The Most Important Website Metric

Bart Wilson
I was talking with a friend of mine in a dealership and we started a discussion about his website. I thought I'd ask the community the same question he asked me: What is the most important metric to judge a website by?
Jared Hamilton
Conversion. Of the traffic to your site, what % of the visitors contacted you via email or phone. To me this captures the core essence of why you have a website, to get in touch with and reach out to more customers. I think the objective, or most important metric could be different depending on what the website is and what is purpose is. Social and micro sites would have different goals in my opinion. If you are talking about a dealers main website, id say conversion is the #1 metric.
Aaron Hassen
Don't forget about chat... Disclaimer: I represent Contact At Once! chat, the industry leader used by AutoTrader, Cars and 7500+ dealers to help convert more site visitors into dealership appointments. Of course our main sales argument (and the data confirm this), the more visitors to your website that you greet (or up), the more site conversations, dealership appointments and subsequent sales you see. So yes, conversions - how many people coming to your website are showing up at the dealership. Remember, allowing chat based communication from your website increases your opportunities by at least 25%.
Jim Bell
I'm with Jared on this one. Conversion is the key. You can have all the traffic in the world, but if they aren't engaging with you, what is the point of even having a website? You want the customer to engage with you in some way or another. I track mine on a daily basis and track it with phone calls, leads, and chats. The benchmark should be between 2-4% for sales and 7-10% for fixed ops based on your unique visitors.
Tom White Jr.
There is no such thing as the ONE MOST IMPORTANT metric. I look at Goal Conversions (set up to track what is important to me such as form completions, pages viewed, etc.) Unique Visitors, Bounce Rate, and Time on Site. Eric Miltsch said correctly that Time On Site is difficult to measure accurately due to tabbed browsing (which is correct) but I still watch it as I have years of data and can track significant changes in this metric. TOS will also show up when comparing different paid advertising sources (google adwords, facebook ads, etc.) as if the TOS is significantly lower for those sources, I probably have a problem with either my ad or the ad source. The other thing I would add is that I would STRONGLY recommend spending a significant amount of time learning how to set up google analytics properly. Most "website experts" don't have a clue how to set up analytics properly and it is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT website measuring tool available in my opinion. There are some really good books available to teach you how to set it up and two of the best are: Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity by Avinash Kaushik (google guy that also has an amazing blog - Occam's Razor Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, 2nd Edition by Brian Clifton Anyway, my two cents on this subject.
Eric Miltsch
Always a great discussion topic. Conversion def ranks up there at the top. But you can't improve without looking at all the other goodies GA has wrapped up within it's bundle. TOS is still important - just remember that is may skewed b/c of people leaving multiple tabs open in their browser window. If you're doing a mailer, maybe you check out your territory detail report and drill down to the city. If you have your goals set up correctly, you'll see which areas not only get the most traffic, but also see which areas are converting. If you're looking at new mobile strategies, maybe you'll want to drill down to your browser capabilities & check the operating systems. And of course, if you're checking out new opportunities for SEO/SEM improvement, you'll want to stop over to the traffic sources & check the keywords. Make all of this activity even easier and set up these 'buckets" by adding them to your dashboard and then set up automatic reports to be sent out either weekly or monthly. Make yourself look even better and include other people within your stores - even if they don't know how to read the reports, they'll ask what these are all about; it's a great way to get the conversation started and open even more eyes about how important this stuff really is...

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