What Metrics Matter
Sean McGowanOctober 06th, 20174 minute read
Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest innovations in app design, Sean can be found cooking, watching old movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.
The good news is that the business world no longer has a data collection problem. There is no shortage of analytics tools, tracking platforms, or entire suites of software dedicated to spit out every conceivable measurement of your website or mobile app.
Instead, thanks to the ubiquity of data analysis tools, businesses have a data analysis problem. The sheer amount of available data is overwhelming—how do we hone in on the metrics that matter? Businesses talk about having a ‘gold mine’ of data, but forget that mining typically means digging through useless bedrock to discover the tiny nuggets of precious metal inside.
What’s the signal, and what’s the noise? In other words, which key performance indicators, or KPIs, are actually ‘key’?
The answer depends on a number of factors, ranging from your industry, the type of website you’re running, your company’s goals, or even who you’re asking. Your marketing department and your UX team, for example, care about starkly different measurements.
So while we shouldn’t pick your KPI’s for you, here’s a few suggestions based on what we’ve learned designing and development websites of all kinds.
If you’re managing an eCommerce website, you’re probably already carefully monitoring the king of eCommerce KPIs, conversion rate. While there are some who dispute its reign, conversion rate remains the industry benchmark for measuring site performance.
But unless you’re using a one-metric-to-rule-them-all strategy, your KPI shouldn’t end with conversion rate. CR’s detractors often cite other barometers that are just as crucial, if not more so.
For instance, the average order value, or the total sales divided by the number of orders, can be used help demarcate your visitor base, and make marketing changes accordingly. For example, if you notice a certain user group has a particularly high AOV, you can increase your marketing outreach to that segment.
Cart abandonment rate is another excellent prognosis of your website performance, and offers the additional insight of where these pain points actually are. If your customers fill up their cart, only to bail at the same part of the checkout process, you know exactly where to start your treatment.
Like online retail stores, marketing websites can measure their performance with conversion rate, though the word conversion tends to have a more nebulous definition in the marketing site context. Does it mean filling out a contact form? Downloading content? Subscribing to a newsletter? All of the above? Unlike eCommerce, conversion can be defined by the marketer.
If you’re looking for more defined KPIs, revenue per lead is an excellent metric that can not only map out the quality of your leads, but also help predict the likelihood of hitting sales targets. By identifying where the best leads are funneling in, you can either re-invest or try to duplicate that success in other channels.
On the other side of the coin, many digital marketers track cost per lead as well. If revenue per lead (RPL) is defined as the total attributable revenue over the total number of leads, CPL is the the total expenditures on a campaign over the lead count.
When I use the catch-all term ‘content sites’, I basically mean any platform that exists to post articles, images, videos, or other content. It could be user-generated (or not), and can be as large as something like YouTube or Reddit, or as small as a personal blog (or a company blog like this one!).
KPIs for content sites revolve around engagement: data on social sharing, pageviews, amount of time spent on pages, and click through rate are all crucial to monitor—these are the telltale signs of content that is and isn’t successful. Once you know what works, you can continue to emulate it; once you know what doesn’t, you can avoid it.
Whatever KPIs you choose, remember not to go overboard. You shouldn’t be forever scrolling down an unending Excel spreadsheet to figure out if your website, whatever it is, is performing well or not. KPIs are designed to be succinct predictors—they’re supposed to save you from parsing through endless amounts of data.
Ultimately, the best KPIs are ones that not only reveal how your site is performing, but also provide clues as to why it’s performing the way it is. KPIs can point to specific pages, or even elements of that page, hinting at what might be wrong, or what’s definitely going right.
If you’re looking for more comprehensive ways to diagnose your website, consider hiring a UX design agency. Codal’s UXers, along with our team of business analysts, are experts at improving website performance. Consider us living, breathing KPIs, at your disposal.