You know you should be measuring your digital marketing efforts.
Monitoring and analyzing your data can help you gain insight into what’s working, what’s not, and how you can improve your site for even better results.
But platforms like Google Analytics give you access to more data than you could ever possibly hope to comprehend.
And while each of the various reports can help you learn something about your audience, you don’t need to be monitoring all of them on a regular basis.
So, which metrics should you be measuring?
The answer, of course, is that it depends.
More specifically, it depends on your website type, business model, and what you’re hoping to achieve.
That’s why in this article, we’ll take a look at the best website KPIs for three different website types: A blog, an e-commerce website, and a lead generation website.
How to select effective website KPIs
Before we jump into the best KPIs for your business, it’s important to have a strong understanding of what, exactly, KPIs are.
A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, can be defined as a measurement that is in place to measure the performance of any business activity. In this case, we’ll be focusing on KPIs that measure the effectiveness of a website.
Essentially, the good website KPIs are the metrics you determine to be the most important for your site so that you can easily gauge its success.
They should help you (and anyone else who works on your site) establish a clear connection between your online efforts and your business goals. Then, you can use them to make data-driven decisions for your organization.
To make things a little clearer, let’s take a look at a breakdown of what KPIs are and are not.
First, each KPI you choose needs to be quantifiable. They should be easy to measure with clear, numerical values.
While many companies set goals like “increase brand awareness,” this kind of objective leaves a lot up to interpretation. To measure your progress, you’ll need to focus on more straightforward metrics.
You should also focus on metrics related to factors that are essential to your company’s success. There’s a ton of data available to you in platforms like Google Analytics, but not all of it has a clear tie to important goals like leads and sales.
So as you select your types of KPIs, aim to limit them to 5-8 key metrics that are most directly relate to your business objectives. After all, not every metric on your site can be a “key” indicator of performance.
Plus, this would take entirely too much time to read and analyze every time you want to see how your site is performing.
Once you’ve selected these KPIs, you’ll want to use them consistently throughout your team and reporting strategy. Using the same metrics is the best way to gauge improvement over time, and will ensure that everyone who works on your site is working towards the same goals.
On the flip side, your KPIs should not focus on data that isn’t actionable. If you’re spending time analyzing your site, you want to make sure that you’re gaining insight that will help you make impactful changes.
Your KPIs also shouldn’t be entire reports. Although accessing these reports in platforms like Google Analytics is simple in theory, they still require digging through tons of data.
Instead, select single metrics that make monitoring your progress a straightforward task.
Finally, it’s important to steer clear of using “vanity metrics” as KPIs.
A vanity metric is anything that makes you feel good about your site’s progress, without telling you anything important about your business.
For example, take a look at the difference between the vanity metrics and actionable metrics in the following chart.
While the metrics on the left, like pageviews and social media “likes” can help you gauge overall impressions, they don’t tell you much about how your digital marketing efforts are impacting your company’s goals.
After all, your business is trying to generate revenue — not just attract traffic.
Unfortunately, focusing on these metrics is a common mistake. Many business owners spend their time measuring metrics like overall traffic, social shares, and rankings.
In fact, one Content Marketing Institute survey found that the majority of companies use these metrics to measure their success.
But the fact that they’re popular metrics to track doesn’t mean that they’re the most effective.
In fact, as the chart above shows, the most successful marketers (with 10,000+ page views per month) use more advanced metrics like subscriptions, leads, comments, sales influence, and individual impact to measure their success.
These metrics give more insight into engagement and purchase behavior, so they’re much better suited to driving business results.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on data points that aren’t directly related to your main objectives. Monitoring data points like these can still give you a general idea of what’s happening on your site.
But site visits, Google rankings, and tweets don’t necessarily translate into sales — so they shouldn’t be your main priorities.
Plus, for each vanity metric you could monitor, there’s likely a more actionable metric you could use to measure your success.
For example, let’s say you want to monitor your social media results. The easiest way to approach this might be to track post impressions and likes, or your total number of followers.
But these metrics don’t represent actions that have an impact on your business. Instead, you could get more valuable insight by measuring your referral traffic from social platforms, and the number of leads, sales, donations, or other conversions you generate from each.
The bottom line is that if you’re going to spend time measuring metrics, they should be metrics that matter.
So — now that we’ve established the general types of metrics you should be focusing on, we can get into exactly what those metrics are.
As I mentioned above, I’ll be going into detail in this post on KPIs for a blog, an e-commerce site, and a lead generation-focused site.
Of course, the chances are good that your business doesn’t fit squarely into just one of these buckets.
