Website Traffic: What You Should Measure
By Brian Swanson, Flashpoint Marketing
Anyone who has been in the accounting marketing profession for some time knows the importance of measurement. Let's face it, we work with accountants, and they love numbers and the ability to measure things. In order to be successful ambassadors of our inbound marketing program, we need to be able to measure and translate activity into meaningful data for management. In other words, we have to make the data make sense, or do our own "number crunching." After all, it's not like this is something new. Most firms invest in tracking ROI to evaluate their efforts and ensure effectiveness. So when it comes to the website and related inbound marketing efforts, the approach should be similar.
The most common question Flashpoint encounters when first working with a client is about which website analytics software to use. There are a number of options available, depending on your needs and what specific information you would like. However, for most accounting firms, Google Analytics is an excellent package because it provides a wealth of information for no cost. The latter part I have observed is what makes it so attractive.
Just because it's free doesn't mean the information gathered isn't valuable or comprehensive. In fact, just the opposite is true. Many of our clients will ask us to walk them through the Google Analytics interface to help them understand what exactly they're looking at. To help clients, prospects, and others understand the key data points to measure, Flashpoint Marketing has provided a list of the top three metrics to monitor on an ongoing basis.
Top Three Metrics to Measure
Measurement is important for reporting reasons, but it will also provide important details about how you can improve your website and the overall visitor experience.
1. Audience overview
This is the first thing you see when logging into your Google Analytics account. The overview section provides critical information on the number of visitors, page views, pages per visit, visit duration, and bounce rate. These metrics provide a good summary of how your website is performing overall. This is true because not only can you determine how many people are coming to your site, but also how much content they're looking at and how long they're staying. Both of these speak directly to visitor engagement.
If you're just starting out, the best thing to do is compare these numbers month over month to look for trends or changes in visitor behavior. If your inbound marketing program is effective, you'll see an increase in several of these categories.
This is another important metric because it provides the details of how people are finding your website. As an example, a newly launched website may experience more direct traffic because clients and referral partners are directly going there to see the new site. A more "seasoned" site will see less direct traffic and more search engine referred traffic. As an inbound marketing program matures, this will change and there will be a variation between sources.
In our experience, most CPA firm websites generate traffic mainly from search engines – primarily Google, direct referrals, and then a number of inbound link sources, such as chambers of commerce, social media, firm blogs, and other such websites.
3. Landing and exit pages
This is an important metric because it lets you know where visitors are entering your site and where they're exiting. For firms not leveraging a complex pay per click (PPC) or SEO strategy, the most popular landing page will be your home page. However, when and where site visitors are leaving your site can be very telling about your website and the associated content.
If visitors are "digging" deep into the site, it may reveal that finding information they're seeking is complex and difficult. It may also indicate that you're not properly promoting content in a way that motivates visitors to further explore the site.
Beyond content exploration, knowing from which page visitors are exiting the site is also important. If a high number of visitors exit the site from the same page it may indicate dissatisfaction with content or the lack of a clear call to action. It may also mean visitors were looking for a specific piece of content but became frustrated and left when they couldn't find it. If you notice a high concentration of visitors exiting the site from the same page, it should be a clue that you need to review that content.
If you're looking for a starting point, remember Google Analytics is a powerful application that measures web traffic in thousands of different ways. It's best to start slowly and measure the basics first. Once you've developed some acumen using the application, you then can expand your knowledge and discover other key tools to leverage within the application.
Read more articles by Brian Swanson.
About the author:
Brian Swanson is a partner at Flashpoint Marketing, a marketing consulting firm that focuses on providing traditional and digital lead generation services exclusively to the accounting profession. He leads the development of the firm’s digital services practice which included traditional and mobile website development, inbound marketing programs, and search engine optimization efforts.