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Riley Edmunds
Riley Edmunds 12 December 2016

The Top 5 Key Performance Indicators to Track on Your Website

There are many metrics you can and should track that give you clues as to how your site is performing. But what metrics help you understand if you are delivering the right kind of experiences for your audience? That is, the experiences that convert your visitors into customers.

Your website is up and running, your analytics are hooked in, and you’re delivering fresh content on a regular basis. Now it's time to put those analytics to work and make sure your website offers the best possible experience for your audience.

There are many metrics you can and should track that give you clues as to how your site is performing. But what metrics help you understand if you are delivering the right kind of experiences for your audience? That is, the experiences that convert your visitors into customers.

Here are our top key performance indicators (KPIs) to track on your website:

KPI 1: Cohort Reports

Cohorts are groupings of visitors based on a common element or behavior. For example, you might group together visitors who come to your site from a Google search, all visitors who looked at your product web page on the day of a product announcement, or all visitors who performed a specific action on your site.  

Grouping visitors together enables you to identify patterns in website usage. Why is this important? We design our websites with specific personas (or audiences) in mind, so we need to be sure that we’re delivering an experience that works for our target personas. Cohort analysis can provide those insights. 

Here are two examples to show you how Cohort reports offer guidance on where to dig deeper:

  1. You are a bookseller. You create a Cohort report for all visitors who added a specific book to their wish list. Now you want to know how many of those visitors have bought from you before? How many made a purchase in the last week, or month?
  2. You've been advertising the release of a new product. How many visitors came to your website the day of the official release? How many looked at that product specifically? How many downloaded resource information or signed up for your newsletter from that product page?

Cohort reports let you know how your content is being used. They can also give you rich feedback on how your products are perceived. If 80% came to your site on the day a product was announced, yet only 5% downloaded the product brochure, maybe your web content isn't offering enough information, or your ad copy doesn't match up with your website content.

KPI 2: Click Events and Key Transaction Goals

If you provide content like whitepapers, eBooks, blogs, and articles you will want to track click events and key transaction goals. Click events and goals let you know how interested your site visitors are in your content.

Let's say you spent $5,000 on an eBook, yet only 200 people have gone to the eBook’s landing page and of those, only 50 have downloaded it? What does this tell you?

For starters, you’ll want to look at the quality of the content you’re using to drive people to the landing page. You’ll also want to see how long visitors stay on the landing page and analyze how the page is meeting (or failing to meet) the needs of your visitors.

Perhaps the content is too focused on your company and products, and not on the user. Or maybe you are addressing the wrong audience altogether. Click events can help you understand how your content resonates with your audience.

KPI 3: Unique Website Visitors

Unique website visitors are first time visitors to your site for a predefined period. They may have been to the site before, or they may have visited more than once during the period you define, but they are only counted once.

Why is this number important? It helps you understand your web traffic over time. You can see where there are spikes and lags and begin to understand what might be causing them. For example, you may experience a spike just after a new product release, or a lag during the summer months when many people go on vacation.

Understanding when traffic to your website is high and what drives that traffic (i.e. what those site visitors are looking for) can help you build a stronger editorial calendar that caters to your audience and drives up traffic.

KPI 4: Search Queries

A good search engine helps visitors find the information they need quickly. It's probably one of the most important elements of your web experience. The information you get from your search helps you understand what your site visitors are looking for, and how you can make it easier for them to find.

Here are a few things search queries can tell you:

  • What content visitors want the most
  • What content your organization may lack
  • What products visitors are most interested in
  • How well you’ve structured your website’s Information Architecture

KPI 5: Goal Conversions by Channel 

Desktop is not the only way your website visitors reach your website. There are many other ways visitors get to you: mobile devices like phones and tablets for starters. Visitors also find you through areas across the web like Google search, email newsletters, social media posts, and so on.

Why is it important to track where your visitors are coming from? First, it tells you which channels are converting highest, so you can focus your efforts there or correct mistakes made on other channels. With these insights, you’re better able to optimize your content for specific channels and increase conversion rates on those channels.

As an example, let’s say that most of the visitors who come to your website via mobile read your blog, but never download any of your gated content, like white papers and eBooks. With this knowledge, you can create a better experience for your mobile visitors by delivering content in formats you know they like; instead of a download link for a whitepaper, you serve them a blog post series that provides a sign up to your newsletter.

It’s important to know what channels drive conversions, and focus your content on achieving those conversions.

It is also important to understand attribution. A single conversion can use many channels. Knowing how each channel is used in the path to conversion enables you to create a seamless experience.

And Yet, There’s More!

These are five key KPIs to track to understand how your website and content are performing. But there are always more ways to track your site performance. Here are a few additional metrics to consider tracking:

  • Most popular pages and least popular pages
  • Website entry points (the first page they hit)
  • Website exit points (the last page they hit before leaving)
  • Bounce rate
  • Top resource downloads
  • Most popular blog posts and web pages

Whatever you measure, you’ll want to make sure you are getting the best possible view of what content is working, what content is missing, and how you should adapt your web experience and your content to make sure your visitors are finding the information they need.

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