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It's OK If They Leave: Rethinking Web Analytics

It's OK If They Leave: Rethinking Web Analytics

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Waiting in line stinks. In fact, we typically hate waiting for anything - even the stuff we truly want. The American experience has become one of efficiency: how fast can I receive what I need so I can get on with my day? How does your website do under this metric? Our typical evaluation of our web analytics leans away from this model, and can give us the wrong impression.

The Typical View Of Analytics

When looking at Google Analytics, we typically think this way:

  • Website visitors (more is better!)
  • Page views / time on site (more is better!)
  • Bounce rate (very bad!)

In other words, let's see how many visitors we can get and how long we can get them to stay. Sounds great from our side of things. But is this the experience you want at Starbucks? A drugstore? Or really...anywhere? We typically look for efficiency and convenience in these places. Your website visitors crave the same thing. Delivering that experience can make analytics look "bad" when they actually confirm success.

An Example To Ponder

Let's say we want to promote this blog post (which we do!). So we'll put a link to it on social media outlets and say "Check out our cool thoughts." 500 people click those links to read our post. 200 read it in full, the others skim it. Then all go back to their regularly scheduled program. Success! Right? Well, let's look at those analytics:

  • Website visitors (we got more!)
  • Page views / time on site (Whoa! Really short!)
  • Bounce rate (This is high! All 500 bounced.)

Our success generated analytics that demonstrate "failure" by traditional metrics. "Why is everyone leaving our site after viewing only one page?" "Why did they only spend a few minutes?" But the fact is...we succeeded. We got people to come read our brilliant post!

Make Analytics Support Your Goals

When looking at your website analytics, make sure they match your website goals. Perhaps this week we are pushing a Facebook campaign. But next week our annual report is released. We will want our website traffic to behave very differently this week vs. next. Let's stop thinking of analytics as simply "How many?" and "How Long?" and begin looking at true success: content delivery that is efficient and convenient for every visitor.


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