Web Analytics:
Marketing Metrics

By James Atkinson, LLB

Web Analytics: Marketing Metrics - Measuring and evaluating a range of marketing metrics is absolutely crucial for online marketing and business success. Depending upon your business model the following measurable attributes are essential for marketing:

The above is not an exclusive list but just reflects a minimum level of analytics. For example, if you have an affiliate program, then of course you must test that program and its participants for constant enhancement.

The key to exponential online business growth is continuously to make small, incremental improvements in performance across multiple areas. One of the best things about running an online business is its inherent ability to provide a large and useful range of marketing statistics - almost instantaneously.

With an online business you can test a marketing idea and obtain a picture of its potential success within hours. Knowing your marketing numbers gives you the means to constantly improve your promotions and therefore your profits.

Most marketers tend to be focused on traffic. That is, they often assume that if there are not making many sales then more traffic is needed. Yes, but the number you need to look at first – before your try to get more traffic - is your conversion rate. What percentage of your web site visitors are buying?

Amazingly, many site owners don’t even track this number!

You need to make sure your site is effective at converting visitors into buyers before you ramp up your traffic. You’ll pay for traffic either in time or money – your site has to convert before you invest in more visitors. So, you should split test your sales pages or better still install Taguchi or multivariate testing software. This excellent software can be obtained FREE from Google.

The beginning of modern advertising occurred in the 1920s when advertisers started split-testing their ads – for example, writing two different headlines and seeing which performed better.

In those days, it took months to get all the data collected and pick the winner! But advertisers discovered something that’s still fundamental to marketing success – measurement and testing.

Now you can test almost instantaneously.

Knowing your numbers gives you the means to improve your performance. All web sites with high conversion rates share certain characteristics:

  • They know their market – who the people in the market are and what they want.
  • Their site has a clear objective, and each page has a goal.
  • They have made the sales page simple and easy for visitors to do what they’re supposed to do.
  • Design and formatting supports their copy and puts the spotlight on the words.
  • They measure everything, test new options, and track the results. This is the key to exponential growth.

Surveys: Measuring Prospect and Customer Needs

This is the first cause of any eBusiness. To make sales you must know what you prospects are looking for.

Survey measuring also allows you to target segments in your market – for dramatic sales results. By surveying you’ll discover the particular Search Continuum of your market. This allows you to anticipate the search patterns of your prospects so you can plan and provide the exact content they are looking for.

Without a proper survey you’ll probably won't discover how to link the features of your products with the emotional benefits your prospects are looking for. And when your prospects become customers your measurement tasks continue. It is much cheaper to survey existing customers to find out what they are looking for. Then, when you do find out what they want, simply give them what they are looking for.

Split Testing - Split testing is a most basic – but fundamental – part of marketing measurement. It is sometimes known as AB Testing.

You can test all sorts of things with this system: headlines, sales text, sentences, different sales letters, emails, and images – practically any marketing idea. Google and Amazon, two of the most successful web sites on the planet, use testing extensively. The following image illustrates how it works:

web analytics - split testing

For example, Google uses testing for all design - and no doubt a whole lot of other issues. Douglas Bowman, an ex-employee of Google says:

“… each decision is a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data. Data in your favor? Ok, launch it.
Data shows negative effects? Back to the drawing board.”

Plan to make your eBusiness a success – test, test, test!

Taguchi / Multivariate Testing - The mathematical permutations for Taguchi or Multivariate Testing are quite complex. Luckily you don’t need to worry about the math - software does it all for you.

Taguchi Testing is essential for your Sales Letter. You can use multivariate testing in all sorts of applications. In fact, if you do not use this type of testing you will be disregarding one of the greatest advantages of running an eBusiness.

Since Google Analytics provides this sort of software free – there is absolutely no reason not to do it! The next image shows how this type of testing works:

web analytics Taguchi Testing

Each part of your Sales letter can be tested and then the software does the complex math merging all the possible combinations to give you the best sales result.

