Pressed on Time? Top 5 Website Metrics to Track

Tom earned his master’s in IMC from WVU and his bachelor’s in public relations from Utica College of Syracuse University. He joined the Site-Seeker team in 2013 as an account manager.

Every marketing program is different. Some, with lots of tactics and movement, can cause marketers to spend dozens of hours building reports. Just last month, my team and I logged 25 hours on a single quarterly report. There was just so much to cover (or rather, uncover).

Thoroughly gathering and analyzing data isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for any successful marketing program. In doing so, you can help determine how users are behaving on your site and what your most effective marketing tactics are. It also allows you the ability to notice trends and patterns of your best customers. By interpreting data, you can make better decisions on how to improve and remove any guesswork from the equation.

I’m not stupid though. I’m a realist. I know most marketers and business owners don’t have 25 hours to spend on a single report. So I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s our team’s five favorite web metrics to track. These are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can most quickly give you the insight you need to keep tabs on your activity and hint at what to do next.

1) Goals

Goals are the most important actions on a website. Setting up goals inside of Google Analytics (or related website tracking software) at the very start of your program is critical to maintaining true data. Every program will have different goals.

  • B2C businesses with e-commerce integration on their site will almost certainly have transactions and/or wish list entries as goals.
  • B2B brands with longer sales cycles typically have form fills as goals.

Take time to identify what type of goals you need within your program and set them up properly in Google Analytics. Name your goal, accurately depict the action that should be recorded, and place a value on it. Almost all of your views throughout the software will allow you to see what is driving goals and at what rate.

For your goals that track information about sales leads – like request more info or content gate forms – you’ll want to make sure you are using software to properly track and follow through on those leads. Consider marketing automation, lead nurturing and customer relationship management (CRM) software to better manage the sales process at it relates to your web-generated prospects.

“Goals are the most important part of any report, for any client. Organic traffic, paid traffic, social media activity – none of it really matters if you can’t measure the effectiveness of your efforts. How you do that is through the tracking of goals. This can include form fills, LiveChat touches, mobile click to call, and more. By placing a value on those actions, you can even equate goals to true dollars and better measure your return on investment. Of course, you’ll want to identify cost per acquisition first.” – Trey Didio, Digital Marketing Specialist

2) Events

A square is always a rhombus, but a rhombus isn’t always a square. I love that analogy. I use it all the time but I think this is the first time I’ve ever worked it into a blog post. Go me! Events can (and often are) used as goals, but don’t have to be. Our team typically uses them as quality verifiers. These are less important actions, compared to goals, which take place on a site that help understand a user’s behavior and help you improve the user-experience.

Think of things like PDF opens, usage of certain features like nutritional calculators, video views, etc. By exploring usage of these assets or features, you can understand what is improving your on-site experience, keeping users engaged, and potentially assisting in a conversion on your site.  

“Measuring events is one of the most important keys to success when measuring website performance and calculating ROI. It helps you discover if your site is pleasing to your audience. Tools like Google’s UTM builder and/or Google Tag Manager make is easy to organize and track events as you start to build and measure your marketing campaigns. You can easily see these under your “Events” and “Campaign” tabs in Analytics, and you can run a number of metrics against these items. When you invest money into building content and assets like videos, ebooks, landing pages, etc. it’s best to keep a watchful eye on the effectiveness of them.” – Jessica Amidon, Senior Digital Marketing Team Lead

3) Medium/Source

Medium/Source is the breakdown of where traffic/visitors originate. It’s a very popular KPI to explore since it helps judge what efforts are best at driving traffic to your site. Going one step further, you can explore what type of traffic sees the most conversions and therefore has the highest quality visitorship.

There are typically five different media: direct/none, organic, paid, email, referral. There can be dozens, if not hundreds, of sources, which is a drilled-down view of those media. For instance, within organic traffic, you may have organic/google, organic/bing, and organic/yahoo. Within referral, you could see referral/amazon.com, referral/facebook.com, and referral/yelp.com.

