They say that “that what is measured, grows.” That is to say that the simple act of measuring some metric or other can be enough to help that metric improve. This is true for weight loss, where simply weighing yourself regularly can help motivate you to lose more, of course it is true for digital marketing metrics.
If you are not measuring the progress of your website or the growth, then there is no way for you track how your small business is doing digitally. Without measuring, you have no way of knowing what’s working and what isn’t- you are essentially driving blind!
But measuring the success of a website is something that requires a certain science in itself. What precisely should you be measuring? What are the most important metrics? And how do these numbers work together to provide a detailed understanding of your traffic and your success? I will be answering those questions and I will also tell you the 8 most important metrics you need to be tracking!
The first thing to look at is the number of visits you are getting on your website. This metric doesn’t necessarily provide much information regarding the type of person visiting your site or the way they’re engaging with your content. But it will help make sense of all the other data that you’re getting. You need to know your visits so that you can know what percentage of those visitors are buying from you and thereby calculate your conversion rate. Your visits tell you how many people you have to work with and they let you formulate a strategy on that basis.
Differentiating Between “Hits” & “Visits”
When looking at this metric though, it’s important to recognize the subtle distinctions between the different kinds of ‘hits’ and ‘visits’.
Another thing to consider is the difference between ‘hits’ and ‘visits’. Hits are different from visits because they actually represent every single demand placed on your servers. This doesn’t just include each new visit to your site. It includes images that have been downloaded and ‘bots’ (scripts that work for search engines and other sites as a way of indexing the content on your site).
So at the very least, you should look at visits rather than hits. And most likely you are going to want to look at your unique visits more than that- this metric is going to be useful when used in conjunction with others. Nevertheless, this is your starting point and it is the first metric you need to track. It is the broadest and most general descriptor of your overall success and is definitely a useful number to watch.
Note: This is a good time for us to point out that none of these metrics is infallible and it is certainly possible to ‘fool’ the reports. For example, if someone is using private browsing on their computer, then they won’t be storing cookies and that means that they may be counted as a new visitor (although normally the IP address is also taken into account). If a user has multiple computers more likely, then this too can also upset your statistics.
How to Increase Your Visits
So how do you go about increasing your page visits? The first thing you are doing correctly is monitoring them and seeing how they increase, as this way you can now try to make changes and see how your site improves or doesn’t. This will then let you know what’s working, what you need to change and more.
There are numerous different ways to increase page views and basically the answer here is: marketing. That can include:
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
The key is to create a synergy between all these things and have a strong brand that drives through all of them. Content is the key since to giving people a reason to come to your website and it’s also what Google indexes and uses to decide where you should appear on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Content builds trust and engagement and encourages your visitors to share your site on social media and it gives you something of value to offer on social media too.
From there, you can also focus on building inbound links to your site from reputable and trusted domains, as well as using influencer marketing by teaming up with other brands and site owners to increase your exposure.
The last element – advertising – means spending money on a CPC (cost-per-click) ad campaign, a Facebook ad campaign, a video ad, or other advertising ways that fit your brand. This will bring its own set of metrics (which will be mentioned later.)
Your bounce rate tells you what proportion of your traffic lands on your site and then immediately leaves. This is a bounce and it basically means that although you have a visit, you aren’t engaging with that visitor and they aren’t stopping to read.
This is a good example of why visits don’t tell the whole story. If you have 1,000 daily visits with a 99% bounce rate, then that means that only 10 people are actually sticking around to read your site!
But bear in mind that a bounce rate still doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s because a bounce rate isn’t based on the amount of time they spend on your site but rather their interaction. So someone might bounce from your site after spending a while there – and this simply means that they didn’t click to read any of your other pages.
So even if you have a bounce rate at about 60%, that doesn’t necessarily mean that visitors aren’t reading your site – they may be reading the page but simply not feeling the need to read further.
