The most important website metrics you should be monitoring and why

Lilach Bullock on Lead generation,


Analytics is a wonderful thing. We live in an era of unprecedented power and unparalleled insights. If you’d told J Edgar Hoover that one day it would be possible to monitor the real-time behaviour of millions of citizens and to literally follow their gaze across a page (and then to segregate that data based on demographic markers such as age, gender, race and geo-location) he’d have rubbed his hands with glee.

But that sounds awfully dystopian, and we’re not interested in using data at such a granular level or for such nefarious purposes. We’re more concerned with monitoring these metrics as a force for good – for the good of your business to be precise.

Tools such as Google Analytics place an unprecedented amount of power in the palm of your hand and an unprecedented number of metrics too. In fact it would take an extremely large palm just to accommodate a list of all the site metrics you can track.

Time on page, exit page, bounce rate, device type, browser type, screen resolution, referral, customer journey, conversion rate, new vs returning user...the list goes on. It might be a luxury to have such a plethora of options at your disposal, but it’s a luxury that can get a little overwhelming.

What metrics should you monitor like a hawk and which ones can you casually disregard? The answer to that question depends to an extent on the nature of your business and your goals, but the following metrics should be top of your watch list.

1. The Where

Important website metrics

Where are your customers coming from? They aren’t magically alighting on your homepage from nowhere. Knowing your traffic sources is critical so that you can attribute your marketing spend and double down on the channels that are yielding dividends.

You’ll typically have visitors arriving on your site organic search, referrals and potentially paid search too – not to mention direct traffic.

If you’ve created a landing page and implemented marketing automation to capture leads, it’s particularly vital that you can attribute the source of that traffic. Armed with that information you’ll be able to calculate the cost per acquisition and determine whether it’s within the budget you calculated at the outset. You did calculate the price per lead you were willing to pay before embarking on a lead generation campaign, right?

2. The Why

If you’re getting returning visitors to your website – as you should be – the question you need to identify is why. If you run an ecommerce store and they’re an existing customer, it doesn’t require Holmesian powers of deduction to figure out why they’ve returned for more of the same. But if your returning visitors didn’t convert the first time around, you need to examine the pages they’re scrutinising to ascertain what they’re searching for. Or to put it differently, what prevented them from converting the first time around? Do they require additional information, and if so what can you do to ensure that this content is easier for first-time visitors to find?

3. The What

Important website metrics

Speaking of first-time visitors, you should be recording their on-site behaviour separately from that of your returning visitors. Specifically, you want to separate your conversion data. That’s right, we’re talking about the what. What’s your conversion rate for new visitors and how does that compare to returning visitors? If your bounce rate for new users is particularly high, for example, your site may have UX issues that need to be addressed. As for what constitutes a successful conversion, it needn’t constitute a purchase: it could be a download or a form submission.

If you’re only focusing on the small percentage of users who are adding value to your brand however by converting in some shape or form, you’re missing the bigger picture: the ones that got away. The percentage of visitors who successfully convert is typically only a fraction of your overall web traffic. 2% is the average figure often quoted, but the precise number really depends on your industry and the quality of both your traffic sources and your website. It’s possible to create high converting landing pages that will snare a significantly higher percentage of visitors. Regardless of your actual conversion rate, it will always be dwarfed by the percentage of visitors who leave your site without giving you anything.

Focusing on the exit pages where these users abandon ship will alert you to possible chokepoints on your site that are turning visitors away. It could be a poorly designed payment gateway that’s leading to abandoned carts or it could be a lead capture form which doesn’t function properly on mobile. Examining your exit pages will allow you to see where your visitors have done a 180 and navigated away, and from there it shouldn’t take long to figure out why.

Other metrics to measure

Important website metrics

The where, the why and the what – where your users are coming from, why they’re returning and what they’re doing on your site – are the metrics that every business should be measuring. Armed with this data, it’s then possible to drill deeper and start putting a cost on these actions. You might choose to measure such things as:

  • Value per visit: The number of site visits divided by the value created. What constitutes adding value? If you’re an ecommerce store that’s easy to decide. Businesses offering intangible services will need to think harder though.
  • Cost per conversion: Closely tied to value per visit is cost per conversion. A high conversion rate sounds great, but if the cost of achieving that feat is astronomical, it was all in vain. Knowing your CPC will enable you to decide how much you’re willing to spend to acquire a customer and then adjust your marketing budget accordingly.
  • Interactions per visit: If your customers aren’t converting, what exactly are they doing on your site? Understanding the average number of page views and the time spent on site will give you an insight into the journey that the average visitor takes.

There’s much more to website analytics than the metrics mentioned above, but these are the fundamental markers that every business should be monitoring. Focus on these, but don’t neglect the dozens of other insights that are available to you.

Naturally, you’ll also want to segment the behaviour of mobile and desktop users for example and to keep an eye on page speeds and other technical issues that could be affecting user experience. Analytics is a wonderful thing, but it’s all too easy to drown in the data. Monitor your key metrics and don’t obsess over the rest.