And that’s okay.
The intention of this article is not to provide an exhaustive list of KPIs for every website type. Instead, its purpose is to bring you closer to identifying, measuring, analyzing, and tweaking the metrics that matter most for your site.
So feel free to mix and match the Key Performance Indicators below and add your own where needed.
And with that said, let’s get started.
Website KPIs for a blog
Blogs come in many different forms.
Some are part of business websites and designed to attract traffic that later translates into leads and sales.
Others are created purely for informational purposes and intended to generate revenue from affiliate and display advertising.
This means that there’s a lot of variation between the KPIs that matter for individual blogs. But in general, some of the most common goals for a blog are:
- Increase brand awareness
- Earn more subscribers
- Generate more leads
On their own, these aren’t easily-measurable objectives. But there are a few KPIs you can use to gauge your success with these goals.
|Subscriber rate||# of subscribers/unique visits||Important for every blog|
|Leads generated||# of leads directly attributed to blog referral||Important if a lead-driven business model|
|Avg. pages per session||How many pages each of your visitors view||Reflects engagement|
|Traffic distribution||Breakdown of your blog’s traffic sources||Provides insight on where your best traffic comes from|
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each of these metrics.
Earning new subscribers is an essential goal for any blogger. It is through subscriptions that you’re able to distribute content to an established reader base.
Although subscriptions don’t directly generate revenue, they give you a direct line of communication with members of your target audience.
For business blogs, you can use your list to bring users back to your site to become a lead or make a purchase. And for ad-driven models, you can attract readers to your site every time you publish new content in order to increase impressions and clicks.
Fortunately, your subscription rate is a fairly easy metric to monitor.
First, you’ll need to make sure you have email subscriptions set up as a goal in Google Analytics. If you haven’t done this yet, the best way to do so is with a destination goal.
This requires using your email marketing software to redirect each user that subscribes to a designated page on your site immediately after opting into your list.
If you use MailChimp for email marketing, you can change your Confirmation thank you page to a custom page on your site in your signup form settings.
Then, you can create a destination goal for this page in Google Analytics.
Open your Admin settings, then select “Goals” under the view you want to use. Then, click “New Goal.”
Select “Destination” in the Goal description section, then add the URL of your confirmation page.
Once you’ve done this, each new subscription will register as a conversion in Google Analytics.
Then, you can use the Conversions Overview report to monitor how many of your site’s visitors convert to email subscribers.
This makes it easy to get an at-a-glance understanding of whether your site is succeeding in driving this type of conversion.
If your blog is part of a business site, you’ll also want to measure how many leads it generates.
While email subscriptions can technically be considered a type of lead, depending on how you utilize your list, there are other lead types that have a more direct impact. In most cases, these will be contact form submissions and quote requests.
The best way to measure these types of conversions is by setting up destination goals in Google Analytics, just like the email subscription example above.
When you set up these additional goals, make sure to create a unique confirmation or thank you page for each. If you use the same page, all of your conversions will be lumped into one goal, making it impossible to distinguish between the different forms on your site.
Once you’ve added your goals, you can use the Reverse Goal Path report to track what users do before a goal completion.
This report will show you the three pages a user visited immediately before completing a goal. For example, if you want to see what leads your visitors to submit a contact form, your report might look something like this:
This report can give you insight into which pages on your site are driving your visitors to take action. You can also use it to analyze each of your goals individually, to see which content is driving specific conversions.
For example, if you notice that case study posts drive a disproportionate number of contact form submissions, you might choose to focus your content creation efforts more on that type of post.
Average pages per session
If getting users engaged with your content is a priority for your site, one high-level metric worth monitoring is your average views per session.
This is more valuable than overall pageviews because it can show whether visitors are sticking around.
You can access this metric by navigating to the Audience Overview report. There, you’ll see your pages per session, along with other high-level metrics, like this:
The higher this number, the more time users are spending engaging with your site beyond their initial landing page.
Another useful way to look at your traffic is how it breaks down by referral source.
You can access this information by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic, then selecting the Source/Medium report. There, you’ll see a breakdown of all of the sources sending traffic to your site, like this:
The referral sources listed here include:
- Organic search traffic
- Direct traffic
- Social traffic
- Referral traffic
- Paid traffic
- Campaign traffic
This report will give you a general idea of which channels are driving the most traffic to your site. But beyond that, it will also show you which channels are driving qualified traffic to your site.
Sort your report by conversion rate, and you’ll see the sources that send traffic that’s most likely to translate into leads.
