Is your website meeting your expectations? If your website focuses on eCommerce, are you converting visitors into sales? If your site is a blog, is it converting visitors into loyal followers? If you can’t answer these questions, then you’re reading the right article at the right time, so please continue on.

Let’s face it, the primary function of a website is to convert. Whether it be converting them into leads, sales, members, followers or fans, a website lives to convert. So how do you know if your website is converting? Does your website convert visitors at a low rate, high rate or somewhere in between?

There’s an old saying in business that states; “if you’re not measuring it, you can’t manage it! And if you can’t manage it, you definitely can’t improve it!” Measuring visitor behavior allows you to identify what works and more importantly, what doesn’t. Only then, can you identify what’s needed to improve what doesn’t work and leverage the things that do.

In order to do this effectively, you need a measurement plan. This article outlines 5 keys to developing an effective measuring plan that are easy to implement and can be completed in a relatively short period of time.

OBJECTIVES

Perhaps the most important key to your measurement plan is defining your objectives. In short, why does your website exist? What is it that you want your website to do for you?

You really need to dig deep here when answering this all important question and don’t be surprised to discover a primary, secondary and possibly even tertiary objectives for your site. For example, an eCommerce site would obviously say that the objective is to sell their product(s) or services. You may also want to create and establish brand awareness so you can gain market share in your commodity. Additionally, you would also want to educate visitors on the benefits of your products or services.

Your objectives need to be well thought out so they can be well defined and properly documented in your measurement plan. The more clearly they’re defined, the easier it will be define strategies for each (the next step in your plan).

STRATEGY

Objectives define “what” you’re going to measure. Strategy defines “how” you’re going to get it done. In our example objectives from above, here is where you detail how you’ll establish brand awareness, sell your products and educate visitors. If your objective was build mailing list, you might use a monthly newsletter as a strategy to build it.

Each objective needs to have a clear, well defined strategy that identifies how you will meet your stated objective. Once you’ve defined your strategies you can begin the data collecting process that tells you whether your moving in a positive or negative direction toward meeting your stated objectives.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are specific data measurements that tell you if your objectives are being reached. Just as objectives define what and strategies define how, KPI’s tell you where you’re at in the process of reaching your stated objectives. A well defined KPI tied to each strategy represents the data that will be used to determine if you’re meeting your objectives or not.

Your KPI selections are very important to the success of your overall measurement plan. Each KPI must be easily and accurately measured along with being relevant to your strategy and ultimately your objective. Make you that you consider carefully what your key performance indicators will be, ensuring that the data will accurately reflect the performance of objective you’ve defined.

TARGETS

Targets are where you set the bar for you KPI’s. This is what defines success or failure in reaching your objectives you’ve set for yourself. The targets you set initially will serve as the benchmark for future performance. Some targets can be set based on investment of time or money while others can be set based on industry standards or historical performance from competitors.

Where you initially set your targets is not near as important as making that you set them before you implement your measurement plan. Remember that targets can and should be adjusted over time. The process of continuous improvement dictates that even when KPI targets are reached, you should always strive to get better over time. On the flip side, if you find that your target is not being met over time, you should be looking at the KPI, the target and possibly the strategy itself to be sure that what you’ve set is realistic.

REPORTING

Once the data has been collected, you need to establish a solid reporting process in order to effectively evaluate overall performance. Here is where you need to carefully identify the frequency of report evaluation. This creates a systematic process for measuring your performance to objectives.

From the visitor perspective, you will want to identify demographics, behavior, geographic, interests and the technologies being used to view your site. You’ll also want to understand how your visitors are finding you and what they’re doing once they reach your site.

From a business perspective, you can correlate your KPI results vs targets to the visitor data described above to determine what is succeeding versus what is not. The reporting in my opinion, is where the true value of the measurement plan rests, as it’s the reporting that allows you to make the decisions necessary to improve based on the data you’ve collected and analyzed.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Your measurement plan is vital to the success of your website in general and implementing an analytics program can be done fairly easily using Google Analytics. If you’re interested in setting up your own analytics program, you can click here. You can also check out our Digital Analytics Services by clicking here.

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