April 10, 2015 Marketing en_US While most digital marketers track basic online marketing metrics, there are a few lesser-known metrics that can provide valuable insights. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A7DmhqgQ9/726dde98a898ef3916dd1dd7d094bffc.png https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/marketing/5-lesser-known-marketing-metrics-you-should-pay-attention-to 5 Lesser-Known Marketing Metrics You Should Pay Attention To

5 Lesser-Known Marketing Metrics You Should Pay Attention To

By Megan Sullivan April 10, 2015

Digital advertising is a beautiful thing. From the ease of deployment, to lower costs, to an almost unlimited number of media, digital advertising has changed the way we all conduct business.

But perhaps digital’s most valuable contribution to the marketing world is the ability to track metrics. Gone are the days of informal customer polls or placing a newspaper ad and praying someone would see it. Now, through the magic of digital, businesses can easily track what and where their ads are working, and make necessary adjustments almost in real time.

The only downside is that marketers, consultants and business owners went from having very little in the way of quantifiable data to having an overabundance. Suddenly, new terms and figures were being bandied about, from “unique visitor” to “cost-per-click.” Advertisers quickly realized that they would need to latch on to a few key numbers and, for their own sanity, ignore some of the others. But some of these relegated metrics might actually be worth your time.

Below are five lesser-known online metrics that you might want to pay attention to.

1. Time Spent on Site or Page

What does it measure?

Time spent measures the duration of a user’s visit to your site as a whole or to a single webpage.

Why bother?

Depending on the type of content your site contains, it’s important to know that those elements you want visitors to see are actually being seen.

When do I pay attention?

This metric has been pushed aside primarily because, for the most part, it remains fairly steady. However, if you’re launching a new product or service, starting a blog or directing visitors to a specific landing page, take a look and see if the time spent on your new pages or your site goes up.

If the content is engaging, you should notice an uptick in the amount of time people spend on your site. If your content is boring or not what they expected, the time spent might stay the same or decrease.

2. Referring URL

What does it measure?

This metric tells you what URL a site visitor was at directly before they clicked to visit your page.

Why bother?

Sometimes the most interesting information can be found among your referring URLs. Besides getting an accurate measure of visits you’re receiving from online ads, you can also look for behavioral patterns.

For example, let’s say, over the course of a few months, you notice that a high percentage of your referring URLs are from parenting sites. If you sell diapers, that’s a huge win. If you sell screws, there might be something off with your site’s metadata or search engine optimization (SEO).

When do I pay attention?

Similar to time spent, you don’t need to pay attention to this metric all the time, but checking in once a quarter isn’t a terrible idea. It may take a bit of extra time to analyze the variety of incoming URLs, but it’s worth it if it can give you further insight into your site’s visitors.

3. Exiting URL

What does it measure?

This is the last URL a user visited before leaving your site or clicking away.

Why bother?

Ideally, all of your site visitors would end their sessions on your “contact us” page, resulting in an inundation of leads. However, we know that many visitors drop off long before that, primarily because they can’t find the information they want.

Take note of the pages with the highest incidence of exiting. If you see one or two pages repeated over and over again, it might be worth a perusal of the content to see if there’s some major piece of information you might be lacking. Or maybe the information just isn’t engaging. Also, if you sell goods, and everyone leaves when they get to your online order form, there may be a bigger issue with your site’s order-form interface or even something askew with your customer service.

When do I pay attention?

Checking this metric every quarter is probably often enough, although if you notice a steep decline in orders or “contact us” emails, it’s worth taking a look to see if you’re losing your visitors before they even get a chance to engage with your organization.

4. Average Number of Pages per Visit

What does it measure?

Quantitatively, it measures the number of pages a typical user visits during one session on your site. Qualitatively, it measures engagement.

Why bother?

If your site is more than one-page deep, you probably want your visitors to spend a little time clicking around, finding out more about you, your business and your goods and services. However, if the majority of your visitors are simply visiting one page and then leaving, you’re sorely lacking any real engagement and probably won’t make many sales that way.

Also, a low average number of pages per visit could indicate an issue with your SEO efforts, as people may have entered some terms into a search engine and were directed to your page. Once they got to the site, however, they realized it’s not what they were looking for. If this describes your site, then you may have an SEO problem.

When do I pay attention?

If you run any Google AdWords or other keyword campaigns, it’s always a good idea to track this metric from the onset. While it’s good to know the number of clicks and searches your website is showing up in, you also want to know if people are actually finding any utility in what you have to offer.

5. Site Path

What does it measure?

This metric illustrates what pages a visitor clicked through while on your website.

Why bother?

While a little cumbersome to decipher, site path is another metric that can provide you with some behavioral insight. For example, if you’re a company that sells baby formula, and you notice that a majority of your site visitors go from your homepage to your product page to your nutritional-facts page to your order page, you could draw the conclusion that your visitors want to know that your formula is safe and contains quality ingredients.

While this isn’t a huge leap to make, it can also guide you in shaping your content. If this were a valid revelation, you could perhaps add some nutritional information or a call-out box with the pertinent details on the product page to help your customers speed up their visits and save time.

When to pay attention?

If you add pages to your site or change an online process (i.e. your ordering process or how to contact you), then it’s a good idea to take a look at site-path data from before and after the change. If your goal is to simplify the ordering process, but the changes you made still result in either a similar site path or in visitors adding new stops along the way, you’ll want to make adjustments to keep the process as simple as possible.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with data. Truthfully, these metrics were marginalized not because they have no value at all, but most likely because they can only provide insight at specialized, non-routine points as you build or renovate your site. So continue to pay attention to the “big money” metrics (e.g. unique visitors, page views, etc.), but don’t forget some of their more subtle cousins. The information you uncover could be more valuable than you imagine.

For more insight on tracking and managing metrics, see our guide to big data.

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Megan Sullivan is a writer with experience in the advertising and digital media space. Read more