Let me state the obvious: every website must have goals. Some of them will be measured in a currency and others not, but somehow, we have to know the turn out of the effort made on the site.
Visitors will come from three different traffic sources: direct, organic and referral. Once you start to work actively in traffic acquisition, campaigns like email, display, social media, SEO, and PPC will be added to the equation.
What metric should you pay attention to?
Web analytics tools are full of metrics, dizzying you with tons of numbers. The amount of visits is one of the most celebrated figures.
While not a bad indicator, volume of traffic is a completely different animal than quality traffic, which is the one we want to have. It is not rocket science to understand it is because quality traffic converts more visitors to customers.
Ok, so where do we start?
Forget about visits, forget about ranking number one at search engines. Instead, start focusing on what is important for your web site, such as goals completed, conversion rates and revenue (if conversions can be directly quantified in cents as with online stores.)
We now better understand the metrics we want to take a look at, but this data must still be correlated to channels that bring visitors and make them convert to customers.
In the case of Google Analytics, we can create a custom report to have all these details. It's very easy, simply drag and drop, name and save.
In the example above, the mixture contains four metrics – visits, goal completions, goal conversion rate, and revenue – and one dimension – Medium.
Once you feel more comfortable, you can replace Medium by Campaign, Keywords or any other dimension, depending on how deep you want to dig. For now, however, you will have a basic, and necessary, report ready to tell you what did and did not work.
This is an example of the kind of e-commerce information you can quickly bring to the table. Just a quick glance and you can discover, by example, email campaigns are not adding too much traffic but are creating a lot of revenue. So, next time you have to decide where to invest more money and resources, the answer is going to be fairly obvious.
This is basic stuff, but many analytics accounts and monthly reports focus on irrelevant data.
Fortunately, you now have the first steps of a long journey to success.