How to Use Metrics to Improve Your Site – Part 2

In a previous post we discussed the 8 Most Important Conversion Metrics You Should be Tracking and then we explored the first 4 to determine how to use these metrics to your advantage.

Here are the last 4 factors to examine as well as some ways to improve your website based upon your metrics:

  1. Value Per Visit

    One of the toughest things we’ve come across when working with certain websites is helping them to create the right amount of value. When we look at metrics on websites that are designed for sales or lead conversion, the first two things that must be asked are:

    1. Is there an easy path to create value?
    2. Are there too many ways to convert?

    Forcing people to jump through hoops on a website is the biggest deterrent to generating a value from visitors. For leads, the form should be either on all of the pages or no more than a click away. For sales, keep it as simple as possible for them to buy something. Long forms for informational purposes that are not necessary for the sale should come after the purchase is made. Too often, websites start gathering data about people before they’re able to make the purchase and force some to not make the purchase at all.

    The other problem with many websites that don’t convert is that they offer too many ways to convert on every page. Simple is better. It’s good to offer value from different directions to attract those interested in different aspects of a website, company, or product, but information overload can drive people away.

  2. Cost Per Conversion

    Cost per conversion is controllable and is perhaps the most important number to consider. There are many sources of traffic–search engines, social media, paid advertising, offline advertising–and determining the effectiveness of each source is the best way to adjust the cost of conversion.

    Leads, for example, can be considered conversions for some websites. In most verticals, there
    are 3rd party lead providers who sell on a per-lead basis. It is easy to know that a lead from these sources costs $X, but knowing what your website’s cost per conversion is will help you determine how to allocate your budget. If you pay $25 for a 3rd party lead and the cost per conversion on your website through SEO, SMM, and PPC comes to $20 per lead, it would make sense to consider spending less on buying leads and focus more on marketing your website itself.

  3. Bounce Rate

    Knowing your bounce rate as a base is important, but tracking it after changes is the key to understanding your target audience and your website’s performance. Depending on your traffic, one-month intervals is standard when examining bounce rate fluctuations.

    Once you start tracking metrics, take note of your bounce rate. Make a change or two to your site or pages with high bounce rates. A month later, check the results. Did it improve or reduce the rate? There are several other factors to consider, but if there isn’t a high percentage of change in the types of sources, than the changes in bounce rate can help determine if you website changes were positive or not.

    Bounce rate must be intelligently weighted to be an effective indicator. For example, if you have a surge of social media traffic to your site (e.g. Digg front page) then your bounce rate will be higher than if the traffic is coming strictly from search engines. The other important factor is over-changing–improving on conversions and interactions are difficult to understand if several changes are made to a website or landing page every month. If you redo the website completely, there is no way to know which change worked and which was ineffective. Make measurable changes to your site, preferably one at a time, and see how that affects your bounce, and always be ready to revert back to a previous version if the changes have a negative effect.

  4. Exit Pages

    When people leave your website without converting, the question must be “Why?” If they are leaving from particular pages more often than others, there’s a good chance that something is wrong with the page. Noting the exit pages makes it easier to determine where changes are needed. Visitors will follow a path that you lay out for them. If they deviate from that path before converting, you must know where and why they’re leaving.

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    The logic is sound, but the timescale, for me at least, is inconvenient. In order to have reliable results enough people have to view the altered page so that statistical variation is smoothed out. If you are getting a ton of traffic, no problem, but if not, every change has to be in place for days or weeks before it is safe for you to draw conclusions. An A/B split is a better idea, where you run variants of your page simultaneously and divide the incoming visitors between them equally.

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