Getting a website’s backend working smoothly (for example, by incorporating tools such as access rights management software) is great. However, having a functioning website doesn’t in any way guarantee success of an online business. Websites that do succeed are those that can grow their online visibility by understanding who their audience is, what their interests are, their behavior patterns and leveraging this knowledge for the business’ benefit.
There’s no better source of this valuable information than your website’s metrics. The metrics will guide you in changing and optimizing the site as needed. In the absence of metrics, managing an online business becomes a game of guesswork. Not all metrics are created equal though. Here’s a look at the ones you absolutely must keep an eye on.
1. Number of Visitors
This is arguably the most important metric. The reason you set up the site was to draw in visitors who you hope to convert to customers. Ergo, the more visitors to your site, the better the odds of realizing your financial goals.
Visitors are either new or returning. Returning visitors are those who came to your site more than once within a given timeframe (for example, over a 30-day period). New visitors are vital (since every returning visitor was once a new visitor) but it’s the returning visitors that your site’s fate is most dependent on.
A returning visitor is a sign that you made a first impression that was good enough to convince them of your site’s value. A steady drop in returning visitors probably means a recent change is not doing your site good.
2. Visitor Source
Knowing where your website traffic comes from is important in helping you focus on what works and improving what doesn’t. Is it organic search engine results, PPC search engine ads, referrals from other websites, social media, email campaigns or just directly from their URL bar?
Visitor source is especially useful when combined with the conversion rate (which we look at later below). If a source has significantly and consistently higher conversion rates, then that should be an indicator that you probably share a target demographic. You can go further and either partner with the source site or place paid ads that will increase traffic to yours.
3. Visitor Demographic
Different demographics have different needs, preferences, tastes, beliefs and views. Keep tabs on the age, gender, location, language, device, browser, operating system, level of education, income, car ownership, home ownership, marital status, children etc.
The more information you have on each visitor, the better prepared you will be to perfect your online marketing strategy so that it appeals directly to that specific audience. How you’d sell to a Millennial is different from how you’d do so to a Baby Boomer.
Most websites won’t appeal to just a narrow demographic. If the different demographics are big enough, consider having different landing pages whose visibility is dependent on the attributes of the visitor (or perhaps which site refers them).
4. Mobile versus Desktop Traffic
Starting in 2016, the number of Internet users accessing the World Wide Web via mobile surpassed desktop users. While this is true for the Internet in general, the ratio of mobile to desktop users will vary from one website to the next often depending on who their primary target is.
For example, sites targeting senior citizens will likely have a higher proportion of desktop users than mobile users. It’s crucial that you know how the numbers stack up for your site. Nevertheless, building a responsive mobile-friendly site is no longer optional. Your site’s layout should conform to the screen of the device accessing it.
5. Conversion Rate
The last website metric we’ll discuss here is the conversion rate. This is a measure of the number of visitors who eventually took the desired action whether it’s purchasing your product, subscribing to an email newsletter or downloading a free whitepaper.
Fine tune your landing pages to extract the maximum possible conversions from them. Look at what works and be ready to change pages accordingly.
There are other vital metrics such as page load time, bounce rate, pages per session, session duration, call to action (CTA) click through rates, top landing pages, top referral domains and retention rates. The more of these metrics that you keep track of, the better equipped you’ll be to create a highly optimized site that delivers desired results and consistently posts growth.