Keyword Testing - I show above that themes and co-occurrence are important factors for obtaining high Google rankings:

The goal of theme-based SEO is to cover your topic more comprehensively than your competitors, covering more themes and supporting them well with other related themes and keywords to achieve maximum relevance. Your site will be analyzed and judged on how well it covers your theme.

See SEO Tips.

Search engines are not static and constantly update to encompass new content, the latest material, and ever-changing expert verbiage. If your site does not use the keywords that Google expects it to use, it will be judged as less relevant and you’ll lose out on the search engine rankings.

Theme-based optimization rewards sites that use both: a variety of related terms to comprehensively cover their theme, and create a highly relevant and useful material for searchers.

It follows then that you must continually update your keyword blueprint to keep up with ongoing changes.

Test and Track - Sales Process - Determine goals for your sales process. For example, a sale can be a goal. However, goals can also be other actions that have financial value – for example:

  • lead generation form completion;
  • opt-in to an email list;
  • request a phone call from you, and so on.

Let’s say you can sell on average 10% of the prospects who complete the call request form or sign up for your list. Now you can assign a monetary value to the goal and get a sense of how the earlier steps in the sales process plug in to your bottom line.

For example, you can fix any leaks in your lead generation systems that are costing you sales down the track.

Three major areas to track and test:

  • site sales / monetary goals;
  • performance by traffic source;
  • performance by market segment (who are the people who buy most often and spend most – these are the so-called hyper-responsive


  • Goals,
  • funnels,
  • conversions,
  • bounce rate,
  • lifetime value,
  • ROI,
  • traffic sources’ effectiveness

Testing: Headlines, copy, site layout/structure, are good places to begin.

Campaign Tracking - With Google Analytics and other programs you can easily track your online marketing campaigns from a traffic source through to a conversion on your site.
Tracking your campaigns allows you to determine how successful you are at driving traffic and achieving conversions.

And you can achieve this with a great deal of specificity: by keyword, campaign, traffic source, and content.

This is important because while it’s great if your site is profitable overall, that doesn’t tell you anything about the relative performance of your campaigns.
Some campaigns may actually be losing money.

You need to track at a “granular”, deep level to really improve your performance.
Remember, tracking is the necessary first step to improving your results! The types of campaigns you can track include:

  • PPC
  • Organic search
  • Email
  • Online ads
  • Web site referrals
  • Affiliate referrals
  • TV ads

All traffic from web site referrals, such as visitors sent by affiliates, and search engine search queries are tracked automatically.

GA for example, recognizes links from the top 30 search engines and provides the keywords visitors searched on to find you. You can also add tracking for your own search engines.

GA tracks five dimensions of your campaigns:

  • Campaign (for example, “widgets sale”)
  • Traffic source (for example, Google)
  • Medium (for example, “email” or “cost-per-click”)
  • Keywords used
  • Content (the version of an ad that a visitor clicked – useful for testing different versions).

Here’s how tracking campaigns works:

  • Create coded, trackable links. You need to “tag” the campaign’s links with a campaign-related variable that is added to the end of the URL. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds! GA has a handy wizard to create the tagged links for you.
  • Install GA tracking code on every page of your site. You can do this manually or use server-side includes or other template systems to do it automatically.
  • When visitors who clicked the coded link arrive at your site, the tracking code installed on your site is triggered.
  • The tracking code “reads” the link to gather the campaign information.
  • The code also tracks the visitors’ activity on your site, including sales or other goal conversions.

eMail List Management Track and Test - Goals:

  • eMails delivered
  • eMails opened
  • Links in eMail clicked
  • Get prospect to take action. For non-sales eMail, this could be spending a certain amount of time on the page you linked to. For a sales email, this could be buying or taking some intermediate pre-buying step like downloading a report.

Bounce Rate (email delivery) - Your email bounce rate tells how many of your subscribers did not receive your email. There are two types of bounce rate:

Hard bounce rate – Email address had an error, - for example: invalid domain or missing @ sign. You can use a validation script on your email opt-in form to reduce this problem.