In many cases, these channels won’t be the ones that send the most overall traffic.
But when you’re focused on driving leads and sales, you also need to focus on quality over quantity in your site traffic.
You can also use the Assisted Conversions Report to see how each channel contributes to your conversions.
Navigate to Conversions > Attribution, then select the Model Comparison Tool. This tool lets you see how different channels contribute to your goal conversions in several different ways.
The default view, MCF Channel Grouping, includes both assisted and last-click conversions, and looks like this:
The idea here is that not every visitor will convert on their first visit to your site. If you only evaluate your referral sources on the ones that lead to immediate, or “Last Click” conversions, you don’t take all your visitors’ previous interactions on your site into consideration.
For example, let’s say a user sees a Facebook ad for one of your products. They click the ad, visit your site, then leave.
The next day, they decide to return to your site to buy that product. They type your URL directly into their browser and complete their purchase.
With the Last Interaction model, that purchase would be attributed to a Direct visit. But that’s a bit misleading, given that the user likely wouldn’t have visited your site to make the purchase if they hadn’t seen your Facebook advertisement.
Monitoring how different channels contribute to your most important conversions can give you a more accurate picture of how your digital marketing strategy is helping you reach your business’s goals.
KPIs for an e-commerce website
Of the three website types we’re covering in this article, e-commerce websites may have the most possible KPIs to consider.
After all, their sites provide the option to monitor all of the same metrics as a blog or lead-based site, plus a whole host of purchase-related metrics.
This means it can be even more challenging to select the right KPIs for your business. But it also means that there’s a ton of valuable data you can access to improve your results.
Examples of KPI’s? If you’re not sure where to get started, here are four metrics that every e-commerce store owner should be monitoring.
|e-commerce conversion rate||% of visitors that complete an order||This is a high-level metric and shouldn’t be used on its own|
|Cart abandonment rate||% of visitors who add products to their carts without purchasing||Will provide insight on where you have room for improvement|
|Conversion rate by referral source||% of visitors from each referral source that complete an order||Will help you identify most valuable traffic sources|
|Average order value||Total sales / # of orders|
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each of these four potential KPIs.
e-commerce conversion rate
Much like the subscriber and lead conversion rate KPIs from the previous section, monitoring your e-commerce conversion rate will give you a general idea of how effective your site is at converting traffic into meaningful action.
But setting up e-commerce goals is a bit different from monitoring destination-based conversions.
First, you’ll need to make sure that e-commerce tracking is enabled on your site. If it isn’t, you’ll need to follow Google’s instructions for setting up e-commerce tracking.
After you’ve completed the setup process, you can access your e-commerce-related data by navigating to Conversions › E-commerce > E-commerce Overview.
There, you’ll see a high-level overview of your site’s performance, including how many sessions result in e-commerce transactions.
Keep in mind that this percentage will likely be low. In fact, the 3.09% conversion rate in the screenshot above is average for an e-commerce site.
From here, you can also access additional reports, including the Shopping Behavior report.
To access this data, you’ll need to make sure that you have enhanced e-commerce tracking enabled on your site. You can do this by navigating to the view you want to use and selecting “E-commerce Settings.”
Here, the toggle the “Enhanced E-commerce Settings” to “On.”
Then, access additional data at Conversions › E-commerce › Shopping Analysis › Shopping Behavior.
Here, you’ll see a breakdown of how users interact with your e-commerce store.
This includes the number of sessions that involve product views, the number of sessions in which a user adds a product to their cart, and the number of sessions that progress to checkouts and transactions.
As I mentioned above: There’s a ton of data to digest here.
But once you’ve selected the most impactful for your business, it’s easy to monitor the metrics that indicate your progress.
Cart abandonment rate
Of all the metrics above, an e-commerce website that is already generating sales will often benefit most from measuring and improving their cart abandonment rate.
After all, this metric represents site visitors that were close to completing a purchase — and then vanished.
If you’re able to identify why users aren’t completing transactions, you can improve your site so that more shoppers will ultimately become customers. This is typically a much more effective goal than focusing on attracting more traffic.
After all, users who add products to their cart are already interested in what you have to offer. So instead of trying to get more visitors interested in your products (who might also abandon their carts), you can work towards turning that existing interest into sales.
Fortunately, measuring how many and at what point buyers are leaving your check-out process is a snap when you use goal funnels.
As you set up conversion goals for your site, you have the option to add a funnel for each.
A funnel is a series of pages that you expect visitors to move through before making a conversion. For example, if you want users who visit a page about a specific service to contact you after reading it, your funnel might include that service page, then your contact page.
