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Web Funnel 101: 24 Metrics You Need to Measure Right Now

Measurement is one of our five main Enterprise Velocity disciplines. My clients know that I’m big on connecting measurement to specific areas of your revenue model. I do this for two reasons. First, they give the operation managers of your organization a benchmark against which they can set and measure their individual and team goals. Second, they provide your entire team with unusual insights that you might not gain elsewhere.

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on the important metrics for your web funnel–those parts of your website that drive revenue. Here are 24 web funnel metrics you should be measuring right now.

What Is Your Web Funnel?

Before we get to the metrics, we should take a step back to discuss what your web funnel looks like. Most companies have the following tactics in place to generate new leads from their web presence:

  1. Raw Traffic
  2. SEO Activity
  3. Pay-per-click Activity
  4. Blog Readership
  5. Social Networking
  6. Email, RSS and other subscriber bases

You might be surprised how many companies I talk to every week that are missing some of these basic elements. So before you put your web funnel measurement plan into place, gather the low-hanging fruit by launching elements of your web funnel that are still in development or consider relaunching them if they are stagnant.

And Now… The Top 24 Web Funnel Metrics

Raw Traffic Metrics

If you have a web site, a simple (and free) code insert into your footer widget will get you Google Analytics on all of your pages. Conversations with friends about web analytics usually sound like this:

Web Guru A: What analytics package are you using on your web these days?

Marketing Guy B: Google. I know it’s not the best, but it’s free…

WG: Nah, it’s great, I use it, too. It’s all you need. What are you doing about bounce rates?

MG: Um. I haven’t actually logged into Google for about three months…

The quality of your analytics package won’t matter if you’re not at least logging in weekly to find out the following:

1. Unique Visitors: Most people think that this is the number of different users on your web site. That’s probably close enough to wrap your head around; however, it really means the number of unique cookies set over a given time-frame. That means that someone who deletes cookies could visit your site 10 times and appear to be 10 different unique users. Still, if you’re not tracking growth in unique users, you’re not tracking your overall reach.

2. New vs. Repeat Visitors: New visitors are counted the first time they arrive at your site during the time frame you are tracking. Assuming they are using cookies, they are counted as a repeat visitor when they return during that same time period. You probably have different goals for different types of pages. You might really want to see a high return visitor percentage on the parts of your web site used for nurturing and education, like your blog, customer portals, training videos and more. But on landing pages, return visitors might signal a problem in your messaging, click paths or even a competitor scoping out your offer.

3. Traffic Sources: You should know how users are finding your pages. Typically you’ll want to evaluate the mix of direct traffic (people who just type your URL into their browser), referring sites (see next metric), SEO-related traffic, paid campaigns and lands from pages related to off-site techniques like mail, shows or call campaigns.

4. Referring Sites: Here you want to know which sites are referring you (get your thank you cards ready) and also understand how their behavior differs from users that come from other sources. What content are the using? Are they staying longer? Are they converting?

5. Top Content: You want to know what the most commonly viewed areas of your site are and how they are being used. But also think about the holes you have in your content with lower ranking pages that are important to you as well as bounce rates (see below) and high exit rates.

6. Search Keywords: What keywords are your visitors typing in to find you? Are they the right keywords? Where do you need to improve based on your SEO and PPC efforts? Are there interesting trends you could capitalize upon with a new video, blog page or webinar? Are there any embarrassing “this company sucks,” kinds of searches?

7. Bounce Rates: This is the percentage of users who left after viewing only one page. Generally, a high bounce rate means that you need to work on quality and engaging click paths. High bounce rates could indicate a page that needs to be redesigned based on the keywords and ads that drive traffic toward it.

8. Goal Performance: Goals are different depending on what type of site you have. A conversion to you might mean a sale, a download, a thank you page for a subscriber or just viewing an important press release.

Of course you know that any of these metrics can and should be used on important individual pages as well. Right?

Search Metrics

SEO goals can be a little trickier to define and measure, but start with these four.

9. Keyword Performance: If you haven’t already done so, choose 6-12 keywords that you know you can own, have good traffic and low competition. Then report on those keywords weekly. You could set up a lot of fancy tools and measure multiple engines; or, you could just type those phrases into Google once a week. That practice will focus your entire team on improving the performance of those top search phrases. And it’s so low-tech, even your grandma could do it. Then take it the next step and find out what your traffic from those phrases is actually doing–are they bouncing, exiting, clicking or converting? This will tell you if you picked the right terms.

10. Rankings: This requires a good tool, but there are some free ones out there. Find out how you are ranking for your best terms, keep an eye on page rank, find out how your competitors are ranking and consider the public relations pros and cons of certain ranks.