Soft bounce rate – The address is correct, but the message hasn’t been delivered for some other reason – for example: the subscriber’s ISP considered the email to be spam, or the subscriber’s inbox was full.

You should use a spam-checking program to make sure you’re not using any “trigger words” that can cause ISPs to reject your emails.

Aim for 90% deliverability.

Google Analytics doesn’t track email bounce rates, so you’ll need to get these important stats from your email marketing program.

eMail Open Rate

Open rate tells you the number of recipients who have opened the email. Open rate can only be tracked for HTML messages, not plain text. I suggest testing HTML emails that look like text. Tests show that readers prefer text, so this way you get the clean look of text with the advantages of HTML (besides open rate tracking, you can use text formatting like bold and italic and hide those long ugly tracking links).

How do you Improve Your Open Rate

Test different subject lines (to do this, use the GA utm_content parameter when you create your tagged ‘trackable’ links – read on for more on split-testing emails).

Design for the preview pane. Many of your readers will view the first four inches / 10 cm of your message in their email preview pane. What they see in the preview determines whether they will read the whole message. What does this mean for you?

Focus on the beginning of the email – what readers will see in the preview pane. Put your most important content and links near the top. This is your prime real estate.

Move HTML headers and images lower down (I suggest you test ditching the header entirely). Also, keep in mind that many email clients block images by default.

Open rate is another number GA doesn’t provide, so you’ll need to get it from your email marketing program.

Test putting different names in the “From” field.

Personalize with name, region, or other variables.

Clickthrough Rate

This is the number of recipients who click a link in your email. Create tracking links in GA to measure clickthrough. To improve clickthrough rates, hone your email copy to make it relevant and persuasive, using strong benefits and calls to action. Use list segmentation and personalization (such as using first name – your email marketing program should let you personalize messages) to make recipients feel the email was written “just for me.”

Landing Page Bounce Rate

Are you providing strong scent from the email through to the landing page – does the landing page clearly reinforce and build on the email’s message? Is it obvious what you want prospects to do on the page?

Have you repeated the benefits of taking the action?

If you have a form on the landing page, prefill as many fields as you can with prospects’ information to make it easier for them.

Split testing

Some email marketing programs let you split test emails. The program divides your list into multiple groups. You then create a different version of your email to send to each group.

You can use Google Analytic’s utm_content parameter when you create your tagged links to identify the different email versions you’re testing. That way you can see performance of the different versions in your reports.

Conversions - Why do you have a web site? What are the business objectives of your site? Every site should have goals. Too many sites are set up just because business owners think they “should have a web site.” The only way to measure and improve your site’s performance is to first define what you want to achieve.
In analytics, a goal is a web site objective, activity, or level of interaction.

When a goal is achieved, it’s called a conversion. If one of your goals is making sales, then every time you make a sale it triggers a conversion.

In many web analytics programs, you can set specific goals so you can measure how successful your site is at getting visitors to take the actions you want. Tracking goal conversions lets you see where your site can be improved.

You can also view conversion trends over time to assess the impact of changes you’ve made to your site and marketing campaigns.

There are two categories of goals (with some overlap):

  1. Revenue – Activities that generate revenue: buying, requesting a sales call ...
  2. Engagement – Visitor interactions with your site: viewing a certain number of pages, downloading a report, joining your email list, and so on.

PPC Costs and Stats eg. AdWords - You can integrate your AdWords and AdSense accounts with Analytics for advanced reporting. Web analytics can give you in-depth analysis of how effective your AdWords campaigns are.

The ability to dig deep and get granular numbers for your campaigns lets you pinpoint exactly what’s working and what’s not.

Integration also allows autotagging of URLs that automatically create trackable links.

