September 25, 2008, 12:00 AM

Focusing on key web site metrics through analytics

As web site operators sift through the mounds of data available through web analytics, analytics expert Avinash Kaushik offers six key metrics for better understanding online customers as well as the large number of site visitors who abandon a site.

As web site operators try to sift through the mounds of data available through web analytics, analytics expert Avinash Kaushik offers six key metrics for better understanding online customers as well as the large number of site visitors who abandon a site.

Kaushik, who is also the Analytics Evangelist for Google Inc., presents the metrics on his personal blog, Occam’s Razor, at Kaushik.net.

1. Conversion rate. In addition to learning how well site traffic affects goals such as purchases or loyalty program registrations, site operators can learn a lot more about what’s missing on a site by looking at the mass of visitors, typically about 98%, who don’t convert, Kaushik says. He suggests conducting exit polls to ask departing visitors questions about the purpose of their visit, whether they were able to complete their intended task, and if they were not able to complete a task, why.

2. Average order value. Whether a conversion rate is lower or higher than expected, an online retailer can put that metric in a more valuable perspective by comparing it to the related average order value to learn how shopping cart conversions, for example, relate to overall sales. Kaushik suggests getting even more value by comparing average order values as well as conversion rates for multiple time periods.

3. Days and visits to purchase. Measuring the results of single visits may miss out on data like sales resulting from a second or third visit by the same visitor.

4. Visitor loyalty and recency. Although site operators should be careful to isolate new visitors from repeats, pulling analytics reports on visitors who return frequently and have visited recently is important in measuring the effectiveness of branding campaigns.

5. Task completion rate. Conducting surveys and usability studies with A/B tests can reveal whether a site offers the type of content and functionality visitors are seeking to in order to complete their intended task.

6. Share of search. Just as products compete for shelf space in physical stores, online retail sites must compete for share of search listings in the major search engines. Using data from a search data provider like Compete Inc., Kaushik says, can be crucial to learning how well a site is performing in generating traffic compared to its competition.

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