Are you trying to find the best web analytics metrics to track for your clients to measure their digital marketing efforts?
We’re in a golden age of information and technology with access to more data than ever before, so it isn’t always clear as to what you should be tracking.
Website performance tracking tools provide so much data that it can sometimes be hard to know where to begin.
When that happens, it can be tempting to include lots of metrics in your marketing reports to try and cover all the bases.
Unfortunately, this can end up doing more damage than good…
Overloading reports with irrelevant information can result in confused clients and raising more questions than answers.
The solution to this is to create clear, streamlined reports.
Each client has their own needs and goals, so it’s important to take the time to consider what data can be used as their key performance indicators (KPIs).
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of web analytics and how you can identify the right KPIs for your clients.
We’ll also go over the top 7 website metrics that you can begin tracking today and start building more effective marketing reports.
Web analytics and website monitoring tools let you monitor how users are arriving at your website and what they do when they get there.
Their purpose is to help take the guesswork out of your marketing efforts by allowing you to identify trends in audience behavior over time and make decisions based on data.
Through using a tool like Google Analytics, you can gain useful insights by tracking metrics such as:
- New vs. Returning Visitors
- Traffic Sources
- Bounce Rate
- Average Time on Page
Web analytics lets you see all this and much more, allowing you to dive deep into your audience’s demographics and behavior.
But with so many metrics to choose from, how do you decide which ones to include in your client reports?
An important thing to remember first: every KPI is a metric, but not every metric is a KPI.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to metrics reporting. Each client is different and has their own goals to consider when choosing KPIs.
Identifying the right data to track can be challenging with so much choice, but thankfully there are some tried-and-tested tips you can follow to help you pick the most effective ones for each scenario.
Here are 3 things to consider when choosing metrics as KPIs:
One of the best ways to achieve effective reporting is to prioritize only the metrics that directly align with your business objectives.
This sounds simple enough, but time and again we see reports that are choc-full of unnecessary information - one of the main culprits being vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are any data that you include to make you feel good but don’t actually reflect the performance of a campaign.
An example of this is traffic - attracting thousands of visitors each month might seem impressive, but if users aren’t converting then traffic isn’t a useful metric for tracking your efforts.
Of course, there are situations where traffic is a useful metric (such as government websites whose goal is to inform the public). Or if you’re running ads on Instagram, then you could track whether your site is receiving an increase of traffic from that source and how much of it is reaching your conversion goals to measure the effectiveness of your social media campaign.
Website analytics tools don’t do the best job at accurately measuring social traffic, so be sure to use UTMs if you’re running social ad campaigns to better track your results!
If you’re a marketer and not using UTMs, they’re an absolute game-changer. Learn what they are and how to use them in our ultimate UTM guide.
If your goal is to create reports that offer real value to clients, then your reports need to include data that they can act on.
If the recipient isn’t going to have the resources to take action on a metric when they receive the report, then that metric shouldn’t be in the report.
An example of this would be tracking metrics like page loading speed. If you only have 1 day per month available to work on optimizing the technical aspect of your site, then it isn’t important to view this metric in your weekly reports. Instead, you could create a specific technical website performance report and schedule it to be sent on the day of the month when you can act on that data.
With a tool like Metrics Watch, you can automate various reports to be sent daily, weekly or monthly to ensure that the right data is being seen by the right person at a time when they can act on it.
Another common mistake we often see is the inclusion of metrics that may be important in some aspect, but not to the person receiving it.
Reports should have a clear purpose and be tailored to the recipient.
Too much information can lead to confusion or even data blindness, which in time can lead to clients seeking elsewhere for solutions. However, lean reports that only include relevant data ensures that the recipient can easily understand and take action on the data.
Don’t be afraid to create variations of the same report depending on the person or department receiving it if you think that it will result in a better experience for them. Your clients will thank you!
Now that we’ve covered how to pick the right data, let's take a look at some of the best web analytics metrics that you can use to measure the performance of your clients’ sites.
For the sake of this post, we’ll be referring to metrics found in Google analytics as it’s the most commonly used tool, but you’ll also find the same or similar metrics on other platforms.
As you might have guessed, a pageview is the number of times a page on your website is viewed by a user.
The problem with just tracking pageviews is that this metric isn’t always useful, because it counts when a user either; views multiple pages, clicks refresh, or returns to a page they’ve already visited.
Unique pageviews on the other hand will adjust for this. If a user reloads or returns to the same page 10 times it would count as 10 pageviews but 1 unique pageview.
Pageviews on their own help track how users are interacting with your site, but unique pageviews provide a more accurate picture of a site’s most popular pages and which content is performing best.
When a user lands on a website, the time from which they start interacting until the time they stop is known as a session.
How does a web analytics tool decide when a session ends?
By default, Google Analytics ends a session 30 minutes after user inactivity or at midnight - whichever comes first. Though you can adjust the time delay for triggering the end of a session within Session Settings in the Admin area to produce more accurate data depending on the behavior of an audience.
Tracking the number of sessions can provide useful insights for a business. For example, eCommerce websites can use this metric to see how many sessions resulted in successful transactions vs abandoned shopping carts.
Setting up conversion goals lets you track when a user performs a valuable action on your site.
The most common kinds of conversion goals include (but are not limited to):
- Completed transactions
- Items added to cart
- Subscribed to newsletter
- Free trial signup
- App downloads.
One of the great things about conversion tracking is that you can see your highest converting traffic sources. This can help to identify which channels you should focus your efforts on to drive even more sales or signups.
Just bear in mind that if you’re running multiple marketing campaigns, you need to make sure to segment those so that you can see which one is responsible for the most conversions.
