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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