Business Metrics

Which website metrics should you focus on for achieving faster growth?

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Those are some powerful words. Powerful, and wise. Often, we obsess over every tiny detail and specifics of the things on our to-do list, and as a result, we end up stretching each task longer than needed, if they get finished at all.

It is not just good for the tasks you need get done, but also extremely healthy for your routine, mental health and sanity.

And that brings us to our topic of today. We would take some time to understand:

  • why you need to only look at just a few website metrics to start growing your business,
  • which website metrics are those,
  • how you should look at them, and why, and
  • how you can improve them to enable faster growth

Why is this important?

Today, more than 30 million websites use Google Analytics to measure and monitor their traffic. It has by far the largest market share in the web analytics space, and powers more websites than all its competitors combined.

We want to bring a change to that.

It is no secret that we do not support using Google Analytics. It is a liability to the websites it is installed on, is unnecessarily heavy, completely invades the privacy of visitors to any website (whether or not the website owner wants that). And above all, the primary reason for Google Analytics to exist is not to serve you data, but act as an unobstructed data goldmine for its master - Google Adwords. The data that Google collects via Analytics from your website, and millions of other websites is what is used by its ad platform to target customers and serve billions of dollars worth of ads.

But today, we are not going to focus on the morality discussion. We would talk about the usability aspect of it.

Google Analytics is a bulky product, with data spread over dozens of different tiny dashboards, each with redirects and drill downs of its own. So, when an entrepreneur uses Google Analytics to understand his website traffic, there are only two ways in which they use the product:

  • They open up one dashboard, have a look around, and then leave. (For most, it is the main dashboard. For some, it is the visitor dashboard), or
  • They try exploring around the product once or twice, and then they stop checking it as frequently as they used to when they first started using the product.

More than 90% of all website owners use Google Analytics is one of these two ways.

So, out of the 30 million websites Google Analytics is powering analytics for, 90% or 27 million are being used just as a data source for Google’s ad platform, and contribute little, if anything, to the website’s growth.

Why is that?

1/ Because the product is complicated. It takes time to understand what different parts of it do. It is not super intuitive and has a fair bit of learning curve to it. If it wasn’t so, there would not have been the need to have countless courses on learning to use Google Analytics.

So much so, that Google itself offers courses on how to use Google Analytics - even as a beginner.

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Just think about it.

When was the last time you needed a course to learn to use Whatsapp, or Gmail, or Youtube?

The best products are the ones that do not have a learning curve, and are intuitive to use by design.

2/ It takes a lot of time. I have used Google Analytics. I know where I can find specific data for different scenarios. And I know much time it takes every time one needs to do that.

The problem with time consuming activities is that they are the first ones to get dropped when you are pressed for time, and busy with other activities.

And entrepreneurs, they are always busy. We always have more on our plate than we could possibly get done in the day. So, checking up on your analytics data, and doing deep drill-downs and analysis on them of course takes a back seat.

If you are not analysing your data, you would not be able to leverage that data to fuel growth for your business. Tremendous lost opportunity there.

3/ It takes marketing expertise to get the most out of it. The reason why most website owners just use the basic dashboard view is because to use Google Analytics well, you need to have marketing expertise. That enables you in knowing what are the things you should be looking for, where you can find them, and what should you do with it once you have found them.

4/ It is overwhelming There is just so much data in there than it can get overwhelming real fast.

There is a reason you would find many people say - Oh, I don’t care about the other marketing focused things in GA, I am just using it to monitor traffic to my blog.

In reality, that’s not the case. After all, even if you are running a blog, you do want it to reach to more and more people. You do want it growing month on month. You do want it to become one of the biggest blogs in your niche. The reason you site is an excuse you needed to come up with to yourself because when you tried using Google Analytics to get answers to growth, the sheer magnitude of all that was staring at you was enough to overwhelm and deter you.

So, what is the solution?

The ideal solution for your web analytics needs is a platform that:

  • gives you a quick overview of your traffic data, something you can go through in minutes
  • highlights abnormal behavior only when required, thus keeping the whole interface clean and your experience perfect
  • identifies trend patterns in your analytics data so that you don’t have to waste time doing that analysis yourself
  • respects both your need for growth, and your visitors’ privacy

Our analytics product, Benne Analytics, does all of that. It is light, has a clean interface, and highlights crucial traffic analysis to you via its insights module and reports.

But, irrespective of which Analytics tool you use to keep track of your website stats, having a clear direction on which website metrics matter most to your business, and how should you use them will help you achieve growth much better. Without overwhelming yourself.

So, let us look at those growth-crucial metrics:

1. Overall Traffic Stats

This is your starting point. How many visits your website is receiving and what’s going on with it. Unless you have traffic, there is not much to go on with.

How many people visit your website, is your traffic growing, staying steady, or in decline? What should you do in such cases?

