Your website is the digital face of your brand. It is where people go to check you out, to learn about your services or products, to learn from your subject matter expertise, and to share your content. It is also where they go as part of their purchasing process to make a more informed decision before then buying “something” from you. Well, in theory at least.
There is a wealth of information that paints a clear picture of what your visitors are doing on your site. By digging into these analytics, you are able to not just assess the customer journey, but understand what they do, where they go, what they like, and what they don’t like. It means you can continually adapt and evolve your website, and therefore improve the customer experience.
Website visitors exhibit distinct behavioural patterns. This behaviour will inform you about which pages of your site are popular, and which are rarely seen…or, when looked at, not viewed for very long at all.
Ask yourself these questions
Do you know how to assess the performance of your website? Do you know what metrics to look for? Do you know how to improve the time spent on your site, or the number of pages visited? Do you know where your traffic is coming from? Do you know which of your digital content is sticky and which isn’t?
But, ultimately, do you know how to convert that traffic into paying customers?
Ok, so let’s park all of that to one side for a moment. In all likelihood, you have a social media strategy in place or are at least conducting some form of social media activity. You have traffic, so it must be coming from something you are doing online – it is rare to only have organic traffic from search engines. Indeed, if you read my last post on the value of conducting a social media audit then you will be (hopefully!) auditing your digital activity every three or six months, and you therefore have a fuller picture of what’s going on outside of your website.
Back to website traffic then – it is without doubt a goldmine of potential new business. But what if your website is failing to engage your captive audience? Do you even know if your traffic is staying on your site and clicking through to other pages? Do you have any Calls To Action on your site? If so, which CTAs are working, and which ones are turning your visitors off?
For all you know, your visitors could be landing on your website and then going elsewhere very quickly, or even immediately, because they don’t like what they see. Or maybe you know this is happening and don’t know where to start to fix it. Or perhaps you have good dwell time on your site, with plenty of pages being visited, but no leads or sales or enquiries coming through?
So what to do?
Most importantly, you should not fall into the trap of wanting as much traffic as possible. Traffic can of course be a vindication of a well thought-out content marketing strategy, or highly impactful social media or advertising campaign. Yet traffic alone is only one step in the conversion challenge. Whatever your traffic levels, you should stop trying to get more volume. You should instead first spend time and resource seeking to convert your existing traffic.
Consider it from a basic Business Development perspective: it is much more time effective (and therefore cost efficient) to convert those who are already interested in your brand, than going out there and attempting to drum up cold leads.
Which metrics matter?
All websites must have some form of analytics built into them as standard. For example, Google Analytics (which is free!) provides more than enough for the typical website to understand what is going on across its pages, CTAs and downloads.
You can even break the data down into specific timeframes or per month, week or day, which is ideal if you want to isolate key triggers for traffic spikes (and dips).
It can be pretty over-whelming looking at all the stats and graphs and charts though. Therefore we have provided below a list of the main metrics that you need to uncover as part of any standard assessment of your website performance.
1. Traffic Volumes (aka “Sessions”)
How much traffic your website gets based on the number of views of any part of your website.
2. Visits (aka “Users”)
The number of times a visitor (new and returning) has visited any part of your website.
3. Page Views
The total number of pages viewed within any given timeframe. It normally includes repeat views of the same page by the same visitor, so on its own is purely an indicative measure.
4. Pages Per Visit
The average number of pages on your site that are viewed during each visit / session. The higher the number, then the higher the number of pages visited on average per visit.
5. Average Visit Length (aka “Session Duration” or “Dwell Time”)
The amount of time, on average, each visit / session lasts, irrespective of the number of pages. So, how long people stay once they are on your site. Naturally, the higher the number of pages viewed per visit will equate to longer average visit times on your site.
6. Bounce Rate
How many people visit one page without clicking through to another page on your site. In other words, they bounce off straight away or without visiting other pages on your website. You want this percentage to be as low as possible, but the goal should be to decrease this percentage over time (thereby demonstrating improving performance), as opposed to being hung up on having a very low number immediately.
7. New versus Returning Visitors
Attracting new visitors is healthy as it means that you are getting your brand in front of more eyeballs from a broader section of your audience. However, you really want to have a good percentage of returning visitors as this demonstrates that loyalty and trust is being built with your brand, that you are publishing engaging content, and that you have some good potential for brand advocacy.
8. Sources of Traffic
This identifies where your traffic is coming from and therefore helps you better understand what activities outside of your website are sparking clickthroughs. Sources include organic traffic from search engines, direct from typing in your URL, clickthroughs from social media activity, referred from a third party, and so on. Taking this further, you can also rank the top sites from where your traffic came from – was it from a great piece of coverage on a prominent blog, a piece of online PR coverage, the website of a tradeshow you exhibited at and/or spoke at, and so on.
9. Popular Pages
The traffic on your site can also be broken down page-by-page so you can rank which pages get the most views. This helps you understand what content and which topics are of most interest to your target audience, and also which areas of your site need re-thinking or addressing.
Many websites have some fantastic downloadable content on their sites – from case studies to white papers, from product guides to official brand logos – yet brands aren’t sure what’s being downloaded, or when it’s downloaded, and how often. Similar to Popular Pages, this data will again highlight what is of most interest and value to your visitors. The most popular of which could then be considered as candidates for experimenting with data capture forms in return for downloading it.
There are so many interesting metrics on top of these that we can’t possibly list them all in one post! For example, what type of device are people typically viewing your website from – if you have a high percentage of mobile devices then you need to make sure that your website is at least optimised for mobiles. Geographies and demographics also uncover interesting trends. There are an enormous number of variables and stats, but we decided to provide you with a list of our Top 10 metrics to focus on first and foremost to help you get the foundations in place. We haven’t even touched on some of the more sophisticated tracking tools you can use to get even more insight and data!
You should also read Lilach’s recent post to learn about some alternative tools, other than Google Analytics: top tools for measuring and analysing your website and social media activity. She is our Conversion Queen and has written plenty of posts for third party blogs on this topic. In fact, this is an extreme deep-dive of the seventh point in her post on how to convert your website traffic into customers!
Your next steps
You may not have the time, skills or even the inclination to implement all of the changes that are required to improve your website’s performance, but you should at least give your business a chance by finding out what is working and what needs improving.
Either way, your website will be better optimised to convert traffic whether you apply some or all of the insights.
And this is where our Digital Footprint Audits could come into play – we love getting geeky with websites, so discuss your needs with us and start converting! We fully assess and audit all navigation aspects and all content areas and provide recommendations for improvement. We also pay particular attention, beyond the visitor metrics and behaviour, to visual components, CTAs, ease of social sharing and menu simplicity.
Previously, he was Director at Comms Axis, a full service marketing agency specialising in content, social media & website services for businesses of all sizes.
Dan Purvis writes for a number of leading business, social media and marketing sites, including Smart Insights, MarketingProfs, Marketo, MarTech Advisor, Marketing Tech News, MarTech Today, MarTech Exec, and more.
Dan was also ranked by Brand Republic as one of the Top 50 UK Marketing & Social Media influencers.
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