Revisiting Website Analytics Basics for Digital Marketing

by Andrew Schulkind

From the archives this week, one of our most popular posts. It’s pretty timeless material, from the fear of even thinking about the firehose of data that Google Analytics sprays at you to the importance of understanding how your audience is consuming and engaging with your content. (And which content they prefer.)

If you do nothing else, at least set up alerts or reports to track page visits, pages per visit, and visit duration. As you gain comfort with these basic metrics – and the picture they paint over time – you’ll find it easier to branch out into data that will provide deeper insight into how your digital marketing works.

If you’re not using Analytics on your website, chances are your excuse is that it’s too daunting to wade into all that data. (It can’t be because of cost – Google Analytics is free and it’s sufficient for most small businesses.)

Analytics doesn’t have to be daunting, though. There are a few simple metrics worth paying attention to as you get comfortable with the firehose of data that any good analytics package will try to drench you with.

Ignore all the other information as you get started, focus on these few metrics, and you’ll soon have a framework from which you can branch out into more sophisticated – and more useful – analytics data points.

Page Visits

This is perhaps the most basic of all website statistics: how many people visited my site this week/month/year? Page visits provide you a sense of how well you are getting the word out about the content on your site. In that regard, it’s a bit of a proxy metric for things like email marketing, social media, pay-per-click advertising and other efforts you might be using to drive traffic to your site.

It can also point to the value of the content you’re creating if you’re seeing increases in traffic that might be attributable to others sharing your content and promoting it on their own sites. (Getting into tracking results at that level is a bit more involved. Give us a call if you’re interested in learning more about how to do so.)

One important note: it’s no accident that I mentioned week, month, and year above rather than day. As useful as these basic metrics are on their own, their much more powerful if you use them to view results over time rather than snapshots in time. Are your page visits numbers growing? Do they spike regularly on certain days of the week? At certain times of the year? All can be helpful in determining what parts of your message are most effective.

Pages per Visit

Once you have a sense of how many people are visiting your site, you may want to take a look at how much of your site they’re looking at. Again, this is a metric that will be more useful when viewed in context rather than in isolation.

First bit of context is time. 2.58 pages per visit might be great or not so great. If you typically average 10 pages per visit – or 1 page …

Second, you might want to bring in a related metric: time per visit.

As you gain more comfort with these two basic measures you can begin to think about factors like

  • Traffic Acquisition
  • Behavior Flow
  • Engagement
  • Conversion Goals
  • Technical Factors

These will give you a much more complete picture of the health and effectiveness of your website, but at the cost of greater complexity. If that’s intimidating to you, start with the basics and you’ll be able to tackle the broader questions more quickly than you might expect.

(photo by OC Always)