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When you are starting, you start with zero traffic, but even when you have got the ball rolling, you will have intermittent, chaotic and low traffic in your early days.

Some of the ways in which you can get immediate traffic in your early days:

  1. Social media. You aren’t going to get this traffic from your own social media handles. After all, if you do not have traffic right now, you would be having no social following as well. So, you’ll need to get creative. Look out for discussions around your space and pain-points you solve. Address those queries you find. Answer questions. Identify users who are unhappy with competing products they checked out, or are using. Engage in 1-1 communications. While 1-1 communication is not a scalable way to achieve traffic, it is a great way to seed your initial traffic. Although, I have found it to be a pretty effective way to continue the momentum even at scale.

  2. Communities and forums. Communities and forum discussions are a great place to reach out to a filtered base of audience. Instead of focusing on sending out the best tweets and posting the most filtered messages on your facebook page, focus on engaging in contextually relevant discussions on communities in your space. There are countless examples of SaaS businesses who found their first hundred and thousand customers this way.

  3. Leverage content platforms like Medium and Quora. Once again, it is about reaching out to a filtered niche audience. Platforms like Medium and Quora are designed to help users find content relevant to their interest. And they have the added benefit of having a captive audience base of hundreds of thousands of users from your targeted audience. The stronger a presence you are able to build over here, the more value you will add to your brand’s credibility and send traffic back to your website.

How should you plan for long-term, sustainable traffic:

  1. Start creating content. Benne Analytics is still in private beta, and access to the platform is by invite only. Yet, we have continuously been creating content that is meaningful to our audience - entrepreneurs and SaaS founders like you. Content that’s valuable to your target audience will help your SEO strategy substantially and benefit you for months and years after the content has been made live.

  2. Start building a following. Your customers want to engage with brands that add value to their lives and workflows. If you are continuously doing that, your customers would love to hear more from you. Start building a mailing list as soon as possible.

  3. Talk to your customers. Early stages of your business are the best times to get user feedback to give a shape to your product roadmap, and overall business strategy. Talk to as many customers as you can, understand their pain-points and how they are trying to solve it. Make that process better and simpler for them via your product.

Your Benne Analytics dashboard will show you exactly how your traffic is growing week on week and month on month.

2. Traffic sources

Now that you know which direction your traffic is trending, it is time to move the needle more in your favor. The best way to do that is to do more of what’s bringing in the most impact.

There are only 24 hours in a day.

We all know that. What that essentially means for your business is the fact that you only have a finite amount of time each day, week and month to work on growing your traffic. The best way to do that is to identify the sources that will help you get the most visitors for each unit of your time devoted to it.

All web analytics tools will segment your traffic into a few different buckets:

  • Direct (when someone opens up a new tab and enters your url directly in the address bar)
  • Social
  • Email (it could be from email campaigns, links you inserted in the body of your mail, or even from your email signature)
  • Organic (when someone finds you in search results for their queries. Hello Content!)
  • Referral, or Websites (a visit from a link on another website)
  • Other (Well, the information on the traffic source wasn’t exactly clear. This will be a small percentage of your overall traffic, but you may see some.)

In addition to these, the Insight Reports from Benne Analytics also categorise “Community” as a source of traffic. We are witnessing a rapid shift to community building efforts by more and more organisations, and with time, this will become an even stronger and more sticky source of traffic to businesses. Realising that importance, we decided it deserves its own category.

How can traffic sources help you improve your growth path?

24 hours in a day, my friend. The better you understand which traffic sources are the most important to you, the better you would know where to put in efforts to maximise impact. It will also help you understand where you should put in efforts to improve performance in a category.

For example, if your organic traffic is low, one may decide to focus on other sources that are traffic generating. But, in reality, you should continue focusing on improving organic traffic, since the benefits from organic traffic are long term, and compound faster than any other medium.

Your Benne Analytics dashboard will show you exactly much of your traffic is coming from Medium, Quora, or the forums you have been engaging with your audience on. And with some simple UTM parameter setups, you will be able to see exactly which topics or sub-topics are the most valuable to you. This will give you a concrete idea on where you should be focusing your efforts.

At the same time, our insight reports will help you understand what is driving this traffic for you. It would analyse the most valuable assets and customer types so that you can apportion your bandwidth in a way that brings back the most traffic to your website.

3. Top Pages

Content is an endless game of optimization. So is your website traffic.

But if you have hundreds of pages and blog posts, how do you decide which pages you should be optimising? Why? How?

This is where your Top Pages become important.

As you start getting more and more traffic to your website, you will start noticing an interesting trend. A small percentage of your pages would be bringing in the most traffic. These are the pages you should focus on improving to make sure they are ultimately adding the maximum value to your business growth.

What should you do when you identify top pages?

