Seven technology internet business websites are standing upright with a reflection. There is one big one and smaller ones fading in back. Has black isolated background.

Over the past few months, we’ve begun and dug deeper into our exploration of smarter websites and their potential to improve your marketing results.

This month, we wrap up the series with a look at metrics you should be tracking to measure your site’s effectiveness. First, though, a quick recap.

(As with our first installments, this column is a collaboration with long-time colleague Scott Hornstein. And we owe a tip of the hat to Wayne Cerullo and Phil Shelp for their help and insights.)

We began our introductory column by discussing how a smarter website can make a difference to your bottom line by increasing engagement, leads and sales, and by discussing how your approach to building your website is a key part of the success: are you creating a library or a cocktail party? Are you creating a billboard or a conversation?

Last time around, we expanded on those ideas by exploring the importance of integrating your website into your broader marketing goals and other marketing tactics – social media, email marketing, direct mail, etc. – and focusing on the Prospect to Product Connection. That connection is the insight that allows you not only to identify your best prospects, but to engage with them and win their confidence, their trust, and their business.

Metrics That Matter
There are a great many different kinds of marketing metrics. Not all are created equal. As you’d imagine, primary metrics are more important than secondary metrics, which are of greater value than tertiary metrics. (You’ll also sometimes see the same or similar metrics categorized as process metrics and outcomes metrics.)

Among the key primary metrics we want to pay attention to are unique visitors, key actions, and conversion rates.

Unique visitors is a fairly broad metric of the individuals who are visiting your site, whether once or repeatedly. For those of us who are running account-based marketing programs, we can further refine this into unique visitors from target accounts.

Action can be just about any action you’d like – the goal is to measure how effectively your site encourages engagement. Do site visitors respond to one or more of our calls to action? Those calls to action can be information requests, question submissions, white paper downloads, etc. We want to tighten the scope a bit further than most web marketers do, though, by focusing not just on any action, but on those actions that correspond to key junctures in the prospect’s decision journey.

Finally, we have conversion. The holy grail of metrics – where the rubber meets the road. Or where your marketing actually leads to revenue. (We’re setting aside issues of attribution for the moment. Give a shout if that’s your primary interest.)

Tracking these metrics, which can take slightly different forms depending on the nature of your audience and the products and services you’re marketing, is the only way to gauge how well your website is working and know if your website truly is smarter. It’s tempting to rely on your gut instinct, which is often spot-on, but your gut is tougher to defend in budget meetings than your data.

Putting Your Plan Into Action
With the knowledge of how to make your website smarter, you’ll want to think about what the new website will require in order to succeed. You may think I’m skipping a step here by not talking about actually building your smarter website, but the time to put this planning in place is before you build.

  • First, forget thinking in terms of a campaign or a project. We all breathe a huge sigh of relief when the new site launches, but resist the temptation to mentally file it in the “done” folder. You still need to pay attention to what the market is telling you and adjust your approach – and maybe your website – accordingly.
  • To be sure you’re getting solid data, you’ll want to refresh key prospect insights regularly. Conversion metrics, net promoter score surveys and other tools can help with this on an on-going basis.
  • Make sure you’re paying attention to the right metrics. Not industry benchmarks – your own data. Can you determine what secondary/process metrics might be leading indicators for your primary/outcomes metrics? If so, watch them closely.
  • Most importantly, take action. If you learn something, act on the new knowledge. Chances are, your improvements are going to come incrementally, from many small improvements. Don’t wait for lightning to strike. It may not.