For many of you, Google Analytics or any other analytics platform can be overwhelming because of the amount of data available, the terminology used, and also knowing which specific metrics to focus on can be confusing.
Also, not all data is created equal; some metrics are crucial, some metrics are helpful, and some metrics are just noise.
If you don't have the time or resources to analyze all critical website analytics, then at a minimum monitor these four essential metrics because tracking, learning from, and optimizing them will help you understand your customers better, and more importantly, help you grow your business online.
Let us start with the most important metric, the conversion rate.
1. Conversion Rate
The conversion rate is a metric that is essential for any growth-focused business. For example, what percentage of website visitors (or leads) are turning into customers? If you can't answer this question, then you can't optimize your growth.
Which specific conversion you use will depend on your business, but any CTA (call-to-action) can be turned into a conversion metric. For example, every button or a click on your website can have its own goal and conversion rate associated with it.
A few conversion examples:
- Completed Purchase
- Add to cart
- Newsletter Signup
- Whitepaper Download
- Webinar Signup
- Product Download
- Free (or Trial) Signup
Conversion rate is so important because it has a direct impact on your bottom line, something that cannot be said for many other website metrics. For example, a 30% increase in website traffic usually doesn't equate to a 30% increase in sales. However, improving your shopping cart conversion rate by 30% has a comparable impact on sales.
With that in mind, it's no surprise that "conversion rate optimization" has grown into a considerable industry, with countless software solutions, and experts looking to squeeze every possible conversion percentage.
If the conversion rate is a new concept to you, then start with a simple conversion goal. For example, create a new goal in google analytics to track your form submissions (e.g. "contact us").
Keeping a close eye on your conversion rates, and optimizing them accordingly, will do wonders for your business - it will keep your sales pipeline healthy and convert more leads into customers.
- The Importance Of Conversion Rate To Your Bottom Line
- Conversational email campaigns (increase your conversion rate and sales)
- Improve conversion by continuously experimenting with A/B Testing
2. Traffic Source
Website traffic source data is invaluable because it highlights the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of your digital marketing efforts. For example, if most of your marketing efforts are focused on search engine optimization (SEO), then most of your traffic should 1) originate from search engines (e.g. Google), and 2) show continuous growth.
On the other hand, if most of your marketing efforts focus on social media (e.g. Facebook), then Facebook should be the primary source of your traffic. By analyzing your traffic source, you can quickly see if your marketing efforts are producing desired results. Obviously, some digital marketing channels take time to develop, but the point stands - your marketing efforts should have some correlation with your traffic source data.
How different traffic sources are classified in Google Analytics:
- Organic Search: traffic coming from the search engine(s)
- Referral: traffic coming from other websites
- Direct: visitors typing your domain in the URL
- Social: traffic coming from social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
It is important to note that it is difficult to calculate return on investment (ROI) if you don't track your website traffic source.
3. High-performing Pages
Would you like to know what type of content your prospects, leads, and customers are interested in? Look no further than high-performing pages. Many businesses do track their top-performing pages, but often don't understand why these particular pages perform well.
Understanding "why" may be more important than the number itself. If you don't understand why, how do you reproduce high-performing content?
If you study high-performing pages, you will notice patterns, patterns that will help you create content that attracts more leads and customers.
You can start by analyzing titles/headings on your high-performing pages - is there anything unique or different about these titles?
The next step is to look at your keywords, who exactly are they targeting? Are there any specific long-tail keywords which are unique to your high-performing pages?
When analyzing top-performing pages, we recommend splitting them by year, quarter, and month — for example, top-performing pages of 2019, top-performing pages in Q1, and top-performing pages in July. Also, tracking your weekly or monthly top-performing pages will help you spot trending content.
Finally, be wary of high-performing pages that are outside of your area of expertise (or niche). We regularly see websites where top-performing pages don't align with the business or the target customer. For example, you have a problem if "Working from home: How to stay productive" is your best-performing page/blog post, but none of your target customers work from home. When you attract non-buyers (low-quality traffic) to your website, your conversion rate will suffer, because non-buyers create noise, and more importantly, don't buy from your business.
The content you produce should be relevant and high-quality, but which specific content will turn into a traffic magnet is virtually impossible to predict, unless you analyze analytics and identify patterns.
4. Traffic Numbers
We have a love-hate relationship with website traffic numbers. On the one hand, without traffic, there is no analytics and metrics to track. On the other hand, placing too much importance in traffic numbers is unwise, because not all traffic is created equal.
Many businesses have been burned by so-called experts promising an increase in traffic, and google ranking, only to discover that their website became littered by spam and low-quality traffic. Even worse, some of these so-called experts deceive their clients and visitors with black hat SEO tactics. For example, creating deceitful redirects (sending a visitor to a different URL than the one they initially clicked).
We would never recommend or use these types of tactics, but unfortunately, many small businesses can't tell the difference until it's too late.
Also, it's important to separate real traffic from spam traffic (e.g. bots), because bot data can muddy the water, and even skew essential metrics like the conversion rate because the conversion rate will drop significantly if your website gets flooded with bots (non-human traffic).
The bottom line is, you should keep an eye on your traffic numbers because it is an important indicator of your growth (e.g. increase in brand awareness). However, know that not all traffic is created equal, and learn how to spot/exclude bad data (e.g. spam traffic).
Every metric that you choose to follow has to be tracked, analyzed, and optimized, so don't bite more than you can chew - if you currently don't spend time analyzing your analytics, then start with the key metrics we outlined in this post.
In many ways, website metrics are similar to business metrics - you will yield much better results by intensely focusing on a few key metrics, rather than skimming over countless data.