The story of a business’ success and failure is always told in the numbers, but most small business owners aren’t tracking key metrics. This is especially true when it comes to website metrics and analytics. If you want your website to serve you better, you must get religious about metrics.
The importance of logging and tracking metrics each month is a lesson I learned the hard way. Once my revenue got to a certain point and I wanted to start focusing on scale, I realized that I didn’t have the data I needed to make key decisions. We also went through a few slow periods. And because I didn’t have accurate historical data, I had no idea whether those slow periods were normal or if we were doing something wrong. I was flying blind. Want to test out a new sales page strategy? You need something to compare the result to. Want to build a new email sequence? You need something to compare the result to. Want to redesign the website? You need more than just traffic numbers to make sure you didn’t screw things up. The numbers can also help you set targets and think of strategies to try. For all this to make more sense, let’s start diving into the metrics I recommend you track. At the end, make sure to grab my free metrics cheat sheet. This is a done-for-you spreadsheet. All you have to do is fill it in each month with your metrics.
The website metrics you must start tracking…
Don’t worry, I have a cheat sheet if you need it.
Metric #1: Total Site Traffic
Duh, right? Well, I have to put it on the list. You need to know how many visitors are coming to your site each month. If I didn’t list it, someone might not track it.
Metric #2: Home Page Traffic
Why is home page traffic important? Because people with a very specific mindset click through to your home page. If you’re running a strong content marketing play, your home page is not going to be the most trafficked page on your site. Rather, most of your traffic will come from an article, video, podcast, etc. This means that people who do make it to the home page either came direct to the site (a good sign) or clicked through to your home page after being somewhere else on your site (also a good sign). You want to know how many this is. Growing your home page traffic can signal that your website is experiencing relevant growth.
Metric #3: Percent of Traffic to Home Page
This metric will help you determine which growth is relevant and which isn’t. If site traffic increases by 20% but home page traffic doesn’t increase, that’s not something to get excited about. If you publish new articles and website traffic increases by 20% and home page traffic increases by 5-10%, those articles are driving relevant gains. Those gains are likely to move the needle in your business. You can also use this metric to experiment with site changes. Instead of relying on your logo to take people to your home page, you could experiment with putting a home link in your navigation. That’s one example.
Metric #4: Total Added to Email List
Most people keep track of how many people are on their email list, but it needs to be more granular than that. You need to know how many people you’re adding each month. On top of that, you should be tracking which specific forms are performing the best (very easy to do with ConvertKit).
Metric #5: Rate of Conversion to Email List
You need to be able to calculate the conversion rate of traffic to your email list. If you drove 50,000 visitors to your site and added 1000 to your email list, your conversion rate was [roughly] 2%. I say roughly because it might be possible for people to get on your email list without coming to your website. If you make changes to your site, and that percentage changes, you’ll understand the practical impact of those changes. Since email is a powerful driver of sales for most online businesses, this is an important metric to track.
Metric #6: Total Traffic to Sales Page
You should be tracking all sales page traffic separately from everything else. This is critical because it’s the only way to track your sales page conversion rate.
Metric #7: Percent of Traffic to Sales Page
Again, you want to know what percent of your site traffic made it to your sales page. An increase in site traffic that doesn’t drive an increase in sales page traffic doesn’t do much to help you, does it? Remember, even if that article drove an increase in opt-ins, that would also drive an increase in sales page traffic (assuming you’re doing email marketing correctly). Tracking this percentage allows you to take a quick glance at this important metric.
Metric #8: Checkout Page Conversion Rate
You want to track how well your checkout page converts separately from how well your sales page is converting. This is important because your checkout page can be a huge black hole for lost sales. If your sales page is converting to sales at only 1%, that doesn’t always mean there’s something wrong with your sales page. If you look at your checkout page conversion rate and it’s only 1% (very low for a checkout page), then a major problem exists on the checkout page. If you drive 1000 people to a checkout page that’s converting at 1%, you get 10 sales. If you fix the glaring issues on your checkout page and the conversion rate jumps to 10%, you’ve made 100 sales. You 10x’d the performance of your funnel without touching your sales page. If you’re not tracking the checkout page conversion rate, you might spend all your time hopelessly trying to change your sales page when that’s not where the black hole is.
Metric #9: Sales Page Conversion Rate
To track the sales page conversion rate, you’ll need to track the number of sales of the product that page is selling. Once you have that data, the conversion rate will tell you how well the page is performing. This is assuming your checkout page isn’t slowing things down as I previously mentioned. This is an important metric because any change to the sales page could increase or decrease the conversion rate. Making changes willy nilly without watching the data can have horrendous consequences.
Metric #10: Email Conversion to Sales
If your email list is a significant driver of sales, you need to be tracking that data down to the CTA (call to action) in each specific email in your sales sequences. You can also track this in general broadcasts that have a sales CTA. This requires appending UTM codes to the URLs in your sales emails. I’ll be doing a tutorial on creating UTM codes and tracking them in Google Analytics in the future (get on our email list if you don’t want to miss out). Let’s say you have an email sales sequence that’s 10 emails long. How awesome would it be to know exactly which of those emails is converting the most amount of sales? What about the top 3? This is all possible if you’re proactive.
Metric #11: Ad Conversion Rate to Sales
If you’re running ads, you want to be tracking the conversion rate of the ads to sales. This is usually tracked within the ads platform (assuming you set up everything right). But if you have an ad that’s working well for you, you’ll want to extract all that info and put it into a spreadsheet. If you have a high converting ad, you’ll want to double down on it. You’ll also want to run it periodically throughout the year (to avoid ad blindness). You don’t want to forget about a real winner (trust me, I’ve forgotten a ton of winners in the past and it sucks). You want to build a database of winners and have all their stats for comparison (tracked to exactly when you ran them).
Metric #12: The Percent Change of All These Values Month-Month & Quarter-Quarter
It’s not enough to track this data and look at it every month. You want to see the changes month-month and quarter-quarter and you want to be able to reference it at a quick glance. Since all these metrics aren’t found in one place, you need to extract them and put them into a spreadsheet (more on that below).
How do I track these things?
Good question. Unfortunately, getting accurate and consistent data is not super easy. Here’s how I do it:
- Install both Google Analytics and Clicky Analytics (much easier to use than Google Analytics). This is how you’ll track all the traffic data.
- Your email software (I recommend ConvertKit) should give you the ability to pull the email stats.
- Your checkout software (I recommend ThriveCart) should give you the ability to pull the sales data and checkout conversion data.
- Extract the relevant data to a spreadsheet that does automatic calculations (cheat sheet for this below).
Grab my cheat sheet!
When I say that you need to be tracking these things, I don’t mean, “let a bunch of software applications log the data.” No. You need to be extracting this data every single month and putting it into a spreadsheet for analysis. Sound daunting? It’s not. Especially since you found me, because I’m going to give you a free spreadsheet that will do all the calculating for you. It even contains some additional metrics that we didn’t discuss). Enter your details and I’ll send you the cheat sheet.
Free Smart Business Metrics Cheat Sheet
Smart business owners track important metrics. Download my free cheat sheet to guide you.