By: Alex Fernandez, Social Media Strategist
Metrics are a huge component of website analytics. Choosing the right metrics to measure can mean all the difference between gaining insight and “analysis paralysis”. For example, you’re driving in your car, and your battery light comes on. You drive to the nearest service center to have it looked at. Your mechanic isn’t going to check every component of the car – They’re going to test your battery first, right? Web metrics are similar, in this sense: Your website is a vehicle – a communications vehicle. Your web analytics help you determine how to improve and optimize your website for your users.
Web analytics is defined by the Web Analytics Association (WAA) as, “the study of online experience, in order to improve it.” And the part of that definition that should be stressed is, “In order to improve it!”
Metrics are driven by goals, and goals are driven by the type of website you have. Here are a couple of simple examples that demonstrate how different metrics would be used depending on the goals of the website:
- You have an E-Commerce website.
- Your goal is to increase online sales revenue via your website.
- A appropriate metric would be the average transaction value, or average order size.
- You have a Lead Generation website.
- Your goal is to increase the number of new-business leads via your website.
- An appropriate metric would be the number of opt-ins or number of content downloads.
Now, the metrics in the above examples are actually more than JUST metrics. They are helping us to determine if we are accomplishing our goals – making them Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google and author of the book, Web Analytics 2.0, describes KPIs as “The best kind of metrics.” In his blog, Occam’s Razor, he proclaims enthusiastically, “They are our BFFs!”
Key Performance Indicators are great, because they make metrics meaningful, by assigning those metrics to real goals! Let’s look at a more specific example. Let’s say that you have a basic WordPress blog set up with Google Analytics, and the purpose of your blog is to provide information on the coffee from around the world.
- Your website is an Informational website.
- Your goal is to become an authoritative source about all-things-coffee. You want to publish interesting content that people find useful.
- A few Key Performance Indicators that would measure how much your users are “soaking up” your content would be:
- Number of user comments
- Number of shared posts
- Number of page views per visit.
- After one month you measure your Key Performance Indicators:
- You determine that your posts about coffee from exotic locations around the world receive the most comments and shares.
- Your users are typically viewing only one page per visit.
Now, the “In order to improve it!” part:
- You develop an action plan, based on your findings, to improve next months results:
- You will publish more about the content your users value.
- You will link more to related entries within your content, and add a “Related Posts” section that appears at the end of each entry.
- Re-evaluate your goals and Re-measure.
This is obviously a very simplified example, but hopefully it helps demonstrate that web metrics aren’t about statistics, pie charts, percentages – metrics are supposed to be meaningful. They are tools to help you determine if you are realizing your goals, so make sure you’re looking at the right ones!
If you have any questions or comments, please drop us a line below. If you think this post was cool, please Tweet this. If you want to take your website analytics to the next level, with Pushing the Envelope, email me Alex(at)getpushing.com.