As a leading digital marketing partner of many small and medium enterprises, we at The SEO Works are surprised at how many businesses still aren’t measuring their digital performance. This guide shows you how to get started on that journey.
Why Measure Your Website?
When starting a new website project, something important but often overlooked is measuring the performance and success of the project.
Even if you already have a website, taking steps to measure what is right for your business will give you a new level of understanding how people use your site and which marketing campaigns are working.
Ultimately, you need to answer the question “What value is my website generating my business?” If you’re a business owner, this will be fundamental to your overall growth strategy. If you are a marketing manager, it will help keep your boss happy and show them that you know what you are doing.
It’s sometimes good to talk in terms of website “hits” and “page views,” but in many ways, these are just vanity metrics, only scratching the surface. You might get a lot of visits - but are they actually adding any value to your business?
What Should You Measure?
There are some key fundamentals you need to measure, which you can use to initially set a baseline of performance; then, on an ongoing basis, measure the improvement over time.
Tracking visitors to see how much traffic and page views you’re getting to a website is OK, but by setting up website goals, you will be able to find out if and how your website helps your business.
There are many tracking analytics packages out there, but the most commonly used is Google Analytics. It’s a free, web-based piece of software that can be installed on any website.
How Do You Get Started?
The first step in measuring your website’s performance is to define your goals. Think about how you want your website to help your business.
By saying “we want a better website,” what is it that you are actually looking for? For example:
- Do you want to increase revenue?
- Are you looking to increase downloads of a certain brochure?
- Do you need to improve customer satisfaction?
- Are you looking to generate more engagement through comments and shares?
- Are you conducting any marketing campaigns and know what you want those to achieve?
- Do you want to generate inquiries?
Once you have mapped these out, you then need to identify how your goals can be measured via the site. Below, we’ve suggested five common website analytics goals that are critical to measuring your website’s performance:
1. Completed Contact/Inquiry Form
Perhaps the most obvious goal is for your website to generate inquiries, or leads. The “Contact Us” form, which likely sits on your contact page, is a key part of that. Also, this includes any other inquiry forms that pop up across your site or forms that are located on specific pages, such as call-back requests.
Anything generated via your contact forms could be classed as a lead or inquiry. Setting a goal on the successful completion of each form will mean you can start to measure this.
For example, on our website, two of the six tabs at the top of each page (“Contact Us” and “Free Site Review”) lead directly to a contact form.
A contact form is a key area to measure lead generation, and including easy-to-find contact forms increases the likelihood of people filling it out.
2. Purchased Product
If you run an e-commerce site, then you need to measure sales in terms of the products you are selling and the value of the sales. A purchase goal could count as the purchase of a specific product or the purchase of a particular category of product.
Google Analytics has an advanced section for this called e-commerce tracking. By setting this section up, you can measure things like:
- Revenue generated by each product
- Total revenue
- Total number of products sold
- Quantity of specific products sold
- Rate of conversions
- Total transactions
- Number of unique purchases made
- Average price of products
- Average value of orders
- Date-wise performance data
- Number of days and sessions leading to a transaction
3. Social Engagement
Perhaps the engagement with your content or social elements is important to your business.
For example, people sharing your content, viewing your content, leaving comments on your content, or viewing your videos are good indicators of engagement, as is average dwell time and, in some cases, bounce rate. If this is important to your business, consider setting up a goal for this.
4. Downloaded or Viewed Brochure, Whitepaper, or Content
In the business-to-business world, brochures and whitepapers are often a key way of demonstrating your knowledge and expertise and form an essential part of lead generation. By providing something of value to potential customers, they access it and exchange contact information to start a discussion.
Measuring downloads of documents or views of important articles and blogs on your website will help you understand which elements of your content are popular and how many leads you are generating as a result.
This can also inform generation of new pieces of content based on what works and what doesn’t. After learning what types of content are most successful on your site, why publish an article if something similar doesn't get read?
5. Registration/Account Created
If you’re an online subscription service or have a self-service area to your site, a customer will need to register to transact with you.
Make sure you know how many new accounts are registering each day by setting this up as a goal.
6. Subscribed to Newsletter
Someone subscribing to your newsletter demonstrates an engaged customer or perhaps a great future lead. By placing your subscribe form in different places of your website or as pop-ups, you may see an increase or decrease in registrations.
There may also be a seasonality to it. Put a goal in place, and you will be able to measure this and track which parts of your website are most successful at converting a subscription.
Setting up Google Analytics Goals
Now that you know what you want to measure, you need to configure your measurement software. If you have chosen to use Google Analytics, here’s how to do it:
- Go to your Google Analytics standard reports
- Click on the “Admin” button at the bottom left
- Click on “Goals”
- Click “+ New Goal” to set up a new goal.
You can select from these types of goals:
- Destination goal: Use destination goals to treat a page view or screen view as a conversion. You need to enter the URL that is the "conversion" page, and this will be tracked.
- Duration goal: Measure engagement by treating session duration as a conversion. Just choose the minutes and seconds, and any session longer than this will generate a conversion.
- Event goal: Treat user interactions, such as clicks of a social media share button, with your site as a conversion.
- Pages goal: Measure engagement by the number of pages viewed on your site. Anyone viewing more than the number specified will count as a conversion.
More information on how to set up goals is available on the Google Analytics website.
Measuring Your Site’s Impact
Once you have set up your goals and you have had time to collect some data, you can start the real business of measuring website performance. You can access your conversion reports in Google Analytics by clicking Conversions > Goals > Overview.
Segmenting the Results
To get even more scientific, analyze your conversions by segmenting your data. This will give you a true assessment of all the goals completed by each channel and type of visitor.
For example, if you are running an SEO or PPC campaign, you could look at the difference in conversions by organic and paid search traffic. To do this, from your default report click “+ Add Segment” and tick “Organic Traffic” and “Paid Traffic.” This will then break down your conversions and let you compare which of your campaigns is generating better results.
There are many other segments available to you - such as returning users, mobile traffic, and tablet traffic.
Answering Questions That Matter
With the data in front of you, you can start to answer questions such as:
- “Does my paid search campaign traffic download my whitepaper?”
- “What percentage of organic search traffic signs up to my newsletter?”
- “How many returning visitors look at more than two pages?”
- “What’s my cost per conversion for Facebook advertising?”
Successfully Measure Your Site’s Performance
Ultimately, by setting up goals that meet your business needs, you will be able to start measuring how well your website’s performance meets these needs and also the impact of your marketing campaigns.
You’ll start to see what is working and what is not. Ultimately, you'll create a better roadmap to success online.
About the Author
Ben Foster is Managing Director of The SEO Works, an award-winning provider of digital marketing and websites to UK enterprises. He is a digital practitioner with over 15 years of leadership experience in the technology and digital sector.
He is passionate about customer engagement and using technology as an enabler to improve end-user experiences. He led the largest health website in the UK to empower over 18 million patients to manage their own health, using digital as the prime channel. He understands the fundamental shift to digital and proud to lead an agency that drives businesses to maximize their online potential.