Blog: Web Metrics

Critical Business Metrics for Your Website, part 2

Posted by in Web Metrics on Friday, March 15, 2013

Web Metrics

Basic Web Metrics

Goal – a specific action on your website that you wish to measure. Goals may be engagement related, such as time on page or pages viewed, or conversion related, such as form completions and downloads.  A goal completion is also called a conversion.

Goal/Conversion Funnel – specific steps that users must take to complete a goal. One example is the set of pages that must be viewed during online checkout. Each page is part of the goal funnel.

Conversion Rate – the percentage of website visitors that complete a specific goal, when compared to the total number of visitors.

Conversion Optimization – the act of adjusting webpages to increase the number of people who complete a goal on a webpage or series of web pages.

Landing Page – webpages that you direct visitors to from your online marketing campaigns. These landing pages are optimized to drive conversions. Landing pages are distinct from informational pages on your website such as your homepage.  The best landing pages are tailored to the offer they represent, providing information and incentive for users to convert.

In our last blog post on business website metrics, we talked about the top of the funnel. Metrics like Cost per Acquisition and Cost per Lead help companies evaluate whether or not their inbound marketing efforts are performing as expected.

More importantly, top funnel metrics offer a clear way to understand if an inbound marketing channel is viable from a financial standpoint – i.e. making sure you don't spend more money to acquire customers than you earn when selling to them.

For this post, we're moving further into the funnel to discuss additional metrics on your business website that can reveal problems in conversion and conversion flow. We'll also talk about some of the methods for optimizing mid-funnel metrics to ensure the greatest ROI.

Essential Mid-Funnel Metrics for SMBs

Problems with mid-funnel metrics are all about "the one that got away" in terms of conversions. Understanding where, how, and why users don't complete the conversion flow is critical to both improving customer experience and your bottom line.

The key mid-funnel metrics for business websites are bounce rates, abandonment rates and the time to purchase or project close.

Bounce Rates

Bounce rates measure the percentage of website visitors who visit only one page and then leave your site. Bounce rates are seen as an indicator of engagement – the more people who visit multiple pages on your website, the better your engagement. High engagement equates to better user experience and a greater chance for conversions.

Generally speaking, you want to get your bounce rates as low as possible. However, high bounce rates are not always indicative of problems with engagement.  For example, it is not uncommon for visitors to read a single blog post on a website – particularly when the visitor is in the research stage of the buying cycle. Focus bounce rate concerns on areas such as landing pages, where users are expected and encouraged to move deeper into the site. High bounce rates on these types of pages indicate that you are not aligning messaging with user expectations.

Abandonment Rates

Abandonment rates can be calculated as a whole across the entire conversion funnel, or for individual pages. The overall abandonment rate measures the percentage of website visitors who leave your conversion funnel at any step before completing the conversion. The abandonment rate of a page measures the percentage of website visitors that leave your conversion funnel at that specific page.

Note that visitors don't have to leave your website to abandon the funnel. For example, if your conversion process requires filling out a 3-step contact form and a user clicks away from the form on step 2 in order to view your services webpage, that user has abandoned the conversion funnel.

Your goal when analyzing abandonment rates is to pinpoint any areas where there are significant drop-offs in the number of users who continue through the conversion flow. Pages that have high abandonment rates when compared to other pages in the funnel most often indicate a need to adjust messaging and/or design.

A Word about Conversion Funnels and Google Analytics

Google Analytics can provide valuable information on the performance of your conversion funnels, but you have to set them up, first. Google created this helpful post that explains how to set up goals in Google Analytics. It's important to note that Google Analytics will only track conversion funnel metrics going forward – meaning you won't get data on conversions that happened before you set up your goals.

Time to Closing/Sale

As you look at conversion rates for your website, it is helpful to take it a step further and look at the conversion timeline. The time to closing/sale is the average amount of time it takes from the first visitor interaction to a completed conversion or sale. This is typically broken down along inbound marketing channels. For example, you may want to compare the time to closing or sale between website visitors who first reach your site through organic search versus pay per click advertising.

The amount of time it takes to close a sale can be a powerful indicator as to the effectiveness of your conversion funnel. Website visitors that are targeted with the right information at the right point in the sales cycle are more likely to convert. Additionally, if you notice that it's taking your sales team longer (or shorter) to convert leads into sales, this is an important indicator about the quality of your inbound marketing efforts.

Ideally, you want to have a time to closing/sale that is within a reasonable time frame for your business. If you notice sales cycles getting longer, you may need to adjust your messaging, your delivery, or both.

Optimizing Mid-Funnel Metrics

If you do notice a significant drop-off at a specific stage (or stages) of the conversion funnel, how do you fix it? The first option is to consider the necessity of the steps in your funnel. Can you eliminate those one or two areas that are causing users to abandon the funnel? If so, you should test a new conversion funnel that removes those steps and see if it performs better than the original.

If you find that you do need to keep all steps within your conversion funnel, there are still ways to optimize:

Message Alignment

Make sure that the messaging for each step is consistent with the expectations of the user. Some steps may require more information to make users feel comfortable with proceeding. Others may require less information to keep users from feeling bogged down. Try to give visitors only the amount of information they need to progress through the funnel, no more and no less.

User Experience

Design is also an important factor in mid-funnel metrics. Are your calls-to-action (CTAs) clearly defined and readily visible? Does your site layout help users find what they need to proceed? Are images relevant and helpful? All of these questions come into play when optimizing a conversion funnel.

A/B Testing

Sometimes, problems are readily apparent once you start looking at your conversion flow from the perspective of a potential customer. However, it is often the case that it is unclear what changes would make for a better overall user experience. This is where A/B testing comes in. This form of testing focuses on making one major change to a page within your conversion funnel. For example, you may change the headline and body copy for one landing page to see if the change in wording improves conversions. In A/B testing, you would direct a certain percentage of web traffic to the new page and a certain percentage to the old page and compare conversion results between the two groups.

By testing two different versions of the same page, you can determine if the changes you make to your webpage are having a positive or negative impact on overall conversions.

Multivariate Testing

Changing multiple areas of a page in order to optimize performance is called multivariate testing. When using multivariate testing, many areas of a page can change. For example, you might change not only the copy, but the colors for the font and the images used on the page as well. Testing is handled in a similar way to A/B testing, with a certain percentage of web traffic seeing the new page and results being compared between new and old pages to determine which is best.

Testing and optimization of your conversion funnel will reduce bounce rates and abandonment rates, but the time it takes to close the deal is still very much dependent on the sales team.  Establish guidelines for follow-up, and if you notice a lot of unqualified leads to your site, it may be time to adjust your inbound marketing efforts as well.

If you need help understanding what to optimize or how to optimize your mid-funnel website metrics, let us help. Our team of online marketing experts will be happy to help you optimize and grow your business.

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