“As a marketer, you have to understand which sources and media are producing the best return on your investment. Don’t just look at traffic numbers, but look at goal completions too. If organically your site is doing well from a traffic perspective, it is definitely a good thing. But, you should dive further and see if that organic traffic is of good quality i.e. are those visitors converting or taking valuable actions on the site? What type of actions? Are we getting contact information from them to help them enter into our sales funnel? Furthermore, look at the pages that are not converting, or are converting at a lower rate, and try to spruce those up to mimic the conversion rates on better pages.” – Priyanka Kapadia, Operations Manager

4) Organic Traffic

Not all marketers or business owners engage in paid online advertising, so we’re not featuring it in our top 5. But, on the other hand, everyone should be monitoring organic traffic. Organic traffic is made up of visitors coming from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. It’s essentially “free” traffic because you aren’t paying for the clicks.

You do, however, need to put time and attention into your site to improve it in such a way to achieve higher search rankings and get more of that free traffic. This is done through search engine optimization (SEO), or technical, textual and creative improvements made both on your site and on other sites that link to your site. Having a solid SEO strategy and solid rankings in the search engines can lead to great traffic volume over time.

“Looking at organic traffic can give you a snapshot of how your SEO efforts are doing. If the traffic is stagnant or slightly decreasing, that’s a good sign that SEO efforts need a boost. I would perform an SEO audit and competitor analysis and come up with a new strategy based on the results. If it’s falling sharply, you should drop everything you’re doing and check to make sure you’re not being penalized by Google, or in noncompliance with a recent algorithm update(s). It could also mean the site has been hacked, the site has accidentally been set to “no-index” or has disallowed search engines from crawling via robots.txt. If organic traffic is increasing, then check to see if there’s a particular reason why, and double down on what you’ve been doing. If organic traffic is increasing sharply, you should pop open a bottle of champagne then call me and with the secret ingredient so we can make millions selling an ‘SEO Hack’ book.” – Dan Weber, Account Manager

5) Top Organic Landing Pages

A landing page is a page that’s crafted to receive traffic from an external source – like Google or Twitter. When building landing pages, it’s important to remember that a user may not have seen any other page on your site yet. Therefore, these pages should offer a great user experience, give the user what he/she needs to know about your brand and product/service, and provide the ability to learn more or buy.

A common misconception of websites is that everyone comes to the homepage and navigates from there. It’s simply not true. For some of our client sites, as much as 40-60% of traffic goes through landing pages, rather than navigating through the homepage. Optimizing landing pages is a giant but critical task for the improvement of any website. More importantly, organic landing pages, or those pages that are ranking in search engines and receiving traffic directly, should be given extra attention.

“It’s important to measure top performing landing pages so you know which pages are best at driving traffic to your site. In a way, these are your heavy hitters – your best pages. Consider adding prominent call-to-actions on these pages. In doing so, you can track more than just page visits, duration, bounce rate, etc. – you can see if the page is effective at driving conversions. Are they watching the video? Downloading the case study? Filling out a form? This helps measure true success of the pages. Also, don’t forget to look at how you have these top performing pages built so you can replicate that strategy on other pages and help drive even more organic traffic to your site.” – Melinda Aiken, Account Manager

You must always keep tabs on your website’s performance. It’s the single most important element of your online presence and, depending on your product or service, could very well be more trafficked than even your storefront. Make sure to set up a dashboard, and auto-reports, inside Google Analytics to track these five metrics, as well as other KPIs that you deem as valuable to your marketing efforts.

Here’s How To Set Up A Dashboard:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/
  2. Select the property and website you’d like to view.
  3. Navigate to “Customization” and “Dashboards” in the left hand sidebar.
  4. Create a new report, name your report, and then create a dashboard.
  5. Set up modules for the metrics you want to track. This may take a little time, especially if you’re a novice, but it’s worth it.
  6. Click on email and arrange for the reports to be sent to you and how often.
  7. Whenever you sign into Analytics, you can now view this dashboard for a quick pulse check on your digital marketing program. Remember to select the date range you’d like to view.