What is the most important metric in website analytics?

Clicks don’t buy. People do.

The problem many digital marketers face is that there are multiple website analytics metrics to choose from in various categories. Where to start? Luckily, all of these metrics stem from one single number and this should be our starting point before we dive too deep into other metric categories.

As standard we have a number of website metric buckets, let’s take a look at these first.

We have engagement metrics like
– avg time on site/page
– bounce rate
– pages per session

Then we can look at acquisition or traffic metrics like
cost per click

..and conversion metrics
– ecommerce revenue
– transactions
– goals
– conversion rate

But without ‘users’ none of these metrics can exist!

One Metric to rule them all..

Users are the starting point of everything in terms of analysing the performance of a website. If there are no users, there are no transactions, goals, pages per session or bounce rate. It all begins with ‘users’.

But what are users – something many of us forget

Users are people. It’s important to remember, when you’re analysing your Google Ads activity or the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns, clicks don’t buy, people do.

Users is the starting point – everything else is a diagnostic metric of how they interact

The metrics in your analytics suite can help you can understand more about the activity of the users on your site. How long the average person spends on your site, how many pages they visit, what percentage are likely to buy something on your site etc. Yet many of the metrics that are given to us in Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Mailchimp etc. do not reflect this reality.

How are conversion metrics calculated?

For the most part, the ad platforms use their starting point to calculate the metrics. So conversion rate might be total conversions/total clicks. But clicks don’t buy. People do. Also a single person might click multiple times as they shop around before they buy.

Even in tools like Google Analytics, conversion rate and other metrics use ‘sessions’ as their starting point and this can be problematic.

A session is defined as ” A group of interactions one user takes within a given time frame on your website”, by default it’s 30 mins on Google Analytics. So a single user or person can have multiple sessions. Again sessions don’t buy. People do.

So what can we do about it?

It’s very easy to take control of how you calculate your own metrics rather than relying on what the digital marketing channels give you. Here are some metrics I have very successfully used to calculate media costs and precisely forecast revenue into the millions. The key is to start with the human.

How much does it cost to get a human on the site?
Cost per User: Media spend / Users from that channel

How likely is a person to buy on your website?
User Conversion Rate: Transactions/Users

What is the value of a website visitor?
Revenue Per User: Revenue/Users

This isn’t something groundbreaking, it just a way of measuring performance that starts with the ‘person’ on your site. There are loads more metrics we can create ourselves to try to better understand website interaction and digital marketing channel effectiveness. We just need to define what we want to know about one metric in terms of another. simply put, divide one number by the other number.

Calculate your own metrics as you see fit

Furthermore, we don’t have to accept the suite of metrics given to us by default in the ad platforms or analytics tools. We should feel empowered to create our own.

Why not look into metrics like: clicks per user, cost per comment or revenue contribution per channel? All of these metrics are straightforward to calculate and if there is a metric that could offer value to your analysis, simply go ahead and create it for yourself.

While there are loads of metrics you can create to analyse channels and actions, don’t forget that starting point is always people. We sell to people, we engage with people and the closest metric we have to “people” is the users metric – try starting there.