Analytics is a wonderful thing. We live in an era of unprecedented power and unparalleled insights. If you’d told J Edgar Hoover that one day it would be possible to monitor the real-time behaviour of millions of citizens and to literally follow their gaze across a page (and then to segregate that data based on demographic markers such as age, gender, race and geo-location) he’d have rubbed his hands with glee.

But that sounds awfully dystopian, and we’re not interested in using data at such a granular level or for such nefarious purposes. We’re more concerned with monitoring these metrics as a force for good – for the good of your business to be precise.

Tools such as Google Analytics place an unprecedented amount of power in the palm of your hand and an unprecedented number of metrics too. In fact it would take an extremely large palm just to accommodate a list of all the site metrics you can track.

Time on page, exit page, bounce rate, device type, browser type, screen resolution, referral, customer journey, conversion rate, new vs returning user...the list goes on. It might be a luxury to have such a plethora of options at your disposal, but it’s a luxury that can get a little overwhelming.

What metrics should you monitor like a hawk and which ones can you casually disregard? The answer to that question depends to an extent on the nature of your business and your goals, but the following metrics should be top of your watch list.

1. The Where

Important website metrics

Where are your customers coming from? They aren’t magically alighting on your homepage from nowhere. Knowing your traffic sources is critical so that you can attribute your marketing spend and double down on the channels that are yielding dividends.

You’ll typically have visitors arriving on your site organic search, referrals and potentially paid search too – not to mention direct traffic.

If you’ve created a landing page and implemented marketing automation to capture leads, it’s particularly vital that you can attribute the source of that traffic. Armed with that information you’ll be able to calculate the cost per acquisition and determine whether it’s within the budget you calculated at the outset. You did calculate the price per lead you were willing to pay before embarking on a lead generation campaign, right?

2. The Why

If you’re getting returning visitors to your website – as you should be – the question you need to identify is why. If you run an ecommerce store and they’re an existing customer, it doesn’t require Holmesian powers of deduction to figure out why they’ve returned for more of the same. But if your returning visitors didn’t convert the first time around, you need to examine the pages they’re scrutinising to ascertain what they’re searching for. Or to put it differently, what prevented them from converting the first time around? Do they require additional information, and if so what can you do to ensure that this content is easier for first-time visitors to find?

3. The What

Important website metrics

Speaking of first-time visitors, you should be recording their on-site behaviour separately from that of your returning visitors. Specifically, you want to separate your conversion data. That’s right, we’re talking about the what. What’s your conversion rate for new visitors and how does that compare to returning visitors? If your bounce rate for new users is particularly high, for example, your site may have UX issues that need to be addressed. As for what constitutes a successful conversion, it needn’t constitute a purchase: it could be a download or a form submission.

If you’re only focusing on the small percentage of users who are adding value to your brand however by converting in some shape or form, you’re missing the bigger picture: the ones that got away. The percentage of visitors who successfully convert is typically only a fraction of your overall web traffic. 2% is the average figure often quoted, but the precise number really depends on your industry and the quality of both your traffic sources and your website. It’s possible to create high converting landing pages that will snare a significantly higher percentage of visitors. Regardless of your actual conversion rate, it will always be dwarfed by the percentage of visitors who leave your site without giving you anything.

Focusing on the exit pages where these users abandon ship will alert you to possible chokepoints on your site that are turning visitors away. It could be a poorly designed payment gateway that’s leading to abandoned carts or it could be a lead capture form which doesn’t function properly on mobile. Examining your exit pages will allow you to see where your visitors have done a 180 and navigated away, and from there it shouldn’t take long to figure out why.

Other metrics to measure

Important website metrics

The where, the why and the what – where your users are coming from, why they’re returning and what they’re doing on your site – are the metrics that every business should be measuring. Armed with this data, it’s then possible to drill deeper and start putting a cost on these actions. You might choose to measure such things as:

  • Value per visit: The number of site visits divided by the value created. What constitutes adding value? If you’re an ecommerce store that’s easy to decide. Businesses offering intangible services will need to think harder though.
  • Cost per conversion: Closely tied to value per visit is cost per conversion. A high conversion rate sounds great, but if the cost of achieving that feat is astronomical, it was all in vain. Knowing your CPC will enable you to decide how much you’re willing to spend to acquire a customer and then adjust your marketing budget accordingly.
  • Interactions per visit: If your customers aren’t converting, what exactly are they doing on your site? Understanding the average number of page views and the time spent on site will give you an insight into the journey that the average visitor takes.

There’s much more to website analytics than the metrics mentioned above, but these are the fundamental markers that every business should be monitoring. Focus on these, but don’t neglect the dozens of other insights that are available to you.

Naturally, you’ll also want to segment the behaviour of mobile and desktop users for example and to keep an eye on page speeds and other technical issues that could be affecting user experience. Analytics is a wonderful thing, but it’s all too easy to drown in the data. Monitor your key metrics and don’t obsess over the rest.

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Lilach Bullock
Professional Speaker, Lead Conversion Expert, Social Media Specialist & Occasional Diva. Proud mum
UK https://www.lilachbullock.com/