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A Web Analytics Series: Metrics that Matter

By Ron Person , Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a for-profit business, a non-profit foundation, a school, or a city government. You have to stop focusing on clickstream metrics and start looking at the web metrics and web analytic tools that produce success. This series of blogs will focus on how to go beyond clickstream metrics and how to focus on web metrics that matter.

To describe the difference between regular web metrics and the web metrics that matter let me use an analogy that keeps appearing in my dreams. Imagine you’ve set up a tent full of merchandise for sale on the edge of the desert. Outside stands a line thousands of visitors long. You can see they are talking but you can’t hear what they are saying. They walk in one side of your tent, quickly look around, and walk out the other side of your tent. Rarely does anyone stop for more than a moment. After days you have had thousands of visitors, but you know little about them. And they feel that your tent is like everyone else’s.

Now imagine the same tent and merchandise but something is different. Although the line is much shorter the people are far more interested in what you have. As they talk amongst themselves you can hear their interests and what they value. As people enter the tent you engage them in conversation. You learn about them. You learn what they value. They linger and learn about you. Those that don’t make a trade promise they will return. Although fewer people have moved through your tent they are all interested in trading with you.

What a difference between these two images. The first has thousands of visitors, but little engagement. The second might have fewer visitors, but you have engaged with most of the visitors. You know about them and they know about you. And best of all, they made some type of exchange with you, either merchandise or information, and they are coming back.

When I woke from this dream the first time it was obvious to me that the “tent” was a website and the line of visitors were website visitors. I started thinking about what the differences were between the two tents. In the first there was no exchange of value, just an expectation that enticed the visitors to look inside. In the second tent there was something that engaged them. There was some hidden communication or “value exchange” that kept the visitors there, prompted them to engage in more exchanges, and enticed them to return again. To create that second tent we needed to measure this hidden “value exchange” so we could magnify it and bring in more like-minded visitors. What was the value? Could we measure it? Would the usual web analytics with clickstream data be enough?

Many web marketers don’t look too far beyond clickstream metrics. The ubiquitous clickstream metrics are web metrics like the number of visitors, number of unique visitors, time on a page, and bounce rate. This data can tell us how many people visited, which pages they viewed and for how long, which search engine referred them, and so on. Clickstream metrics can help us with Search Engine Marketing and finding inefficient pages in our website. But can it help us find the metrics that matter? Are there other metrics we’re missing or that we can infer? We’ll have to go beyond the usual clickstream metrics to find the metrics that really impact the bottom line. We want to find the web metrics that drive success.

This series of blogs will take you beyond the usual clickstream web analytics and will explore how you can analyze the web metrics critical to your success. Some of the topics we’ll explore will be:

  • Knowing where to use clickstream metrics
  • Why we have to go beyond clickstream metrics
  • Knowing your unique critical success factors and metrics
  • Focusing on where to make the greatest impact
  • Leveraging web analytics tools that cost little but give a lot
  • Creating awesome web analytics charts
  • Microsoft Excel add-ins that will save you money and time
  • Getting inside your customer’s value system
  • Personalizing your website to match your customer’s profile
  • Tracking brand impressions from social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  • Spying on your competitor’s web results
  • Knowing where to spend the next ad dollar
  • Presenting web analytics so executives sit up and take notice

The ideas and tools we will be discussing will impact your businesses’ bottom line! To subscribe to this blog, please sign up for the RSS feed to stay posted on new posts in the series.

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