11. Traffic from SEO: Bonus points if you are able to assign a real dollar value to your organic traffic because now you don’t have to spend on PPC ads.

12. Inbound Links: Sign up for Google webmaster tools and track your inbound links. The more the merrier–even the lowliest of web sites can add to your rankings.

Pay-per-click Metrics

Pay-per-click advertising is a speciality in its own right. If you do it wrong, you can burn through a wad of cash in no time at all. If you do it right, you can outperform and underspend your competition by wide margins. Here’s what you should track in your PPC campaigns:

13. Click-through Rates: This is basically the number of clicks you get on a PPC ad divided by the number of impressions your PPC vendor loads up for you. For example, if your ad is shown 100 times and you get 5 clicks, you have a 5% click through rate. That’s a little something I like to call “math.” If your click-through rate is low, take a look at your ad copy and your search phrase. If you copy is poor, people won’t click on it. I can’t tell you why your copy is bad without looking at it, but the clicking public is never wrong. You might have a bad search phrase. For example, you might want to own the phrase “CMS,” because your company sells “court management software.” Unfortunately, CMS is an acronym for no fewer than 296 other search phrases such as “content management system,” or “Canadian Mathematical Society.” If your search phrase is CMS, your click-through rate is going to be low. Deal with it. And don’t spend a lot on SEO for it, either.

14. Cost per Click: Generally, you’re paying for every click whether the user takes another action or not. You should at least track average CPC so that you have a sense of what it costs you in your current marketing mix to drive a new user to your site with ads.

15. Conversions: This is the big one. This is where the ROI tracking hits. You should already know your average cost per lead. How much more or less are you paying for a web lead from your PPC campaign? Are certain pages converting better than others? Can you test different types of landing pages, offers, video, white papers and lead forms to boost your conversions?

16. Halo Effects: PPC can give you halo effects in other areas such as rankings on other search engines, increased inbound links, new subscribers and more.

Blog Readership Metrics

The two most important things to know about your blog is where the readers are coming from and are they growing? So you need to measure:

17. Referral Sources: who is sending you traffic, how many are coming in from SEO, other blogs, etc.

18. Subscribers: It’s pretty easy to set up a tool like Feedburner to try to track subscribers to your blog. It’s not perfect and you won’t get them all, but you can measure overall growth this way.

Social Networking Metrics

I know what you’re thinking: “I sell widgets to a small group of middle-aged men–I don’t need no stinkin’ social networking metrics.” You’re wrong. Everything is social. As of this this writing, the LinkedIn Fastner Industry group has over 7,600 members. That’s a lot of people networking about nuts, bolts, rivets and twist-ties. You should be on top of two things:

19. Reach: is your network, your audience, growing? How many followers and group members are you adding?

20. Engagement: I’m guessing, but right now I imagine there is a 13 year old getting her Harvard Ph.D. in the measurement of social engagement. This can seem like tough stuff to the rest of us. But I would start with the basics like tweets, retweets, mentions, group posts, blog trackbacks and pings. That’s 80% of what you need to know.

Subscription Metrics

For those of us old enough to have lived and marketed our way through Web 1.0 (you know you still have that flannel shirt and a beat up pair of Doc Martens), this stuff should be bread and butter. You will probably apply this to your email and autoresponder lists, but it could work with other databases as well.

21. Subscribers: Is your list growing or shrinking? Is it growing but suddenly you did something wrong and picked up a lot of unsubscribes? In some cases, you might have done something right and picked up those unsubscribes.

22. Click-through rates: Every message you send should have a call to action. At least include a link to a landing page to get them to do something. Maybe you want to track links to articles in your newsletter. Click-through rates are better than tracking opens, because an “open” these days could mean that they never read the message at all but accidentally opened it in a preview pane.

23. Growth rates: Unless you’re doing something really wrong, you list will always grow. But what is the rate of growth? Is it predictable based on a percentage? Is it seasonal? Is it a steady 30 new subscribers a month because the only thing you’re doing to attract new subscribers is your call campaigns?

24. Forwarding: Along with trackbacks and retweets, this is the best indication of the viral effects of your message platform. You know you hit onto something golden when people start forwarding your message around. I’ll save my tips for how to make things viral for another day. For now, try to be useful, different and empathetic. And don’t forget to include links for them to forward your message or post to their social network.

You have the cheat sheet, now go forth and measure. It probably won’t happen unless you make time for it, so if I were you, I’d copy this message and paste it into a weekly calendar reminder. As always, if you need any help figuring this out, call or write. We are all in this together. If you enjoyed this article, please share it with the tools below.

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