And all the men and women merely vis­i­tors. Or are they?

There’s a rea­son why I’ve cho­sen to open with a word play on Shake­speare. If you’ve fol­lowed the his­tory of the­atre and the stage, much of the changes have been dri­ven by the form of enter­tain­ment, the need of the audi­ence and the tech­ni­cal capa­bil­i­ties across the ages. The his­tory of the stage can be traced back to ancient Greece with its cen­tral space in round amphithe­atres that hosted tragic dra­mas and also to the Roman Colos­seum for war enact­ments and glad­i­a­tor shows.

With the advent of Eliz­a­bethan the­atre and the most famous Globe play­house came stages that were propped up against a wall towards one half of a round the­atre, sup­pos­edly to enable dif­fer­ent lev­els of view­ing com­fort and also to pro­vide actors an easy entry on to the stage from the prepara­tory space. And in the mod­ern the­atre we find the shape to be nearly semi-circular, the stage floor and walls vividly equipped with expe­ri­ence enhanc­ing technology.

Now with that slightly long his­tor­i­cal intro­duc­tion out of the way, let’s jump directly into the thick of things. Con­sider your web­site as a mod­ern day busi­ness Colos­seum, cater­ing to the will of its audi­ence. Is your audi­ence merely a vis­i­tor? Do you know what they want to see and do you pro­vide it? What makes a web­site suc­cess­ful and how do you mea­sure your success?

Busi­ness web­sites can be of fairly dif­fer­ent types and its suc­cess is thus depen­dent on dif­fer­ent end-results. The pri­mary goals of busi­ness web­sites can be:

1. To sell prod­ucts: Take for exam­ple the McAfee web­site. Buy­ing com­puter mal­ware pro­tec­tion online makes sense. As a result the web­site is all about the safety fea­tures of the prod­ucts and an easy browse through to the point where you “BUY NOW”.

 

 

 

2. To build brand aware­ness: With M&Ms avail­able at every cor­ner of a mall or an air­port or a drug­store, I’d imag­ine the web­site would be all about col­ors and fun. And so it is! Lots of offers and con­tests in there. I know there are some per­son­al­ized good­ies and mer­chan­dize on sale, but the option to buy is per­cep­tively at the far end or the bot­tom of the page.
 
3. To gen­er­ate leads: These web­sites can­not sell online and their busi­ness is based on fol­low­ing up on leads and build­ing rela­tion­ships. Take for exam­ple this Miami realty group web­site. “Con­tact me” – hard to miss isn’t it?

 

 
4. To pro­vide infor­ma­tion: Take a look at lead­ing ana­lyst firm Gartner’s web­site and it envelopes you in a giant matronly hug of infor­ma­tion about the IT indus­try. Sell­ing and lead gen are low key pri­or­i­ties here. For a busi­ness built on thought lead­er­ship based brand recog­ni­tion, pro­vid­ing avenues of thought is primary.

 

Now based on the type of web­site you run, your focus on dif­fer­ent types of suc­cess met­rics might change, but the fol­low­ing types of met­rics (with a few impor­tant exam­ples) should make for a ver­i­ta­ble list:

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1. Over­all / basic web­site per­for­mance: Ques­tions answered: How is the web­site per­form­ing in a gen­eral way? Does the con­tent gen­er­ate appro­pri­ate amount of interest?

Key met­rics: total num­ber of vis­its and page views.

2. Visitor met­rics: Ques­tions answered: How many new vis­i­tors came to the web­site? How many re-visited and how fre­quently do peo­ple return for more?

Key met­rics: unique vis­i­tors, new vis­i­tors, repeat and return vis­i­tors (with time­lines used weekly, monthly, quar­terly and so on).

3. Visit met­rics: Ques­tions answered: Did the audi­ence read the con­tent, where did they come from and how inter­ested were they?

Key met­rics: entry and exit page, visit dura­tion, page depth, referrers

4. Content met­rics: Ques­tions answered: Did the con­tent hold the read­ers’ atten­tion? Did it encour­age / pro­vide fur­ther navigation?

Key met­rics: page exit ratio, sin­gle page vis­its, time spent per page, bounce rate

5. Conversion met­rics: Ques­tion answered: What impact did the web­site have on the final end-result?

Key met­rics: trial down­loads per visit, sales per visit, com­ments per blog

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With more and more peo­ple spend­ing more and more time online, it is imper­a­tive that busi­nesses know exactly what their web­sites are intended to do and fol­low the met­rics that are impor­tant to that end. Fail­ing this impor­tant step, you might end up fea­tur­ing Midsummer’s Night Dream to a Greek audi­ence look­ing for a heart-wrenching tragedy.

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What I did last week: com­pared some US and Euro­pean web­site met­rics [not telling you which web­site ;-)] and even though the bounce rates and time spent per visit were com­pa­ra­ble, the browse-to-buy ratio and the orders / vis­i­tors in US was almost three times that of Europe. Why do you think?

What I will do this week: Try out the all new Adobe Social. First review soon!

Read my pre­vi­ous blog: Mar­ket­ing as a Data Science

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