To be clear, creating a funnel won’t prevent Analytics from registering conversions from users that don’t visit all of the pages in your sequence.
What it will do is give you more insight into what’s preventing users from converting on your site.
Your site likely has tons of possible goal funnels you could monitor and measure. But the checkout process often presents the most impactful opportunities for improvement.
In most cases, this will involve a cart page, one or more billing and payment pages, an order review page, and a confirmation page.
Then, once you’ve set up a goal funnel, you can see how users move through it with the Funnel Visualization report.
You can access this report by navigating to Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization.
Here, you’ll get an in-depth look at how effective your site is at moving visitors from one stage in your funnel to the next.
In the screenshot above, for example, only 30% of users who add a product to their cart proceed to the billing page. Of those users, 70% move to the payment page.
And by the end of the funnel, under 17% of users who add products to their carts end up making a purchase.
As you can see, the vast majority of abandoned shopping carts on this website take place in the first two steps. This means that those pages both present great opportunities for improvement.
After all, KPIs aren’t only meant to help you measure your success. They’re also valuable for learning more about where your site isn’t yet performing as well as you want to, so you can improve it in ways that get you closer to achieving your most important goals.
Conversion rate by referral source
Much like with a blog, it’s helpful to identify your best sources of traffic.
And with many e-commerce sites, there’s a lot of variation between how effective different channels are at driving revenue.
For example, take a look at this analysis from Smart Insights based on over $1 billion in Shopify sales.
In this study, email proved to be the most effective source of qualified traffic for most businesses.
But every site is different — and identifying your best sources of referral traffic can help you focus your marketing efforts on the most valuable channels to maximize conversions on your site.
Average order value
Attracting new customers and driving sales is challenging.
But one slightly less challenging way to improve your overall revenue is focusing on increasing average order value.
After all, generating 10 sales valued at $200 would have a much bigger impact than 20 sales valued at $5 — and it would only involve convincing half as many shoppers to buy.
You can keep an eye on your site’s average order value in the E-commerce Report in Google Analytics by navigating to Conversions > E-commerce > Overview.
This report gives an at-a-glance look at how your e-commerce store is performing and will look something like this:
In this example, the store’s e-commerce conversion rate might seem fairly low, at 0.49%.
But when you consider that each of those orders is worth an average of $889, that’s still a significant amount of revenue.
When you monitor this metric, you can get a better idea of how much each conversion on your site is really worth.
And if you already have a strategy in place for generating upsells or encouraging customers to add additional products to their order before completing a transaction, it will show you just how effective that strategy is for increasing order values.
KPIs for a lead generation website
We touched on lead generation a bit in the blog section above, but if the success of your website hinges on generating leads, there are a few other metrics you should be monitoring to determine your site’s performance.
|Goal conversion rate||% of visitors that complete a lead form||May have multiple forms & goals|
|Content downloads||# of downloads of white papers, demo videos, and other in-depth content|
|Lead form abandonment rate||% of visitors that start but don’t finish a lead form||Easiest for multi-page forms, but can also be measured using Google Analytics Events|
Each of these metrics can give you more insight into how your site contributes to your most important business goals.
Goal conversion rate
If you’ve already set up goals on your site, this is an easy-enough metric to monitor.
For conversions where you can create a “thank you” or “success” page, you can simply set up a goal page in Google Analytics for tracking purposes as we discussed in the first section.
Again, you can measure these types of actions with destination goals.
But unlike a blog, lead-based sites often have a variety of goals to measure. You might have one form for general inquiries, another for quote requests, and a third for on-site appointment creations or registrations — just to name a few.
First, you can use the Conversion Overview report to get a general idea of how well your site is generating conversions. Navigate to Conversions > Goals > Overview, and you’ll see a list of all of the tracked goals on your site, along with a few important metrics for each.
As you can see, this report doesn’t show conversion rates for individual goals — but you can set up a custom report to dig deeper into each.
First, select “Custom Reports” from the Customization tab in your main menu.
Then, click “New Custom Report” and give your report a logical name, like “Goal Conversion Rate.”
Then, add the goals you want to analyze, and set the dimension to “Page.”
Next, you’ll see a report that looks something like this:
This report will show you the conversion rate for each of your individual goals. In this example, the site owner tracks CPD requests, contact forms, quick inquiries, registrations, sample requests, brochure requests and call requests.
These are all very different goals and indicate visitors in all different stages of the conversion funnel.
Analyzing them individually gives a much more accurate look at which actions your site drives users to take, and whether it’s moving them towards your most important goals.
