Which Metrics Matter?

Note: This post was originally published on 563media.com.

Everyone’s always talking about metrics, analytics, and measuring results. While being able to measure your success in any endeavor is critical (especially when budgets are involved), it’s easy to get hung up on the wrong numbers. For example, if your business is a service business requiring an initial phone conversation, is it really that important that you set up a goals funnel tracking how many people click on your latest blog post (and where they go next)?

A person could easily get lost in learning and analyzing metrics: what they mean, what they’re measuring, and how to interpret the results. A large company may be able to hire a dedicated employee to read Google Analytics several hours a day, but for many small businesses (ours included), it’s the president/operator, office assistant, or maybe even the bookkeeper-slash-guy-Friday keeping tabs on these numbers. There’s no time or budget to hire and train a dedicated marketing person to master the ins and outs of conversions and bounce rates.

One of the things we like to emphasize in our business, and with our clients, is simplicity. What you need to measure, ultimately, should be dictated by your three most important goals. Restricting your goals list to just three priorities means you only need to measure three things. If you’re pressed for time or understaffed, such simplicity can be the difference between keeping up and flipping out.

Just a week ago, we wrapped up the relaunch of a small business’s website: new copy, new layout, new pages. Before I began writing, I asked the client, what are your goals? What do we need to measure? He informed me that he begins all new client relationships with a phone call: people either call his office directly or fill out a contact form, then he calls them back. We thus had three goals with the website redo:

  1. Get more people to the site;
  2. Get more people to call the office;
  3. Get more people to fill out the contact form.

Our website changes have been in effect about a week. I popped into Google Analytics this afternoon to check on his stats, and I found that since we relaunched, the number of clicks through to his contact form has tripled. Three times as many people have been moved to call or fill out the form. (Hopefully soon, I’ll have the exact number in hand.)

The rest of his traffic increased across the board, too. By moving pages around, telling a clearer story, making his company’s service offerings easier to understand, and rephrasing some headings (for SEO and clarity purposes), we increased the number of unique page views on every page of the site by around 100-200%. The bounce rate on the home page decreased by nearly 20% almost immediately.

There are many other stats we could track in Google Analytics, but the answers we most needed, we were able to find in 15 minutes:

  1. Are more people finding the site now?  Yes.
  2. Are more people reading the information and viewing multiple website pages? Yes.
  3. Are more people contacting the office? Yes.

Simple goals mean simple reports, and in most cases, we’ve found that’s better for everyone. Shorter reports make for shorter meetings and longer pizza parties.

Update, 11/28/12: Since posting this, we have also revised and consolidated the company’s PPC ads. The business has gone on to sign at least two new clients and has received an unprecedented phone call from potential out-of-state business that found the company via its website.

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