Through the use of free and low-cost tools, businesses can get access to website performance metrics that tell the story of your digital success. This information can be of enormous value to your company, as it provides new insights that inform more efficient online practices and marketing strategies.
However, performance metrics can just as easily be misleading, painting only a partial picture of what's going on with your website. In worst-case scenarios, your interpretation of the data may be the opposite of what's happening in reality — but with no alternative data, it can be tough to separate fact from fiction.
Many companies face this struggle: Which website performance metrics matter most, and how can you tell? It's an imperfect science, but with hard work and careful attention, there are ways to uncover the truth that lies within your website performance metrics.
Don't Get Hooked On "Bad Data"
The primary way data can mislead businesses is when poor metrics suggest a problem that isn't there. Suppose, for example, your restaurant is running a campaign where display ads bring customers to a menu landing page. People may look at the menu, decide they want to eat there and then leave the website. This chain of actions will send your bounce rates sky high, but the page is doing its job by generating referrals for the business. In this scenario, the campaign worked, but traditional metric analysis makes it look like a failure.
Not All Metrics Are Created Equal
As Business 2 Community points out, the key to optimizing your marketing campaigns is using website performance metrics to strategically measure successes and failures. You need to define key performance indicators, or KPIs, for each channel and campaign. While KPIs may not offer the whole story on your website's performance, they are much more relevant than a random sampling of top-level insights.
Consider the restaurant website. A better way to gauge success might be to look at the total traffic and duration of visits, since longer page views could indicate greater consideration of the menu. These metrics may only offer part of the story, but the insights are valuable when you put them in context.
Take time to identify KPIs for your campaigns — sometimes it may take trial and error to figure out which metrics indicate success. In the end, though, leadership will be able look to these numbers and understand how your business's marketing efforts are faring.
Embracing a Holistic View
It's also worth looking at all the data available to you and gathering high-level insights on how your website is performing. Brands can lose sight of the bigger picture when examining individual metrics, but the larger body of information can be extremely useful when assessing successes and adjusting your marketing strategy. Positive metrics across the board may not mean your website is performing its absolute best, but they do offer some assurance that your marketing strategy is moving in the right direction.
Analysis of website metrics should always consider how each statistic relates to the overall goals of your website. Remember to always place figures into context and take time to determine what they actually reflect, both in terms of individual campaigns and your overall strategy. After all, numbers only tell so much of the story.