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Analytics: 4 Key Metrics for Website Performance Insight
Posted on September 17, 2010 by Cheyne Rood

How effectively do you assess the value of your website? Analytics -- or, web statistics -- are pieces of data collected as visitors browse your website. Proper Analytics go well beyond a simple report of "hits" and "visitors", with information about geographic region, time spent on a page, referring websites, and much more. Though oft underused by small-to-midsized businesses, Analytics are critical to understanding strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve the performance of your website. Effective use of analytics makes investment in a website an extremely measurable form of marketing.

There are a number of popular web analytics packages that can be used to track web statistics, like StatTracker, ClickStream, and Site Meter. Google Analytics is arguably the best, is free, and integrates nicely with Google Adwords. We provide Google Analytics to our clients, and it captures a vast array of information that can be filtered, viewed, and exported with ease. By using Google Analytic's ecommerce options, you can also track revenue/visitor and conversion rates from various sources.

It is extremely important to spend time (at least) monthly analyzing website performance. Here are four key metrics that provide great insight:

1. Most popular pages identifies the content potential customers find most interesting/useful, and helps distinguish effective methods to apply when creating new pages.

2. Most popular landing pages shows the most common pages where visitors first arrive at your website. A visitor typically reaches a landing page by typing it directly into a browser or linking to it in paid or unpaid search engine results. Determining which pages people use to enter your website most often will help you repeat that success with new pages.

3. Most popular exit pages can help determine which pages on your site most often lead to a visitor abandoning it. This is important because it can help determine which pages may not be useful or engaging enough to keep customers interested. Pages with excessive exits should be reworked to address these issues.

4. Number of visits per order/dollar shows the revenue performance of your website in terms of online orders. In this industry there are no hard bench marks since businesses vary, but the most important thing is to spot trends. As you provide a better experience for your customers, the number of orders & dollars per visitor should trend up. If trends are not improving, then digging deeper into your analytics can typically help you determine why you hit a dip in your website's effectiveness. In the absence of online ordering, other "goals" can be used to track conversion success, like RFQ submissions.

Once you get comfortable with assessing statistics, you will be begin to see more and more complex ways to look at the data to gain insight. Just remember -- the point of all of this is to make your data tell a story. In the same way you put together meaningful combinations of financial numbers every quarter, you can do the same with your website to help you understand where you stand now, and what you can improve moving forward.

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