We all track page views, unique visitors, followers, and fan counts. We obsess over click-through rates, bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, and load times. And we should. These are key metrics that serve as proxies for brand health and can aid or impede business growth.
But there are other metrics you should be watching - not just for their absolute value or monthly change, but for the story they may be telling you about your brand at a deeper level. I could list a hundred, but today I'll start with six currently holding my attention.
Time spent per page. When you look at your site's analytics, we tend to focus on the places where users spend the most time. These are the best and most important sections of your website, right? Not necessarily. High time spent per page can also indicate a particular page isn't getting users the information they need fast enough, or is otherwise confusing to navigate. If users are spending minutes on a page without a video, article, or other interactive element on it, you likely have a problem. Use your judgment, or add a "Did you find this page useful?" button to be sure.
Retweets. The first phase of the social web was all about presence - the goal was just to be there. The second phase was about volume: how can I amass the largest follower count to share my message with? Now, we're in the epoch of engagement. It's far better to have fewer, loyal, active brand fans who distribute your message as brand evangelists than a large group of anonymous fans who visited your page once for a coupon and never returned. Retweets, favorites, comments, and shares signify active engagement with your brand's content. Track them.
Unfollows and defriends. It's no longer sufficient simply to track your overall follower and fan counts. They don't tell the full story. Today, brands are publishers, and we need to look not just at who's joining us, but at who's taking their business, time, and attention elsewhere. Track the movement of users who unfollow or defriend your brand and make sure you understand why.
7-day and 30-day active users. It's all well and good to tout how big an audience your app or site has, but what percentage of those users return on a regular basis? When they return, are they using new features, exploring new sections of your site, signing up to hear more from you, downloading something, or moving toward a purchase? Are they coming at the same time each day or month? Find out, and optimize your communications accordingly.
Exit page/last page visited. For users who come to your site and visit at least two pages, where do they exit? If any page accounts for 5 percent or more of your total exits, you need to revise that page. Add a clearer call-to-action or suggest a related page to visit. Do what you have to do, but extend the user experience so you don't lose your audience.
Human response lag. We've all built automated responses into our system (e.g., "Thanks for contacting us"), but users who contact our brand - and are by definition potential or existing customers - deserve a human response. Whether it's connecting them with a salesperson or sending them the link to a page that's readily available on the website, track how long it takes your team to respond to these inquiries, and then shorten it. Once you have some data around the types of inquiries you typically receive, go ahead and draft some boilerplate email responses, but have them come from a human, preferably a knowledgeable one, on your team.
These are just a handful from a list of hundreds. What are your key metrics? Tweet them to me @kristinkovner for inclusion in a future column.
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Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.
Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.
Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.