Web Traffic & Analytics: What the Numbers Mean, and How to Move Them In Your Favor

Business owners and marketing leaders: When was the last time you took a good look at your website traffic?

Odds are you created a Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics account and installed a tracking pixel when you launched your website. (If you didn’t, be sure to do so today. Don’t know how? Book us for an initial consult).

Fact is, you’re missing critical customer insights—and, ultimately, revenue—if you aren’t checking your website traffic at least monthly. If you just can’t make the time for it, it’s time to hire help. With foundations in Digital Communications, Marketing Management and Design, and with certifications in Marketing Automation, Search Marketing and Social Media Marketing, Simpatico’s experienced, credentialed, multidisciplinary team is standing by to help you make sense of the numbers.

Simpatico’s baseline reporting regimens consider metrics such as the ones below. Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t seeing these precise trends or results with your own traffic; each business and campaign is so nuanced that many factors contribute to the unique outcomes you’ll likely see for your own website.

But, for the interim, a crash course:

TOP ENTRY PAGES can tell you how well a campaign or tactic is performing. For example, imagine you’re running a lead generation campaign, such as a sweepstakes or a webinar, and have created a unique page on your site for users to sign up. You should see that page’s URL among your main points of entry for users. Likewise, if you’re in the latter months of an SEO campaign, the pages you’ve been optimizing should be inching upward over time.

TOP EXIT PAGES can tell you a great deal about whether your website’s pages are designed for an optimal user experience (UX), or whether they could use some refining. Suppose the main thing you want your website to do is capture visitor email addresses. If you’re following best practices and redirecting users who enter their email address to a ‘Thank you’ page—assuming those users are qualified—that ‘Thank you’ page should be the place where most users end their visit that day. If you find they’re walking out the door on the wrong page, it could mean more relevant content, deep-linking and clearer calls-to-action are needed.

BOUNCE RATE is a metric closely related to Entry and Exit pages. In general, if a website visitor leaves the site from the same page they first entered on, that action is counted by Analytics tools as a Bounce. Think about it this way: If you ran a deli counter, and found most of your walk-ins turned around and walked right back out, you’d want to know why, wouldn’t you?

UNIQUE VISITORS, as the name suggests, is a rough quantification of how many individuals come to your website. (That’s as opposed to VISITS, which quantifies the total number of ‘hits’, to borrow a dot-com era term, your site gets.) It’s worth noting that this metric can’t truly tell you how many unique people have been to your website. If you visit your own site using a computer on your office WiFi network, and then do the same on your iPhone using LTE, those two actions will be counted as two unique visitors. Single sign-on (SSO) technology, which works in part to corral all your user accounts under a single, master account, might eventually resolve this discrepancy, but it’s still not an exact science.

AVERAGE TIME ON-SITE can reveal precisely how much time users are spending with your brand or company. For the most part, the richer and deeper your website content, the longer users will spend with it. Social Media has recognized this pattern of behavior, and responded by promoting and encouraging submission of original video content. (Notice how you get notified each time one of your Facebook friends goes live?) In truth, time on-site is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how captivating and relevant visitors consider your site to be. Facebook, for their part, introduced a metric in the last year which it’s dubbed ‘Attention Impressions.’ Attention Impressions quantify how often your posts get your friends and followers to stop scrolling down their bottomless newsfeed. Expect this metric to be increasingly grouped with native heat-mapping, eye- and cursor-tracking in the coming 12 months.

PAGES PER SESSION can provide a glimpse into the state of your site’s relationship with its visitors. The simplest argument is that the more pages a user visits, the more interested that user is in what you have to say or offer. Intent, of course, is another question. A competitor conducting a little intelligence survey might visit dozens of pages with no intention to ever take a single step down your customer journey map. For that reason, the most accurate interpretation of this data starts with stripping out outliers and looking instead at average pages per session—better yet, based on traffic source (did the user come from a Search Engine, a link from another site, or by typing the URL directly into their browser bar?).

RETURN VISITORS, very much like Pages Per Session, can you give you some sense of whether your brand’s message is sticking. As a rule of thumb, Simpatico advises clients that users need to see a message 9+ times before it begins to register as familiar. If you’ve got visitors coming back multiple times, that fact is, by itself, a win. The next trick is to move them down the purchase funnel. How? Well, that’s a full-time job in and of itself—and one more reason to hire a dedicated marketing team.

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