exit.
While these five categories simplify what we're trying to measure when someone comes to our site, it's actually a lot more complicated when we're trying to identify which metrics are important and which ones are not. I'm not saying that you shouldn't pay attention to a variety of metrics, but like everything else in marketing, we have to prioritize our daily tasks and, in turn, our reporting, so that we can digest information that will help us create conversion strategies.
Metrics Within Each Category
While the categories are pretty self-explanatory, the metrics that should tracked within each category are not always obvious. Let's take a look at the different types of metrics within each category:
- Who: While everyone would like to know the exact identity of who came to their site, we can not always get that information. However, there are tools, like IP address lookups, that can help us narrow the scope. The biggest benefit of IP lookups is that it can tell us what company was visiting your site. If you can track what IPs are visiting your site, then you are one step closer to identifying the who. Common analytics tools usually don't provide this information.
- Why: Why someone comes to a site is subjective, but there are quantitative metrics we can use to help determine why they are. Some of these include: pages visited, amount of time spent on those pages, conversion paths (the progression of which pages they visited on the site) and referral source or traffic type. By looking at these metrics, you can make some logical assumptions about why the visitor came to your site.
- How: How a website visitor found you can be indicative of your SEM or social efforts. Looking at the how will tell you where your efforts are working and where they aren't, but it will also tell you where you messaging is successful. If someone found you from a Google search and they clicked on your link, you know that something in your language compelled them to do so. The primary metrics here are traffic type or referral source.
- What: What visitors looked at is probably the most straightforward of these categories. The primary metric here is which pages were visited, and you can actually determine a lot with that information.
- Where: Finally, where a visitor exited can tell you where they lost interest. Take a look at the exit pages and see if there are any pages that keep coming up. Adjust content on the page and keep honing, especially if it's a landing page. You can generally get the where a visitor exited information from common analytics tools like Google Analytics in the conversion paths section.
Are you looking at each of these categories and adjusting your content or website based on the data that's coming back? If you're evaluated on the performance of your website, then you should be.