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Monitoring Your Website: Using Metrics to Make Decisions

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Content may be King, but Data Is Queen

Content is king is probably the most used saying in digital marketing. Good content drives traffic and engagement and can help drive your business, inform people, and ultimately deliver results.

However, without making use of metrics available, how do you know how well the content performs? How do you know what you should product next?

Content may be king but sitting right beside it should always be data.

Without data you are effectively working blind and making assumptions. Based on experience these assumptions may be effective but there is a never a situation where having useful data and metrics doesn’t improve what you do next!

Data is Queen, the decision maker!

Read on to find out what metrics are, why they are useful and how they can apply to your website.

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What is are Marketing Metrics?

We class a marketing metric as a piece of quantifiable data that you can monitor and use to make decisions upon.  These are things you can measure and compare in order to improve your results.

For example, an obvious metric is the number of visitors to your website. It is easy to track, monitor over time and also compare to previous periods based on changes you have been making.

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What Metrics Should You Be Tracking?

Online metrics are everywhere; almost every system you use will have some form of data and reporting. They all are great sources of information, but it is important to not get overwhelmed.

If you start focusing on all of the metrics at once you will get lost in the data!

Some examples of metrics to track are:

  • Conversion Rates
  • Bounce Rates
  • Traffic Sources
  • Total Site Traffic
  • Top Pages
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Exit Pages

Start small and then you can always dig into certain metrics in more detail where you want extra information. These metrics may be different depending on your aims.

Focusing on a smaller set of data you can easily see where improvements are being made or where extra work is needed.

We have listed and delved deeper into the important sources to track further later on… Keep reading!

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Benchmarking Metrics

We often get asked what a typical result should look like, or what a ‘good’ websites performance should be like.

Due to the nature of different sites and businesses there is never a fixed answer. Every website is different and so it is important to look at your own website and start to formulate your own benchmarks to focus on and track.

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Generate a month view, and a 12-month view of your data to use as a benchmark. It’s often best to benchmark against yourself and to try to beat, out-do and improve on your own rate of success

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Some Basic Website Metrics

Your website should always form the central hub of all your marketing activities. It is where you drive your traffic and your own area of the internet of which you have full control.

It is also one area where you can easily track a wealth of information thanks to Google Analytics. This is a free and easy to install tool which can track almost every area of your website.

We could write numerous articles on the different areas of Google Analytics and there are countless courses on how to use it but we are going to focus on some of the metrics we would follow to start.

Most of these initial metrics can all be found on the Audience Overview page in Google Analytics. These provide the general overview of your website. They are also then referred to in more specific areas which allow you to compare the results in different ways such as comparing the engagement for different traffic sources.

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Conversion Tracking – The Ultimate Goal

One key metric to always track is conversions to make sure that you can quantify the results of all of your activities.

What is important to realise is that a conversion is any desired action on your website.

This could be a form that is filled in, a download of a resource, a sale on your ecommerce store or even a click on your phone number. You are the one to decide what a conversion looks like for your business.

There are numerous ways to track conversions on your website and it is important to break these down across the stages of a sale as micro-conversions. These all work together to create your ultimate conversion aim.

By breaking them down you can quickly look at how people are converting at different stages and if there are certain areas you need to focus on in order to improve your overall conversion rate.

These can also be called goals and on tools like Google Analytics these can be displayed graphically as a goal funnel which shows how people are progressing through your sales process.

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This shows the total number of users on your site in the time period, which is default set to a week on Google Analytics. It also provides a useful chart to show how these users where spread throughout the period.

This can be a great help in ascertaining your overall traffic patterns, but also showing any peaks to your traffic which you can link to other marketing activities.

It is important to note that Analytics uses the terms visitors and sessions which mean very different things. A visitor is the person visiting the site and is unique. Whereas a session is the amount of times a visitor has been on a site.

For example, if you visit a website regularly you would be 1 visitor, 10 sessions.

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On the Overview page, you can annotate the chart at the top to show key dates and activities. We always recommend this as it can be easier to look back and see what caused changes in activities.

Examples of this could be when your homepage was updated or when you sent out an e-shot

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Average Session Duration and Pages Per Session

Getting people to your website is only half of the battle. Once they are on your site it is important that the site is engaging and easy to find the information they need, in order to take the next step on your sales journey.

We always use two metrics to show engagement on the site and both work hand in hand to give a useful picture of how your site performs. These are Average Session Duration and Pages per Session.