A good bounce rate is generally thought to be anything from 30%- 60% and you can consider anything under 30% to be very much in the ‘outstanding’ category. Being around 40% is average and shouldn’t be a cause for concern. If you’re about 55%, then you’re getting into the higher portion but again, this is only a cause for concern depending on the type of site that you are running.
Finally, if you have a bounce rate over 70%, then that is considered poor/disappointing regardless of the nature of your website or blog.
As a general rule, your bounce rate is arguably more important than your visits because it tells you about engagement and what percentage of your traffic is likely to come back, is likely to buy from you and is likely to become a ‘customer’.
A similar metric to this is your ‘average time on site’. This is similar to a bounce rate but can potentially be even more brutal, as it tells you how many of your visitors visited your site, spent a few seconds on your page and then left immediately!
The average time on site metric is a very useful for for illustrating engagement, but- like bounce rates- it’s important not to get too worried if your metric doesn’t look outstanding. The thing to remember is that 55% of visitors will spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website regardless of the content.
How To Shrink Your Bounce Rate
The question you really need to be asking yourself is how you can get your bounce rates lower and your time on site higher.
There are many different factors that play a role here. One factor is the design of your website and, like in real life, first impressions are incredibly important! If someone visits your website and they feel that it isn’t particularly attractive or well designed, then this might be enough to cause them to immediately turn and leave.
The colors you use can have a big influence and it’s worth looking into color psychology. For instance, did you know that the color red tends to make people leave faster? Blue and other ‘cool colors’ meanwhile have a calming effect and leads to visitors spending longer on a page as a result.
Another very important thing to look at is your page load times. Countless studies and reports confirm that this is a huge influencing factor that can be devastating for your site’s performance. If your visitors have to wait even a few seconds for your page to load, they will get bored and turn away. Make sure that you use as many speed optimization tricks as you possibly can to help your site appear as soon as the visitor has typed the address into their URL bar and hit ‘enter’. Reduce the number of large images, use AJAX scripts to change the order of loading elements ,and make sure that you’re on a good hosting package.
Always avoid large blocks of text too. Remember what we just said: people are always in a hurry. They don’t have time to read through massive paragraphs of information. You can combat this issue by breaking up your text into smaller, more spread-out paragraphs and by using lots of headings. Ideally, your headings should contain a lot of the information in your site so that someone would be able to skim through your site only reading the headings and still get a complete picture of what it is you want to say.
From there, the key is then to keep checking back to see how your changes are actually affecting your website. This is the entire point of using metrics in the first place – as now by checking back you’ll able to see which of your changes has helped and which has made no difference.
Page View and Average Page Views Per Visit
Your page views are important in their own way because they tell you how many times the content on your site is being loaded up. And if you have a lot of CPM ads (pay cost per impression), then that tells you how much you’re going to earn from them. It’s also useful to consider aspects like your unique visits vs page views when you look at factors like conversion rates. This is useful because each new page view can be considered a new chance for you to impress your visitors.
This metric is closely related to another very useful one: that being the average page views per visit. This is similar to your bounce rate but provides a little more in-depth data that shows you how many different pages your visitor looked around on your site. This is a very useful thing to know because it can tell you whether you are being successful in getting your visitors to not only interact with your site but to also keep reading.
If you think of your visitors in terms of leads, then the visitors who read the most pages on your site are the most engaged with your brand and are thus the ‘warmest leads’. The more page views you get from each visitor, the more likely it is that they will eventually buy when they see your product.
Another related metric/term that you should keep an eye on is your average cost per page view. This tells you how much you are paying to get each hit on your page. If you aren’t doing any paid marketing, then of course this will likely be a very small number (the only cost being your hosting). But if you are spending money on AdWords and other things, then this is a useful way to look at your expenses.
