How to Evaluate the Performance of Your Digital Platform
One of the great advantages of the digital industry is that you can get tons of figures, statistics and metrics which will help you elaborate the right strategy for your business.
All these information will enable you to check and recheck your strategy.
See if your strategy is relevant.
If you took the right direction or not.
All these information will also enable you to analyze the results of your digital platform, whatever you built up: an ecommerce website, a blog, a forum, a classical website, etc.
Before we go further in explaining all the indicators you may sort, it is utmost important to remind you to be very careful with vanity metrics.
What are vanity metrics? These are the figures that you choose because they correspond to who you are, how you think and how you would like the world to (be) run.
These are the kind of metrics you choose because they reflect you.
Like a mirror.
Most of the time, there is a big difference between how you see the world and how the world actually is.
The problem of these vanity metrics is directly correlated to the multitudes of biases which explain many of the wrong decisions made by human beings.
The reason why many people take so many bad decisions is the multitude of wellknown biases which bring them to construct bad mental representations and totally irrational arguments.
Here is a list of 71 wellknown cognitive biases.
One more thing: never forget that when you speak, you (always) speak about you.
Once you know all this, you can objectively select the figures which will really help you build your strategy and analyze the performance of your digital platform.
Then you can correctly connect the dots.
And draw a correct picture.
It is utmost important here to distinguish web performance indicators from web marketing indicators.
Performance analytics will be used by a digital specialist to evaluate topics like the page load speed, just as example.
Web marketing analytics, on the other hand, measure business metrics like leads, prospects, and sales.
It’s all about correctly undestanding and analyzing the conversion process, when leads are transformed into deals.
With digital marketing metrics, marketers can understand the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and action plan, from a business point of view.
With web performance metrics, digital specialists can evaluate the effectiveness of a website, from a technical point of view.
Here are the key metrics to consider in order to evaluate the performance of your digital platform:
Traffic, number of visits, periods
If you get the audience, you get the finance.
Even if some websites manage to generate great revenues without an important volume of visitors, the best way to increase sales via an online platform is to drastically increase the traffic.
Try to regularly track all the indicators linked to the traffic of your digital platform.
It’s the most important.
Analyze your results on different periods: 1 month, 1 semester, 1 year, etc.
Unique visitors, new visitors, regular visitors and returning visitors
Evaluate the quality and the profile of the people who visit your website.
There are some people who will surf on your website and become fan.
There are other people who will never come back to your digital platform.
Try to distinguish, among all your visitors, which ones are new and which ones already visited your website.
According to your marketing strategy, you can then segment the structure of all the people who visit your digital platform.
Through which page are they coming from?
Ask yourself this question : whether they visit your website through your home page or via a popular article of your blog, it has not exactly the same result, neither the same impact.
The first impression rarely gives a new chance to a second impression.
Many websites with high traffic get their results mainly from 1, 2 or 3 pages.
10 articles can be responsible for 90% of the traffic of your website.
This is something you must analyze for you will have to set up your strategy accordingly.
An excellent tool to know which pages generate which traffic is SEMrush.
Some analytics dashboards allow you to get the information where your visitors come from.
It’s a key information.
If you write your blog in French but you notice that many of your visitors are living in english-speaking countries, you may think of the possibility of rewriting all your stuff in english.
Somehow, the things your write may correspond to the market you target.
Otherwise, it will be very difficult for you to stay coherent and achieve your targets.
Some analytics dashboards allow you to get the information on the average age of the visitors of your website.
Obviously, it’s important to consider and analyze the different generations of the people who visit your digital platform.
It will have its importance in terms of digital marketing strategies.
Length of the visits (time on site)
Whether your visitors stay a while on your website or just a few seconds, it’s not the same result.
If people do not stay much longer than a few seconds on your digital platform, it can be due to the fact that the content of your website does not correspond at all to what they are looking for.
It can also be due to the fact that your contents does not exactly match the contents they search.
Origin of the visits
Where are they coming from? Organic search, social networks, etc.
You should perfectly master the split of your visitor audience.
The main sources of provenance are described in the following points.
Organic search traffic
These are all the people coming from the search engines, mainly Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
Consider than more than 50% of the traffic of websites comes from Google.
Consider also the fact that most of the people will stay on the first page of Google and will not much navigate on the page 2 and 3.
Only few people visit the pages after the page 4.
This is the reason why being on the first page of Google on strategic keywords and keyword combinations is a key business topic.
This is the reason why you may regularly work on your contents, your articles, your blog, your web pages, etc.
These are the people coming from external websites.
They navigate on other websites, read a text with a link pointing to your website, click on the hypertext link and arrive on your website.
Here, digital marketing strategies such as guest posting and article syndication are very powerful actions.
If you manage to publish articles on websites of reference in your industry, this may allow you to get a huge traffic.
