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Practical Guide to Website Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

When it comes to analyzing the performance of your website, there is a seemingly endless (well, at least a few hundred) list of factors to consider. Faced with so many analytics options, how do you determine which criteria will be the most useful for grading your website? And how many different factors should you look at? Well, the short answer is, it depends…on the type of website, the time available to devote to analytics and the depth of information you’re looking for. Here we’ll take a look at some of the “key” Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can help you measure the effectiveness of your website with quantifiable and actionable results.

Central to determining the effectiveness of a website, a Key Performance Indicator is simply one data point that can be used to measure a certain aspect of the site. By comparing KPI numbers with your web goals, you get a sense of a website’s ability to engage visitors. If results don’t measure up, KPIs indicate, as the name implies, which areas of your site need improving.

Let’s take general page views as one data point. A raw number of page views just tells you how many times in a given period people looked at pages within your site, which basically doesn’t tell you much at all. More meaningful, however, is how those page views translate to the effectiveness of your site. This is where a KPI can help. Let’s say your site is built around providing in-depth content on a specialist subject and generates revenue through providing in-depth content on a specialised subject and generates revenue through a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) advertising model. Your goal is to have a site that engages visitors and encourages them to view a large number of pages and, by doing so, ads. In this case, average page-views per session or visit is the KPI to look at – and the higher the better.

On the other hand, if a site’s purpose is to deliver information quickly so visitors can get what they need quickly (e.g. an e-commerce site for office supplies), your goal would be a low number of average page views per visit. Determining which KPIs to use depends on the overall purpose and goals of a website.

Perhaps the most difficult part of web analytics is determining which KPIs to use. The sheer number of KPIs available can be overwhelming, as can the multitude of ways to compare the data they offer. This can mean you’re looking at every possible “this means that” scenario. To help cut through all the KPI confusion, we’ve come up with a list of a few basic KPIs that will tell you the most, while requiring the least (amount of time, specialty knowledge, etc.).

Visitors per Conversion, Lead or Order: This KPI could just as easily be called “how many visitors does it take for your website to achieve its goal?” Whether the goal of your site is to generate leads for the sales team or to have visitors purchase goods or services, this measurement tells you if your Web site is working. Consider this example: You decide to host a Webinar because you have content that appeals to your target audience, and you get 100 people to visit your Webinar registration page, but only 5 people sign up (convert). This is a good indication that there is a problem with your registration page. Most likely, the layout design is poor, the copy itself is confusing, or the page requires visitors to provide too much personal information. Knowing this, you can tweak these aspects of the page, reexamine the KPI, and determine what was hindering your Webinar registration.

Cost per Lead: For any organization streamlining processes to get more out of their investments, the cost per lead measurement can help you see which investments are paying off and which might need cut off. To return to the Webinar example, let’s say the aggregate cost of your Webinar project was $5,000. You generated two leads. The boss says he’s not paying $2,500 per lead. Next steps? Try finding ways to cut your event costs or updating content to improve response rates and registration numbers (ie. conversion).

Stickiness: Consider the previous example of page views per visit. It measures how deep a viewer gets into the overall web site content. By measuring the level of involvement and length of time a visitor spends in a specific content area, though, you can determine a number of actions. If viewers are highly engaged in the content area, you may want to keep the section the same, or put links to other parts of your site that relate to this content. If visitors aren’t spending as much time in a section as they once did, it’s probably time to update your content. In some cases, if visitors are not going to a page at all, it can signal that there’s a problem with your navigation.

Percentage of New Visitors: By measuring what percentage of visitors are new, you can gauge how successful your marketing programs are in attracting new visitors to your site. If you’re at a point in the year when you’re trying to keep the loyalty of your existing visitors, then ideally percentage of returning visitors should make up the majority of your web traffic.

These four examples have probably gotten you thinking about the best KPIs for your website. The four here are common and useful, and even if your website requires more or different measurements, the importance of KPIs remain. If they’re a tool that can do what we’d all like to be experts in – performance improvement – being well-versed in the basics will certainly help you and your website achieve your goal.

Julie Mason is the General Manager for Kellysearch.com, the comprehensive online buyers’ guide and vertical search engine, with more than two million company listings from over 155 countries world wide.

 Practical Guide to Website Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Julie Mason is the General Manager for Kellysearch.com, the leading vertical search engine, with more than two million company listings from over 155 countries.

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2 thoughts on “Practical Guide to Website Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

  1. On a smaller biz scale Key Performance Indicators I thought the people I work with were more concerned with RSS and email subscriptions, leads per dollar amount spent, and page views per visit.

  2. nice article. obviously it’s easy to clutter your mind with everything g but the bottom line I.e. cost per lead or sale … so thanks for highlighting it