How to Increase Your Page Views
Other than by marketing your site to increase visits, the other thing you need to do is to keep your visitors on your page and to keep them reading. Remember how we said that content was the key to SEO and to social media marketing? Well, it’s also the key to engagement. This is why it’s not enough for you to simply create a lot of content – you also need to make sure that your content is top quality and is unique, interesting and generally the sort of thing people actually want to read and stick around for.
You can also use plugins and other techniques to try and encourage people to stick around and go deeper down your rabbit hole. For example, WordPress plugins showing ‘related posts’ can be very helpful in this regard because they suggest similar content based on what the visitor is already enjoying.
Another useful strategy is to make multi-part articles. This is why you will often see posts split into lots of pages: it increases the page views and thereby increases the impressions.
Tracking Conversion Rates
Your conversion rate tells you how many of your visitors are ‘converting’ in the way that you want them to. In most cases, that is going to mean that they are buying a product from you – but it could also mean that they’re signing up to be on a mailing list. This is the point at which your site has achieved its end goal.
The way you track conversion rates is a little different, seeing as this is a flexible term that can mean very different things depending on the nature of your website and your business. The way you are normally going to do this is by using ‘goals’. Goal tracking basically means that you place a script on your ‘goal page’ and this then leaves a cookie on the browsers of your visitors. That goal page will likely be the ‘Thank you for subscribing’ page, or perhaps your order confirmation page.
Tracking conversion rates is incredibly important for the majority of small businesses because this is what is going to have the biggest impact on your ‘bottom line’. A lot of people believe that they need to focus on increasing their views and engagement but if you are looking at your website from a purely business perspective, then conversion rates are really all that matter.
How do you know if your advertising expenses were a good investment? Only by tracking your goals and looking at your conversion rates. And likewise, tracking your conversion rates is the only way that you can get more people to buy your products in a systematic way.
How to Improve Your Conversion Rates
The great thing about your conversion rates is that you have full control over all of the factors influencing them.
Your conversion rates might change inexplicably and they might seem mysterious at times. But you still control all the factors – from your product, to the price, to the sales script, and to the site design. And that means you can keep tweaking until you get the precise result you’re looking for.
And there’s a great strategy you can use to accomplish this, called ‘A/B Testing’ or ‘Split Testing’. Here, you essentially create two identical versions of your website with just one slight change and then you compare them to each other, while paying close attention to the metric.
So for example, if your conversion rates aren’t quite as high as you’d like them to be and you blame your ugly header font, then you can try to make two identical versions of your site with only the heading being different. You’ll then send a portion of your visitors to the new version with the new header and you’ll be able to compare the conversion rates. If the new site is making far more sales from the same number of visitors, then you can adopt that new change across all your sites. If it isn’t, you just reject the changes!
Conversion Rates Vs Views
A relatively new term in the world of marketing, sales and persuasion is something called ‘pre-suasion’.
The general idea behind this term is to get the customer ready to want to buy from you. The argument is that people are much more likely to buy at certain times and especially if you have made the effort to get them in the mood for buying first. People are more likely to buy in the evening, for example, because when we’re tired, we become more impulsive and more emotional.
What’s more though, is that people are more likely to buy from you when they have gotten to know your brand and when they are convinced that you know what you’re talking about.
So one of the best ways to improve your conversion rates is to show the right kind of person your sales page. You can do this by showing visitors your sales page only after they have racked up a number of page views or by using strategies like remarketing.
Of course targeting is also important – and that means showing your site to the correct demographics. Are more of your buyers young men? Then target young men with your advertising and SEO. Find out what target wants to read and put that content on your website!
Of course there are also a ton of other factors influencing your conversion rates. Perhaps the biggest of these is your sales copy. The more persuasive you are in selling the positive aspects of your product and the better you are at applying sales pressure (i.e. showing your buyers that the product is limited in supply etc.). These are all things you can experiment with.
Obviously, the product is also a big factor and that means the desirability of said product, the target demographic and the price. These are factors you can play with, especially once you know the cost of your page views.
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