In 2007, I wrote the “Top 10 Things to Measure on Your Website” for Larry Chase’s Web Digest for Marketers email newsletter.
The TL;DR version is:
1. How Fast Is It?
But back then, that was out of concern for your customers without a thought about search engine results placement.
2. How Often Does It Spit Up or Fall Over?
From timeout errors to 404s, these errors are still with us.
3. How Many People Show Up?
True, the numbers are not precise, but the trends are your friends in telling you if your promotions are working.
4. Which Are the Most Popular Pages?
What on your website is so interesting? What’s not?
5. Which Way Did They Go?
From bounce rates to path analysis, you need to know if people seem to be acting the way you expected when you designed your site.
6. What Are They Looking For?
From the search that drives the visit to the follow-up on-site search, knowing prospective customer intent is a big eye-opener.
7. How Did They Get Here?
Where are the right kinds of people (real prospects and actual customers) coming from? Go back and get more.
8. Did We Achieve Our Goals?
Did you end up with more subscriptions, registrations, customers, orders, profits, or whatever else you were hoping for when you built your site?
9. Are They Happy About Their Visit?
Customer satisfaction is a crucial metric to layer over behavioral data. Lots of visits and pageviews does not mean you’re doing a good job unless people say you are.
10. Are We Using Our Own Metrics?
How do you know if your measurements are working? Time to measure the number of times your metrics are used.
That was then.
Today, my list might look like this:
1. Calculate Your Culture
Is yours truly a data-informed company or, as Andrew Lang famously warned against, are you merely, “using statistics as a drunkard uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination”? If the corporate executives are only playing lip service to analytics, it’s time to find an executive who will act as your sponsor and make it possible to create – and show off – your analytical success.
2. Catalog Your Collaborators
If the C-suite is on board, you’re headed in the right direction. Your next step is to make really good friends with people in IT. Their internal culture will be critical to your success. Are they willing and able to respond to marketing emergencies even if they have parallel payroll problems? Do they insist on maintaining tight control or are they willing to educate you and yours on ways you can administer self-service?
3. Investigate Your Infrastructure
Even if the top brass is all excited about metrics, they must invest in the necessary tools. You can write a novel in Word, in Notepad, on a typewriter or by hand. But you cannot produce a useful analysis with Excel alone.
4. Detail Your Data Quality
Lots of data is wonderful, but trustworthy data is everything. Do you know where your data is coming from? Who has modified it? How current it is? Do you have a data governance program? What used to be Garbage In, Garbage Out is now Big Data Garbage In, Big Data Garbage Out. That makes detecting it that much harder.
5. Tally Your Testing
Testing is one of the most tactical, data-driven things you can do. You can start simply with a few A/B split tests and work your way up to a sophisticated, formal multivariate testing program on a formal testing platform.
6. Investigate Your Insight Generation
Are you and yours spending more time cranking out reports than insights? That’s a sign that your culture isn’t where it needs to be. Some reports are necessary and can be automated – that’s fine. But the ad-hoc requests for this number and that number without a solid strategy are diminishing the potential power of
your analytical efforts.
7. Itemize Insight Exploitation
Congratulations: Your team came up with dozens of insights that can really move the needle when it comes to corporate goals. But were they understood? Were they accepted? Did they get adopted? Do your insights translate into business decisions that have a material impact on raising revenue, lowing expenses, increasing customer satisfaction, or adding to the capabilities of the company?
8. Mull Over Your Maturity
Where does your organization fall on the Online Analytics Maturity Model? Are you stronger in some areas and weaker in others? Time to find out and take action.
9. Scrutinize Sales
Did you sell anything? Alternatively, did you stimulate donations, get people to vote for your candidate, generate qualified leads, or whatever your firm’s goals are? Do your online endeavors help the company?
10. All of the Above
Click-throughs, pageviews, and all the rest are still valuable, but unless you have this new list in order, you’re just counting for the sake of counting. What was true back in 2007 is true today: Set goals. Make changes. Track results. Repeat. Those are the instructions for a bigger, better, faster, stronger website.