By knowing how long people are spending on your site (average session duration) and how many pages they are visiting (pages per session) you get a clear picture on visitor behaviour and site performance.

Using these two metrics flags up any issues on your site such as pages visitors don’t respond well to, or technical problems. You can then action them, change the pages where necessary with the intention of improving these metrics.

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Bounce Rate

Your website bounce rate shows how many people entered your site and left without visiting another page. The lower the bounce rate, the better. If visitors arrive on site and stay a while, it’s a strong indication they have found what they’re looking for.

Get 10 Actionable Tips to Improve Your Website

However, it is important to remember that it doesn’t automatically mean they weren’t interested in your site. Depending on the site and the page, they may have got all of the information they need in one place.

If your page doesn’t have much content and has a short video click and call to action button, your bounce rate will probably be low. But, by using the conversion tracking tools mentioned earlier, you can work out if they’re following the funnel you want them to

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New vs Returning Visitors

Don’t just focus on new customers for your website, also focus on returning visitors who already know your business and may be interested in a repeat sale or an upsell to an extra product.

This can be very different depending on your business and the customer lifecycle but the chart on the Audience Overview page gives you a very quick and simple overview of how much of your traffic is new against returning visitors.

By looking at this metric you can start to target marketing activities at each of these segments and monitor the results.

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Comparing Metrics and Digging Deeper

Now we have talked about some of the basic metrics every website owner should know, it is important to look at how to compare and really make use of them.

Whereas focusing on the overall metrics for your website is useful, the true power of the data comes with investigating further and seeing how the metrics change across different aspects of your site.

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Comparing Time Period Metrics

As we mentioned above, Google Analytics defaults to showing you the last weeks traffic which can give you a useful snapshot. But, to get really useful insights, it’s important to look at longer periods of time and also compare these against previous periods.

By looking at a whole month, you can see any spikes in traffic which will occur every month which wouldn’t show up when looking at the last 7 days. For example, for eCommerce website, you will often find spikes around pay day. By looking at the whole month you get a much clearer picture.

Also, by comparing one period to past periods also shows your how the website is changing.

For example, comparing 1 month to the previous month can show you how the traffic has improved recently and provides you with comparative metrics.

You can also look at this over longer periods such as comparing a month to the same month in the previous year, which can give you very useful information over the longer-term performance of your site.

The length of time worth comparing depends on your business, your weekly/monthly/annual cycles, your consumers, and external factors such as economics or events.

By assessing different periods, you can start to see where the most useful insights can be found and trends that might otherwise be missed.


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Comparing Traffic Source Metrics

It is always useful to look at how different sources of traffic interact with your website. How people came to your site often vastly changes how they interact with it.

For example, people who have come via organic search on Google are often the most engaged of all the sources as they have actively looked for your products or services. On the other hand, traffic from paid ads can be the least engaged if you haven’t quite got your ad targeting correct.

All of this can be tracked and monitored using the tools and features we’re discussing in this article.

You can then use this information to start making informed decisions. If your social media traffic isn’t performing consistently across different networks, it can show that you either aren’t targeting the right demographic or perhaps you need to adjust the message to be more in tune with the audience.

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Pages Behave Differently

One common mistake we see with people using Google Analytics is they often focus only on the overview metrics.

Different sources of traffic can interact differently with your website. People will also interact differently with different pages which were built for different reasons.

Let’s take Bounce Rate as an example.

This is a metric we recommend focusing on individual pages as the results are likely to be very different. A page linked to from a Facebook post with a signup form is likely to have a very high bounce rate. This is because people are sent directly to the page, complete the desired action (filling in the form) and then leave.

It doesn’t make it a bad page, but it is a good example of where it is important to understand what you are comparing.

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In Conclusion

Data and metrics are something we are extremely passionate about. They are a key focus on all aspects of our work with our clients. If we can’t track how a client’s activities are performing how can we truly show results?

This is the same for every business. It is why metrics are so important so you can really start to understand your website performance.

Don’t just know that you’re getting good traffic to your website. Use metrics to fully understand how that traffic is broken down. Use it to know how your whole digital marketing landscape is performing.

We have focused purely on your website metrics in this article, but this is only part of the information you should be using.

In future articles we plan on exploring other areas of metrics such as your social media. We’ll look at how to tie these together to create a complete picture of your digital marketing!


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