Stalk your Web site
Internet marketing metrics every agency owner should know
By John Boudreau
"I know half of my advertising budget is wasted; I just don't know which half." This famous marketing quote is most widely attributed to John Wanamaker, considered by some to be the father of modern advertising. One of the greatest benefits of Internet marketing is the ability to accurately measure results.
If you're a beginner to Internet marketing, measuring results can be a daunting task given the overwhelming number of things to measure. Most do not know where to start and, for that reason, some never do. The goal of this article is to give you a baseline of metrics that can get you started.
Web site metrics & analytics
There are several free programs available to monitor Web site traffic. Google offers a free program called Google Analytics which allows users to track hundreds of Internet metrics—including unique visitors to your Web site—as well as which keywords a visitor typed in prior to visiting your Web site. You can even track the geographic location of the visitor.
Installing this tool involves signing up for the service, then placing a java script code on your Web site. This is a fairly simple process that can be completed literally in minutes.
So, what should you track? Here a few starting points.
• Absolute unique visitors. These are individuals who have visited your Web site within a given date range (typically one month). Google Analytics tracks the IP address of the computer that made a request to the server which hosts your site. These visitors are called "unique" because an IP address (visitor) is counted only once within a given time period. For example, if you were to visit your site three times in one month, your visit would be counted only once (unless you visited from three separate computers/locations). Google Analytics also allows you to drill down further and segment visitors by geography, browser type or even mobile device.
• Conversion rate. There is really only one reason to have a Web site: to generate a lead. You should track the number of phone calls or contact forms submitted on a monthly basis. The conversion rate can then be calculated by dividing the numbers of leads into the number of unique visitors. This is a measure of how effective your Web site is at converting Internet traffic into leads (and ultimately business) for you. As the saying goes: You can't manage what you don't measure.
• Bounce rate. Your Web site's bounce rate is another telling metric. The bounce rate is the number of visitors who visit your site, then leave without visiting another page on your site, within a specified timeout period. It is expressed as a percentage of the overall traffic. Obviously a high bounce rate is indicative of a problem.
What does a high bounce rate say about your Web site? Someone is visiting your site for a reason. Visitors who leave shortly after visiting did not find what they were looking for. Put yourself in your potential customer's shoes. Does your Web site have a clear call to action? Do visitors know what to do when they land on your Web page? Just as with your other Web site metrics, you should track this on a monthly basis to notice trends.
• Organic keywords. Google Analytics gives you the ability to track the number of organic keywords that drive traffic to your Web site. Keywords are the words or phrases a visitor typed into Google prior to landing on your Web site. A visitor could have typed your Web site URL directly into the Web browser and landed on your site that way as well.
The more often you update the content on your site, the more organic keywords you should see driving traffic. We encourage our customers to create an on-site blog. The on-site blog provides more pages on your Web site—and, better yet, more fresh relevant content—which all leads to greater potential for traffic.
• Referrers. Referrers are simply any other Web sites that are driving traffic to your site. Traffic sources can be broken down into three categories: (1) direct traffic, (2) search engines, and (3) referring sites. Track the top five referrers to your site. Do you have a Facebook page? You may see that as one of your top referrers. Once you understand which referrers are driving the most traffic, you can look for ways to maximize that traffic.
What to do now
Since you may not be familiar with Internet marketing metrics, your goal is to just begin tracking. Don't worry if the numbers fluctuate from month to month. Get familiar with the lingo and with what referrers are driving the most traffic to your Web site. You'll begin to notice patterns as you measure these metrics over time. You are essentially establishing a baseline. Once you understand these basic Internet marketing metrics, you'll be more informed when you begin other Internet marketing initiatives (e-mail marketing, blogging, social media, paid search).
Remember that the more pages your Web site has, the more opportunity to build stockpiles of relevant, keyword rich content. The more genuine your content, the better. And the more often you can update your on-site blog, the stronger your ability to pull in more targeted traffic. Putting the pieces together takes time, but understanding how each moving part works certainly is the first step.
John Boudreau is COO and co-founder of Astonish Results, a digital marketing and consulting firm based in Rhode Island. He oversees the CRM, SEO/SEM, social media, and e-mail marketing strategies for the Astonish system.