Friday, February 23, 2007

Executive-Level Web Analytics, Part 2

ThinkMetrics CEO Brandt Dainow recently wrote a piece for iMedia Connection on the Worst Website Measurement Mistakes. Dainow advises web marketers to ignore total site traffic and focus on conversions.

While the article is useful overall and Dainow's arguments are valid, I have one slight disagreement with him and one observation to add. First, the contention that overall site traffic doesn't matter; while it's true that absolute traffic levels don't matter, relative traffic levels do -- site traffic should increase over time. Dainow is absolutely on target in pointing out that one-shot campaigns such as email blasts (or worse, sweepstakes), while effective at driving short-term traffic spikes, often lead to few if any new sales. On the other hand, long term, regular activities such as monthly newsletters, blogs, and SEO activities produce less dramatic but more sustainable traffic growth, which generally corresponds more reliably with sales growth as well.

Second, marketers should also look beyond immediate sales conversions to also track "marketing conversions." There are three things a visitor could do upon hitting your landing page:

1) Convert into a sales lead (ideal).
2) Leave the site (bad).
3) Visit other pages on your site to get more information.

Item #1 above is obviously what you'd like to maximize, while item #2 you'd prefer to minimize (immediate exits represent wasted PPC spending). But item #3 is important to track; these visitors didn't immediately convert to sales leads, but definitely showed in interest in your company or product -- and may very well convert to sales leads later. So, in terms of actionable analytics, landing page content should be continually tested and tweaked to convert visitors to buyers whenever possible, but also to give them compelling "learn more" options if they aren't quite ready to buy.


Terms: web analytics for executives, ThinkMetrics, Brandt Dainow, search marketing analytics, SEO, marketing conversions

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