Here 10 Crucial Online Metrics and How to Use Them

If you’re running a business, you’re going to want to know as much about your customers as possible; customers equal sales, sales lead to profit.

And whereas it was once quite difficult to accurately gauge the success of a marketing campaign, with the induction of online metrics, business owners now have immense amounts of data at their disposal that provides them with all sorts of feedback as to how well they’re connecting with their targeted consumer base.

The key though is knowing which metrics are relevant and which ones aren’t so useful.  Checking out tools such as Google Analytics and attempting to discern what you should be focusing on and which metrics you should be ignoring, can be a trick task and implementing the  wrong numbers into your marketing strategy can not only be a waste of time, but cause your sales to sink like a stone.

But don’t worry, I’m here to help you know what’s what.  Here’s a list of 10 crucial online metrics and how to use them.

1)  Website Traffic

Right off the bat, it’s knowing the level of overall traffic your site is receiving.  Monitor the ups and downs in site visits as they relate to any particular campaigns, the time of the year, or special events either your business holds or are just occurring in day-to-day life.  For example, when you put a product on sale, promote the sale through some online advertising and watch how it affects traffic to your site.  If traffic goes up, you know the approach worked, if not, move on to something else.

2)  Traffic Sources

While overall traffic is king, for marketing purposes it’s important to know where it’s actually coming from.  Is your traffic primarily coming through Google searches, is more of it being driven by people coming directly to your site by typing in its web address, or are people bouncing onto your site from referral sites?  Knowing what’s coming from where is a good way to understand which types of marketing strategies are working for you and which ones aren’t.  For example, if most of your traffic is coming through a URL, then visitors know who you are before they get there which means you’re effectively getting your name out there, while on the other hand, if people are mainly discovering you through related sites or general searches, you might want to look into an ad campaign to word of your business directly to consumers.

A key aspect regarding sources of traffic metrics is knowing the percentages.  If less than 40% of your traffic is coming through searches you’re website probably isn’t ranking well on the search engines.  You want your referrals to make up about 20-30% of total site traffic, with the rest being from people reaching you directly through your site’s URL.  The goal being to create a well-rounded customer base to that you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket.

3)  New Visitors/Returning Visitors

An important distinction between types of visitors to your site is how many are coming to your site for the first time vs how many have been there before.  Typically these metrics will show more first timers than those returning, but if the ratio leans to much towards newbies it can be a sign that you’re not doing enough to encourage people to come back after their first visit.

While the reasons for a low return rate can vary, a good thing to examine first is the quality of the content your site provides.  If it’s not useful, easily accessible and interesting you’ll probably want to start making some improvements.

4)  Conversions

You can have awesome levels of traffic, but in the end, it’s the conversions that matter most.  With the various online analytics tools like KISSMetrics or Mastergrades, you can do such things as track how many potential customers begin but fail to complete the purchasing process, view the number of people who’ve downloaded content such as a free eBook, then left the site never to return, or check how many visitors had a shopping cart ready to go and then abandoned them.  By studying the conversion metric, you gain insight as to why your visitors aren’t going all the way through with their purchases.  Is it that your site lacks a clear, simple checkout process?  Should you be providing more detailed information about your products?  Or is it simply a case of your prices being too high?

By monitoring this metric, you can start to ask yourself the right questions – only then will you know what adjustments to make in order to boost sales.

5)  Which Pages Draw the Most Traffic and Lead to the Most Conversions

While the homepage is where visitors usually wind up first, it’s not necessarily the page that leads to the most conversions.

Often times the most popular pages are the ones that provide the most relevant and useful information – something that writing services can provide – such as blog posts and case studies or even ones that offer fun competitions.   These are the pages where you want to spend the most time optimizing with effective SEO since they can be used not only as a gateway to other pages on your site, but also as a place to highlight your product.

Methods of SEO include inserting keywords into your content, incorporating add links and adding links and banners.

6)  Interactions

Besides seeing how many visitors are landing on your site and where they’re coming from, it’s important to monitor how many interactions your average visitor is performing.  From subscribing to your email to signing up for your newsletter to clicking the “like” or “share” button, the more key interactions you can generate the greater the chance you’ll get conversions.  You don’t have to be passive with regards to the interactions either, by asking visitors to review products, putting together a social media group or hosting a competition, you can leverage your interactions into increased engagement which often leads to more sales.

7)  Cost/Conversion

It’s great to get sales, but you need to know what you’re spending to get them.  By studying the cost per conversion metric, you’ll be able to see if your pay-per-click marketing campaign on AdWords is paying off.  Knowing what the cost of each click is and how often they result in conversions is crucial to determining whether or not you should stick with the current strategy.  If things don’t make financial sense, it’s time to switch it up.  One way to stay in the black is to create a budget that’s set around the value of each conversion and then compare it to how much better you could be doing.

8)  Exit Pages

Figuring out which pages visitors are most frequently jumping off your site from is a great way to optimize your site users experience and keep them until they convert.  Does the layout of a particular page make it difficult to navigate, causing frustration and a higher exit rate?  Is there a page within the conversion process that becomes confusing?  Understanding where and why your visitors are leaving your site early is the key to making the necessary adjustments to increase sales.

9)  Keyword Effectiveness

Keywords are key and you need to be constantly monitoring them.  By altering and adapting your keywords you will stay in tune with what consumers are typing into the search engines, allowing you to track your site’s ranking for keyword usage.

10)  Bounce Rate

Bounce rate, the rate at which a visitor lands on your site and then takes off immediately.  Sometimes the visitor just wound up at the wrong site, but often it’s because you’re not offering the info they’re looking for or that the page is simply taking too long to load.  The key is to balance minimizing bounce rate without drawing in a lot of traffic that doesn’t belong there in the first place.

By implementing site optimization and testing, you can determine what it is that leading to a high bounce rate.  Split testing is an effective method of figuring out what works and what doesn’t.  Trying out various calls-to-action, creating different or fresh content or inserting different keywords can lead making your site more attractive to your targeted visitors, thus lowering your bounce rate and leading to more conversions.