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Advice for measuring website performance for people who think they’re too busy to measure website performance.


The blessing of a website is that everything is measurable. The curse of a website …  is that everything is measurable. Do people click red buttons more than blue buttons? Which verb works best for a Call-to-Action? What percentage of people visiting my site are coming from the Ukraine? Knowing what, when, and how to measure can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be. Our Chief Operating Officer is an incredibly intelligent guy, and when he’s considering site metrics, he focuses on just five numbers. Five isn’t so bad. You have five senses; five pockets in your Levi’s, and five days in your work week — okay, five days in your *average* work week. Anyway, if you want a snapshot of performance, here are the five numbers that are most important to your website.

Traffic — and we’re not talking about your morning commute.

Traffic is the volume of people visiting your site. Marketers often talk about sessions and unique visitors. If I visit your website twice, I’m one unique visitor with two sessions. What you really care about is how many people are spending time at your site. Every site and every sector have  a different idea of what constitutes good traffic. We have eCommerce clients with millions of sessions. We have manufacturing clients who are delighted to break 200 visitors in a given month. That’s because  traffic quality is even more important than quantity — but that’s another blog post for another day. You need to be looking at that number regularly. You know this already, but Google Analytics  is essential for measuring and monitoring site traffic.

Leads. Not surprisingly, it sounds a lot like “needs”

Traffic is a great wave (or maybe a small ripple) of strangers coming to your site. You don’t know anything about them — yet. That’s where the humble web form comes in. When a site visitor signs up for a white paper or registers with your site to access premium content, they’re no longer a stranger. They’ve metaphorically raised their hand and volunteered some personal information in exchange for some of your content. (This is the whole idea behind Inbound Marketing, by the way). This simple exchange of information has moved your site visitor one step further along the buyer journey  and that site visitor has moved from being a stranger to a lead.

Conversion: think of it as your “interest rate.”

This brings us to the third essential metric: your conversion rate. Simply put, it’s the portion of your traffic that become leads. Your conversion rate is expressed as a percentage. If you have 100 site visitors and 8 of them complete a form on your website, that form has an 8 percent conversion rate. Conversion rates vary enormously. Let’s use the example of an  eCommerce site that sells pretty much everything on earth and ships for free in two days. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Amazon.)  A site like this — one with 2.5 billlion monthly visitors who are often focused on an immediate purchase — will have a much higher conversion rate than a regional fabricator of sheet metal panels used in pole barns, storage units, and metal roofs.

Customers. They’re always right and you should always be counting them.

Let’s continue with the example above. If I request a quote for 4,000 square feet of sheet metal panels, I’m a lead. When I actually order 4,000 square feet of sheet metal, I’m a customer. I might not make that purchase on the website. I might do so during a phone call, or over lunch with my favorite sales rep (they’re paying, of course.) But the number of new customers who began their buyer journey at your website is the fourth metric that needs to be monitored.

Close rate, a.k.a. “Sealing the deal.”

Just like the conversion rate, your close rate is proportional: the slice of leads who actually buy your product or service. As a marketer, it’s where the rubber meets the road. If your site generates tons of leads, but you’re not getting tons of customers, there’s probably a  kink in your process. A website — especially one tied to a CRM — can help to reduce the friction and resistance that slows or prevents leads from becoming customers.

This blog post is done. You’re not.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to measuring website performance. But if you want to get your head around how your site is doing, spend five or ten minutes reviewing these numbers and on a very macro level, you’ll have an understanding of what’s working well and where you need to focus your time and attention.  In future posts, I’ll do a deeper dive on each of these metrics. But if you have questions right now, please reach out . We have a lot of intelligent, insightful people who do this for a living and they are happy to help.