Many lead-based sites encourage visitors to take actions other than submitting a contact or lead form.
After all, there are a whole host of ways that visitors to your website could indicate interest that doesn’t involve directly reaching out.
And even though these actions don’t lead to immediate sales, they’re often an extremely important part of the sales funnel.
Some of the most common examples of this are content “upgrades.” Depending on your business model, you might offer white papers, demo videos, webinars, guides, and numerous other types of content for download.
These downloads get users more engaged with your brand and closer to becoming a customer. And in many cases, they’re “gated” by requiring an email address — meaning they’re extremely valuable for growing your email list.
Given how important these actions are, it’s important to monitor, analyze, and improve your success with driving users to take them.
But measuring them isn’t always as straightforward as a standard goal conversion.
In the case of the white paper, you could require a user to enter their email address, then redirect them to a “success” page where they can click to download your content. Then, you could track this page as a destination goal.
But how do you track activities like watching demo videos or downloading documents like PDFs, or templates hosted in Google Docs or Sheets that don’t reside in a lead form?
In these cases, you can track your conversions with either Virtual Pageviews or Events in Google Analytics.
First, let’s go over how this works with Virtual Pageviews.
Documents like spreadsheets, PDFs, and Word documents can’t contain the Google Analytics tracking code.
Therefore, you can’t track the number of people that visit this content, even if it’s hosted on your site — not the traditional way, anyway.
But with virtual pageviews, you can configure a link so that, when clicked, it will register a pageview in Google Analytics.
So, for example, when a site visitor clicks on a link to download a guide or white paper in PDF format, it could register as a pageview in Google Analytics, even though as far as Analytics is concerned, that page does not exist.
(That’s the virtual part.)
You can set these “ghost” pages up as destination goal pages just as you would for any other page on your website.
The main thing to keep in mind is that when you use Virtual Pageviews, you increase the number of pageviews that Analytics recordings. In cases where a visitor is actually visiting a page, like a PDF, this makes sense.
If you have actions on your site for which this is a logical option, you can learn more about setting up Virtual Pageviews in Google’s tutorial.
But if you need to track an action for which there isn’t an actual page being viewed, this approach will artificially inflate your pageviews, which can distort your Analytics.
Instead, you can track these types of goals by setting up Events in Google Analytics.
Events can be set as goals as well, but unlike virtual pageviews, they don’t generate additional pageviews.
In other words, they let you track actions without the illusion that users are viewing additional pages on your site — because they aren’t.
This type of tracking is useful for a variety of actions, including:
- Video views and view duration
- Interaction with widgets and other tools
- Clicks on outbound links
- File downloads
- AJAX elements
All of these actions indicate engagement with your site, but don’t warrant registering an additional view.
For example, adding a new pageview every time a visitor watches a video could lead you to believe that you’d generated a large spike in traffic — even though what you’d really accomplished was keeping visitors on a specific page for a longer period of time.
This is also a helpful type of tracking for clicks on outbound links. If you host content on external platforms or use referral links to generate income from affiliate marketing, generating clicks to those sites is valuable for your business.
But because those pages aren’t on your site, you can’t set them as goal destinations — and it wouldn’t be accurate to track them as additional pageviews.
For example, take a look at the outbound links tracked as events on The Daily Egg,
You can see why we wouldn’t want to use virtual page views for this. These eight Event actions alone would inflate pageviews by about 12,000!
That could lead to huge data discrepancies and lead to making decisions based on inaccurate metrics.
If there are actions on your site for which Even tracking makes sense, you can set them up by following this helpful tutorial.
Lead form abandonment rate
While e-commerce site owners can benefit from tracking cart abandonment, lead-based site owners can benefit from monitoring the number of users who start filling out a form, but never submit it.
Much like cart abandonment, it’s also simple to track with goal funnels if you use multi-page forms.
For example, if you ask users to enter their email address on one page, then ask for additional information on a second page, you could add each of these pages to your funnel before the confirmation page that you’ve set as your destination goal.
If you use single-page forms, on the other hand, this approach isn’t quite as helpful.
Instead, you can track engagement with your forms as Events, as described in this tutorial.
Then, you can monitor how many users interact with your forms, but ultimately decide not to submit them. If you have a high form abandonment rate, this is a clear indicator that it’s time to work towards optimizing your forms to generate more leads and sales.
Selecting the good website KPIs is an essential part of monitoring and evaluating your site’s success.
The metrics you prioritize can shape how you view your progress and help you determine how to improve your site for even better results.
Which metrics do you use to measure your website’s most important goals?