Continuing in the series of articles about what metrics to measure in marketing, I want to turn to website visitor metrics. These are the 5 most important metrics I like to look at when specifically investigating my website visitors (the very top part of the sales and marketing funnel).
1) New vs. Repeat visitors - Not only do I look at the total number of visitors, but I like to look at the portion of my visitors that are repeat visitors. Is my site "sticky"? Are people coming back more frequently and in higher numbers? If more of my visitors are repeat visitors, it means they found something compelling on my site and came back to find more good stuff.
The balance here is you need a healthy ratio of new visitors as well, because if too many of your visitors are repeat, you're not growing your business. Most websites get the vast majority of traffic from new visitors, maybe 5% are repeat visitors. I like to see a ratio of about 15% of visits be repeat visitors, which to me indicates a healthier site. Too far above that (perhaps 30%) and you are probably not growing your business the way you would like.
2) Referring sources - Where is my traffic coming from? One of my favorite things to look at is the sources of traffic. Did I get a new link from a big website? Is my traffic from SEO or organic search increasing? Most websites get about 20% of their traffic from search engines, but most of that is based on searches for your company name in most cases. A healthy site gets 40% or more of traffic from organic search, and that extra 20% comes from words that are not your company name. Knowing where you stand is important so you can decide how much to prioritize SEO.
3) Conversion rate - How many visitors are becoming a lead (or customer)? Monitoring the overall rate at which your website visitors complete your desired outcome (buying something or filling out a lead form) is really important, because that is the whole reason you have a website. I like to view this data weekly, and compare it to what marketing events I have been running and my major sources of traffic for the week. It can give you a great sense of if the traffic from PC Magazine or the Wall Street Journal Online converts better into leads or customers and pints you in the right direction for future PR and advertising.
4) Page popularity - What is the most popular content on my site? knowing what people like to look at on your site can help you produce more content that people enjoy and find engaging and remove the content they do not enjoy. One recent "ah-ha" I had was that as a small company, I was surprised about the number of people viewing the pages about our company and management team. Boring stuff, right? Well, maybe, but prospects actually wanted to know if we were good people with smart backgrounds before they decided to do business with us. Were we a bunch of college dropouts? (Actually, being a college dropout seems to be a positive thing, just ask the founders of Microsoft or Facebook.) Or did we have real business experience and actually know something about the software we were building. Knowing this helped me re-write the profiles and change a few things on the site to help people feel like we were more trustworthy and a good company to do business with.
5) Traffic by keywords - This can refer to a number of different metrics, but what you are trying to understand is what terms and phrases people are searching on to find your site, and how much traffic you are generating from organic search. To investigate this, I like to look at a couple things. First, the number of people coming to my site using search keywords. Second, this portion of my traffic as a percentage of my total traffic. Finally, (my favorite) all of the search terms that people have used to find your website. This isn't really a "metric", but I find it fascinating and I think it provides a lot of insight into how your company is viewed on the web and if you have built your website to generate the right kind of traffic (qualified visitors).
For instance, this blog is on the first page of Google for the following search terms: "google search tips", "don corleone", "website redirect", "powerpoint best practices", "free advertisement on google", "understanding meta keywords", "case studies on marketing strategy for small business", "understanding RSS", internet marketing graph", "obama internet ranking", "case study blue ocean", and "why CRM", just to name a few.
I know many of you out there have lots of other metrics you enjoy, but I wanted to limit my list to only 5, o I certainly left some good stuff out. I am sure some people will comment about site paths and click heatmaps or click overlays to see what people are drawn to on a given page. So, let's hear it... what metrics would you add to this list and why? And also, what would you remove and why? Leave a comment below.
Originally published Sep 4, 2007 12:28:00 PM, updated July 03 2013