How to Identify KPIs for Measuring Website Performance

Learn what makes a strong KPI for measuring website performance and where you can find inspiration to identify your own.
by 
Hannah Svendor

Measuring website performance certainly isn’t easy.

With so much data available nowadays, it can get complex if you take on and measure too much, too soon. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great way to declutter data and track exactly what your team should be focusing on.

KPIs are quantifiable metrics that measure how well your website or other marketing efforts are performing against a defined goal. They demonstrate the value of initiatives, secure buy-in for future projects and help identify areas for improvement whether it be an adjustment to strategy or budget. On the flip side, without the right ones, your company may report and make decisions based on misleading information.

So which metrics should you measure? How do you know you have a good – or the right – KPI?

Let’s dive into some best practices and how to identify the most relevant ones to your organization.

Avoid vanity metrics

First, it’s important to avoid choosing vanity metrics as your KPIs. A vanity metric makes you feel good about your website’s growth, without showing you real value about your efforts.

Here are four vanity metrics next to its stronger, complimentary SMART metric (more on that below):

  • Trial users vs. converting users
  • Page views vs. bounce rate
  • Social media likes vs. social media referrals
  • Total number of purchases vs. avg customer order value

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with watching vanity data points. In fact, they can be valuable when used to test and improve how your audience reacts to your content and different channels.

Since they can’t translate into some sort of conversion, they shouldn’t be your main priority. In fact, for each vanity metric, there’s likely something to dig in deeper on to measure your success.

Focus on SMART metrics

Teams commonly use the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) to identify and scope KPIs.

Think about it from this perspective:

  • Specific: What exactly do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable: How will you identify you have achieved your goal?
  • Achievable: Is the goal attainable?
  • Relevant: Is it relevant or does it align with where you want to be?
  • Time-Bound: When can you expect to achieve that goal? What are the key milestones?

Your goals should be somewhat of a challenge, but attainable with the right plan. If your KPI can’t lead to a course of action or inform a decision, then you should probably re-evaluate it.

Find inspiration with Google Analytics

With the SMART approach and questions in mind, check out these common areas where website KPIs can be found in a tool you likely already use, like Google Analytics.

Acquisition metrics are best at capturing how effective your marketing efforts are at driving users to your website. They may help identify opportunities to market to a different segment of users or underrated channels.

  • Traffic by source or channel
  • Unique visitors
  • Organic traffic
  • Search rankings

Behavior metrics get a better picture of how well your site keeps visitors engaged. These metrics help understand how a website or landing page is being perceived, including opportunities to improve specific pages or user flows.

  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Average session duration
  • Pages per session

Conversion metrics showcase how much of the website can be credited for driving business. Google allows you to create goals and define values for each type of conversion you may have, such as form submission, placing an order over a certain dollar threshold, and so on.

  • Register for an event
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Create an account
  • Place an order over a certain threshold

Identify your own unique KPIs

When it comes time to select the KPIs for your website, ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose and goals for the website?
  • How does the website support our greater business strategy?

kpilibrary.com can be another source of inspiration if you’re stuck. Once you’ve identified the purpose of your website and have reviewed your organizational and team goals, you can identify two to three KPIs that support each.

For many e-commerce websites or online retailers, a primary goal may be to increase direct sales online. In this case, you might consider conversion rate, cart abandonment rate, and average order value as a few KPIs. For more marketing-driven sites where the main conversion may consist of lead generation, KPIs may be number of content downloads, form submissions, or demo requests.

By doing so, your team can understand exactly where you stand now, have stronger support for gathering buy-in from leadership, make stronger business decisions in the future, and have actionable results to make performance improvements to your website.

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