The metrics that matter

By Colleen Malloy

Whether you’re a digital marketing pro or just getting started with your own digital marketing plan, tracking your website performance can help you diagnose and address problems early on and make your site an even greater destination for your customers. Tools like Google Analytics do a great job of tracking everything from the demographics of the shoppers who are using your website to what pages they visit and what they search for on your site.

Getting set up with Google Analytics is as easy as signing up for a free account and having one of your team members or your website provider add a snippet of code to your website’s back end. Once the code is in place, Google will start collecting data for things like:

* Visitors: Anyone who visits your website

* Page views: The number of pages a visitor views on your site, including repeat visits to the same page

* Sessions: The period of time a visitor is actively engaged on your site

* Bounce rate: The percentage of visits with only one page view

You can use this data to see how your website is performing year-over-year or to see how a big sale impacts your website traffic. There are four key metrics to pay attention to: average time on page, bounce rate, acquisitions and demographics.

#1 Average time on page

The average time that your customers spend on the different pages of your website can give you some unparalleled insight into whether they’re finding what they need. As a general rule of thumb, an average time on a page of 30 seconds or less is bad, and anything more than 2 minutes is great.

However, this depends heavily on what content you have on that page. If your visitors are spending a lot of time on a simple “Contact Us” form, that may be an indication that the form is confusing or doesn’t work. If they’re not spending much time on pages with more content, like blog posts or product descriptions, they might not be finding what they need, which should tip you off that the content is incorrect or needs updating.

#2 Bounce rate

Your bounce rate indicates the percentage of visitors who leave your website after only visiting one page. For example, if someone searches for a 2016 Toro push mower, they’ll probably land directly on your page for that product. If they leave without visiting any other pages on your site, Google Analytics counts that as a bounce.

A healthy bounce rate ranges from 30 to 50 percent. If you have pages with bounce rates well above that range, check to see if they have confusing layouts, irrelevant information, or data that doesn’t load correctly like images or videos. These factors can all discourage a visitor from digging deeper into your site. To improve the bounce rate, make any necessary changes to your content or layout to make the page more user friendly, more relevant, or easier to navigate.

#3 Acquisitions

Acquisitions lets you see where your visitors are coming from. Are they finding you through organic search results? Did they click on an ad? Did they click on a link from your Facebook page?

Google Analytics groups your website traffic into the following three main categories:

* Direct: Visitors who come directly to your website by typing your URL into their browser

* Referral: Visitors who come to your website by clicking a link on another website

* Organic search: Visitors who find your website by clicking on an unpaid search engine listing

The program also breaks out “Email,” “Social” and “Other” to fully encompass any possible source that your traffic might come from.

In Google Analytics, you’re able to dig deeper to learn what links that they clicked to get to your website or what they searched for. This information can be especially helpful if you’re running pay-per-click (PPC) ads — you’re able to see how much of your traffic was referred to your site by your ads.

#4 Demographics

You’re very familiar with the people walking through your dealership door, but did you know that your in-store visitors and your online audience can look pretty different? Looking at your demographics in Google Analytics can help you find out if you’re reaching your target audience and help you make adjustments if you aren’t reaching them — after all, if you want to reach 20-year-old men, you wouldn’t market the same way that you would if you wanted to reach 40-year-old women.

For example, you might find that a surprisingly large part of your website audience is under 30. You can tailor your website to these visitors by adding engaging, interactive elements to your homepage to get this younger audience clicking through and learning more about the products that you sell.

Keeping an eye on your website metrics can help you gauge the health of your site and make any needed changes before problems arise, making your site a strong destination for your shoppers.

1504_OPE_FS_Social Strategy2_author-Colleen Malloy-webColleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”

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