1/ Go through the pages to double-check if they can be improved in any way

Can you add in more examples? Screenshots? Product images? Anything that will make the content more valuable, thereby improving the page’s performance even more.

2/ Make sure they have contextually relevant links on the page

These pages are doing their job of bringing your audience onto your site. Can you direct this traffic somewhere else? Maybe there is another relevant story you could insert a link for within this page.

3/ Link them to specific landing pages that have the best conversion rates

Make this page earn its keep, so to speak. Direct this traffic to landing pages that have shown the best performance in converting visitors into registered users of your product, or even paying customers.

In your Benne Analytics dashboard, you will see top pages divided in three categories:

  • Top pages (overall). These are the pages that have been viewed the most. Whether that traffic came directly onto these pages, or whether a visitor landed on these pages via an internal link on another page, it doesn’t matter. This is an indicator of your most popular content.
  • Top entry pages. Pages that mark the beginning of the visitors’ session.
  • Top exit pages. Last stop, so to speak.

Each of them serve a specific role. We already discussed how we can improve on the top entry pages. Now consider an exit page. This is the page the user leaves from. Can you make him stay a little bit longer? ;-)

4. Goals and Conversions

Whether you have a personal blog or a SaaS product, if it exists, it exists for a reason. What is the one action you want someone to take when they are on your website?

Do you want them to subscribe to your newsletter, make a transaction, download a free ebook, sign up for a trial of your product?

These actions are what we call Goals, and you should most definitely set them up in your analytics dashboard, and monitor their performance over time - both in terms of number of times these goals were met, and the rate at which they are able to convert the traffic.

In your Benne Analytics account, you can set up goals for different websites to track performance of a number of different scenarios. For example, you can track:

  • the number of times a specific page was viewed (you may want to track how frequently your product feature page is being checked, or even your pricing plans)
  • the number of times a page had visit duration more than a specified time (extremely useful for content pieces and blogs. For example, you may want to look at how many times your visitors spent more than a minute on an individual blog post)
  • the number of times different call to action buttons were clicked
  • how many times a form was submitted, a lead magnet downloaded etc.

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Goals are what will drive your growth the most, and the fastest. The more aligned to your business objectives your goals are, the more value you’ll get out of them.

These are absolutely critical, but there’s more.

Just these 4 simple metrics are enough to help you get started on a sure path to growth. And they are all present in a simple and intuitive structure on your Benne Analytics dashboard. Your dashboard, combined with the insights reports you get will help you determine exactly what should you do to fuel growth for your business.

In addition to these metrics, your dashboard and your insight reports will also have other important metrics that will help you execute better on your marketing strategies.

1/ Countries Which countries contribute the most to your traffic? Which countries suddenly started showing up? Which countries is your traffic growing fastest from?

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In addition to showing you a snapshot of your traffic breakdown by countries in your dashboard, our insights reports keeps an eye out for answers to all these questions, and countless other traffic indicators and trends. You will always be aware of what’s most promising for your business.

2/ Device Details From browser types to operating systems to device sizes, you will get a perfect sense of how exactly visitors are coming onto your website.

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These insights matter quite a lot. Take a simple example. If most of my goal conversions for downloading a lead magnet (a pdf ebook) is happening on mobile, but my pdf is not optimised to be viewed on mobile screens, I am essentially losing out on tremendous opportunity here. Isn’t it?

These details matter, and with Benne Analytics, you will always know what to improve to fuel your growth better, faster.

3/ Website Performance

If your website, or even specific pages are slow to load, you know users are going to simply close the tab in frustration. So, if the page never loaded, they never consumed any of your content, or engaged with your highly effective landing page.

Pages and sites that load faster enjoy better ranks in search results as well.

All of this makes it absolutely crucial that your website is not slow and loads smooth like a breeze.

Now this is not something that you should need to constantly monitor. Two reasons:

A/ You only want to know about it when a page is performing poorly

B/ When a page is performing poorly, you want to know about it immediately, and not only when you check your dashboard.

So, we made it a part of an alerting system for you. In addition to getting a weekly/monthly overview of the broad performance of your website, any time a page starts performing poorly, you can get an instant alert, thus making you aware of the issue in real time. The faster you know about it, the sooner you can get it fixed.

What we are working on next?

Search engine performance breakdown.

That is on our radar right now.

As a founder, I want to know when my website comes up in search results, why does it come up in those results, and how many of these instances actually end up resulting in a click and thus traffic to my website.

These can help me understand how powerful my content marketing efforts are, how can I improve them further. So, now we are working on a method that will enable businesses everywhere to be benefitted from these insights.

I did come across that “why won’t my parakeet” search on a Google image search I was doing. I tried it myself. And I’ll say it again. Disgusting. I hope curiosity does not get the best of you. But if you do end up searching for it, you can share your pain with me. Outrageous!

That’s it for today, see you tomorrow.

Cheers,

Abhishek

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