Web analytics, something we here at Right Meow Digital love, often produce a lot of actionless data that just bogs down business units and ultimately provides no insight. This is often done with the best of intentions but lacking one critical thought, "why does this metric matter?" With this simple driving force in web analytics, it becomes easy to remove the noise and get right to the meat of it.
So how do you determine what metrics matter? The answer is seldom the same for two sites, but the process of identifying them is nearly identical across any site. The first thing to consider, what actions are clear indicators of prospective sales, this can be very obvious, such as e-commerce sales, or simply engaging with the checkout process with items in the visitor's cart. Other less obvious indicators of sales would be contact forms to get a demo, downloading an application form, submitting an application form, signing up for a coupon, or engaging with a retail locator/locations page. Often the most important thing to think about is actions a visitor to your site would take to purchase something.
The next level of Goal is indicators of interest, these would include engagement such as signing up to a newsletter, adding items to their cart, downloading an app or whitepaper, or engaging with live chat. These are just a few examples, the important thing to think about is what activities can a visitor actually do that show they are interested but aren't clear activities that would lead to a sale.
Things I would recommend NOT including include average number of pages visited per session, average amount of time spent on a page, or Goals related to these metrics. It seems extremely common, maybe partly because Google makes it very easy to set Goals related to the aforementioned metrics, but for most sites, these metrics have little or no value. Reporting for the sake of reporting is pretty meaningless to business users.
On the other hand, if you were to provide data about any of the suggested Goals, above, what Acquisition Channels they came from, what trends were noticed in common about these visitors, such as Audience data (demographics) and what the impact of these metrics is to the business, or how it can be used to predict business activity (sales) you have a very compelling story to tell that will get the attention of any organization.
To summarize, the key to providing meaningful goals to your organization focus on:
- Activities that a visitor would do that would lead directly to a sale
- Activities that a visitor would do that is a clear indicator of interest
- Do not report on passive metrics that have little meaning, such as avg. pages/session, and avg. time/session
- Distill the data down to the most impactful to the business (sales) first
- Tell the story, help uninformed business users understand why this matters and why they should care!
As Google always tells us, Happy Analyzing!