And once you get the audience, it’s easy to get the finance.
One of the best ways to get a great audience is to use all the great social network platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
You must gauge your social networks actions and see which are the results of every article you posted in the past on your various timelines.
It’s very important.
Social networks contribute to the big internet revolution: some decades ago, create a brand from scratch with a great visibility and a great notoriety would have required either great budgets or great political connections.
The ones who succeeded were often the ones who got the money or who knew the politics.
Things have changed.
These are the people who directly arrive on your website by typing your website address in the URL bar of their computer, or clicking a link from an email, or clicking a link from a chat software, just as examples.
If you manage to get an interesting audience through direct traffic, it means that you are close to get a great success.
It can be interpreted in various ways.
For example: it can mean that many people put the URL of your domain name in favorites in Google Chrome.
Or not at all.
Be careful with your conclusions.
Remind of the vanity metrics and all the biases which will mainly guide you to take the direction which has your predilection.
Here is the definition of bounce rate, according to Wikipedia: “Bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing on to view other pages within the same site”.
Bounce rate is a measure of the effectiveness of a website in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit.
It is expressed as a percentage and represents the proportion of visits that end on the first page of the website that the visitor sees.”.
Many people say that a bounce rate close to 0% is close to perfection and that a bounce rate close to 100% is close to catastrophy.
It is not true.
A web page with a 100% bounce rate can also mean that the page perfecty meets visitors expectations, so that these visitors do not have to further navigate on your website.
Such a web page can also have excellent results in terms of conversion rate.
Pages wich are visited
Correctly analyze the pages of your website which are visited.
Use the Twitter statistics dashboard in order to analyze the results of your tweets.
Many tools can also be used such as: Visible Tweets, TweetStats, Tweetchup or Klear.
Use the Facebook statistics dashboard in order to analyze the results of your posts.
Other social networks
Most of the social networks have statistics dashboards.
Page load speed
Verify the efficiency of your website. You can use tools such as GTmetrix or Dareboost.
Page views per visit
Analyze the average number of pages which are visited by each visitor.
Search rankings (by keyword)
Analyze through which words or which wording combinations people arrive on your website via search engines.
Even if this indicator is criticable, it is useful, particularly if you make the comparison with the other websites.
Open Site Explorer from MOZ is the the source which gives this scoring.
Here is how MOZ describes Domain Authority : “Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.
Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time.
We calculate this metric by combining all of our other link metrics – linking root domains, number of total links, MozRank, MozTrust, etc. – into a single score”.
Read more here.
Even if this indicator is criticable, it is useful, particularly if you make the comparison with the other web pages.
Here is how MOZ describes Page Authority : “Page Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines. It is based off data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors. It uses a machine learning model to predictively find an algorithm that best correlates with rankings across the thousands of search results that we predict against.”.
Read more here.
These are the hypertext links, from external websites, which point to your website.
Many tools give information on the quantity and the quality of backlinks.
You may use several sources of information in order to get a clear picture of the backlinks your website may have or not.
These are the internal hypertext links within your website.
If a lot of web pages of your website contain texts with a link to a single page of your website, this single page will be popular on search engines.
These are the number of people who follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
These are the number of people who like you on Facebook.
These are the number of people who shared your contents on Facebook.
These are the quantity of people who could see your posts.
These are the number of tweets or posts which have been retweeted or reposted – and appeared also on the timeline of other people.
These are the number of comments.
The number of times one of your web pages or your website has been seen on search engines.
The number of times people saw one of your web pages or your website and click on the URL in order to land on your website.
Email open rate
If you send emails, this rate gives you an indication if people were interested in the emails you sent to them.
Email click-through rate
If you send emails, this rate gives you an indication if people interacted with the contents of your emails – and particularly with the links you placed in your emails.
This is the % of people who subscribed to one of your lists.
This is the % of people who decided to unsubscribe from your list.
This the evolution of your results: sales, number of visits, followers, subscribers, etc.
This is the % of visits which could be transformed into purchases.
These are the visitors of your website who may eventually purchase your products.
These are the leads who shall become your customers.
There are many tools which can deliver all these metrics.
Even if Google is often quoted, it is not the only one.
Let’s take an example: your ranking on search engines.
Though Google can provide you many information directly, there are dozens of other tools online (like SERPs, AgencyAnalytics, and AuthorityLabs) that can help you find and track your search rankings over time.
You may use all possible analytics dashboards available out there.
By analyzing them, you will notice that they give totally different and contradictory results.
Let’s be clear: most of them give unacurate indications.
Digital marketers know that.
Whatever the metrics you use, take this into account.
And rely on your brain, your intuition and your heart, which are the most important tools.
These are the true dashboards.
Always follow your heart.
So, my question now is: what do you exactly follow?
Written by Jerome Perrin