Website Metrics: What to Measure

Website Metrics: What to Measure

When presented with a bunch of options, it’s completely normal to be overwhelmed. (If you don’t get overwhelmed, we need to talk; I want to know your secret!) I’ve found the best way to combat overwhelm is to figure out my criteria for what’s important, so I can get right to the information that matters. And that’s one of the reasons knowing what website metrics to measure is so important for your business.

Listen in to Season 1: Episode 9

The Vast World of Website Metrics

Every analytics program on earth has a default set of metrics provided to you as a starting point. The list typically includes things such as impressions, sessions, users, and bounce rate. The program is trying to be helpful with these offerings. Most of the time, thought, not so much.

There are really two issues with looking at these website metrics. First, what do these words even mean? Sure, you’re a smart cookie and clearly can define the words. If you are forging into new territory here, jargon can be difficult to wade through and might even be a stumbling block. More than the literal definition, that, can you interpret these metrics in terms of what they mean to your business?

The second issue here is that, while maybe those are important website metrics, the real question is: Do they really matter to your business? How do you know what to pay attention to? Do you measure the same things that everyone else is measuring, even if your website maybe has a different role? Clearly, the answer here is no. But what to do instead? 

Why Metrics Are Important to Your Business

The whole point of measuring anything in your business is to give you information to make intelligent, informed choices and, ultimately, better decisions. The other benefit of using website metrics in your business is that you no longer have to guess what might be the cause when things don’t go as planned. Or better yet, you don’t have to guess what might be the cause when things go really well. 

Either way, you can pull the plug or dial up the actions and activities related to achieving your desired outcome. But you can only do that when you have accurate data.

Please notice what I did not say here. I did not say that metrics are for creating reports. The end game here is action, not charts.

The Right Data for Your Business

Choosing the metrics that matter to you, your business, and your ultimate success doesn’t start in any analytics program. In fact, please avoid referencing existing reports, analytics, or formal resources on business intelligence when making these determinations. 

Why? Because they’re distractions from getting to the REAL metrics for your business and website. Even in organizations with well-established analytics or business intelligence teams, there’s a danger of the art and science of data getting in the way of figuring out what really is significant to success.

Rather, I suggest sitting down with your leadership team (even if that is currently a team of one) and talking through how you know if your website is doing its job. If your website does not currently have a well-defined role—yes, perhaps even a full job description—please push pause and go reread my first blog in this series. I’ll still be here when you’re done.

The best version of this leadership conversation involves zero analytics terminology. It sounds more like: How do we know our website is doing its job? Answers might be: People who call us say they checked out our website, we get contact forms from the website, prospective clients say they found us online, we get media inquiries from our blog posts, we fill our open jobs in less than 30 days… (you get the picture).

The other key question is: How do we know if the website isn’t doing its job? 

Quick story: a client once was feeling overwhelmed by the number of web requests for their recreation rentals. I know, that’s a nice problem to have. But it’s still a problem. It wasn’t a proper reservation system, but rather a request that then required someone to manually make the reservation and then get back to the requestor. So they turned off the forms and told people to call instead. The number of calls was more overwhelming than the forms. People were leaving messages (or not leaving messages), and the phone was manned by the store clerk, who wasn’t always available to answer the phone on account of the fact that their primary job was to help people in the store. In this case, the better solution would have been to improve the form system, but that didn’t become obvious to them until not using forms on the website broke other systems in their business.

The Benefit of Using Metrics Correctly

When you take the time and effort to uncover the real-life business processes that involve your website metrics and matter to your success, you’ll get a clear list of indicators that you are on the right path to success. Once you have those, you can use the art and science of data to figure out how to best measure and track those items. Essentially, develop the key performance indicators (you can think of them as trail markers for your path to success). 

Want to make smarter business decisions, spend less money on marketing trial and error and have an overall line of sight on your business health and growth? We can help. Our analytics and reporting service, Insight Pro, is a done-for-you service to properly set up website metrics in your business and serve them up so you can take action on the ones that matter to your success.

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