Here are some of the AdWords metrics Analytics will show you:

Keywords – The keywords you’re advertising on

Visits – The number of visits to your site via your ads

Impressions – The number of times your ads were shown

Clicks – The number of clicks on your ads

Cost – The total cost to achieve a sale or other goal you define

CTR (clickthrough rate) – The percentage of prospects who clicked your ad to visit your site. For example, a 3% CTR means that 3% of prospects who viewed your ad clicked through to your site

CPC – Cost per click

RPC – Revenue per click. For example, $5.00

ROI – A percentage showing how much money you spent vs. how much you made. For example, 100% ROI means for every $1 you spent, you made $2

Margin – Your net profit shown as a percentage. For example, if you spend $1 on an ad which results in a visitor buying a $10 product, your net profit is $9. Your margin is 90%: (10-1)/10=0.90

How ad position can affect performance – Shows performance of each keyword by ad position.

For example:
The #1 right-hand side ad position generated visitors who viewed an average of 10-11 pages of your site.

The #8 position generated visitors who viewed an average of 5-6 pages.

Google TV Ads – An extension of AdWords that enables advertisers to advertise on national TV or online TV and track performance.

Reports use set top box impressions and audience tuning behaviour to make TV ads more trackable and effective. You can even split test your TV ads to optimize performance!

eCommerce - If you sell products or services online, you can track transactions, revenue, and many other metrics to assess performance.

For example:

  • Products purchased
  • Conversion rate
  • Sales revenue
  • Number of times prospects visited your site before purchasing

You can also view eCommerce data from specific sources. For example, you can see metrics like:

  • Revenue generated from AdWords traffic
  • Number of sales from organic search traffic
  • Number of sales from web site referrals
  • Average value per visit across all traffic sources.

eCommerce Reports


eCommerce activity on your site:

Revenue – The value of sales

Conversion Rate – The percentage of visits that converted to sales

Transactions – The number of sales

Average Order Value – Average revenue from each sale

Purchased Products – How many different products were sold

Total Revenue

Revenue is affected by the number of sales and the average purchase value. Here are three ways to increase revenue:

Ensure your traffic sources and keywords are targeted

Write effective ads. Split-testing different versions can help

Create relevant campaign landing pages that show the product or information you referred to in your ad

Simplify sales funnels and remove bottlenecks so fewer prospects leave before completing a purchase

Conversion Rate

The percentage of visits to your site that result in sales. It’s absolutely crucial to track conversion rates over time to see whether changes to your marketing and site are increasing your revenue!

Average Order Value

Increasing the average order value is one of the major ways to boost revenue. Test up sells (offering a higher-priced product) and cross-sells (offering related products – think Amazon).

Product Performance

How much of each product or product category do you sell?

Identify your bestselling products by viewing number of products sold, total revenue, average price, and average order quantity.

This information is crucial to creating relevant content and product marketing campaigns and determining which product campaigns will produce the best ROI.

Visits to Purchase and Time to Purchase

How many visits to your site does it take for the average visitor to buy? How much time does it take?

These are important number in determining your sales cycle, and therefore the type of content and persuasion that will be most effective with your visitors.

For example, if you offer a high-priced, complex product, your sales cycle will be longer than if you sell a low-priced “impulse buy” item.

With a long sales cycle, you need to educate prospects to shape their views of the market, your company, and your product.

You’ll also want to offer a more personalized, “high touch” approach with a consultation to explore individual needs and answer questions.

You can increase conversions by:

Educating prospects about your market, Walk them through your benefits and features, Present a strong company and product USP, Encourag a personal consultation to determine the individual prospect’s needs.

With a short sales cycle, you want to offer incentives to buy now. For example: Create time pressure with a deadline to buy before the price goes up, Create quantity pressure by only releasing a certain amount of the product, Reduce risk with a strong guarantee.

Site Visitors & Content - This is an important metric and I cover this is more detail in Google Analytics and Marketing Metrics.

Please also see Google Analytics and Marketing Metrics.

Douglas Bowman is of the view that Google is excessive with testing. See generally his blog.


Web Analytics > Setting Up an Evidence Based Business > Test Track and Optimize > Planning and Process > Exploiting Business Metrics > Creating Business Growth > 7 Business Growth Ideas > Marketing Metrics.