Marketing is getting really personal. Ads for the shoes you browsed three days ago follow you around the web. Your favorite restaurant sends you regular updates about their daily specials, complete with mouth-watering photos. Your pizza place notices just how often you order from them and recommend them on social media, so they send you a complimentary pizza and ask you to become an official affiliate. It’s a bizarre mix of convenient, slightly creepy, and incredibly effective.

What powers this dark magic? Metrics. But, you already knew that. It’s not exactly a secret that tracking the right metrics is a key of marketing success. The challenge is that there are so many of them. Marketers that try to keep up with all the stats frequently suffer from “too many numbers” syndrome.

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How do you know which ones to pay attention to and which ones you can safely ignore? The right numbers to pay attention to vary depending on your goals.

Do they know who you are?

Before a customer can buy from you, they need to know who you are. People may find you through different channels, including social sharing, organic search results, paid advertising and recommendations from people they trust.

1. Total traffic

How many visitors does your website get? What about your Amazon store? Your Shopify listings? Your total traffic gives you good idea of how easy it is to find you on different channels. It’s a useful number to look at if you are in the middle of raising brand awareness.

There will be peaks and valleys based on the promotions you run, seasonal buying habits and the success of your content marketing team but, ideally, this number should steadily grow over time.

2. Where’s the traffic coming from

Which channels are paying off? Which ones are falling behind? Who’s driving the most traffic your way? What about the most leads?

Tracking channel traffic gives you a clear indication of what’s working and what isn’t. It shows you where you need to double down and which channel gives you the most bang for your buck.

Plus, it can help you justify increasing budgets for certain channels. If your leads from Facebook ads are converting at three times the rate of Twitter ones, this gives you the data you need to refocus your efforts.

3. New vs. returning visitors

I’m not going to tell you what the perfect ratio is – that depends on how long you’ve been doing this, what your goals are, and what type of campaign you are running. But, while getting new visitors is important, successful businesses rely on customer loyalty. Those are the people that keep coming back even during lean times and tell their friends about you. A report by BIA Kelsey and Manta found that 61% of small to medium sized businesses make more than half of their revenue from repeat customers.

Convene Meetings’ Ray Cheng suggests using the two to create a new metric: the Returning Visitor Rate (RVP.) A rate between 30 and 50 is a good indication that you’ve created a great experience that keeps visitors coming back for more while still reaching a healthy amount of new people.

Do they like what you do?

You’ve got them on your site. Now, the hard work begins. These are the metrics that will show you how good you are at delighting, converting and retaining customers once they’ve landed on your page.

Acquisition is relatively easy. Optimize for the right keywords, create a compelling offer and you are good to go. Now you need to go get that second date.


1. Pages per session and session duration

While these are two separate metrics, they go hand in hand. They show you your potential customers’ behavior: how long they are spending with your content, pages, and listings.

Are they consuming a lot of content and browsing your site, or do they leave quickly? While a high number of quick visits isn’t negative in itself, it can be an early warning sign your site’s UX is less than ideal. Make sure every page is easy to navigate and has a clear CTA.

2. Bounce rate

How many people are finding their way to your website, landing on it and leaving without ever clicking on a second page? As with page sessions, a high bounce rate by itself isn’t something to worry about if you have high retention and conversion rates.

But, if specific pages are hemorrhaging potential customers, it’s a strong indication that you need to take another look at the design, copy and CTA.

3. Email list subscribers

I’m not going to waste time telling you about your list. You already know that it’s your most important asset. A relevant, strong email list means you don’t have to rely on rented channels like Amazon, Facebook or eBay to reach your customers. They are always just one click away. Plus, using a CRM gives you the power to deliver ultra personal content straight to their inbox.

While you should definitely keep an eye on your overall growth rate, smart marketers always keep an eye on their email open rates, click through rates, conversion rates and unsubscribe rates.

These show you how well your copy is working and how customers feel about different offers. And, if offers are falling flat, it gives you an opportunity to experiment with the copy around them and track improvements in conversions.

4. Number of conversions

Conversions are the ultimate goal. They are the reason we try to get super targeted leads and run phenomenal email campaigns.

Track your conversions across pages, products and campaigns and compare them to:

  • Your previous average. This shows you how you are doing against yourself. If you have falling sales for a non-seasonal product you can go back, check out past campaigns and see what you did differently. Equally, if you are selling a lot now, make note of what’s working.
  • Industry standards. How are you performing against the average benchmark of your industry competitors?

Every other metric leads to this. While a high conversion rate shows you that your process is working well, the cause for a low conversion rate can be difficult to identify because the break may have happened anywhere down the chain.

If your rates are falling, examine each stage of your funnel step by step and only change one thing at a time, just like you would in an A/B test. This sounds obvious on paper, but when your numbers aren’t where you want to be the temptation to jump in and overhaul everything is can get strong. Resist it and trust your process.

5. Customer retention rates

How many of your customers are coming back? Return customers spend more than new customers and are cheaper to retain. Bain and Company found that customers still shopping with you after 3 years spend 67% more on average than first time shoppers.

Will they tell their friends?

Referral marketing is a potential gold mine. Let’s face it. There are a lot of products out there. Amazon has 1184 different toasters. That’s just normal toasters- when you throw in toaster ovens, the toaster that’s also a coffee maker and the one that makes scrambled eggs on the side, your options grow exponentially.

So, while we like to think that product specs and customer reviews will speak for themselves and show the customer exactly why our product is superior, they can just leave them overwhelmed. Who has the time and mental energy to compare 1184 different products that all do the exact same thing?

Many purchase decisions are based on past experience with a brand and what our friends, families and people we trust have said. Referrals are a powerful thing- they serve as a way to bring a product out of obscurity and into the running just because someone we trust recommended it. What does this have to do with tracking metrics? A survey by Nielsen and Ambassador found that 82% of Americans ask friends and family members for recommendations before making a purchase.

Track referrals and create a system for identifying and rewarding your best ambassadors.

The metrics right for your goals

You can do a lot with metrics. The key is to invest your time wisely. As your e-commerce business grows, you’ll have the resources and money to dig deeper and get even more granular.

Whatever you chose to measure, always bring it back to the customer. How does tracking this behavior help you provide a better customer experience? If the customer is happy, sales go up.