Remember those UTMs we mentioned earlier? They’ll let you see clearly how many conversions came as a result of a specific campaign.
Bounce rate is a metric that shows which percentage of users’ sessions resulted in only one pageview and performed no other action on a site.
The bounce rate of a page can vary from industry to industry, but in 2021 the average was between 38% and 75%.
Some pages will have a naturally high bounce rate, and that’s ok.
Take blog articles for example, in which a user has arrived by asking a query on a search engine, clicking a link on the results page, finds their answer, then leaves. Landing pages with a ‘call us’ call-to-action are also in this camp.
Just be sure to check yours against the industry averages before panicking!
Unusually high bounce rates however can help identify issues of a website or particular page, such as:
- Slow loading page speeds
- Poor user experience
- Being optimized for the wrong keywords
- Content does not meet the user’s search intent
- No compelling call-to-action
You can also pair bounce rate with a secondary dimension like landing pages to see if your expensive Google ads are working (hint: if the bounce rate is high, then this would be a cause for concern).
A metric that does exactly what it says on the tin - this tracks the average time a user spends on a page.
If you suspect your bounce rate may be high, try looking at the average time spent on page. A content site should expect to see users spend a lot of time-consuming their content despite having a higher bounce rate.
A long average time spent on page can also help to identify potential issues with site navigation - are users having trouble finding the information they need? Or is there an error with a signup form?
On the other hand, seeing low average time spent on pages when you expect them to be high could indicate potential problems - like content not meeting users’ search intent or a landing page not delivering what was promised by an ad.
Average keyword position reveals how high up on a search engine results page (SERP) a page on your site is typically ranking.
Keeping an eye on the performance of your landing pages’ average keyword positions will help you see which ones are meeting users’ search intent and which ones could be improved.
It’s important to keep in mind that this metric is an average, as results on a SERP can vary based on aspects like a user’s location and browsing history.
To view this data in Google Analytics, you’ll need to connect to your Google Search Console account.
Not seeing the results you’d like for your targeted keywords?
Some of the main reasons causes for this include;
- Content not matching the search intent of users
- Targeting highly contested keywords dominated by more established brands (aka keyword difficulty)
Open up a private browser window and type your target keyword into the search engine, then take a look at the top results. How does your content compare?
Top results perform are in that position because they are meeting the needs of the users searching that keyword. So try to identify ways to optimize your content to be more in line with the top-performing results if you want to increase the chance of it ranking well.
Top landing pages show which of your pages are receiving the most traffic.
While similar to average keyword position, these metrics are not the same.
You could be ranking #1 for a keyword that has very little or no monthly searches, which isn’t going to yield many conversions on your website. That’s why it is important to also track your top landing pages to measure how much traffic those pages are receiving.
By combining this metric with a secondary dimension like custom conversions, you can identify opportunities to further optimize a site’s most popular pages to increase conversions even further.
You could also consider running a campaign on social media to direct even more traffic to popular ages with high conversion rates.
If you’ve connected your Google Analytics and Seach Console Accounts, you’ll also be able to see which queries users are searching for in Google to find you.
There are of course many other metrics that could potentially be effective KPIs. These are just some of our favorites when it comes to tracking website performance.
However, be sure to explore your analytics tool and use the tips we talked about earlier in this article to help choose the metrics that are most meaningful to you and your clients.
There are many options available for tracking your website analytics.
Google Analytics is often the go-to for many marketers and website owners (mainly due to its free version being enough for the majority of users) and has earned itself a reputation for being somewhat of an industry standard.
However, Google Analytics is quite complex can be overwhelming for some people (at least at first).
So it’s good to know that there are many companies out there offering their own web analytics solution, many of which aim to provide enhanced user experience with some tailored more towards digital privacy and GDPR compliance.
Here are some of our favorite web analytics tools:
- Matamo: a popular privacy-based alternative to Google Analytics.
- Adobe Analytics: multichannel analytics and insights by Adobe.
- Plausible: privacy-based and open source website analytics tool.
- Fathom: website analytics built around prioritizing users’ digital privacy.
Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to check them all out to see which one best fits the needs of your business.
Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of how to identify the right metrics to use as KPIs, what some of the most useful web analytics metrics are, as well as which tools you can use to track them.
So what’s next?
Tracking your data is just the first step. Equally as important is how you report that data to your clients.
That’s why we built Metrics Watch:
With Metrics Watch, you can build professional marketing reports fast using simple drag-and-drop widgets.
Create your own custom reports from scratch or hit the ground running with one of our pre-made templates.
Metrics Watch is the only email reporting tool that displays your data directly in the body of the email, meaning no annoying PDFs or 3rd-party dashboards for clients to log into.
Instead, your recipients can view their data with ease using email, a tool they already use every day - email.
Pull data from multiple sources to create comprehensive marketing reports. Metrics Watch connects with many popular marketing channels, including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Ads
- And more…
Automatic insights compare your data with the last report automatically, allowing you to easily identify new opportunities to optimize content and campaigns.
Metrics Watch also includes white-label features, so you can incorporate your own logo and branding.
Want to try it out for yourself?
Try Metrics Watch 100% risk-free for 14 days - no credit card required!
And that’s it for today! If you enjoyed this post, then be sure to check out these other great articles:
- How to Check eCommerce Tracking in Google Analytics
- 7 Google Analytics Tips for Better (& More Profitable) Tracking
- SEM Reports 101: What KPIs You Need to Climb the Ranks
These resources have even more tips and useful information for choosing the best web analytics metrics to track for you and your clients.