12-MINUTE READ · By Tina Arnoldi.

Do you know which metrics matter for your business or do you measure whatever is available in your analytics tool? It’s easy to jump in and view numbers such as pageviews and time on site without thinking about why we measure those things or if they even matter. We can do better.

Understanding what to measure starts by not using your analytics tool. Think about what success looks like in your business before crunching numbers. What type of business do you have? What problems do you solve for customers? Are you a new business or established? Ask yourself these questions before deciding on the measurement plan. The goal is to identify metrics that provide data about how to increase revenue, whether you are starting out in business, are established or are one of the “big guys”. This post is based on the assumption that you use Google Analytics.

Starting Out

New business? You need customers. While impressions and clicks are nice, your goal is to acquire customers so your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) is important. If your acquisition sources are not efficient in converting traffic, it may be time to change your strategy.

Starting out also means you probably have a limited budget so directing limited funds to channels that result in customers is key. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. You can create a simple spreadsheet – or go old school with pens and paper – to compare your channels by conversions, such as email and social media, or use a Supermetrics template .

Bounce rate is a tactical metric that should not be used in isolation, but bounce rates trends is helpful for companies that have been collecting data for a while. It helps identify ad targeting issues and messages that do not resonate with an audience. Bounce rate also indicates how well a landing page is working – or not working.

With ecommerce sites, it’s obvious what the macro conversions are for a site. Google Analytics provides data on revenue, average value, and number of purchases . New businesses especially should identify the segment of visitors that buys more than one product or purchases more than one time. Nurturing existing customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones.

Ecommerce businesses also need to watch the checkout abandonment rate. Once visitors add items to a cart, it’s clear they want to buy something and they know exactly what they want to buy. Because it’s in their cart. It is not okay to lose people here. A goal funnel report will show where people drop out. Optimizing the checkout process is a priority.

Established Businesses

Good for you! At this stage, you’ve been around for a while and consider your business to be established. You continue to generate revenue from both new and repeat customers. Established business measure the same metrics that startups do with a few more to continue growing. Once you improve your CPA, you can then focus on deeper engagement and activity on the site beyond that first purchase.

With AdWords or other paid advertising tools , focus on click-through-rate (CTR) more than clicks and impressions. A high CTR implies relevance between ad copy and keywords while a low CTR indicates a mismatch between what is searched and what you say you offer. For the underperformers, decide which copy and targeting needs improvement.

Also note the activity of loyal customers. High dollar purchases require people to come back multiple times and B2B customers have a different purchase process than B2C . View how often people visit with the frequency and recency reports and compare it to how many times you expect people to visit. With a longer sales cycle in B2B business, assume they visit five or more times before converting. Create a segment for five or more visits and apply to channel reports . Which channels bring people back to the site for a conversion? 

The Big Guys – or Gals

How did you get to be one of the “big guys” – or “gals”? Start by viewing the percent of new website visits since that impacted your growth. Even when we hear of a business through word of mouth, as consumers we still visit the website to learn more about them. Whether the original referring channel is online (a paid ad) or offline (word of mouth), new businesses need an audience to bring in new customers. Visitors have to engage before you can move them closer to a conversion.

Google Analytics has the built-in metrics, such as pageview and time on site. But engagement can be measured beyond the standard metrics. With event tracking , you can track activity, such as PDF downloads or video views. These additional metrics enable you to understand the depth of engagement on your site and whether it leads people down the path to a conversion. 

Along this path, note if there is a difference in segments for those who quickly convert versus those who take longer. The time to purchase report for ecommerce sites and time lag in Multi-Channel Funnels provide insight about behavior around conversions. 

If it takes people five visits over five weeks to convert, that’s not a bad thing because it’s still money in the bank. But a lot can happen over five weeks to change someone’s mind to pick a competitor over you. Review the last channel and content before conversion and apply that knowledge to different stages in the journey. For example, you may be able to highlight a key CTA earlier in the cycle.

Look for ways to make incremental improvements on campaigns and pages for people who have multiple visit. For example, you might segment visitors who have three or more visits, yet did not convert. Identify possible obstacles that result in no conversion and test new micro-conversions that may help returning visitors get to that big conversion. 

What next?

Step back from your analytics tool and revisit why your business exists. Strategy needs to come before data. Pick good KPIs site behavior that ultimately results in revenue for your company.

If you are not sure where to start with measurement, begin with the starting out metrics above and build from there. And if a metric doesn’t matter? Stop measuring it.

About Tina Arnoldi

TinaArnoldi

Tina Arnoldi is Analytics and AdWords Qualified and one of the few people in the United States recognized as a Google Developer Expert(GDE) for marketing. Her agency, 360 Internet Strategy, is also a Google Partner. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn



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